Masters in Forensic Science

What Do You Learn in a Masters in Forensic Science

Those who enjoy solving problems after gathering evidence may wish to pursue a career in forensic science. There are several paths present in this field, each offering a bit of a different focus. Many of those career paths in this field benefit from high levels of skills and insights. That is why many people in the field pursue a master’s degree in forensic science.

The Master of Science in Forensic Science (MSFS) degree path may provide students with a range of tools and techniques to better enable them to gather data to make decisions. This often includes problem solving and critical thinking skill development along with real-world applications for forensics. Students may wish to focus on criminal forensics, computer-related forensics, or one of several other forms based on their interests and goals.

Forensic Science Masters

Top 25 Schools Graduating Students with a Masters in Forensic Science

The following are the top 24 schools for masters in forensic science degrees based on the number of students graduating with this degree in the 2019/2020 school year, as reported by NCES.

College / University GraduatesAcceptance Rate 
Universidad Ana G. Mendez-Gurabo Campus50N/A
National University4789%
Stevenson University4381%
Boston University4219%
Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine40N/A
George Mason University3487%
Oklahoma State University Center for Health Sciences3370%
University of New Haven3383%
Pace University2979%
Hofstra University2168%
Syracuse University2144%
Florida International University1858%
University of California-Davis1839%
Virginia Commonwealth University1887%
Duquesne University1674%
Indiana University-Purdue University-Indianapolis1681%
Towson University1676%
California State University-Los Angeles1448%
CUNY John Jay College of Criminal Justice1341%
Marshall University1287%
University of Alabama at Birmingham1274%
George Washington University1141%
West Virginia University1184%
Emporia State University1085%
Arcadia University966%

Courses May Include

A master’s degree may be beneficial to those who completed a related field of study in their bachelor’s degree and who want to obtain a concentration in forensics. It may also help prepare students for leadership roles or update knowledge and skill using more modern and innovative strategies. Students may be able to select from a number of different programs and courses to help them get insights into what interests them. Below are some of the courses commonly found in a master’s degree in forensic science.

1st course Genetics and DNA Technologies

Genetics and DNA Technologies

This course typically covers the genetics and biochemistry of DNA. Analytics, quality assurance, and ethical considerations are all usually covered in this course. These techniques are often discussed as ways to use for DNA identification purposes.

2nd course Crime Scene and Death Investigation

Crime Scene and Death Investigation

This course typically works to develop techniques for proper crime scene investigation, including the presence of a body or of no body. Logical approach and evidence collection methods are also usually included.

3rd Course Forensic Microscopy

Forensic Microscopy

This course typically introduces students to the different types of microscopy used in forensics. Types covered may include fluorescence, scanning electron, and polarizing microscopy. How these techniques are applied, and which methods are used in different types of scenarios are often discussed.

4th Course Forensic Comparative Sciences

Forensic Comparative Sciences

This course often introduces students to methods of analysis. Topics covered may include fingerprints, documents and firearms, including how to look at these and which methods are used for analyzing these and other various items.

5th Course Forensic Statistics

Forensic Statistics

This is usually an introduction to probability and statistics and how it is applied to forensics. Ratios, population and genetic statistics, and paternity testing are topics often covered, as well as presenting evidence.

6th Course Forensic Analytical Chemistry

Forensic Analytical Chemistry

Instruments used in analytical chemistry are often covered in this course. Toxicology, arson, explosives, and trace evidence are topics common topics in this course. Collecting and processing of evidence are sometimes discussed as well.

  • Some of the nation’s most affordable tuition rates, from a private, nonprofit, NEASC accredited university
  • Qualified students with 2.5 GPA and up may receive up to $20K in grants & scholarships
  • Multiple term start dates throughout the year

5 Most frequently asked questions (FAQs) about a Masters in Forensic Science

Students completing a masters degree in forensic science may work in a range of positions related to forensics. This may include forensic accountants, computer analysts, crime scene investigators, and other areas where criminology and law come together.

Students may wish to choose between one or more types of forensic science master degree paths. Some examples include forensic biology, criminal justice, forensic physical analysis, environmental forensics, and forensic physical analysis.

A typical forensic science masters degree takes about 2 years to complete with full-time study. Students may need to complete around 30 to 40 credit hours, depending on the university’s rules. Some programs are accelerated, which may allow a student to take more courses or study through the summer to complete their education in around 18 months.

Yes, there are several master’s degree programs students may wish to consider if they are interested in forensic science. This may include computer-based programs in computer forensics or criminology-focused degree paths.

This depends on the employer and the position. Many companies require applicants to have at least a bachelor’s degree in forensic science for available positions, though some may require a master’s degree or a doctorate degree in the field.

Find Funding

According to NCES, the average cost of a master’s degree education during the 2019/2020 school year was $19,792. For many students, finding financial support to pay for that education is critical. There may be numerous options available to do that. Funding options for masters degrees may be a bit different than what is commonly used for undergraduate degrees, though. Many students are likely to find a few options to cover their educational costs. These are some suggestions.

Scholarships

Scholarships offer money to students who meet their specific requirements. Scholarship funds typically do not require repayment. Students apply for them, beat out others for the available funds, and need to continue to meet the applicable terms of the scholarship to obtain those funds. It is worth taking a closer look at available options from numerous organizations to see if options exist. There may be some scholarships in criminal justice masters degrees available.

