Educational requirements are often set by the hiring agency. Some require a two-year degree, while others demand a bachelors or even masters degree with extensive study in both scientific subjects and criminal justice.

If you are interested in becoming a CSI, start asking questions now. If you want to work as a CSI in a specific city or county, contact the police department or sheriff’s department and ask whether the local CSIs are trained as police officers or civilian CSIs. In many areas, police officers “double duty” as CSIs, spending the rest of their time doing police work.

In college

  • Major in chemistry, biology, physics, molecular biology, or a related science
    Some colleges offer degrees in forensic science. Make sure the program requires at least 24 semester hours of either chemistry or biology and math.
  • Take elective courses in law enforcement, criminal justice and crime scene processing

After college

  • A master’s degree in forensic science is increasingly required to qualify for jobs in certain jurisdictions. Look for a program that emphasizes laboratory science and research, with coursework in crime scenes, physical evidence, ethics and quality assurance as well as interaction with working forensic laboratories.
  • To become certified, the criminalist must study for and pass an exam administered by the American Board of Criminalistics

Below are some examples of the courses required for this major.

CSU San Bernardino
Criminal Justice - Crime Analysis
SPCH 101
ENGL 101
ADMJ 101 or 110
ADMJ 103, 116
GEOG 101 and 111, 102
Select one of the following
MATH 100, 135, 112, 103, 100 and 102 or 110
Select one of the following
SPCH 104
PHIL 117, 123
Acceptable courses
ENGL 102 or 104 or 118 or
HUMAN 105 or 110 or
SPCH 100 or 102 or 103

CSU East Bay (Hayward)
Biology B.S. Forensic Science Option
BIOL 101 and 102, 120 and 121
CHEM 101 and 102, 103
MATH 102 or 110 or 103
PHYS 105 and 106
ADMJ 116

Chemistry - Forensic Science Option
BIOL 101 and 102
CHEM 101 and 102, 103
MATH 103 and 104 and 105
PHYS 105 and 106
ADMJ 116

CSU Fresno
Criminology - Forensic Behavioral Science
CSU Stanislaus
Criminal Justice - Forensic Science
No courses articulate for this major

San Jose State University
Forensic Science - Emphasis in Biology
CHEM 101 and 102, 103, 105 and 106
PHYS 105, 106
MATH 103, 104, 136
ADMJ 101
ENGL 102 or 104
BIOL 101 and 102

Forensic Science - Emphasis in Chemistry
CHEM 101 and 102, 103, 105 and 106
MATH 103, 104, 136
PHYS 105 and 106
ADMJ 101
ENGL 102 or 104
BIOL 101 and 102

UC Davis
Chemistry B.S. Applied Chemistry Forensic Chemistry
CHEM 101 and 102, 105 and 106
PHYS (105 and 106) or (101 and 102 and 103)
MATH (112 or 103, 104) or (103, 104, 105)
BIOL 101
MATH 136

CSU Sacramento
Chemistry - Forensic Chemistry
ENGL 102 or 103
CHEM 101, 102, 103
MATH 103, 104
PHYS (105 and 106). or (101 and 102 and 103)
ADMJ 101


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Last updated: 6/26/2013 10:25:50 AM