Online Forensics Master’s Degree

Overview

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The popularity of crime television dramas such as “CSI,” “Bones” and “Cold Case” has played a role in the increased creation and interest of forensic science degree programs across the U.S. But those considering becoming forensic science technicians should remember that in real life the career is not as glamorous as Hollywood portrays it to be – the work can be grueling, tedious and time-consuming.

Those who work in forensic science may spend hours collecting and photographing evidence at the scene of a crime or working in a laboratory reconstructing crime scenes based on scientific findings.

An online master’s degree in forensic science generally contains a large amount of science courses such as biology, chemistry and genetics. Many online programs are focused on a particular area of forensic science, such as forensic psychology, which can give professionals the specialized knowledge they need to become an expert in the field and advance their career.

Course Work

Potential specializations
Forensic DNA and serology
Forensic toxicology
Drug chemistry
Digital forensic science
Forensic psychology
Forensic science administration

A traditional forensic science program contains core courses in forensic biology, forensic chemistry, forensic analysis, genetics, statistics and toxicology. Specialized online degree programs are offered in fields such as forensic science administration, drug chemistry and digital forensic science.

In a digital forensics program, for example, students will complete course work in cyberspace and cybersecurity, digital forensics investigation, cybercrime and cyberincident analysis.

Some online degree programs may require students to participate in laboratory work or complete examinations on campus.

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Job Outlook

Median salaries*
Crime scene investigator $40,000
Crime analyst $44,000
Forensic science technician $44,000
Forensic DNA analyst $45,000
Forensic scientist $51,000
Forensic psychologist $62,000
Forensic computer analyst $68,000

*per PayScale.com

Forensic science technicians mainly work in crime laboratories, police departments, morgues and medical examiner offices run by local, state and federal governments, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Some may find employment in DNA testing facilities, hospital and clinical laboratories or the pharmaceutical industry.

Employment growth for forensic science technicians is expected to grow at a rate of 19 percent by 2020, a bit higher than the national average for all occupations, according to the BLS. Forensic science made the U.S. News “Hot College Majors That Lead to Jobs” list due to a need for more experts who can operate the new technologies used to solve crimes.

Crime scene investigators make a median salary of about $40,000 per year, while forensic science technicians earn a median salary of about $44,000. Those with specialized experience, such as a forensic psychologist, can make about $62,000 per year, according to PayScale, an online salary database.

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