A Bachelor’s in Forensic Science is ideal for students who are interested in law and criminology and those who have a foundational understanding of forensic chemistry. Students enrolled in a bachelor’s degree in forensic science are exposed to a wide variety of subjects such as criminalistics, homeland security and forensic molecular biology (DNA). Graduates of these programs are typically adept in various examination techniques, including trace evidence examination. In addition to that, they have a solid understanding of research methods including statistics, data collection and data reporting.
If you want to learn more about a bachelor’s in forensic science degree, the following guide will provide you with all the information you need, including career and salary outlook.
What is a Bachelor’s Degree in Forensic Science?
A bachelor’s in forensic science degree is a 4-year long program that prepares students for a number of career options, specifically in the field of law and order. This degree uses foundational biology and concepts of chemistry to help students develop knowledge in areas like DNA analysis, instrumental analysis and toxicology. Students enrolled in this degree can also expect to learn about the legal system and criminal justice ethics.
Why Pursue a Career in Forensic Science?
Students wondering about whether to pursue a career in forensic science or not, would find many fulfilling career opportunities across different industries. For instance, forensic science technicians, digital forensic analysts and crime scene investigators help solve crimes, assist in the prosecution of the guilty party and provide comfort to the families impacted by the crime.
Students who are interested in this field should ideally have very strong observational skills and should be very well organized. In addition to that, forensic science majors typically develop strong analytical skills that allow them to form conclusions based on available information. A lot of forensic scientists work independently, and some specialize in a particular type of evidence such as DNA analysis or blood spatter analysis.
Curriculum of a Bachelor’s Degree in Forensic Science
The curriculum of a bachelor’s degree in forensic science would vary according to the concentration you choose. However, students enrolled in different programs can expect to study topics like computer forensics, forensic chemistry, forensic biology, investigative forensics and forensic anthropology. Coursework may also include organic chemistry, applied math for forensic scientists, fundamentals of chemistry, introduction to forensic science, practical skills in forensic science, introduction to ballistics, digital forensics, applied forensics practice etc. The curriculum might also involve a mandatory internship in a forensics laboratory or a related facility and may include a final year project. The exact curriculum requirements for a bachelor’s in forensic science would vary according to the university you are enrolled in. Therefore, students are advised to check the course outline with their local university before applying for admissions.
Concentration Options with a Bachelor’s Degree in Forensic Science
Most universities offer several concentrations within a bachelor of forensic science degree. These concentrations allow students to focus on a particular subject area in forensic science and gain specialized knowledge in that area. Let’s take a look at some of the concentration options available for forensic science students:
- Forensic Chemistry: This field combines the subjects of chemistry and forensics and trains students to understand the chemical properties of physical evidence. This concentration would involve an extensive amount of lab work.
- Computer Forensics: This concentration enables students to examine digital evidence, investigate cybercrime and understand technical data in computers and other storage media. These professionals are trained in recovering, preserving and analyzing digital evidence and information.
- Investigative Forensics: This field of forensic science teaches students about practices such as evidence collection, reporting and processing techniques. Students study evidence analysis, crime lab processes and criminal procedures, which helps them form theories about criminal evidence.
How Long Does it Take to Complete a Bachelor’s Degree in Forensic Science?
A Bachelor’s degree in forensic science would typically take 4 years to complete with a full-time study format. Students enrolled in part-time or online programs may be able to complete the program sooner or later, depending on their program requirements. Most bachelor’s programs require 120 credits to complete, though this requirement may vary from school to school. Some schools also offer accelerated programs with a heavier course load each semester, while others offer summer classes.
Licensure and Certification Requirements for Forensic Science
Although professional certification may not be required for most jobs, it can certainly enhance a candidate’s resume, skill set and salary potential. There are numerous relevant certification boards accredited by the Forensic Specialties Accreditation Board (FSAB), which include those related to diverse fields such as forensic engineering and forensic anthropology. The exact requirements for these certifications would differ, but having at least a bachelor’s degree in forensic science is common to most. Students would typically have to submit proof of job experience, letters of recommendation and an application fee when applying for certification. In order to get certified, graduates of a forensic science program would have to pass a comprehensive exam.
Careers with a Bachelor’s Degree in Forensic Science
After completing a bachelor’s degree in forensic science, there are several career paths that graduates can take. According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, the career outlook for Forensic Science Technicians is highly positive, with a 16% increase expected in the number of jobs between 2020 and 2030. This rate of growth will add nearly 2,700 new jobs in the field in the years between 2020 and 2030. The job growth is expected to be a result of an increase in crime rates and the need to analyze large amounts of evidence.
Forensic science technicians are likely to be employed by state and local governments to help solve trivial cases, including those of corruption and records forgery.
In addition to becoming forensic science technicians, students with a bachelor’s degree in forensic science can also take up careers as forensic accountants and forensic computer analysts.
How much can I Earn with a Bachelor’s Degree in Forensic Science?
The amount of money you earn with a bachelor’s degree in forensic science depends on the exact career path you take. For instance, forensic science technicians made an annual median income of $60,590 per year in 2020, which is approximately $29.13 per hour. Other potential careers in this field could be becoming Biological Technicians, Chemical Technicians or Chemists and Material Scientists. Some forensic science graduates may also find work in law enforcement agencies, working as police and detectives or private investigators.
How Much Does It Cost to Get a Bachelor’s in Forensic Science?
The cost of a Bachelor’s in Forensic Science degree depends on a number of factors, including the length of the degree, the format of the program and the reputation of the college. On average, the cost of a four-year long bachelor’s degree in the US is $8,893 for in-state students at public colleges and $22,203 for out-of-state students at public colleges. The cost of education at private institutes would be substantially higher than this.
Students are advised to check with the admission boards of the universities they intend to apply to, in order to get an idea of the fee structure beforehand. The fee structure would depend on a number of factors, such as housing, technology fees, commuting, residency status, parking passes etc. Typically, schools offering online classes would have an additional technology fee.
Admission Requirements for a Bachelor’s in Forensic Science
The admission requirements for a Bachelor’s in forensic science would vary from institute to institute. Graduating high school seniors are advised to apply to at least six to nine schools to increase their chances of getting into a program of their choice. Most colleges would allow you to submit your application entirely online, which decreases the amount of time it takes for applying to multiple colleges. Most universities would require student to meet the following requirements:
- Minimum GPA: Most schools have a minimum GPA requirement in place for graduating high school seniors. The typical range for this is around 2.5 to 3.5 for most colleges. This GPA requirement may be waived off in some situations.
- Application: All colleges would require students to submit an application with complete basic information, along with the submission of an essay or personal statement.
- Transcripts: All colleges would require students to submit their official transcripts from high school or college, in case they are transfer students.
- Letters of Recommendation: Students applying to more selective schools may be required to submit letters of recommendation from teachers or supervisors.
- Test Scores: Many schools would require you to submit SAT or ACT scores as part of your application. This may not be a requirement in some schools, therefore students are advised to check with the admission boards of the schools they are applying to for the exact requirements.
- Application Fee: This would be a minor fee in most cases, and some colleges may even waive it off if the student has financial constraints.