Online Forensic Science Degree Programs

Forensic science is a key part to solving legal matters in many different fields and industries. Online forensic science degree programs provide students with a solid educational background with specialization in a specific area of forensic science. Students gain the essential skills to analyze physical evidence, document their findings, and provide expert conclusions. Students generally choose a focus area, but can often transition to different career paths. Read more about online forensic science degree programs.

Some Stats

In 2006, there were 585 bachelor degrees and 517 master degrees conferred in forensic science and technology (1). About 30 colleges and universities offer forensic science bachelor degree programs and approximately 25 other institutions offer a bachelor degree in natural science with forensic science emphasis. A few schools offer bachelor degrees with specialty area concentration. Forensic science technicians held 13,000 jobs in 2006, with most working for local and state governments (2).

Employment Outlook

Employment outlook for forensic science professionals varies greatly on field, degree, and position. Employment of forensic science technicians is expected to increase much faster than average for all professions from 2006 to 2016, increasing 31% and adding 4,000 new jobs (2). Forensic science technicians with 1 to 4 years experience earned annual salaries between $29,564 and $40,449 (3).

Specialties

Forensic science is a large field and students can choose from a variety of specialty areas to lead a meaningful career in a variety of fields. The forensic science specialties include forensic criminology, forensic pathology, forensic nursing, forensic botany, forensic anthropology, forensic odontology, forensic entomology, forensic chemistry/toxicology, forensic photography, forensic psychology, forensic serology, law, DNA analysis/molecular biology, homicide/crime scene investigation, and computer forensics. All of the specialties are important in the criminal justice and other fields. Students who are interested in a specific specialty should select a school that offers a strong program in that particular area.

What to Expect

Many postsecondary institutions offer a variety of forensic science degree programs. Undergraduate forensic science degree programs provide students with the basic concepts of forensic science. Most undergraduate programs require general education courses in areas such as English, mathematics, science, composition, and humanities. Coursework varies depending on the institution and program, but most undergraduate forensic science programs require courses in principles of forensic science, crime detection and investigation, law enforcement, human behavior, forensic science research methods, ethical issues, and statistics. Graduate degree programs focus on more in depth forensic study and research and prepare students for higher level positions.

The End Result

An undergraduate degree in forensic science opens the door to a variety of career options in many different areas. Many forensic science graduates will be able to pursue positions in government organizations, private laboratories, hospitals, investigation and security services, and crime laboratories. Students who decide to pursue advanced education will be prepared for higher level positions in many different fields such as academia and research.

Careers for forensic science degree graduates include:

Forensic Pathologist
Medical Examiner
Crime Laboratory Analyst
Crime Scene Investigator
Forensic Engineer
Forensic Science Technician
Forensic Dentist
Forensic Chemist
Forensic Entomologist
Forensic Science Specialist
Forensic Laboratory Director
Forensic Scientist
Forensic Toxicologist

A career in forensic science will be rewarding for individuals who are not easily squeamish and have a strong interest in forensic science areas such as crime scene investigation and examining the deceased. Forensic science professionals use their knowledge and scientific methods to identify and analyze evidence in a variety of situations.

(1) SOURCE: U.S. National Center for Education Statistics, Digest of Education Statistics
(2) SOURCE: Bureau of Labor Statistics, Occupational Outlook Handbook 2008-2009 Edition
(3) SOURCE: Payscale.com, Salary Survey Report

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