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Criminal Science Degree Programs and Majors

Learn about bachelor's and master's degree programs in forensic science, which is related to criminal science. Get information on the prerequisites, curriculum and the employment outlook for careers in this field.

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Essential Information

There are no degree programs in criminal science at any college or university in the United States. Instead, students interested in this field of study can enter a degree program in forensic science, which is offered at the bachelor's and master's degree levels.

Bachelor's degree programs stress the science that is used in criminal investigations. Students in these 4-year programs complete courses in evidence gathering, forensic psychology, toxicology and court procedure. Courses in chemistry, biology and physics make up much of the curriculum.

Leadership and management skills are the emphasis of a master's degree program in forensic science, and students may be able to choose an area in which to specialize, such as drug chemistry or forensic anthropology. Advanced forensic science courses may include DNA analysis, drug toxicology and microscopic evidence. Graduates are prepared for supervisory positions in law enforcement agencies or crime labs. Some master's programs are available online, and most require about 32-38 credit hours of study, although some call for more than 50 credit hours.


Bachelor's Degree in Forensic Science

Many employers require at least a bachelor's degree in this area of criminal science. Since forensic science involves knowledge of science such as chemistry and biology, many forensic science bachelor's degree programs are offered through science rather than criminal justice departments at many schools.

Program Coursework

The curriculum of a bachelor's degree program in forensic science will consist of many introductory and advanced courses including:

  • Forensic techniques
  • Criminal procedure
  • Forensic psychology
  • Criminal courts
  • Toxicology
  • Pharmacology

Science courses typically make up a large part of the curriculum in a forensic science bachelor's degree program. Science courses will include:

  • Chemistry
  • Biology
  • Microbiology
  • Organic chemistry
  • Physics
  • Biochemistry

Employment Outlook and Salary Info

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, forensic science technicians were projected to see a 19% growth in employment opportunities from 2010-2020. The mean annual wages for these workers were $55,730 in May 2012.


Master's Degree in Forensic Science

A Master of Science in Forensic Science provides students with the education necessary to pursue leadership positions in criminal labs, police departments and criminal investigation agencies. Analytical and leadership skills are emphasized in a master's degree program for this area of criminal science.

Program Coursework

At the core of a master's degree in forensic science program are courses addressing analysis and research in the field of forensic science. Some of these courses include:

  • Physical evidence analysis
  • Forensic drug toxicology
  • Biological evidence analysis
  • Forensic statistics
  • DNA analysis
  • Forensic drug and alcohol analysis
  • Forensic microscopic evidence

Popular Career Options

A master's degree in forensic science can qualify one for mid- to upper-level management and supervisory roles in labs, police departments and other offices.

  • Lead homicide investigator
  • Crime lab analyst
  • Crime lab supervisor
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Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics