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Masters Degree in Forensic Nursing: Program Overview

Forensic nursing is an interdisciplinary program that combines traditional nursing with criminal investigation. Learn more about master's degree programs in this field and job prospects for graduates.

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Essential Information

In forensic nursing master's programs, students learn to counsel victims of violent crime and collect evidence in assault cases. Programs usually combine theoretical coursework with practical training and culminate in a capstone project or thesis.

Forensic nursing programs are usually designed for working nurses, so many programs offer flexible learning options, such as online, weekend, or evening courses and part-time study opportunities. For full-time students, the master's degree usually takes two years to complete.

In order to apply, students are usually required to have already earned a bachelor's degree in nursing and a nursing license. Other admission requirements may include CPR certification, proof of liability insurance, submission of immunization records, and passing a drug test and criminal background check.


Master's Degree in Forensic Nursing

Master's degree programs in forensic nursing combine core nursing courses with forensic training in scientific investigation methods, crime scene analysis, legal processes, and trauma treatment methods. Coursework typically includes both lecture- and field-based study. Some common topics include:

  • Psychophysiology
  • Legal aspects of forensics
  • Forensic pathology
  • Interpersonal violence
  • Victim care

Employment Outlook and Salary Information

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that registered nurses could expect a 16% increase in job opportunities from 2014-2024 (www.bls.gov). According to PayScale.com, the median salary for forensic nurses was $61,176, as of January 2016.

Continuing Education

Nurses who are interested in careers in research and education may consider enrolling in nursing Ph.D. programs, some of which offer concentrations in forensic nursing. Other forensic nurses seeking continuing education may seek information about continuing education opportunities, such as licensing, workshops, and networking events, through nonprofit trade organizations like the American Nurses Association.

A master's degree program in forensic nursing offers the didactic and hands-on training needed for success in the field. Students can enroll in both hybrid and campus-based programs. Graduates of these programs are prepared for work as forensic nurses, or they may consider pursuing a doctoral nursing degree.

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