Crime Scene Investigation & Forensic Science Degrees
Crime scene forensics has been popularized by movies and television programs and introduced a large audience to the work performed by forensic scientists. These specialists examine crime scenes, collect and evaluate evidence, and conduct laboratory tests to assist law enforcement officials with crime scene analysis and criminal investigations.
Degree programs in forensic science are available at the certificate, associate's, and bachelor's level. Most students enrolled in forensics science degree programs will be required to complete classes in toxicology, criminology, laboratory science, and biology. Many accredited colleges and universities are now offering forensics science degree programs online, so those with full-time jobs and family responsibilities can complete courses at their convenience.
Associate Degree in Crime Scene Investigation
The Associate of Applied Science (AAS) in Crime Scene Investigation degree is a popular path to launching a career in crime scene investigation as a crime scene technician, analyst or assistant. The AAS in Crime Scene Investigations is a 2-year degree that includes training in crime scene investigations, forensic science and criminal justice. Some of the topics covered in this degree program may include evidence collection procedures, evaluating a crime scene, bloodstain analysis, latent fingerprint analysis, crime scene safety, collecting and storing biological evidence, crime scene imaging, and digital photography.
A few programs combine an education in crime scene investigations with training in law enforcement. In such programs students train to become police officers with a specialization in crime scene investigations. These programs teach students how to recreate crime scenes and find evidence.
Being admitted to an AAS program typically requires applicants to have a high school diploma or GED. Some programs require students to be trained as police officers. Upon graduation from an accredited program, students should be prepared to pass the National Certification Board and International Association for Identification exam and receive either their Certified Crime Scene Investigator (CCSI) or Forensic Crime Scene Investigator (FCSI) certification.
Bachelor's Degree in Forensic Science
Career-oriented study in crime scene investigation usually occurs through a certification program rather than a bachelor's degrees. However, for students interested in a four-year bachelor's degree that will prepare them for a career in crime scene investigations, there is the Bachelor of Science (BS) in Forensic Science, where students will study both criminal investigations and criminology.
A bachelor's degree in forensic science will introduce students to the corrections system, criminology, victimology and other relevant areas of study. More importantly, students will receive an indepth education in organic chemistry, pathology, biology and other sciences they'll need to understand in order to correctly gather and analyze physical and biological evidence left at a crime scene. While students will participate in classroom study, a fair amount of their study will occur in the laboratory carrying out experiments, performing tests and developing scientific theories.
Students interested in pursuing a bachelor's degree in forensic science should be ready for a rigorous program. In preparation, students should take courses in chemistry, biology, human anatomy and mathematics. Earning a 2-year degree in criminal investigations or forensic science, from a regionally accredited community college, is also a good stepping stone into a 4-year bachelor's degree in forensic science.
Earning a bachelor's degree in forensic science will prepare students to pursue various career opportunities within the field of criminal justice. Police officer, FBI agent, forensic pathologist, and crime scene investigator are just a few the career paths graduates can pursue.
Master's Degree in Forensic Science
While most schools don't offer graduate-level programs in crime scene investigations, for those interested in a graduate-level education, there is a the Master of Science (MS) in Forensic Science. The MS in Forensic Science focuses on the sciences of chemistry, biology, human anatomy and research as they relate to the crime scene investigation and evidence analysis process. Students will learn (1) how to apply the principles of forensic science to conduct effective investigative analysis of evidence present at crime scenes and (2) how to help law enforcement professionals solve cases.
Before earning a master's degree in forensic science, students are typically required to earn a bachelor's degree in forensic science, or closely related discipline. Undergrauate coursework in organic chemistry, biology, and forensic anthropology will also provide good preparation for a graduate-level education in forensic science. As admittance to these programs is competitive, students should have a high GPA (no lower than 3.0) and score well on the Graduate Record Exam (1000 or above).
Criminal Scene Forensics & Investigations Degree Programs