Learn essential forensic nursing skills with a specialized MSN.


Forensic nursing is the practice in which health care and legal systems intersect. Aspen’s CCNE-accredited MSN program with a Forensic Nursing specialization helps nurses understand and adapt to advancements in new forensic research and techniques.

“I have nothing but great appreciation for Aspen University and the educators in it.”   -Ingrid A., MSN

Forensic nurses have a unique body of knowledge, which serves a critical role. For instance, a forensic nurse might care for an assault victim, provide health care in a correctional facility or provide forensic testimony in court.

To ensure accurate results, nurses must be unbiased, thorough and diligent in their work at crime scenes, in the lab, and in the courtroom. Education is a crucial component to staying up-to-date in the industry.

This specialization equips students with:

  • Comprehensive forensic nursing knowledge
  • Organizational skills necessary for writing reports, taking photos and collecting evidence
  • Critical thinking skills
  • Strategies to collect, record and preserve essential evidence

Aspen MSN (Forensics) graduates can:

  • Apply forensic nursing science foundational principles to public or legal proceedings
  • Work with law enforcement for public good
  • Provide specialized care and services to those who have experienced violence or trauma
  • Use clues on victims’ bodies in an ER or elsewhere to help determine what may have happened
  • Document clues to aid in a legal case or investigation
  • Serve as forensic nursing leaders

Is this program for me?

If you are an RN who has completed a BSN – and need an accredited, adaptable, and affordable online MSN program – then this program is for you!

RNs who do not yet have a BSN but would like to pursue their MSN may enroll in our RN to MSN Bridge Program.

We designed our program to be completed in as little as 2 years.

Check out Aspen’s Other MSN Specializations

Admission Requirements

  • Application – A completed application.
  • Registered Nurse Licensure – Current, unrestricted licensure as a registered nurse in the United States, a US territory, or Canada. Registered nurses licensed outside of these areas are not eligible.
  • Bachelor of Science in Nursing – Official transcript demonstrating a conferred bachelor’s degree in nursing (BSN), from an institution that is accredited by a CHEA recognized accrediting body or an international equivalent, with a minimum cumulative GPA of 3.0 or greater.
  • Nursing Experience – A minimum of one year of nursing experience completed within the past five years.
  • Military Documentation (Optional) – A copy of the most recent orders; or a copy of DD214 (This can be requested from the National Archives.)

Courses:

    This graduate-level course introduces students to the historical development, structure, operation, and current and future directions of the major components of the American health care delivery system. It reviews the historical evolution of the health care system's features and examines the ways in which health care services are organized and delivered, the influences that affect health care public policy decisions, factors that determine priorities for the allocation of health care resources, and the relationship of health care costs to measurable benefits. The course enables students to assess the role of organized efforts to influence health policy formulation, and the contributions of medical technology, research findings, and societal values on our evolving health care delivery system.

    3 Credits
    Required Books

    This course provides an introduction to forensic nursing science, and the role the forensic nurse plays in the bridge between medical and legal components. The course presents the evolution of forensic nursing and explores the various roles and responsibilities of the forensic nurse in a variety of healthcare and non-traditional settings. The forensic nursing specialty has evolved in part from society’s need to reduce and prevent interpersonal violence and criminal behavior. In both criminal and non-criminal incidents requiring investigation, there is a gap between the medical/forensic medical information and law enforcement/investigative agencies and the criminal justice system. This course will provide the framework for bridging this gap and students will uncover the potential for nurses to apply forensic nursing expertise in variety of settings and multidisciplinary environments.

    3 Credits
    Required Books

    This graduate-level course provides an in-depth study of cultural diversity, delineating ethnocultural congruent health-care practices in a pluralistic society. Assessment, planning, and interventions for health promotion and maintenance, illness and disease prevention, health restoration, and health policy are explored. The course examines the meanings of health and illness across ethnocultural groups and communities.

    3 Credits
    Required Books

    This graduate level course focuses on advanced health/physical assessment and includes the comprehensive history, physical, and psychological assessment of signs and symptoms, pathophysiologic changes, and psychosocial variations of the patient (individual, family, or community).  This course will prepare students by providing an in-depth knowledge of core general assessment content, in addition to geriatric, pediatric, genetic, social, cultural, and community-specific needs.  Appropriate screening and diagnostic testing methods will also be included.  Content knowledge will be reinforced through a series of virtual reality patient encounter simulations.  This will culminate with a precepted virtual reality comprehensive physical assessment. 

    3 Credits
    Required Books

    This graduate-level course focuses on the legal and ethical rights, responsibilities, and obligations of the practicing nurse in a changing health environment. It is intended to provide graduate nursing students with the theory, knowledge and application necessary to deal with pressing legal and ethical issues in nursing practice. Learners will develop a framework for working through increasingly complex legal and ethical issues that affect nurses. This framework and broadened perspective will help practitioners recognize and respond to dilemmas within diverse health care settings and nursing roles. This course will provide an overview of regulatory action and the legislative and judicial processes, enabling learners to become familiar with changes affecting the health care system such as patient rights, technological advances, and managed care. Within an ethical framework, ethical and professional issues affecting the individual, the practice of professional nursing, and the profession will be explored.

