Forensic Nursing

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Online Forensic Nurse Degree

In the world of forensics, medical professionals are often called on for their expertise in crime investigation. An online forensic nurse degree aim to prepare you for this. These professionals may help victims of sexual assault and other violent crimes in two ways. First, they provide medical support after traumatic events. Second, they could give medical exams to gather evidence to use in the criminal justice system. This is a relatively new nursing concentration. It may open the door to many career opportunities working with victims of crimes.

What is an Online Forensic Nurse Degree?

An online forensic nurse degree is a degree that combines nursing with a forensic focus. Online programs may allow students to earn a bachelor’s, master’s, or doctoral degree online. Nurses who are already licensed may take the forensic portion online. Those starting out for the first time may take online classes, but may still need to complete clinical experience in a local clinic or doctor’s office.

Bachelor’s Degree in Forensic Nursing

Few nursing schools offer a bachelor’s degree specific in forensic nursing, but some may offer a BSN program with an undergrad certificate in forensics. This may allow nurses to pursue their forensic nursing career without the need for a graduate degree.

Students may earn an online Bachelor of Science in Nursing degree, apply for the NCLEX-RN exam, and then may be able to jumpstart their nursing careers. If they are interested in forensic nursing, students may pursue forensic nursing certification while also starting their nursing practice. A Bachelor of Science in Nursing often takes about four years to complete. The additional certification exam in forensic nursing may take about 40 hours to earn.

The Forensic Nursing Certification Board offers two certs: the Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner (SANE) for Adults and Adolescents (SANE-A) or Pediatrics (SANE-P). They also offer the Intimate Partner Violence Nurse Examiner (IPVNE) certificate program. Each of these certs may require additional training beyond the bachelor’s degree, and nurses may complete that training online. To work towards these certs, nurses must have their RN license.

Master’s Degree in Forensic Nursing

Another path to a career in forensic nursing is a master’s degree in forensic nursing. This combines enhanced nursing skills with the certificate and forensic skills needed in the field. Many colleges and universities are now offering an online MSN in forensic nursing to provide students with this option. Many master’s degrees in nursing require an undergrad degree in the field. Earning a BSN first, then moving on to a master of science in nursing program, may help nurses prepare for their careers. Online master’s degrees in forensic nursing typically take two years to complete.

PhD in Forensic Nursing

A third option is to pursue an online PhD in Forensic Nursing. Currently, there are no schools offering this specific degree path. However, many offer PhD in Nursing programs and graduate or post-graduate certs in forensic nursing.

A PhD in Nursing is a research-focused degree that could pair well with forensic science. These programs typically take a minimum of three years and between 45 and 70 credit hours to complete. Because they do not require patient care, there may be a few online PhD in Nursing programs available. The cost of these programs varies from one school to the next. Many PhD programs may be funded through their research or the degree granting institution.

What Career Could I Pursue with an Online Forensic Nursing Degree?

An online Bachelor’s Degree in Nursing with a forensics focus may open the door to a variety of fields. With an online BSN in nursing and forensic certificate, a nurse may be able to work as a Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner (SANE) in correctional facilities or work with trauma victims in psychiatric hospitals. They may be trauma advocates who work with other types of healthcare professionals. An online Master’s Degree in Forensic Nursing may help nurses find work in coroner’s offices, corrections institutions, or medical examiner’s offices.

Is an Online Degree in Forensic Nursing worth it?

An online degree in forensic nursing could provide flexible education for those who need a degree program that works with their schedules. It may open the door to more income potential by giving a nurse some specialty training. Because many seeking forensic nursing degrees may already be working as nurses and have basic licensure, the online degree program may be a worthwhile investment.

