Forensic Science

What You Will Learn in a Forensic Science Degree Program

Forensic science degree programs are designed to equip students with the skills and education necessary to inspect and document criminal evidence in laboratories. Other forensic science degree programs emphasize how to correctly process crime scenes, gathering evidence that can later be used toward the conviction of criminals in court. Forensic science degrees are science-heavy, requiring advanced courses in biology, organic chemistry, physics and genetics. Students will also participate in a great deal of lab work, where they will examine fingerprints, body fluids, chemicals and compounds. Courses in a forensic science degree program might include: crime scene investigation, criminal evidence and procedure, expert witness testimony, forensic serology (the study of bodily fluids), DNA analysis, and criminal justice.

What You Can Do with a Forensic Science Degree

There are two primary career paths for someone who holds a forensic science degree. First is the forensic scientist who works in a laboratory examining criminal evidence, such as DNA, weaponry and drugs. These scientists are sometimes called crime laboratory analysts—they rarely visit the scene of a crime, although they are called upon to provide expert testimony in court from time to time. Second is the crime scene technician, who typically works as part of a law enforcement agency to process the scene of a crime for evidence. However, another career you can enter with a graduate degree in forensic science is that of an associate medical examiner, a lab professional who examines bodies after a violent, suspicious or unnatural death to help determine a cause of death.

Why a Forensic Science Degree Is in Demand

Forensic science degree programs have recently become popularized due to television shows like CSI and Bones. Putting all Hollywood glamour aside, though, students flock to these programs because they have a passion for applying scientific principles to solving crimes and putting criminals behind bars. Students enjoy the interdisciplinary nature of forensic science, as it touches law enforcement, the legal system and the science lab. However, a big reason forensic science degrees are in demand is because of the excellent job prospects students will have upon graduation. In fact, employment of forensic scientists is projected to grow by a whopping 20 percent between 2008 and 2018, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.