What is the Top Forensic Science School?

What is Forensic Science?

Does a career in forensics fascinate you? If you want to enter the field of forensics, you’ll need an education. For the most part, the high school graduate knows little about studying crime details, and you may not realize how many fields are contained within forensic sciences. Each field demands a slightly different degree and education level, so some research about your education now can save headaches later.

According to The Bureau of Labor Statistics information on forensics [PDF], the word “forensic” means “pertaining to the law.” Forensic science resolves legal issues by applying scientific principles to that law through comprehensive chemical and physical analyses on evidence submitted by law enforcement agencies. While some forensic scientists focus on criminal cases (criminologists), others work in the civil justice system, in the field, or in the lab in various positions.

In all cases, the forensic scientist should enjoy science and mathematics, be able to work independently, and have good oral and written communication skills. Lab experience is helpful, no matter whether you achieve that goal in an academic lab or through an internship or co-op program. But, most students do not need to specialize during an undergraduate program, and this flexibility can help you achieve a job more readily upon graduation.

Most forensic science positions demand at least a bachelor’s degree in:

  • Forensic Science
  • Chemistry
  • Biology
  • Physics
  • Physical Anthropology

Forensic Science Programs

Approximately 31 colleges and universities offer a bachelor’s degree in forensic science and most also offer advanced degrees in an area of specialization. If you now attend a college that does not offer forensic sciences, you can plan a forensic science career through careful selection of college courses. Required college courses usually include sciences such as biology, physics, chemistry, and pharmacology; also frequently required is a course in quantitative analysis and statistics. Laboratory experience involving analytical instruments or blood sample analysis is helpful. Computer courses are also recommended, as employers prefer job applicants with computer skills for modeling and simulation tasks and to operate computerized laboratory equipment.

Also, many employers provide further training for new employees with bachelor’s degrees. Postgraduate studies might include biochemistry, population genetics, and molecular biology. In addition, you may attend conferences or workshops on topics such as specific analytical techniques, exhibit handling, and court testimony. Forensic scientists often receive training prior to a required appearance as an expert witness. In this field, there is always continuing education, as methods are improved over time, as well as the advancement of technology. Constantly learning and honing your skills will keep you competitive in the field.

Certification in various specializations after you achieve your bachelor’s degree also may help your career. Certifying organizations include:

Also, the The American Academy of Forensic Sciences, which is a multidisciplinary professional organization that provides leadership to advance science and its application to the legal system, provides information on job qualifications, training, and career opportunities for crime lab professionals.

Careers for those who wish to enter the field of forensics is thriving. The best college for forensic sciences would be the one that contains all the classes you need to enter the career, with options to specialize as you advance in your education. Once you decide which area of forensics you are most interested in, thoroughly research different schools and programs in order to find the best one to fit your needs. A lifelong commitment to this career carries opportunities to learn constantly, a choice that can help you become the best in your chosen occupation.

Online Forensic Science and Criminal Justice Degrees

Forensic science, or forensics, is a rapidly growing field of criminal investigation whereby forensic technicians employ their technical skills in the field. To become a forensic scientist, students must obtain at least an associate's degree in fields such as criminal investigation, forensic psychology, criminal justice, and more.

Kaplan University — At Kaplan University, students can get a forensic science bachelor's degree in two different concentrations: forensic psychology and crime scene investigation. No matter which program you choose, Kaplan will quickly prepare you for a career in forensic science.

American InterContinental University — AICU's justice and forensic science program is designed to be a fast-track course that will help anyone segue into a job as a crime scene forensic science analyst after only one year of schooling.

St. Joseph’s University — The MSCJ in Intelligence and Crime Analysis from St. Joseph’s University is offered online for busy adults who may already have other commitments that keep them out of class during normal hours. The flexible program will give students the skills they need to begin a criminal investigative career after graduation.

Walden University — Walden University offers their master's in forensic psychology degree program fully online. Students of this program will gain insights into how forensic psychologists work with the legal system on reducing criminal behavior within a community. A graduate of this program is well-equipped to become a psychologist in a correctional institution, mental health center, psychiatric facility, child welfare agency, and more.

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