Forensic Science Programs
Forensic science is the use of scientific procedures and the examination of scientific information to assist the legal and law enforcement systems. Bachelor's degree programs in forensic science offer a well-balanced education in mathematics and science, including statistics, biology, and chemistry.
Admission requirements and prerequisites include a high school diploma or its equivalent. A strong background in the natural sciences and mathematics may be helpful. Bachelor's degree programs in forensic science combine lecture and laboratory classes and may include internships and exposure to crime laboratories and related agencies.
These four-year courses of study can vary based on the specialty pursued, but often cover collecting and analyzing genetic information, arson investigation, and presenting evidence in court. As in all bachelor's degree programs, general education courses in English composition, social studies, and science are required.
Undergraduate coursework in forensic science is based upon the area of concentration such as crime scene investigation, forensic biology, or forensic chemistry. However, basic course topics for all forensic science programs offered at the bachelor's degree level typically include:
- General chemistry
- Organic chemistry
- Forensic science fundamentals
Graduates of a bachelor's degree program in forensic science may find employment in law enforcement agencies, law offices, or laboratories. Possible positions include:
- Crime laboratory technician
- DNA database scientist
- Drug enforcement lab technician
- Latent print examiner
- Law enforcement officer
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), employment opportunities for forensic science technicians were projected to increase 27% from 2014-2024 decade, a much faster than average rate of growth in comparison to all other occupations. The BLS also reports that forensic science technicians earned a median annual salary of $56,320 in May 2015.
Students with a bachelor's degree in forensic science may go on to pursue a Master of Science in Forensic Science. This degree program is designed for students who are interested in pursuing careers in government and private laboratories and includes specializations in DNA or drug analysis, trace evidence, computer forensics, legal issues, and criminalistics.
Just to recap, a bachelor's degree program in forensic science typically includes classroom and laboratory work in biology, chemistry, and evidence analysis, as well as internships. As of May 2015, graduates employed as forensic science technicians earned an annual median salary of $56,320 and can expect a much faster than average increase in job opportunities through 2024.