#5 SUNY Albany

Albany, New York

SUNY Albany's forensic program is a cozy little place, with 26 students enrolled in the Masters program in Forensic Biology. Roughly ten to 15 students a year join the program, so you can be sure of some close-knit interaction with your professors. Unfortunately (or fortunately, depending on how you look at it) SUNY Albany grants specifically a Masters in Forensic Biology. So if you get there, decide drug chemistry is your thing, well, you're kind of out of luck.

To give you an idea of how competitive the program is, one student is admitted for every five applications that are received, and the average GPA is about 3.3. It's a fairly new program, too. About 40 students have graduated from Albany since 2001.

As you might expect, the Albany Masters in Forensic Microbiology requires a boatload of biology: 29 credits of the 40 needed to graduate. And the extra courses that are offered don't veer far from the path. The five required supporting courses all focus on biotechnology, genetics, and lab safety, with the odd Advanced Microsoft Excel and Visual Basic thrown in for good measure. The electives (of which two are required) deal with -- surprise -- cell biology. A few electives in evolution, neurobiology, bioinformatics and light microscopy might ease the biological overload. There's also the dreaded written examination, but at Arcadia it follows the first year on all the required courses instead of at the end of your two years, as you see in many programs.

Like most programs, Albany requires a lab internship and project. What's nice is that the New York State Police Forensic Investigation Center is plopped next door, doing all kinds of cool work that you're studying and maintaining a close working relationship with the school. But just a word to the wise: be sure that forensic microbiology is really, really what you want to do before you enroll. But if you're sure, then SUNY Albany is a great place to study.

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