Overview of The Field
Forensic science is related to solving crimes with the help of evidence found at the scene of crime. It may include drugs, blood, textile fibers, body fluids, hair, paint, or glass pieces. Forensic professionals gather, and preserve physical evidence from the crime scenes and analyze it in laboratories with the help of scientific methods and procedures
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Forensic scientists are basically involved in the application of science to civil and criminal investigations. Their services prove extremely critical to the process of criminal justice. Their findings help determine how the crime took place.
What Programs Do Forensic Science Colleges Offer?
Forensic Science Bachelors
The undergraduate program builds strong foundations in the physical and biological sciences, along with more specific topics like forensic anthropology, forensic biology, forensic chemistry, and others.
Forensic Science Masters
The masters program provides rigorous and hand-on training in laboratory procedures as well as crime scene investigation. In addition students acquire specialized training in subjects like criminalistics, forensic chemistry, forensic biology and other relevant topics.
Professional Development Opportunities
Many forensic science colleges also offer professional development programs for people who wish to enhance their understanding of the subject and move up the ladder.
Some of these courses may deal with the presentation of evidence in courts, use of new technology in crime scene investigation, interpretation of evidence.
The content and structure of each program may vary depending on the institute that you enroll in.
There are usually variations in the names and types of courses offered by different institutes. In most of the programs, students are required to take up a certain number of compulsory courses along with a few specialized modules. The types of courses will also depend on the concentration that students opt for.
Most forensic science colleges allow students to specialize in one of the following concentrations depending on their academic interests and professional aspirations:
Crime Scene Investigation (Field Emphasis)
This major is a combination of the study of criminal justice and science. It provides students with training in collecting, documenting and preserving evidence from crime scenes. They learn how to take photographs of crime scenes, draw sketches, and record relevant findings and observations.
Some of the courses that may be included in the curriculum are:
- Principles and Practices of Science and Law
- Crime Scene Investigation
- Death Investigation
- Criminal Evidence and Proof
- Applied Statistics and Physics
- Crime Scene Photography
Relevant Career Options:
- Crime Scene Investigator
- Fingerprint Analysts
- Field Evidence Technicians
Forensic science investigation (Laboratory Emphasis)
Students are provided instruction in scientific methodologies that aid crime scene investigation. They’ll be equipped with procedures used for conducting chemical and biological analysis on the evidence and determining if suspects were actually involved in criminal activity. It may include DNA analysis, or drug and other forms of evidence analysis.
Some of the courses that are relevant to this major include:
- Principles of Science and Law
- Organic Chemistry and Applied Statistics
- Human Genetics
- Anatomy and Physiology
Relevant Career Options:
- Laboratory Technician
- Forensic pathologist
- Latent Print Examiner
Many graduates also go on to further study non-forensic fields like medicine, dentistry, and law.
Many forensic science colleges also encourage their students to undertake internships in criminal justice organizations and law enforcement agencies. Internships not only provide hands-on training and practical exposure, but also allow students to interact with experts in their field, enhance their understanding of the subject, and build a valuable professional network.
What factors to consider when choosing a forensic science college?
There are many factors that need to be taken into account:
- Look through the details and structure of the courses that are offered
- Choose an institute that is accredited by the American Academy of Forensic Sciences (AAFS)
- Look at the credentials and experience of the faculty
- Some institutes offer distance learning programs also. However owing to the hands-on training required, most of these programs are hybrid.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), in 2012, forensic science technicians earned a median annual wage of $52,840.
Employment of forensic science technicians is expected to go up by 6% from 2012 to 2022.
Due to technological and scientific advancements, the relevance and usefulness of forensic evidence in trials has gone up over a period of time. The increased awareness about the use of forensic information as evidence can also be attributed to popular shows such as CSI and Dexter.
According to BLS, graduates with a Masters degree will be in a position to find better employment opportunities. The highest growth prospects have been associated with the field of DNA specialties and digital computer forensics.
Graduates with a degree in forensic science or a related discipline usually find employment in:
- Police departments and offices
- Crime laboratories
- Coroner Offices
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Q:I will be enrolling in forensic science colleges next year. What program should I enroll in after finishing high school?
A:Once you finish high school, you can enroll in an associate or a bachelor degree in forensic science. Both these programs fall in the category of undergraduate programs and can only be pursued after completing high school education. A bachelor degree in forensic science will provide you with an in-depth understanding of the field and will prepare you for entry level forensic science careers.
Q:I am looking for colleges that offer forensic sciences degree programs. What shall I do?
A:If you are interested in forensic science, you can choose between a range of forensic science colleges online as well as campus based. An online search will help you find out what colleges are currently offering this program. This mode of search is extremely convenient and reliable. You can easily find out details about schools, programs, costs, and accreditation.
Q:How are forensic science schools accredited?
A:The accreditation process for forensic science schools varies. The Higher Education Commission has authorized many agencies to oversee and accredit educational institutes in this field. When choosing an institute for studying, it is crucial that you check the accreditation status of the school. This will determine the quality of services being offered at that particular institute.
Q:Forensic science college programs can also be studied online? How?
A:Yes, forensic science degree programs can be pursued online. You will need a laptop and an internet connection to successfully complete the coursework. The curriculum components are usually the same as of campus based programs. You will study with the help of video lectures, online lectures, classroom conferencing, presentations, and audio lectures.
Q:I am planning to enroll myself in a forensic science college. Can you explain what I can do with an associate's degree in forensic science?
A:An associate's degree in Forensic Science can enable you to work in entry level positions at government agencies and police departments. Graduates can also find employment in hospitals and other health care facilities. Many choose to work in forensic laboratories and medical examination offices as well. You can also pursue higher education in Forensic Science after completing this degree.
Q:Why is it important to go for an accredited online college for forensic science?
A:It is important to go for an accredited online college for forensic science, as accreditation provides students with the assurance that the program will have quality curriculum and method of instruction. Accredited programs are approved by the relevant accrediting agencies, after being assessed on various standards. Employers also prefer graduates from accredited programs, as they see a link between quality education and superior performance.
Q:Will I have to quit my job when doing my degree from online forensic science colleges?
A:The purpose of an online degree program is that students are able to pursue full time work while studying for their chosen degree. You can take the program at an online forensic science college which will allow you more comfort and flexibility regarding the timings and the course content. This way you'll be able to set a pace that will not disturb your job.
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