Online Masters in Forensic Science: Degree Program Information
Forensic scientists use knowledge of chemistry and biology to examine and analyze evidence for exhibition in a court of law. Online Master of Science (MS) programs are available in the field of forensic science.
Online Master's Degree in Forensic Science Program Overview
Online Master of Science in Forensic Science programs are often directed at students who already have some experience in a laboratory. Some classes may require attendance either on campus or at a local laboratory. Areas of focus include toxicology, forensic pharmacology, death investigation and forensic genetics. Similar subjects of study are criminal justice, criminology and law enforcement.
Program Information and Requirements
Graduate applicants must have a bachelor's degree in the natural sciences, such as chemistry or biology. Applicants may also need to submit letters of recommendation. Students complete a thesis with original research. Off-campus research requires an on-site adviser approved by the school. Although coursework is by distance learning, students may need to visit campus for some exams, presentations or laboratory training.
Students should have consistent access to high-speed Internet. Computers need to be equipped with a DVD drive and speakers. Students should use up-to-date operating systems and Web browsers to ensure compatibility with course delivery systems.
List of Common Forensic Science Courses
Courses on organic structure, molecular biology and biochemistry form a platform for forensic science. Depending on the program and area of focus, students may take classes on toxic substances, drugs and medicine, serology, DNA analysis and blood splatter analysis.
Evidence Analysis Course
This class explores the collection and study of evidence from crime scenes. Topics include blood spatter analysis and material identification. Students learn about the roles and responsibilities of forensic scientists in investigations as well as the role of physical evidence in the criminal justice system.
Forensic Biology Course
This course covers the use of molecular biology to advance criminal investigations. Students conduct polymerase chain reaction (PCR) and short tandem repeat (STR) techniques to test DNA evidence.
Forensic Chemistry Course
Students analyze the materials of a crime scene for physical clues such as paint, fibers and glass particles. This class trains forensic scientists to examine residue of explosions and fires. Students also learn to search for evidence of controlled substances.
Forensic science graduates may be qualified for careers in criminalistics, toxicology, behavioral science and pathology. Many forensic scientists are employed in crime laboratories. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (www.bls.gov), forensic science technicians had a mean annual wage of $55,070 in May 2009.
There are several regional and national organizations dedicated to forensic science. These groups hold workshops and seminars where graduates can learn more about the field. Certification is also available from national organizations such as the American Board of Criminalistics. While certification is not required for employment, many employers prefer to hire certified professionals.
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