With the advances made in crime scene investigation and television shows such as CSI and Criminal Minds showing the exciting world of forensic science many more people are interested in the field. Those students with an interest in law enforcement and science may want to combine the two and consider a career in forensic science. Many colleges and universities today offer online degrees in forensics. Most degrees are at the Bachelor’s and Master’s levels and offer students a variety of exciting and interesting courses along with important jobs within criminal justice upon graduation.
Forensics Bachelor’s Degree
A Bachelor of Science degree in Forensic Science gives students a solid foundation in knowing and understanding crime scene investigation. Forensic scientists examine and analyze evidence from crime scenes and assist officers with investigations. Often a case that seems hopeless can change on something discovered by a forensic scientist. This program generally takes four years to complete and is done very well online. Students have great flexibility in completing assignments and often work in groups with other students through online message boards, instant messaging and e-mail. Students should have a computer with high-speed internet and necessary software to complete assignments and give class presentations. Instructors use a combination of online presentations and traditional texts for virtual teaching.
Bachelor’s Degree Courses for Forensics
Forensic science degree programs are liberal arts in nature and use a combination of humanities, social science and natural science classes along with specialized forensics classes to give students the needed skills for crime lab careers. Some specialized courses for forensic science students are:
- United States government
- Crime theory
- Juvenile delinquency
- Introduction to forensics
- Crime lab procedures
Forensics Bachelor’s Degree Careers
This degree is sufficient for entry-level jobs as forensic scientists who spend most of their time in a lab or at crime scenes. The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports 20% job growth through 2018 due to state and local governments hiring more scientists.
Forensics Master’s Degree
A Master of Science degree in Forensic Science prepares students for positions as crime lab supervisors. Students specialize in biological and chemical sciences and take courses related to forensics and crime scene investigation such as:
- Forensic anthropology
- Forensic medicine
- Drug analysis
Admission to this program requires a bachelor’s degree in a related field. Completing a master’s degree takes 2-3 years and students should have a top-notch computer with high-speed internet and e-mail to communicate with other students and teachers.
Forensics Master’s Degree Courses
Courses at this level build upon the basic courses from a bachelor’s degree and prepare students for a focused career path on criminal investigation. Students are given practical and tested ideas on how to manage a crime lab as well as administrative techniques. Some common courses in this program include:
- Principles of DNA analysis
- Forensics and Statistics
- Basics of Forensics
Students learn about DNA isolation, data interpretation and sequence determination regarding DNA analysis. It also looks at statistics not so much as a math subject but more of an investigative tool. Students practice gathering data, questioning, examining and formulating investigative theories regarding criminal cases. They also learn specific forensic terms and techniques like firearms and tool marks, latent prints, illicit drugs and the history of forensic science.
Forensics Master’s Degree Careers
Forensic scientists work in labs and on crime scenes to investigate evidence and formulate theories for investigators to use. Most work in state and local governments with annual salaries of $24,000-$42,000.