Online programs in forensic science are typically available only at the master's level. Although much of the coursework is available online in these programs, some on-campus attendance may be required. In certain programs, students may need to find lab facilities at a local school where they can complete hands-on work, since the curriculum is heavily science-focused. Applicants to master's degree programs should have a bachelor's degree in natural sciences; while some programs may require employment in law enforcement, as well.
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the educational requirements for working as a forensic science technician vary by employer, with some law enforcement agencies requiring only a high school diploma and others requiring postsecondary education, such as a bachelor's degree. Check with local requirements before choosing an educational program.
Master's Degree in Forensic Science
Accredited schools are not offering online bachelor's degree programs in forensic science; however, several online programs lead to a Master of Science in Forensic Sciences. A forensic science master's degree prepares students to support criminal investigations by gathering evidence at crime scenes and performing laboratory analyses. Enrollment in a master's-level program requires a bachelor's degree in one of the natural sciences. Some schools also require that students be employed in law enforcement, have access to a crime lab and permission to use lab facilities for class assignments.
Program Information and Requirements
Online master's degree program in forensic science might require a student to appear briefly on campus in addition to the primary online work. Assignments, readings and presentations are accessible at the student's convenience through a school's website. Video lectures may be viewed live or downloaded. A master's degree is typically completed in 2-3 years.
Students need a personal computer, Internet access and multimedia and productivity software to take part in an online master's degree program. Schools may use an educational content management and delivery system, such as Blackboard.
Online master's degree programs in forensic science generally consist of a set of required core courses and a set of electives.
Forensic Science Introductory
Students are introduced to basic concepts and the disciplines of forensic investigation in this course. Trace evidence, biological evidence, latent prints, DNA analysis, toxicology, firearms and explosives are covered among other topics.
This course explores basic chemistry as it applies to the analysis of drugs and body fluids. Topics covered include chromatography, immunoassays, quality control and drug identification.
Students learn the process of identifying and evaluating genetic evidence. Techniques for isolating DNA from cells and data handling are among the topics covered.
An online master's degree in forensic science prepares working law enforcement professionals to move into positions as forensic science technicians. The BLS (www.bls.gov) predicted employment of forensic science technicians would increase 27% (much faster than the average for all occupations) from 2014-2024, driven by increased adoption of technologies by law enforcement agencies that facilitate forensic investigation. According to the BLS, forensic science technicians earned an average annual salary of $60,090 as of May 2015.
Continuing Education Information
Forensic science master's degree holders can consider earning master's degrees or doctoral degrees in related subjects, such as forensic psychology or criminology. Master's degree programs in these subjects may be available online, but doctoral degrees generally are not.
Individuals looking to further their education in forensic science will have no problem finding online master's level programs, rather than locating an online B.A. in Forensic Science. While most of the graduate lectures and coursework is done online, some programs may require on-campus attendance to complete hands-on lab work, necessary for degree completion.