Online Forensic Nursing Degree Jobs & Salary

Because forensic nursing is a new career field, data about average salary and job outlook is still in development. The BLS combines all nursing professionals into two categories, registered nurse and nurse practitioner. Those with an online forensic nursing degree may find roles in these fields. Some similar career fields and estimated incomes include:

OccupationAnnual Median SalaryJobs
Registered Nurse$73,3003,059,800
Nurse Practitioner$115,800240,700
Forensic Technicians$59,15016,700

Top States for Jobs as a Forensic Nursing Professional

The income possible for nursing specialties varies based on the place where the nurse works. Little data exists for the average wage for forensic nursing professionals, but these are the top states the BLS lists for all types of registered nurses:

StateJobsAnnual Mean Wage
California302,770$113,240
Hawaii11,330$104,060
District of Columbia10,890$94,820
Massachusetts81,020$93,160
Oregon36,660$92,960

What classes Could I take in an Online Forensic Nursing Degree Program?

If you are considering an online bachelor’s degree with certs in forensic nursing, you may expect to take classes like:

  • Intro to Forensic Nursing. This course introduces forensic health science and nursing. It explores the nurse’s role in criminal investigation. It bridges the gap between nursing and forensics.
  • Forensic Evidence Collection. This course explores how nurses can collect evidence safely. It also explores courtroom presentations. Nurses learn how to recognize injuries that indicate abuse.
  • Current Events in Forensic Nursing. This is often a seminar course. It explores current hot topics in the field. Research in forensic nursing and public policy both play a role in this class.
  • Violence and Society. Because the role of a forensic nurse focuses on helping victims of violence, this class is important. It delves into the role of violence in society. It discusses solutions for reducing violence.

For a master’s degree, you might be taking:

  • Disaster Management and Emergency Prep. This class teaches nurses how to prepare for emergencies. Forensic nursing professionals are often called upon to help in a crisis. This class shows how to do that.
  • Violence and Abuse. An in depth class that teaches how to see signs of abuse through clinical exams. It teaches what to do when you spot those signs. This teaches nursing students how to work in domestic violence cases.
  • Forensic Nurse Death Investigation. This class focuses on working with a death investigator or in coroner’s offices. It teaches how to spot signs of criminal or violent behavior on a dead body. Professionals with this training are vital in criminal investigation.
  • Foundations of Forensic Nursing Science. An intro to the world of forensic nursing. This course assumes the student has not had forensic nursing training in the past. It provides the foundation for the rest of the training.

How long does it take to Earn a Forensic Nursing Degree online?

The length of time it takes for an online degree in forensic nursing depends on several factors. If you already are practicing as an RN, you could earn an accelerated BSN degree in as little as two years. An online master’s degree in forensic nursing often takes 18 months to two years to earn, depending on how many classes you take a term. Certificate programs may take as little as 9 months.

UniversityLevel of Degree# of Credits RequiredStarts Per YearMinimum Months to Complete
Duquesne UniversityMasters36330
Cleveland State UniversityMasters38324
Texas A&MMasters36224
Penn State World CampusBachelors Cert12312

12 Schools with Online Forensic Nursing Degree or Certificate Programs

If a forensic nursing program seems like the perfect fit for you, these schools may offer online forensic nursing degrees that give the flexibility you need to pursue this career:

1 Duquesne University
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Duquense University’s MSN in Forensic Nursing is a military friendly program available online. The program is 36 credit hours.

Tuition & Fees

Undergrad: $39,992

Grad: $23,580

Financial Aid

Average Grants & Scholarship Aid: $23,183

Military Programs

Servicemembers Opportunity College, Yellow Ribbon Program, ROTC

Accredited

MSCHE

2 Fitchburg State University
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FSU offers an MS in Forensic Nursing online. It aims to teach students to help in criminal investigations or leadership positions in nursing. The degree requires 39 credits.

Tuition & Fees

Undergrad: $17,790

Grad: $5,742

Financial Aid

Average Grants & Scholarship Aid: $6,809

Military Programs

Servicemembers Opportunity College, ROTC

Accredited

NECHE

3 Xavier University
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The MS in Nursing Forensic Nursing degree at Xavier University requires 26 MSN core credit hours and 10 hours in forensics. The program aims to prepare students for roles helping law enforcement professionals, medical examiners, and legal offices.

