Nursing Forensics lab tests

Undergraduate Certificate inNursing Forensics

Program summary

Gain the tools you need to provide specialized services for victims and perpetrators of traumatic events. You can learn about evidence collection and preservation; forensic documentation; the recognition of domestic violence, assault, and stalking; and legal and ethical issues.

Application deadline

Apply by August 18 to start August 26

Credits and costs

12 Credits$626/$671 per credit

Learn to Bridge the Gap between Medicine and Law with a Certificate in Nursing Forensics

A high number of patients who access health care services are the victims of violence, abuse, or neglect. Professionals trained in forensic nursing are often the first line of defense for these victims when they enter the health care system.

With the patient as the first priority, the actual role of forensic nurses goes far beyond medical care. They have specialized knowledge of the legal system and skills in injury identification, evaluation, and documentation. Often their proper observation, collection, and preservation of evidence can be critical in determining the legal outcome of traumatic events.

The 12-credit Undergraduate Certificate in Nursing Forensics can help you gain foundational knowledge in forensic nursing, including:

  • evidence collection and preservation
  • forensic documentation
  • the recognition of domestic violence, assault, and stalking
  • legal and ethical issues

This program can prepare you to provide more specialized care for victims and perpetrators of physical, psychological, and social violence or abuse.

Why Penn State World Campus?

Earn a renowned credential — The Undergraduate Certificate in Nursing Forensics is an outreach program of the highly respected Penn State Ross and Carol Nese College of Nursing and delivered online through the innovative World Campus.

Build a solid foundation — In addition to being an excellent stand-alone credential, 6 of the 12 credits in the certificate can be applied toward electives in Penn State's online RN to BSN degree program. Some of the courses in the certificate program may also satisfy continuing professional education requirements.

Usable skills — With curriculum that focuses on fundamental forensic nursing topics, you can acquire skills that you can put to work immediately, helping those who are dealing with violence or abuse.

Flexibility — The online learning format offered by Penn State World Campus makes it possible for you to fit a degree program into your life, even with your current responsibilities. The flexibility of studying when and where you want can give you the opportunity to gain the skills and knowledge you need to stand out among your peers.

Who Should Apply?

Penn State Ross and Carol Nese College of Nursing's online nursing forensics certificate program could be right for you if you have a valid RN license and you wish to enhance your professional credentials. The courses can show you how to help your patients by providing a bridge between the health care system and the criminal justice system.


The online nursing forensics certificate is a 12-credit program of study, which may be earned as part of the RN to BSN program or as a stand-alone certificate. To earn this certificate, you must successfully complete a grade of "C" or better in all prescribed courses.

Prescribed Courses (12 credits)

  • 3

    Interdisciplinary discussion of violence and its perpetrators, victims, and impact on society as well as possible solutions for violence reduction.

  • 3

    Provides an introduction to the forensic health sciences, forensic nursing, and the nursing role in the scientific investigation of violence.

    • Prerequisite

      NURS 250 and NURS 225 and NURS 230

  • 3

    Examines a forensic nurse's role recognizing injuries/patterns of injury. Evidence collection procedures are examined from collection to courtroom presentation.

    • Prerequisite or concurrent

      NURS 245 and NURS 409

  • 3

    A seminar to discuss the current topics, trends, and research related to forensic nursing, including evidence-based research, public policy issues, media-related events, regulatory considerations, professional responsibilities, and career planning.

    • Prerequisite or concurrent

      NURS 410

Course Availability

If you're ready to see when your courses will be offered, visit our public LionPATH course search (opens in new window) to start planning ahead.

Costs and Financial Aid

Undergraduate Tuition

Undergraduate tuition is calculated based on the number of credits for which you register and the number of total credits you have accrued at or transferred to Penn State.

Tuition is due shortly after each semester begins and rates are assessed every semester of enrollment.

2023–24 Academic Year Rates

Tuition rates for the fall 2023, spring 2024, and summer 2024 semesters.

How many credits do you plan to take per semester?If you have 59 or fewer creditsIf you have 60 or more credits
11 or fewer$626 per credit$671 per credit
12–19$7,602 per semester$8,206 per semester

Undergraduate students taking more than 19 credits will be charged the flat tuition rate plus the regular per credit hour rate for each credit above 19. 

2024–25 Academic Year Rates

Tuition rates for the fall 2024, spring 2025, and summer 2025 semesters.

