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Forensic Pathology Graduate Program Options

Oct 10, 2019

Forensic pathologists perform autopsies that try to discover a person's cause of death. Training for a career in this field is available through master's degree programs that combine the study of biology and criminal justice topics.

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Essential Information

Students interested in a forensic pathology career should be aware that in addition to forensic training, a Doctor of Medicine (MD) degree is required. To earn an MD, students must complete a bachelor's degree program with pre-med courses, four years of medical school, and a residency program.

Some students may want to earn a 2-year Master of Science (MS) degree with a specialization in forensic pathology in addition to their MD degree. Such graduate programs are grounded in forensic principles from biology, chemistry, math, and physics. They also feature studies in social science theory, law, and criminal justice, since forensic pathologists frequently help in law enforcement investigations.


Master of Science Programs in Forensic Pathology

These master's degree programs are for individuals with an undergraduate degree in the behavioral, biological, medical, or physical sciences. Prospective students might also need to have completed coursework in quantitative analysis. Once admitted, graduation requirements for these forensic science graduate degree programs typically include completion of about 30 credits of classroom instruction and laboratory work, combined with individual or group research projects and internships. Some of the coursework ordinarily found within the curriculum of forensic pathology graduate degree programs can include:

  • Principles of crime scene investigation
  • Introduction to criminalistics
  • Ethics and legal issues in forensic science
  • Law enforcement procedures and policies
  • Forensic biology

Career Information

There were more than 16,700 jobs in the United States for forensic science technicians in 2018, many of which supported law enforcement at the federal, state, local and industry levels, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor of Statistics (www.bls.gov). The BLS also projected job growth between 2018-2028 to be up 7% for forensic pathologists as part of a broad group of many different types of physicians and surgeons. Payscale.com reported that the mean annual wage for forensic pathologists as of August 2019 was $102,902.

Continuing Education Information

Graduates of a master's degree program in forensic pathology will likely want to continue on to the aforementioned four years of medical school. There are also many professional development opportunities in the forensic science field, including workshops, advanced classes in new forensic science topics and conferences.

A Master of Science in Forensic Pathology is often paired with a Doctor of Medicine degree to work in the field of forensics, specifically as a pathologist. Students gain a wide knowledge base in the sciences and public policy, as pathologists often help to determine the cause of death in an investigation.

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