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Masters Degree in Forensic Science: Program Overviews

Ger information on master's degree programs in forensic sciences. Learn about prerequisites, course requirements, job growth predictions and average salary information.

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Essential Information

A forensic scientist uses scientific means to investigate crimes, yielding information that is legally admissible in court. The master's degree program in forensic science is the most common educational course for aspiring forensic scientists. These programs provide students with the technical proficiencies and theoretical knowledge necessary to perform in-depth crime scene analysis.

Forensic science is a multidisciplinary field, incorporating areas of biology, chemistry, physics, mathematics, psychology and law. Applicants to a master's program in forensic science must hold a bachelor's degree, generally in a science. Master's degree students may be required to choose a concentration, such as forensic biology, forensic chemistry or forensic anthropology.

Through master's degree programs in forensic science, candidates learn how to use laboratory equipment to perform blood analyses and toxicology procedures. Graduate forensic science programs also emphasize academic research; therefore, each candidate must complete a thesis project under the supervision of a professor. The length of these programs vary from school to school and depend on if the student is full- or part-time, but can often be completed in about two years of full-time study.

Education Prerequisites

Entrance to a master's degree program in forensic science usually depends on the submission of an application along with previous college transcripts. Many programs require the applicant to have maintained a 3.0 grade point average during undergraduate study. Undergraduate degrees in biology, chemistry, physics or other sciences are often common precursors to master's degree programs in forensic science.

Program Coursework

Graduate forensic science degree programs balance scientific courses with courses that cover criminal law and the inner workings of the justice system. Courses may include the following:

  • Analytical chemistry
  • Law and forensic science
  • Forensic analysis of drugs
  • Forensic serology
  • DNA profiling
  • Forensic chemistry
  • Microscopic evidence analysis
  • Medical anatomy
  • Forensic anthropology

Employment Outlook and Salary Info

The number of forensic science technician jobs is expected to increase by 19% between 2010 and 2020, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS); this represents job growth about as fast as the average for all occupations (www.bls.gov). The ever-expanding number of forensic science technological breakthroughs in the areas of DNA analysis and a growing awareness of these techniques among potential jurors should drive the need for forensic science experts. Competition for these jobs is expected to be great. As of May 2012, the BLS reported the median annual wage for forensic science technicians at $52,840.

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