Forensic Degree Programs Provide Many Choices

By Peterson's Staff updated on Thursday, January 31, 2013

Forensic science degrees can encompass many different educational fields, depending on which area of forensics interests you. There are forensic programs in crime scene investigation, forensic dentistry, forensic entomology, and forensic psychology, among others.

A forensic education can lead to an exciting career that will bring you a new set of challenges each and every day. There are many different career options, so choosing the right forensic degree is integral to your future. Here is an overview of the forensic degree programs available and their possible career associations.

Forensic science degrees

Associate degree
Offered by a variety of online universities and traditional universities, this degree takes approximately 60-credit hours to complete. This is a varied degree, with several options of specialty. Some of the classes and courses will focus on forensic dentistry, crime scene analysis, fingerprint technology, document analysis, entomology, psychology, pathology, laboratory technology, pattern analysis, examination procedures, law, and more.

The associate degree is most often used as a stepping stone to a bachelor's degree, but it could lead to a low-level career in forensic science, such as crime scene technician. However, the associate degree is also a supplement to people already possessing a bachelor's degree that want to enter the forensic science field. For example, a forensic scientist requires a bachelor's degree in biology, but if he or she also gets an associate degree in forensic science or criminal justice, that will make him or her more attractive in the job market.

Bachelor's degree
A bachelor's degree in forensic science can be earned from a variety of online and traditional universities. A bachelor's degree is required for nearly all mid-level forensic science positions, including crime scene investigator. The bachelor's degree in forensic science is required for most state and federal positions. Students must also pursue a bachelor's degree in the job field for which they want to pursue, for example a bachelor's degree in biology is necessary to be a forensic scientist, and a bachelor's degree in chemistry may be required to be a forensic toxicologist.

With a bachelor's in forensic science, students will learn many biological and physical sciences including forensic chemistry, forensic anthropology, forensic biology, and more. The bachelor's degree in forensic science has more specialized programs than an associate degree, and opens up more doors of opportunity. 

Advanced degrees
A master's degree in forensic science or doctorate in forensic sciences takes job seekers to the next level. These programs will create graduates with a firm knowledge of firearms, fingerprinting, DNA evidence, and all forms of crime scene investigation. This will include classes in biology, psychology, and chemistry, as well as classes relating to dealing with victims, suspects and victims' families. These degrees can lead to high-level careers in forensic science, including ballistics expert, DNA expert, forensic science administrator, and more.

The first step is to decide which career you want to pursue, and then detail your forensic education to make that goal a reality. Forensic science is a rewarding field that has long-term job prospects now and into the future.

About the Author

Peterson's has more than 40 years of experience in higher education, and the expert staff members here are all ready to leverage their considerable knowledge and experience to help you succeed on your educational journey. We have the information, the know-how, and the tools -- now all we need is you!

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