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Top 7 Forensic Nursing Programs

Top Forensic Nursing Programs
Forensic nurses specialize in leading the nursing response to violence by providing care for victims of assault, rape, neglect, and abuse. Forensic nursing is closely linked with both the healthcare and legal industries, as nurses collect forensic evidence from patients and consult with various law agencies to build cases against perpetrators. In order to become a forensic nurse, students must obtain a bachelor’s degree in nursing, and then go on to achieve a graduate level certification. The following are the top forensic nursing programs that help prepare students for the field and get on the right track to a rewarding career.

1. Xavier University
Xavier University is a private Jesuit college institution located in Cincinnati, Ohio. Consistently recognized for its academic performance, Xavier is ranked at number 4 for the best colleges in the Midwest. The prestigious school’s Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) program provides the option to obtain an advanced level concentration in forensics. The curriculum includes foundations for forensic nursing, criminalistics, psychological and legal aspects of forensics, health care ethics, and nursing research.

Students also gain the valuable experience of participating in two graduate nursing practicum and scholarly projects for application of the learned theories. Students need to complete 36 minimum semester credit hours, but the flexible scheduling allows for part-time or full-time study at their own preference. Upon graduation, forensic nursing students have all the necessary skills for proper management of criminal investigations and legal matters.

2. Duquesne University
Situated in the urban center of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, Duquesne University is a private institution that has been consecutively ranked among the top Catholic universities in the United States. Along with its award-winning faculty and long legacy of academic excellence, it is also home to one the top master’s programs in forensic nursing. In addition, students can advance their nursing profession further by obtaining a doctorate in nursing through the school’s PhD and DNP programs with a focus in forensics.

The nurturing and caring faculty of Duquesne is dedicated to providing a flexible scholarly environment for student engagement. Therefore, degree requirements can either be completed on a full-time or part-time basis, for as long as five years. After being accepted into the program, students receive a mentor that assists the student in their learning throughout graduation. The curriculum is specifically designed to incorporate real-world experience and community service, through a forensic clinical, hands-on laboratory coursework, trial preparation, and research project in forensic nursing.

3. Monmouth University
Monmouth University, located in the suburban setting of West Long Branch in New Jersey, is currently ranked at number 37 of best colleges in the North. The first-tier, dynamic private university offers a Master of Science in Nursing degree, with a concentration in forensic nursing at the Marjorie K. Unterberg School of Health Studies. The program is known for its experiential education approach, which allows students broad opportunities for hands-on coursework, service learning projects, internships, cooperative learning experiences, practicum and clinical research experiences.

The forensic nursing program focuses on studying interpersonal violence, forensic evidence, legal issues, and nursing ethics. The faculty of Monmouth is committed to creating students that are strong enough to handle the challenges of the field, while still sensitive to approach victims with care. Graduates from the program go on to work in a variety of career pathways, such as domestic violence intervention, sexual assault examination, child abuse assessment, mass disaster response, and death investigation.

4. Boston College
Boston College is positioned six miles from downtown Boston, within the affluent suburbs of Chestnut Hill. Spread across 338 acres, the main campus is listed on the National Register of Historic Places, which is an excellent testament to its beauty. The private institution has been consistently distinguished for its academic excellence, and is currently ranked at number 31 of the best colleges in the entire United States. Among their highly ranked graduate schools, the William F. Connell School of Nursing offers a Master of Science in Nursing with a clinical specialty in forensic nursing.

The specialty builds upon a strong foundation in forensics fundamentals, nursing practices, psychosocial aspects of evaluation, legal aspects of assessment, and laboratory coursework. Students that choose to complete this specialty certification need to complete an additional 10 credits and 250 hours of clinical nursing practicum. For building a strong professional environment, the school has compiled an advisory board of forensic nurses in the field for students to engage with for deep community bonds and real-world guidance.

5. Cleveland State University
As its name suggests, Cleveland State University is located within the second-largest city in Ohio. Distinguished for being an excellent research university in the Midwest, the public institution also hosts a well-known Masters of Science in Forensic Nursing program. Unlike some of the other programs included on this list that offer concentrations, Cleveland State offers a unique degree solely in forensic nursing. The MSN in Forensic Nursing combines the art and science of nursing, forensic science, and law into an optimal learning experience.

Before applying for the program, the school requires that students have already received a valid RN license in the United States and a baccalaureate degree in nursing. Although students can decide between the thesis or non-thesis tracks, the extensive curriculum always focused on collection of evidence, providing testimony, legal ethics, and nursing care of victims and perpetrators of the law. Upon completion of the degree, students are well-prepared for taking the SANE (sexual assault nurse examiner) certification examination for further career prospects.

6. University of California Riverside
Situated in the northeastern part of downtown Riverside, the University of California Riverside is regularly renowned for being a top institution for higher education in both national and international rankings. The public institution was ranked number 8 in the nation for student diversity, number 24 for best value schools, and number 46 for top public schools in the country. One of the many certificate programs offered by the school includes the Professional Certificate in Forensic Nursing. It is specifically designed for nurses and other licensed medical professionals to open new career pathways with extended learning in forensic nursing.

Students in the certificate program learn essential skills that are necessary for success within the growing industry. Curriculum focuses on collection of forensic evidence in a healthcare setting, effective communication with members of the forensic team, emergency intervention for victims of violence, nursing ethnics, and social implications of escalating violence. The certificate program is usually completed within nine to 18 months, with 16 credits required. Students can conveniently earn the post-grad certificate from the comfort of their home in the online setting, with the assistance of trained faculty members and student discussions.

7. Fairleigh Dickinson University
The largest independent university in the state of New Jersey, Fairleigh Dickinson University has a suburban campus in Madison and a metropolitan campus in Teaneck. Ranked at number 75 for the best colleges in the North, Fairleigh Dickinson has had a long-lasting legacy for excellence in all levels of academic degrees. In particular, the Masters of Science in Nursing degree with a concentration in forensics is one of the top for preparing nurses for the industry. Graduates go on to meet the needs of victims in areas such as child or elder abuse, emergency trauma, and domestic violence.

The curriculum of the forensic nursing program is based on providing students with the scientific nursing knowledge and application skills for the delivery of prominent care for survivors of traumatic injuries. Students will gain valuable experience in advanced primary care practicum, health assessment, theory development, and research. In addition, coursework will focus on crime, social justice, ethics, criminological theory, victimology, pathophysiology, and criminal psychology behaviors. After successful completion, students will graduate with an advanced practice nursing (APN) with a Forensics specialization. Graduates are eligible to sit for the adult nurse practitioner certification exam as well for further employment opportunity.

According to the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics, there are about 570,950 forensic nurses and that number is expected to grow faster than other nursing careers in the nation. Forensic nurses also make an impressive average salary of $77,827 per year. Although there are an estimated 1,783 forensic nursing programs nationwide, these are the top schools that are most recognized in the field. All of the programs mentioned prepare their students the best to face challenges, gain experience, learn essential theories, and begin a successful career in this rapidly growing industry.


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