Forensic science is a broad field, comprising many different disciplines. It’s not enough that suspects are apprehended and witnesses are interviewed. Proof must be found. Evidence must be procured that will give needed information to solve the crime and give prosecutors what is needed to support allegations in a court of law. Forensic scientists are often responsible for analyzing evidence and providing that proof. Forensic psychologists can help identify the “why” of the crime and give insight into the mind of a criminal. A degree in forensic science can lead to a very rewarding and exciting career. If you are considering a degree in forensic science, there are some things you need to consider when choosing a degree program that will fit your needs.
Choosing a Discipline
TV shows and movies often cluster different disciplines of forensic science together. The crime scene investigators are the same folks that you see later in the lab analyzing information, running DNA samples and profiling the criminal. In reality, this is usually not the case. The major branches of forensic science include forensic behavioral sciences, forensic dentistry, forensic anthropology, forensic chemistry, and forensic biology. In addition to these, there digital and multi-media forensic scientists who look for evidence on computers, cell phones, internet accounts, etc. There are a variety of different ways you can take a forensic science degree. If you aren’t certain exactly what you want your discipline to be, it’s important to choose a school that has a broad range of forensic science degree options so that you can explore these different disciplines.
Choosing a School
There are many different variables to consider when choosing a school. You’ll want to look at the quality of the degree programs offered and the reputation of the school itself. Location may be important to you – you might want something close to home, or a school in a particular state.
Cost is always a factor, as well as grants and scholarships offered by the school. It’s important to remember that the cost of attendance isn’t just the tuition and dorm costs. You must also factor in the grants, scholarships and other financial aid that the school is able to offer. It is feasible that a school that has a higher tuition could turn out to be less expensive to attend than a school with lower tuition but less scholarship and grant opportunities.
It’s always a good idea to plan a visit to your top few schools to see if you feel you will fit in the culture of the school itself. This is the place you will spend the next several years of your life. You will want to feel at home there.
Choosing a Degree Level
While associate degrees in forensic science are available for some disciplines, it is highly recommended to obtain at least a bachelor degree. Most positions, even entry level positions, will look more favorably upon a bachelor degree, and many positions will require one.
Obtaining a graduate degree will deeply enhance your future career options, and could lead to a more profitable career in the long run, even if it means a few more years of school.