Tuition & Fees

Undergrad: $40,450

Grad: $12,060

Financial Aid

Average Grants & Scholarship Aid: $21,881

Military Programs

Servicemembers Opportunity College, Yellow Ribbon Program, ROTC

Accredited

HLC

4 University of Florida
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UF offers an online Forensic Science Grad Cert. This cert is often paired with an MS or is taken by students who have completed their MSN. It has four different 15-credit certs including Death Investigation, DNA and Serology, Toxicology, and Drug Chemistry.

Tuition & Fees

Undergrad: $28,659

Grad: $27,335

Financial Aid

Average Grants & Scholarship Aid: $10,814

Military Programs

Servicemembers Opportunity College, ROTC

Accredited

SACSCOC

5 Penn State World Campus
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Penn State World Campus offers an RN to BSN degree with an undergrad cert in forensic nursing. The cert requires 12 credit hours. It is available entirely online.

Tuition & Fees

Undergrad: $35,514

Grad: $38,728

Financial Aid

Average Grants & Scholarship Aid: $8,678

Military Programs

Servicemembers Opportunity College, ROTC

Accredited

MSCHE

6 Aspen University
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Aspen University offers an online MS in Nursing Forensic Nursing degree. It is a 36 credit hour program and includes a capstone and practicum.

Tuition & Fees

Undergrad: $3,920

Undergrad: $3,900

Financial Aid

Average Grants & Scholarship Aid: $0

Military Programs

Servicemembers Opportunity College

Accredited

DEAC

7 Monmouth University
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Monmouth University offers an online MSN in Forensic Nursing that merges the legal system and health care. It aims to prep students for SANE exams. It is a 36 credit hour program.

Tuition & Fees

Undergrad: $39,592

Undergrad: $27,838

Financial Aid

Average Grants & Scholarship Aid: $23,789

Military Programs

Servicemembers Opportunity College, Yellow Ribbon Program, ROTC

Accredited

MSCHE

8 Cleveland State University
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For students with an RN, Cleveland State University offers an MSN with a Forensic Nursing track that may be taken online. This is a 38 credit hour program.

Tuition & Fees

Undergrad: $15,370

Grad: $17,268

Financial Aid

Average Grants & Scholarship Aid: $7,649

Military Programs

Servicemembers Opportunity Colleges, Yellow Ribbon Program, ROTC

Accredited

HLC

9 Texas A&M
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Texas A&M College of Nursing offers an MSN Forensic Nursing 36 credit hour program. This program is online, but it does require 45 hour on-campus clinical at the Bryan-College Station campus.

Tuition & Fees

Undergrad: $38,602

Grad: $18,700

Financial Aid

Average Grants & Scholarship Aid: $10,984

Military Programs

Servicemembers Opportunity College, Yellow Ribbon, ROTC

Accredited

SACSCOC

10 University of California, Riverside
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UCR offers a professional cert in forensic nursing online. It is a 14-credit program that takes a minimum of 9 months to complete.

Tuition & Fees

Undergrad: $43,607

Grad: $28,686

Financial Aid

Average Grants & Scholarship Aid: $21,063

Military Programs

Servicemembers Opportunity College, Yellow Ribbon Program

Accredited

WASC Senior College and University Commission

11 DeSales University
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DeSales University has an online MSN in Forensic Nursing for students who want SANE and ANCC certs. This program covers 51 credits.

Tuition & Fees

$27,204

Financial Aid

Average Grants & Scholarship Aid: $23,792

Military Programs

Servicemembers Opportunity College, Yellow Ribbon Program, ROTC

Accredited

MSCHE

12 Mount Mercy University
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Mount Mercy has an MSN degree that offers a Forensic Nursing track. This hybrid course offers a primarily online delivery option. A fast-track option could allow students finish the 36 credit program in as little as 18 months.

Tuition & Fees

Undergrad: $33,862

Grad: $10,366

Financial Aid

Average Grants & Scholarship Aid: $24,695

Military Programs

Servicemembers Opportunity College, Yellow Ribbon Program

Accredited

HLC

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