Introduction to Forensic Science Degrees

Did you know you can earn a forensic science degree online? Many schools offer distance learning options for those interested in the forensic science field. If you enjoy working in a lab and are passionate about the law and investigating facts, you might want to consider a degree in forensic science. You’ll learn what it takes to succeed in this field and to land the job you’ve always wanted. Click on these frequently asked questions to learn more:

  1. What is a forensic science degree?
  2. What is necessary to become a forensic scientist?
  3. Forensic Science vs. Criminology – What’s the difference?
  4. Will I work in lab with a forensic science degree?
  5. What is the job outlook for forensic scientists?
  6. Is it possible to earn a forensic science degree online?

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Online Forensic Science Schools and Programs

Kaplan University – The BS in Forensic Psychology degree program at Kaplan University features general education/criminal justice courses that deliver an overview of material on critical thinking, technology, communications, and criminological theory. For those that want to enter the exciting world of crime scene investigation, the university offers a BS in CSI.
Liberty University – The Liberty University AA in Criminal Justice degree provides students a basic overview of the criminal justice field, and prepares them for entry-level jobs in the public, private, and non-profit sectors. The BS in Criminal Justice prepares graduates for careers in juvenile justice, probation and parole, policing, corrections, or security. Courses explore current and future trends.
DeVry University – The DeVry University Computer forensics bachelor's program teaches valuable skills in navigating computer forensic software applications in the search of electronic evidence. Courses teach the laws and principles of computer forensics and electronic evidence. Classes include Digital Crime and Computer Ethics. Graduates work as IT professionals and consultants.
Walden University – The MS in Forensic Psychology from Walden University is a unique program that teaches research methods, forensic assessments, and correctional systems. Students can pursue specializations in Forensic Psychology in the Community, Mental Health Applications, Program Planning and Evaluation in Forensic Settings, and Psychology and Legal Systems.

Click here to see more online forensic science degrees

 

What is a forensic science degree?

Forensic science is the study of many sciences to aid the legal system. It is a fascinating subject that requires a keen mind and attention to detail. Students studying for a forensic science degree will find themselves learning how to relate this material to civil or criminal cases. You learn how to collect and assess physical evidence and determine how it relates to the crime. Common things that are analyzed by forensic scientists are saliva, blood, semen, bones, ballistics evidence, firearms and hair. As a forensics scientist, you serve as an important part of the judicial system as forensic evidence can make a major difference in a case.

What is necessary to become a forensic scientist?

You will need a bachelor’s degree in forensic science, microbiology, medical technology, or genetics to work as a forensic scientist. If your degree is outside of forensic scientist (ex. microbiology), you will also be required to work in a criminal lab for a certain number of hours before anyone will hire you. Internship programs exist for criminal labs and can be explored while a student is working on the latter portion of his or her degree. All of this leads to an entry level position as a forensic scientist. Classes you may be expected to take in a forensics program include:

  • Biological Evidence and Serology
  • Forensic Toxicology
  • Toxicology of Chemical Weapons
  • Forensic Analysis of DNA
  • Pharmaceutical Analysis
  • Molecular Biology
  • Human Anatomy and Physiology
  • Calculus & Analytic Geometry

Additional classes in communications or law are also helpful when finding employment as a forensic scientist.

Forensic science vs. criminology – what’s the difference?

This all depends on what you want to do after graduating. A forensic science degree trains you in working in the lab. Criminology is a much broader scope and you may not gain the lab time you will have working towards a forensic science degree. Lab time depends on the program, but forensic science programs are favored if a school offers both programs. This is because forensic science students are specifically trained for working in crime labs on a regular basis. Criminology students may end up working outside of the lab depending on what they choose. A forensic science degree is the right choice for someone who knows they will enjoy working in a lab, assessing crime scene material on a daily basis. Criminology degrees are general and offer more career path options than forensic science.

Will I work in lab with a forensic science degree?

If this is the only degree you plan on getting, yes, you will most likely work in a lab. However, a forensic science degree is also a fantastic stepping stone for obtaining a master’s or doctoral degree that will lead to other types of employment. These jobs will still be in the crime sector, but offer more responsibility and pay than working solely as a forensic scientist. Alternatively, with a forensic science degree you can work as forensic scientist for a few years and then return to school for a master’s and/or doctoral degree. Mid or high ranking forensic scientists often accompany police and detectives on crime scenes and work to properly collection evidence without tampering it. In some cases, you will also be asked to court for your professional assessment of crime scene evidence.

A forensic science degree is a great starting place for someone who wants to go on to be a medical examiner. Medical examiners require seven years of school and work directly with dead bodies on a regular basis. Medical examiners must have a medical degree and usually select a residency that focuses on forensics. Criminal investigation or criminology are also smart degrees to have paired with a medical degree to work as a medical examiner.

What is the job outlook for forensic scientists?

The job outlook is moderate. This is a field that is growing due to growing crime rates, but the need is for experienced forensic scientists. If you have experience working in labs, catch on quickly and establish yourself as a forensics scientist, you have a very good chance at finding employment. Due to TV popularity, forensic science programs are experience record numbers of enrollment. Not all of these students realize the pressure and environment they will face daily when working as a forensic scientist. Growing caseloads are also forcing some forensic science departments to grow and hire new people. The main issue is experience. You want to work for a lab anywhere from three to five years before moving on to a new place. This gives you time to establish your technique and learn the job inside and out, making it much easier to gain employment at another lab or facility. Overall, positions for forensic scientists are limited, but labs can make room for those who are experienced and serve as an integral part of the team. Most forensic scientists are employed by the state or federal governments.

Is it possible to earn a forensic science degree online?

Forensic science is independent work that students can complete online. The material you learn studying for a forensic science degree obtained online is the same material you learn in a classroom setting, but with online study you can cater your coursework around your schedule when it’s most convenient for you. Forensic science degrees are experiencing substantial growth because they are offered online, making it convenient for students to continue with full time jobs while going to school. This means that returning students, working students, and parents who want to finish their degree are able to arrange their courses around their busy schedules. The amount of time it will take a student to complete this degree program will depend on how much time they can commit to their coursework each semester.

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