How many credits do you plan to take per semester?If you have 59 or fewer creditsIf you have 60 or more credits
11 or fewer$632 per credit$678 per credit
12–19$7,678 per semester$8,288 per semester

Undergraduate students taking more than 19 credits will be charged the flat tuition rate plus the regular per credit hour rate for each credit above 19. 

Paying for Your Certificate

Students pursuing a certificate are considered "nondegree," a status that is not eligible for federal student aid, including the Federal Direct Stafford Loan program. A private alternative loan may be an option to consider.

Additionally, Penn State offers many ways to pay for your education, including an installment plan and third-party payments. Penn State World Campus also offers an Employer Reimbursement and Tuition Deferment Plan. Learn more about the options for paying for your education.

Students pursuing a degree and meeting all other eligibility requirements may qualify for financial aid.

Financial Aid and Military Benefits

Some students may qualify for financial aid. Take the time to research financial aid, scholarships, and payment options as you prepare to apply. Military service members, veterans, and their spouses or dependents should explore these potential military education benefits and financial aid opportunities, as well.

To view the detailed list of cost of attendance elements, select “World Campus” as the location on the tuition site.

How to Apply

Deadlines and Important Dates

  • Fall DeadlineApply by August 18 to start August 26
  • Spring DeadlineApply by December 22 to start January 13
  • Summer DeadlineApply by May 5, 2025, to start May 11, 2025

All supporting materials should be sent following the submission of your application.

For current and future course registration deadlines, visit the Registrar's website to view the academic calendar by semester

Admissions Help

If you have questions about the admissions process, email
[email protected]
or call 814-865-1146.

Admission Requirements

To apply for the Undergraduate Certificate in Nursing Forensics, you must be a high school graduate, or have completed your GED.

Additionally, persons who want to enroll in any or all of these courses must be a currently licensed registered nurse.

Technical Requirements 

Review the technical requirements for this program.

Ready to Learn More?

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Ready to take the next step toward your Penn State undergraduate certificate?

Apply by August 18 to start August 26. How to Apply 

Start or Advance Your Career

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You can use the knowledge gained from this program and the support of Penn State career resources to pursue careers in a variety of fields, depending on your goals.

Career Opportunities for Graduates

Steady job growth in health care is projected for the next several years. As a graduate of the nursing forensics certificate program, you could obtain a position in a hospital, community anti-violence center, medical examiner/coroner's office, corrections institution, public health department, or psychiatric hospital. Typical roles could include:

  • medical examiner
  • nurse investigator
  • forensic clinical nurse specialist
  • correctional facility nurse
  • emergency room forensic nurse
  • nurse coroner
  • assault or abuse nurse examiner
  • legal nurse consultant

Career Services to Set You Up for Success

Student having a virtual meeting on a laptop with a career counselor

From the day you're accepted as a student, you can access resources and tools provided by Penn State World Campus Career Services to further your career. These resources are beneficial whether you're searching for a job or advancing in an established career.

  • Opportunities to connect with employers
  • Career counselor/coach support
  • Occupation and salary information
  • Internships
  • Graduate school resources 

Contact Us

For questions about admissions and applications, please contact World Campus Central:

World Campus Central
Phone: 814-865-1146
[email protected]


  • Jocelyn Anderson

    • Degree
      DNP, Johns Hopkins University
    • Degree
      MSN, Clinical Nurse Specialist - Forensic Nursing, Johns Hopkins University
    • Degree
      BSN, St. Cloud State University

    Dr. Jocelyn Anderson's research has focused on the health outcomes of violence and interventions to prevent and respond to violence. She is particularly interested in using technology-based interventions to improve health and justice outcomes at the intersections of violence, substance use, and mental health issues. Dr. Anderson is also an internationally certified Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner, caring for patients who have experienced physical or sexual violence.

  • Mary Alyce Nelson

    • Degree
      DNP, Penn State
    • Degree
      MSN, Bloomsburg University
    • Degree
      BSN, Villa Maria College

    Dr. Mary Alyce Nelson is the coordinator of the Penn State World Campus RN to BSN program and an assistant professor/undergraduate nursing coordinator at Penn State University Park. She has held various administrative roles in inpatient, outpatient, and educational settings, and her areas of expertise are mental health and health care leadership. Her research area of interest is alternative models of mental health treatment in rural outpatient clinics.


Ready to take the next step toward your Penn State undergraduate certificate?

Apply by August 18 to start August 26. How to Apply