Bachelor's degree programs in forensic science or criminology with a forensic science specialization are available in an online format. These programs typically cover not only forensic science techniques, but also theoretical topics in criminal justice. Students who successfully complete a bachelor's degree have an opportunity to continue their education by pursuing a master's degree in forensic science or criminology.
Bachelor's Degree in Forensic Science or Criminology
The typical bachelor's degree in forensic science combines chemistry, criminology and law. Though most criminology degrees give a wider overview of the legal system, from community police to the courts, some criminology programs also incorporate aspects of forensic science in their curricula. In some cases, these criminology programs offer a concentration option in forensic science.
Information and Requirements
Most online programs in forensic science and criminology can be completed in about four years. Some schools allow students in these fields to specialize in criminalistics, computer crimes, forensic science or death investigations. In forensic science-focused bachelor's degree programs, students learn the techniques used to document evidence collection, recreate and analyze crime scenes and prepare reports based on findings from analysis.
List of Forensic Science-Related Courses
Most forensic science programs focus on traditional lab sciences like biology and chemistry, introducing students to core science concepts. In addition to lab science, forensic science classes usually introduce students to criminal justice concepts while maintaining a focus on the skills and techniques used in forensic science labs.
This course introduces students to the concepts and techniques behind the investigation of death. Coursework may focus on the legal and medical aspects of this kind of investigation. In addition to investigation skills, students may be introduced to concepts like interviewing witnesses and notifying victims' next of kin.
Legal aspects of crime are analyzed with a focus on psychology. Coursework may introduce students to concepts like the assessment and treatment of criminals. A survey of psychology's use and influence on the legal system may be included.
Laboratory Quality Control
Of use to aspiring lab workers, these courses focus on quality control and quality assurance practices in laboratories. Students discuss standards and controls required by the Food and Drug Administration and Environmental Protection Agency for application in forensic and other scientific laboratories.
Graduates of an online bachelor's degree program in forensic science or criminology can find employment in law enforcement or government agencies and associated laboratories. Forensic science technicians collect and examine biological and physical evidence in criminal cases. Professionals in this field are sometimes called to testify in court about their findings.
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), there were approximately 14,070 forensic science technicians employed in 2015. A BLS survey from the same year indicates that forensic science technicians earned a median salary of $56,320. The BLS projects that employment of forensic science technicians will grow by 27% (faster than average for all occupations) from 2014-2024 (www.bls.gov).
According to the BLS, a bachelor's degree is generally the minimum educational level required to work as a forensic science technician, either in forensic science or in one of the natural sciences such as chemistry. However, some police departments, especially in rural areas, may hire non-police forensic science technicians without a degree and train them on the job.
The BLS reports that it is common for employers to provide on-the-job training to entry-level employees with bachelor's degrees. The BLS also indicates that non-degree continuing education is common for professionals in this field.
There are options for further formal education in forensic science beyond the undergraduate level. Graduate-level degrees in forensic science or criminology are available online and in face-to-face formats. These programs generally take a minimum of a year to complete and prepare students for careers as investigators, researchers and FBI agents.
A bachelor's degree program in forensic science or in criminology with a concentration in forensic science are available in an online format. These programs train students to document, handle, and analyze evidence, and to prepare reports outlining their findings.