There are no degree programs in criminal science at any college or university in the United States. Instead, students interested in this field of study can enter a degree program in forensic science, which is offered at the bachelor's and master's degree levels.
Bachelor's degree programs stress the science that is used in criminal investigations. Students in these programs complete courses in evidence gathering, forensic psychology, toxicology, and court procedure. Courses in chemistry, biology, and physics make up much of the curriculum. Most programs take four years to complete.
Leadership and management skills are the emphasis of a master's degree program in forensic science. Advanced forensic science courses may include DNA analysis, drug toxicology, and microscopic evidence. Specializations exist in the form of drug chemistry and forensic anthropology. Graduates are prepared for supervisory positions in law enforcement agencies or crime labs. Some programs may be available online.
Bachelor's Degree Programs in Forensic Science
Many employers require at least a bachelor's degree in this area of criminal science. Since forensic science involves knowledge of science such as chemistry and biology, many forensic science bachelor's degree programs are offered through science rather than criminal justice departments at many schools.
While science courses typically make up a large part of the curriculum in a forensic science bachelor's degree program; the curriculum will also consist of many introductory and advanced courses including:
- Forensic techniques
- Criminal procedure
- Forensic psychology
- Criminal courts
Master's Degree Programs in Forensic Science
A Master of Science in Forensic Science provides students with the education necessary to pursue leadership positions in criminal labs, police departments, and criminal investigation agencies. At the core of a master's degree in forensic science program are courses addressing analysis and research in the field of forensic science. Some of these courses include:
- Physical evidence analysis
- Forensic drug toxicology
- Biological evidence analysis
- Forensic statistics
- DNA analysis
- Forensic drug and alcohol analysis
Employment Outlook and Salary Info
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, forensic science technicians were projected to see a 27% growth in employment opportunities from 2014-2024. The median annual salary for these workers was $56,320 as of 2015.
Popular Career Options
A master's degree in forensic science can qualify one for mid- to upper-level management and supervisory roles in labs, police departments and other offices.
- Lead homicide investigator
- Crime lab analyst
- Crime lab supervisor
Forensic science bachelor's and master's degrees teach students about the law, as well as forensic and crime scene investigation skills. Job opportunities are extremely good for this career field, with many management positions open for master's graduates.