Master's programs in forensic genetics, often referred to as forensic DNA and serology programs, equip individuals with the knowledge and skills needed to collect, analyze and interpret deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA) evidence for legal proceedings, like criminal trials and paternity determinations. Coursework covers the theory and practice of blood serum analysis, fluid identification, toxicology and forensic statistics. To graduate, students must complete a research thesis. Most programs take two years to complete and require applicants to have a bachelor's degree in a scientific discipline and an acceptable grade point average (GPA). A smaller number of programs offer supplemental classes for prospective enrollees without an educational background in science.
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Master's in Forensic DNA and Serology
The curricula of these graduate programs are topically focused, with few or no elective courses. Some common class topics are:
- Molecular biology
- Blood splatter analysis
- Digital forensics
- Crime scene analysis
Popular Career Options
A master's degree in forensic genetics or a related discipline, such as biology or chemistry, is required to become a technical director of a National Quality Assurance Standards for Forensic DNA Testing Laboratories (NQASFDTL)-accredited analysis lab (www2.fbi.gov). Other career role options include:
- Forensic science technician
- DNA analyst
- Crime scene consultant
- Clinical laboratory technologist
Employment Outlook and Salary Information
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), employment for forensic and biological technicians is predicted to grow at rates of 27% and 5%, respectively, over 2014-2024, with mean annual wages of $60,090 and $45,230 as of May 2015.
Continuing Education and Training Information
Doctoral programs in serology and forensic science allow master's graduates to continue their studies and prepare for leadership positions in academia and research. Evidence-handling protocols and computer software programs used in analysis vary between institutions.
Master's degree programs are available in forensic DNA and serology for students wishing to study forensics, genetics and crime scene investigation. Positive job growth is expected for forensic and biological technicians, but graduates also have the option of pursuing a doctorate to advance their career.