Professional Certificate in Crime Scene Investigation (CSI)

Professional Certificate in Crime Scene Investigation (CSI)

Classroom Program


8-12 months


23 Units

UCR Extension

Crime scene investigators (CSIs) work closely with law enforcement to ensure evidence is collected and processed correctly so the guilty are successfully prosecuted and justice is served. CSIs work at the crime scene, in labs, at the morgue, in police departments, and will likely be called to share their expertise in a courtroom. Start your career off right with top-notch expert instructors, hands-on experience, and real-life case studies so you can master all aspects of crime scene investigation.

Designed For

Individuals who are:

  • Looking for a career in crime scene investigation
  • Currently in the field of crime scene investigation who would like to further develop their skills and expertise
  • Law enforcement

What You'll Learn

  • Be confident and knowledgeable in performing crime scene investigations.
  • Understand the basics of crime scene management including the proper collection and preservation of evidence, and chain-of-custody issues.
  • Have the technical skills to sample, photograph and recover evidence at a crime scene.

What You Can Do With This Certificate

Positions are available in law enforcement, justice departments or government. They might include:

  • Crime scene investigator
  • Crime scene technician
  • Police identification specialist
  • Forensic scientist

CSI positions are most often found in law enforcement agencies. Prior to employment, a background check consisting of employment history, professional references, criminal check and educational verification may be conducted. All applicants
will be required to pass the background check to the satisfaction of the Department or agency conducting the hiring.
Here's a look at some common background check disqualifiers. Generally, job candidates are most commonly dropped from consideration for one or more of the following:

  • Felony convictions
  • Misdemeanors
  • Past or current drug use
  • Credit issues
  • Dishonorable discharge from military service
  • Falsification or untruthfulness on the application
  • Poor work history
  • Past or current gang affiliations
  • Undetected crimes
  • Problematic driving history
  • Domestic violence

Program Overview


23 Units

“The CSI Professional Certificate Program gave me hands-on training and provided the knowledge and skills to start my career as a Forensics Technician. Each instructor contributed to my success by building a solid foundation. The well-recognized program is exceptional and without it, I would not be where I am today!”

Hillary Pounds

Evidence Unit Intern
Riverside Police Department
Riverside, CA

Earning the Certificate

Prior to enrolling, please ensure that you meet the following minimum requirements:

  • High school education or equivalent

International Association for Identification (IAI)

  • Crime Scene Certification Courses in the UCR Extension Professional Certificate in Crime Scene Investigation qualify as approved instruction. For other qualification details, please visit the IAI requirements page.

For more information see How to Earn a Certificate

Certificate Courses

Our certificate programs are designed to be flexible, allowing you the option to take just a few courses or to earn the complete certificate. If choosing to complete the certificate, we recommend you get the most out of your experience by following the suggested completion path below.

Quarter 1

Crime Scene Management

SOC X415.51

2 units

Successful crime scene investigation utilizes a step-by-step process in the discovery, preservation and collection of physical evidence. This course examines the fundamental theories of physical evidence, legal issues and the proper management of the collection and preservation of evidence. Topics include awareness of evidence; managing the scene; diagramming and sketching; photography; fingerprint, trace, impression, physiological and firearms evidence; arson and explosives; and safety issues. Designed for those entering the crime scene investigation field, crime scene investigators, attorneys and others who may benefit from learning how crime scenes are investigated.

Fingerprint Techniques and Impression Evidence

SOC X415.6

2 units

A general examination of fingerprint pattern recognition and identification of inked (known) fingerprints and how they are used in the criminal justice field. Course topics also include:

  • Examining impressions made by shoes and tire tracks.
  • Various techniques in recovering fingerprint.
  • Impression evidence

Forensic Report Writing

SOC X415.12

1 units

Provides instruction on writing clear and concise forensic police reports. You will learn:

  • how to take professional notes
  • the proper process to document facts
  • the required factual elements needed for a complete forensic report

Quarter 2

Crime Scene Photography

SOC X415.4

3 units

Latest methods of photographic documentation and equipment required for close-up photography and techniques when photographing evidence such as fingerprints, impressions, bloodstains, and other evidence requiring close-up or copy photography. General crime scene photography techniques for:

