Forensic Science Degree

Forensic scientists locate, investigate, and evaluate evidence from crime scenes. Impartial investigation and observation is the key to identifying and prosecuting criminals, so forensic scientists must be fact-driven and analytical. To pursue a career as a forensic scientist in a crime lab or as a crime scene investigator, a forensic science degree is a necessary and valuable tool. Forensic science students develop the analytical skills necessary to process and evaluate evidence in a criminal investigation in order to assist in the successful closing of cases. Forensic science programs can lead to either a two or a four year degree, and though forensic scientists must be experts in a variety of fields, most students choose a concentration in a specific area of interest, such as forensic toxicology, forensic entomology, forensic anthropology, digital forensics, or other exciting specialties.

Forensic Science Training and Courses

Core forensic science courses include crime scene investigation, DNA analysis, fingerprint analysis, ballistics, biology, computer science, and a host of other courses designed to help the student learn the skills necessary to work in a crime lab. Forensic scientists must learn to observe a crime scene for traces of evidence that first responders and other investigators missed, collect that evidence in a way that ensures that it is not contaminated and will stand up in court, and interpret the evidence through careful analysis of what it is, where it was found, and how it may have played a part in a crime. This complex process and the importance this evidence will play in proving the guilt or innocence of a suspect is why students must have a degree to work in the field of forensic science.

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CJDS FACT: Scientific analysis by forensic scientists can put criminals behind bars or free innocent people who have been falsely accused. According to the Innocence Project, there have been over 260 post-conviction exonerations from newly discovered DNA evidence. DNA evidence is now a core area of study for a forensic science degree.

Forensic Science Degree Requirements

Most forensic science programs require that students obtain a high school diploma or GED before beginning coursework for a degree. Most schools offer programs for two year associate’s degrees and four year bachelor’s degrees. Though students can begin working as a forensic scientist after just two years with an associate’s degree in criminal justice with a concentration in forensics, in order to advance in this field, forensic scientists will want to work towards a bachelor’s degree or higher. Jobs in this field are highly competitive, meaning that advanced degrees often lead to better opportunities.

Additional Forensic Science Resources

Professor Studies How Insects Can Be Used in Forensic Science

Online Forensic Science Degree Information and Criminal Justice Schools

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American InterContinental University Online
Campuses: 1Online
Popular Degrees:

  • Bachelor's of Science in Criminal Justice - Forensic Science

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Liberty University
Campuses: 1Online
Popular Degrees:

  • BS in Criminal Justice
  • AA in Criminal Justice
  • Masters in Criminal Justice: Command College

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Grand Canyon University
Campuses: 1Online
Popular Degrees:

  • B.S. in Justice Studies

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Colorado Technical University Online
Campuses: 1Online
Popular Degrees:

  • Bachelor of Science in Criminal Justice
  • Bachelor of Science in Criminal Justice: Human Services
  • Master of Science in Criminal Justice

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Capella University
Campuses: 1Online
Popular Degrees:

  • MS - Criminal Justice
  • PhD - Criminal Justice
  • BS - Criminal Justice

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Keiser University Graduate School
Campuses: 1Online
Popular Degrees:

  • Criminal Justice, MA (Online)

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Boston University - Online
Campuses: 1Online
Popular Degrees:

  • Master of Criminal Justice



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References:

Bertino, Anthony J. and Patricia Nolan Bertino. Forensic Science: Fundamentals and Investigations. Mason, OH: South-Western Cengage Learning, 2008.

Houck, Max M. and Jay A. Siegel. Fundamentals of Forensic Science. 2nd ed. Burlington, MA: Academic Press, 2010.

Nickell, Joe and John F. Fischer. Methods of Forensic Detection. Lexington: The University Press of Kentucky, 1999.

Page Edited by Charles Sipe.