Online Forensic Science Course and Class Overviews

Online forensic science courses are generally geared toward professionals working in the field who already hold a bachelor's degree or higher in forensic science. These courses can provide continuing education credit or be part of a forensic science certificate or degree program.

Online Courses in Forensic Science

Below are some of the commonly offered forensic courses that can be found online.

  • Introductory Forensic Science Course: This course introduces forensic science methods used in analyzing evidence to gain information about crime. The history and fundamental concepts of the field are discussed, along with an overview of crime scene basics and types of evidence. Specific forensic chemistry and biology techniques are covered, along with lab quality assurance practices.
  • Fingerprint Forensics Course: The individuality and permanence of palm, foot and fingerprints is the focus of this course. Students learn about the structure of friction ridges, print classification systems, methods of fingerprinting and forensic automated fingerprint identification systems. The uses of analysis, comparison, evaluation and verification methods in identifying impressions are also covered.
  • Forensic Death Investigation Course: This course discusses the legal and medical aspects of conducting a death investigation. Included is the study of human bones, postmortem intervals and methods for establishing identity. Students learn about the difference between sudden and natural deaths in adults. Causes of death discussed include fire, drowning, asphyxiation, head and neck injuries, overdose and specific wounds of medico-legal importance. Interviewing witnesses, informing next of kin and identifying the dead are also covered.
  • Forensic Toxicology Course: Principles and mechanisms of toxicology, including the absorption, distribution, metabolism and excretion of toxic substances, are the core of this course. Students learn about the pharmacological, physiological and toxic effects of commonly abused substances on human bodily systems, organs and tissues. Specific forensic methods used in determining the presence of toxic substances, their concentrations and probable effects on a person are also discussed.
  • Biological Evidence and Serology Course: This course introduces the basics of forensic serology, which is the collection, upkeep and examination of biological evidence. Students investigate the theories, principles and procedures behind the testing of biological evidence that comes from a crime scene.
  • Cyber Crime and Security Course: In this course, students will study the types of crimes which occur on computers and the laws that cover them. Additional topics include security techniques and investigation methods.
  • Firearms and Toolmarks Analysis Course: This course will introduce students to the methods used for investigating firearm toolmarks at a crime scene. Students will examine the history of toolmark evidence, how to evaluate and compare toolmarks, as well as some of the basic skills required to become a professional in this field.

Program Information

Criminalists, crime scene technicians, investigators and criminal analysts are all professionals who use forensic science. Online forensic science courses cover a wide range of topics, from fundamental concepts and methods used in the field to more specific topics like blood splatter, fingerprint, DNA or ballistics analysis. These courses are offered as part of bachelor's, graduate certificates and master's programs in forensic science or as non-credit, standalone classes. Specific online degree programs can lead to certificates or master's degrees in forensic science, toxicology, drug chemistry, DNA and serology, death investigation or environmental forensics. Though rare, online bachelor's degree programs in criminal justice with a focus in forensic science are also available. Certification, which is voluntary, is required by some employers.

Online forensic science courses are available through a plethora of graduate certificates, bachelor's and master's degree programs. Students will analyze various areas of study like fingerprint forensics, forensic toxicology and biological evidence.

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