    3 Credits
    Required Books

    This graduate-level course focuses on developing advanced knowledge of human pathophysiological functions and responses to altered conditions, and includes integration of this knowledge into evidenced-based nursing practice. The focus is on frequently encountered primary care conditions across the general lifespan and for special populations. This course will prepare students to function in advanced practice and nurse educator roles by providing an in-depth understanding of pathophysiologic processes, enabling the student to predict clinical manifestations, select evaluative studies, initiate appropriate therapies, and anticipate potential complications. Insights into the underlying disease process will prepare the practitioner and educator for integration of new and innovative interventions, pharmacotherapeutics, analysis of risk factors, and associated signs and symptoms. Appropriate screening and diagnostic testing methods will also be included. Emphasis will be placed on important pathophysiological concepts needed to support the goals of Healthy People 2020 to improve clients’ quality of life and reduce health disparities. Additionally, this course will address the pathophysiologic needs of communities and individuals in emergency and disaster settings.

    3 Credits
    Required Books

    This graduate level course focuses on developing advanced knowledge of pharmacology and pharmacologic responses. A deeper look will be taken at cultural, social, genetic, and other issues that impact patient decisions regarding pharmacologic treatment. Students will be prepared to address common herbal and alternative therapies utilized by patients. Also included in the course is a discussion of the role of the nurse in the process of approvals for new pharmacologic treatments and in the coordination of medication distribution. Application will be made to disaster and emergency management and the role of the nurse in the multidisciplinary team under these circumstances.

    3 Credits
    Required Books

    This course will provide students with an understanding of the American correctional system. It covers various topics including the history and law of corrections, punishment and rehabilitation of offenders, correctional practices ranging from probation to prison, and correctional trends. To begin, this course provides an overview of corrections, including the early history of correctional thought. Later, correctional law and the punishment of offenders will be examined, including the various types of correctional clients. Correctional practices including jails, probation, and intermediate sanctions and community corrections are explored. Corrections also covers incarceration, including the prison experience for men and women. This course reviews issues related to institutional management and programs; as well as once offenders are released from incarceration. This course explores supervision of offenders in the community, as well as corrections for juveniles. It also covers various trends including incarceration, race and ethnicity, and the death penalty. Finally, surveillance and control in the community are discussed, as well as community justice. The discussion will conclude with a look at the future of corrections.

    3 Credits
    Required Books

    This course builds upon the introductory content mastered in N560 Forensic Nursing. In this course participants will have the opportunity for in-depth exploration of current issues driving the evolving forensic nurse role.  Participants will gain additional specialized knowledge and skills required for current and evolving forensic nursing practice.  Examples of topics covered in this course include human trafficking; sexual violence; at risk and vulnerable populations; violence in the workplace; prevention and education; organizational and community consultation; policy/laws/regulation; advocacy; the nurse as expert witness; terrorism and torture; self-care and compassion fatigue prevention for the forensic nurse. Learning activities are designed to guide discovery of knowledge, evaluation and application of research, and the development of innovative strategies for incorporation into Forensic Nursing practice. Course participants will have the opportunity to select and interact with preferred target populations within the broader module foci to provide for a richer, more diverse collaborative, interactive learning experience.   

    3 Credits
    Required Books

    This graduate-level course in theory and research for advanced nursing practice is designed to develop and refine the knowledge and skills necessary to critique theory and research from nursing and related fields. The focus of this course is on the examination of the research process with applicability to advanced nursing practice. Emphasis is placed on the critique, evaluation, and utilization of nursing and related research that applies to advanced nursing practice and a comprehensive approach to care. Ethical and technological aspects of scholarly inquiry are explored. This course supports the development of the research design, theoretical framework, methods of analysis, and creating an abstract for the capstone project proposal.

    3 Credits
    Required Books

    This graduate level course focuses on the implementation of the specialist nurse role through the application of theoretical concepts and strategies for a selected learner population in an academic, legal, or clinical setting. Emphasis is on effective communication and sensitivity to varying needs of the learner based on cultural and educational background. The specialist nurse role will be analyzed and applied in collaboration with a master's prepared nurse preceptor with experience in the specialty. Evidence-based strategies will be developed into a comprehensive activity or teaching plan to engage learners in active learning and implemented to meet mutually determined outcomes. Activities might include, but are not limited to: creating toolkit of resource references, developing a PowerPoint®   or Prezi® for presentation, creating a survey to measure satisfaction with activity, attending professional meetings, writing a publishable article, presenting a topic to patients, creating a webinar, delivering a training module to staff nurses, developing software to meet a need, creating a Review of Literature, developing an advocacy agenda, or proposing a change in process or procedure. This course requires 180 hours of practicum experience. PLEASE NOTE: PRIOR to registering for this class, all required practicum documents must be submitted to the Nursing Practicum Center classroom and approved by the NP Coordinator. Please contact npcoordinator@aspen.edu if you have questions. 

    3 Credits
    Required Books

    The purpose of this individualized learning experience is to enable you to develop an original comprehensive nursing research project on a topic of professional or personal interest. This project-based course is intended to enable you to research, design and develop a substantial original applied project of your own authorship. This project is intended to encourage the application of theories, principles, and processes that you have studied in the Aspen graduate courses to an actual nursing related problem or issue of interest and relevance to you in your professional activities. PLEASE NOTE: Students cannot start the Capstone concurrently with the Practicum, as the Capstone is based upon the data collected from the Practicum.

    3 Credits