It seems impossible to turn on the television today without finding at least one program on that has something to do with forensic science. Television shows and popular media, from “Dexter” to “Bones” and “CSI” to “Criminal Minds” all feature forensic specialists, and those portrayals are a part of what is bringing so much popularity to the field. While the reality of the field is much different, it is still very interesting and can offer a number of great career possibilities for those who are interested in it.
People who have an affinity for science and for the criminal justice system will find that they can do quite well when they take one of the forensic science programs. Those who are already in the field may want to pursue their Master’s of Science (MS) degree in Forensic Science as it may offer more possibilities when it comes to employment. The programs are also able to improve the knowledge that they have in the field.
Those who are considering working toward an MS in forensic science should already have a bachelor’s degree from a good school, and ideally, have been working in the field for some time. Those who have a Bachelor’s of Science (BS) degree in Forensic Science or in other science areas will find that they will be able to meet the prerequisites for most of the schools offering the master in forensic science degree. Of course, it is always important to look at the requirements for each particular school first.
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Students who are pursuing a career in forensic science will want to make sure to have some basic courses in chemistry and biology. Math and English can be quite helpful as well, and they are going to be part of the required core courses while earning a bachelor’s degree at most schools. Those who are undergraduates will generally have about 36 hours of general education requirements. They will also have to have around an additional 34 credit hours of training and education in statistics, organic chemistry and advanced biology.
Those who go further in their career, and who are looking for a doctorate in the field, will find that their studies will provide them with a deeper understanding of the criminology aspects of the job, as well as how science and the law intersect.
It is possible to find a number of specialties in the field of forensic science, which will then require specialized training. Some of the options include toxicology, blood spatter, trace evidence analysis, and firearm analysis.
Students will find a number of different MS in forensic sciences options when it comes to distance learning and hybrid options combining both campus and online learning. It is possible to pursue degrees in the field at institutions such as Florida International University, which has a campus in Miami as well. The school offers an undergraduate certificate in forensic science, an MS in forensic science program and a PhD program in chemistry and biochemistry with a forensic science research track. As well, in 2012, the school began offering a Professional Master’s of Forensic Sciences (PSM) degree that combines both forensic science and business management courses. Alliant International University in San Francisco provides a hybrid program that offers an MS in applied criminology. Students who choose to pursue an MS in forensic science online will find that the courses will still provide them with the knowledge they seek when wanting to advance in their career, and should not differ significantly in focus from campus-based learning.
Accreditation is something that all students should consider when choosing to pursue a master in forensic science degree from any school. The school should have accreditation from a recognized agency or organization. While different schools will have different accrediting bodies, it is always in the best interest of the students to learn a bit about the agencies. Florida International University has accreditation from the renowned American Academy of Forensic Sciences (AAFS), for example.
Barry is Managing Editor of ForensicsColleges.com, operated by educational web publisher Sechel Ventures Partners LLC, which he co-founded. Barry was previously VP for a financial software company, and currently sits on the board of a K-8 school and lives with his wife and daughters in the San Francisco Bay Area.