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Forensic Science Degree Programs in Illinois

The applications of forensic science are widespread and growing every day. As more technology is developed and refined, the ability of criminal justice professionals and forensic experts to more accurately solve crimes reaches new levels.
In Illinois, the need for forensic science professionals has been on the rise for several years. This is particularly true in large cities like Chicago and Springfield, where crime rates tend to be higher than average and criminal investigators often have excessively large caseloads that lead to delays. A strong forensics team can help criminal investigators more efficiently work through pressing cases.

If you’ve been looking for a way to get involved in the field of criminal justice, forensic science may be your chance.

Reach out to Illinois forensic science programs to find out how to become a forensic scientist.

What Can I Do with a Forensic Science Degree in Illinois?

In addition to positions at criminal justice agencies and crime facilities, Illinois has some of the most well-known universities in the Midwest. These educational institutions hire forensic science experts to conduct research and test the limits of forensic technology.

A recent study looked at job openings, pay rates, and work settings for forensic science professionals across the country. It found that Illinois is the second best state in the country for forensic investigators (WIBQ AM, 2017).

Forensic Science Degrees in Illinois

As you explore Illinois colleges with forensic science programs, you may notice that programs are offered at all degree levels. This area of study has exploded in popularity in recent years, leading to a growing demand for professionals at different levels of education.

Whether you’ve been working in criminal justice for years or you’re completely new to this field, there may be a degree that helps you take the first step toward a forensic science career.

For those who want to get their feet wet in this field and find out if it’s a good fit, a certificate program may be the right choice. Technical certificate programs typically less last than one year and do not include extensive general education coursework, so students can work through them quickly and start gaining experience.

In Illinois, most certificate programs include approximately 30 credits.

Certificate in Computer Forensics and Investigations

  • Principles of Criminal Investigation
  • Criminal Procedural Law
  • Digital Evidence Recovery
  • Windows Forensic Analysis
  • Network Forensics

For a well-rounded education, consider an Associate’s degree. An Associate’s degree involves approximately two years of study, during which time you may build a foundation of general knowledge and advance your expertise in the field of forensic science.

While many Illinois schools do not require an internship for graduation, you may find that many Associate’s programs allow students the opportunity to complete an internship.

Associate’s-Level Forensics Coursework

  • Crime Scene Analysis
  • Evidence and Criminal Procedures
  • Forensic Photography
  • Issues in Criminal Justice
  • Trace Evidence

Many careers in criminal justice require completion of a Bachelor’s degree. This 120-credit program requires four years of study, so it provides students with an in-depth education in forensic science, criminal justice and critical thinking skills.

Hands-on experience is highly prioritized at this level of education, so plan on spending quite a bit of time in the laboratory and possibly at an internship site.

Bachelor’s Degree in Criminal Justice with Forensic Science Concentration

  • Instrumental Analysis
  • Criminal Justice System
  • Forensic Science Ethics
  • Pattern Evidence
  • Forensic Toxicology
  • Drug Chemistry

For those who have already completed a Bachelor’s degree, graduate forensic science programs are the next step up in education. These take about two years of study beyond the Bachelor’s degree.

A Master’s degree provides advanced training in forensic science technology, analysis, and application. By the time you finish a Master’s degree, you should be confident about your ability to take on leadership roles, handle complex forensic cases, and work with up-to-date technology.

Graduate Courses in Forensic Science

  • Forensic Science Survey and Foundations
  • Forensic Analysis of Biological Evidence
  • Forensic Chemistry and Trace Evidence Analysis
  • Physical Pattern Evidence Analysis
  • Forensic Drug Analysis and Toxicology
  • Topics in Specialty Forensic Examinations

Ready to dive into the field of forensic science and find out how you can contribute?

Use our list of Illinois forensic science schools to contact programs that fit your needs.

Working as a Forensic Scientist in Illinois

Your location in Illinois, your level of education, and your professional interests all influence the type of work that may be available to you after completing your forensic science studies. It’s important to use your time in school to explore different work settings and figure out which one is a viable long-term career option for you.

If you feel at home in the laboratory, you may choose to become a forensic science technician. Forensic science technicians are the go-to people for information on evidence processing, wait times, the application of different technology, and the role of forensic evidence in the crime solving process.

In Illinois, they claim an average salary of $72,680 per year (Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2017). From 2014 through 2024, job openings for forensic science technicians are expected to increase 21% in Illinois (O*Net, 2017).

If you are intrigued by the idea of using your education to work in law enforcement and have a better understanding of evidence, you may thrive as a criminal investigator. Criminal investigators are often the first to report to a crime scene, and they may stick with the same cases for however long it takes to solve them.

The average salary for an Illinois criminal investigator is $91,860 per year (BLS, 2017). A 1% boost in job openings is expected by the year 2024 (O*Net, 2017).

There are many specialized career paths that match up well with the skills you develop in a forensic science program. For example, you may apply for coroner positions with a forensic science background.

Your ability to handle evidence carefully, set it up for processing, and avoid damaging the collection site is extremely helpful during autopsies. You may be employed by a city, a county, or a state agency. Throughout Illinois, coroners claim an average income of $73,720 per year (BLS, 2017). By the year 2024, job openings may swell 5% in this field (O*Net, 2017).

No matter what changes affect the criminal justice industry, forensic evidence may continue to be one of the most important factors in solving a crime. Get involved in this field now.

Start by requesting information from Illinois forensic science programs.