  • Homicide scenes
  • Autopsies
  • Suicides
  • Other dead-body scenes, assaults, burglaries, and injuries

You must bring your own camera.  For details, visit:


Autopsy: Medicolegal Death Investigation

SOC X417.71

2 units

This course examines the procedures and protocols of the medical examiner or coroner's office as they relate to the medical and legal issues involved in the investigation of the unnatural death. Topics include the examination and evaluation of evidence; time of death and post-mortem body changes; death by firearm injury, fire, electrocution and explosions, blunt force, knife wounds, and motor vehicle and airplane crashes; asphyxial deaths including suffocation and strangulation; and child deaths including SIDS, blunt force trauma, neglect and suffocation. The role of toxicology in death investigations is also discussed. Designed for law enforcement, public safety, legal and medical professionals.

Forensic Entomology


2 units

An overview on what to search for and how to handle items found when recovering entomological evidence at crime scenes. Discussions include:

  • The basic principles of entomology
  • The biological and ecological aspects of common arthropods

Lab exercises and simulated field studies provide practical experience in how to gather, interpret, record, preserve, and use entomological specimens in forensic investigations.

Quarter 3

Survey of Criminalistics

SOC X415.8

2 units

An examination of the biological aspects of physical evidence, including chemistry, toxicology, DNA, and other trace evidence associated with a crime. Includes:

  • Identification and forensic analysis of evidence, including fiber, glass, firearm, and tool marks
  • Proper handling of evidence that is used in chemical analysis
  • Laboratory techniques in gas chromatography, infrared analysis and spectroscopy

Introduction to Criminal Law and Procedure


3 units

Examination of the elements of crimes: crimes against persons, property, public health and safety, and others. Differences between felonies and misdemeanors and between crimes and torts are discussed.

  • The Penal Code structure
  • Overview of criminal procedure, including factual and legal burdens of proof
  • Corpus delicti issues
  • Procedures before, during, and after trial
  • Commonly encountered defenses
  • General sentencing issues are presented to help students understand criminal law in context
  • Aspects of evidence relating to proof of crimes and limitations imposed on the introduction of evidence

Introduction to Digital Forensics

SOC X413.11

2 units

Computers, cell phones and other devices often yield key evidence in the prosecution of crimes, including fraud, identity theft, terrorist plots, stalking and other personal crimes. This course provides an introduction to the technical, investigative, and legal issues related to computer and digital forensics. The topics include an overview of computer operating systems; basic data recovery tools such as EnCase, Forensic ToolKit (FTK), Cellebrite and XRY; search, seizure and privacy issues; ethics; and courtroom admissibility.

Quarter 4

Blood Stain Pattern Analysis

SOC X415.10

2 units

Utilizes the position and patterns of blood stains to reconstruct and determine events at crime scenes. Actual cases involving the interpretation of blood stain patterns and their relevance are reviewed and discussed. Topics include:

  • How to construct various scenarios and determine geometric points of origin, limitations of different types of interpretations
  • Proper documentation of evidence for court
  • Mechanisms for court display

Crime Scene Investigation Practicum

SOC X417.1

1 units

This practicum provides a real-world application of crime scene investigation methods and techniques. You use the knowledge and skills learned from the required courses in the certificate program to demonstrate the proper management of the collection and preservation of evidence of a mock crime scene. Diagramming and photographing the crime scene, written report, and a group presentation are also required.

Courtroom Testimony Fundamentals

SOC X415.13

1 units

Providing testimony in court is a vital role of investigators. This course provides investigators the essential skills in courtroom testimony preparation and presentation to ensure their testimony is credible and reliable. You will take part in a mock trial exercise where you will defend their findings based on cases assigned in class.

“Most of my 32 years in law enforcement involved criminal investigations. CSIs and Forensic Scientists are vital in the criminal justice system, striving daily to bring criminals to justice, and closure to victims and their families. I enjoy helping students learn the practical elements of crime scene investigation, and helping them become more competitive in the forensic science job market.”

Steve Staggs

Captain (Retired)
UCR Police Department
Riverside, CA

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