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William F. Connell School of Nursing

Forensic Nursing

william f. connell school of nursing




In our work as nurses, we often encounter individuals who are victims of violence. What skills do we need to meet the needs of these individuals? The forensic nursing specialty will help you answer this question, while preparing you to provide primary, secondary, and tertiary prevention of violence, crime, and traumatic injury, as well as leadership and administration of forensic nursing. You will be involved in advancing forensic nursing science, developing policy, influencing legislation and collaborating with other healthcare, social services, and criminal justice system professionals to enhance the care of victims and perpetrators of violence. You will gain a deeper understanding of the cultural, racial, and ethnic context of violence.

Upon completion of the program, you will be prepared to provide direct services to individual clients and families, provide consultation services, collect evidence from perpetrators and survivors of violent crime, and testify in court as a fact witness and evidence witness.



Boston College’s Connell School of Nursing has a history of excellence in forensic nursing. Dr. Ann Wolbert Burgess, professor of nursing and a pioneer in the field, has been practicing forensic nursing since before there was even a term to describe this work. She has been teaching forensics and victimology courses at Boston College since 2000. The forensics specialty builds upon this strong foundation, with newly developed coursework designed from the ground up to be relevant for advanced practice nurses. You will benefit from an evidence-based, experience-driven curriculum that will give you both the skills and confidence to excel in the field of forensic nursing.



Forensic nurses work in a variety of areas and roles including: emergency and acute care settings; sexual assault examiner programs; adult protective services units; psychiatric forensic treatment and evaluation units; death investigation teams; and as forensic nurse investigators, educators, and consultants.



As a student in the forensics specialty, you will constantly be applying ideas from the classroom to real clinical experiences. Because we have developed a program with deep community ties, you will have the opportunity to experience the whole spectrum of career opportunities and professional settings where forensic nursing can be applied. The bulk of your clinical work will be in emergency and outpatient care in adult health, geriatric, correctional, mental health and women’s health services. You will also have the opportunity to experience rotations in legal services, crime lab and evidence processing, forensic photography, legal clinics for victims, leadership experiences in community agencies, and prevention activities in service agencies.

In addition, you will be able to accompany Dr. Ann Wolbert Burgess to court when she testifies locally, observing one of the pioneers of forensic nursing at work and gaining an enhanced understanding of the role of forensic nurses as witnesses.



Forensics requires practitioners who are able to build connections across organizations and professional identities. To help you build these skills, we have convened a diverse group of forensics stakeholders into a multidisciplinary advisory board, made up of leaders in forensic science and related fields. These advisors have contributed to the design of both classroom and clinical experiences, and offer you the opportunity to join a strong professional community from the beginning of your program. Click here for a list of board members.


Post Master's in Nursing with Forensic Specialty

This option is open to nurses with master’s degree. Current students who are enrolled in a Nurse Practitioner or Clinical Nurse Specialist Program can also receive a second specialty in forensic nursing. These students could complete this additional specialty certification within one year of full time study (10 credits and 250 precepted clinical hours).

Program Overview (10 credits)

  • NU 680 - Forensics I (theory): Fundamentals of Forensics Practice in Nursing and Health Care (3 cr)
  • NU 681 - Forensics II (theory): Psychosocial and Legal Aspects of Forensic Evaluation and Assessment in Nursing and Health Care (3 cr)
  • NU 319: Forensic Lab (1 cr)
  • NU 682 - SANE and Forensic Nursing Practicum II: (3 cr) (250 hours)  

Pathways to Entry

The forensic nursing specialty is offered to students from a variety of academic and professional backgrounds through a number of routes to entry and program options. Find your pathway to entry.



Program Contact

Have questions about forensic nursing master's and post-master's specialties? For more information, contact:


MS Plan of Study

Course description/schedule listings »

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