SHPE Graduate Scholarship

Who Can Apply: This award is for graduate students enrolled full time in a degree program in a STEM (science, technology, engineering, mathematics) field. Students must be members of the Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers and have a grade point average of 3.0 or higher. Students of Hispanic descent will be given priority.

Amount: $3,000

Deadline: April 30

SHPE Professional Scholarship

Who Can Apply: This award is for students who are employed in a STEM (science, technology, engineering, mathematics)-related field and are enrolled in a first undergraduate or graduate degree program in a STEM field. Students must be members of the Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers and have a grade point average of 3.25 or higher. Students of Hispanic descent will be given priority.

Amount: $2,000

Deadline: June 30

TCC Scholarship

Who Can Apply: The scholarship is for students involved in forensics, theater, dance or the arts who plan to attend Tallahassee Community College.

Amount: $3,800

Deadline: February 17

$1,000 Criminal Justice Trailblazer Scholarship

Who Can Apply: For undergraduate and graduate students recently accepted or currently enrolled student in an associate’s, bachelor’s or master’s degree program in criminal justice or related field.

Amount: $1,000

Deadline: September 1

Federal Loans

A federal loan is one backed by the U.S. federal government. That means that these loans follow the terms and requirements set by the government. There are federal loans for masters degrees available, but their terms and conditions may be a bit different than those typically used for bachelor’s degrees. Students may wish to consider several options to determine which one is a good fit for their specific needs.

Here is a look at some of the options for graduate degree programs through federal student loans:

  • Direct Unsubsidized Loans: These are available to graduate schools and professional students. Unlike direct subsidized loans, which are made available to undergraduate students with demonstrated financial need, direct unsubsidized loans often do not have a need based requirement. More students may be eligible for them.
  • Direct PLUS Loans: These are made available to professional or graduate level students. They are designed to pay for educational expenses that are typically not paid for through other loans. Eligibility for these loans is not based on financial need. However, some require a credit check to be performed, and borrowers may not qualify without meeting other requirements in some cases.
  • Direct Consolidation Loans: These loans enable a student to combine all of their undergraduate and graduate level federal debt into one new loan. This consolidation loan is typically provided after a student completes their education.

Private Student Loans

Private student loans are a bit different than federal loans. They are funded by third-party lenders rather than the federal government’s programs. As a result, the terms and conditions of these loans may be significantly different. For that reason, applicants may wish to take a closer look at all terms and conditions to determine which of these loans fits their needs.

Specifically, be sure to take into careful consideration the private lender’s rules on:

  • Whether credit scores are a requirement
  • Whether work history, income, or experience matters
  • If there are GPA or GRE requirements
  • Garnishments, forbearance opportunities, and refinancing options
  • Repayment terms including when it starts

Is forensic science technician a good career?

A person working as a forensic science technician may work to collect, identify, classify, and analyze evidence as it relates to a crime or a criminal investigation. Their work may involve performing a series of tests on substances, such as hair and tissue, fiber, and others, to determine if there is any specific application to the investigation. This may include substances on surfaces, including weapons. Individuals may also gain specific skills related to ballistics, handwriting, biochemistry, or fingerprinting to apply to this field.

Tasks involved in the work of a forensic science technician may include keeping records and creating reports related to the findings from investigations and data collection methods, including lab results. They may collect evidence from crime scenes, store it properly to preserve it, and then examine it later. They may also testify in a court of law about the investigative techniques and analytics methods used to collect evidence as well as how it was processed and conclusions drawn from it. Some use photographic and video equipment to document the evidence at various locations. They may also examine crime sciences, visit morgues for collection of data from bodies, and gather materials and information from numerous locations.

Some of the work activities a person working in this position may engage in include analyzing forensic evidence to solve crimes, recording research data and reports, including presenting information through presentations or other communications, and interpreting research to make informed decisions.

To do the work of a forensic science technician, a person typically needs to have a bachelor’s degree, though some employers may also require work experience or a master’s degree in the field. There is a significant amount of science and knowledge needed to do this work, and only some of it may be taught in the field or on the job.

Forensic Science Masters , Important Skills for Forensic Science Technicians
  • Active Listening — Giving full attention to what other people are saying, taking time to understand the points being made, asking questions as appropriate, and not interrupting at inappropriate times.
  • Critical Thinking — Using logic and reasoning to identify the strengths and weaknesses of alternative solutions, conclusions, or approaches to problems.
  • Reading Comprehension — Understanding written sentences and paragraphs in work-related documents.

2020 Median Salary for Forensic Science Technicians

The following is the median salary for those working as a forensic science technician in each of the states, based on data from 2020 provided by the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

StateSalaryStateSalary
Alabama$49,760Alaska$68,870
Arizona$58,820Arkansas$45,920
California$82,880Colorado$66,410
Connecticut$74,430DelawareN/A
Georgia$46,670Florida$52,490
Idaho$51,980Hawaii$56,330
Indiana$63,680Illinois$96,960
Kansas$50,790Iowa$67,580
Louisiana$47,530Kentucky$46,090
Maryland$64,310MaineN/A
Minnesota$66,110Massachusetts$77,570
Montana$65,290Michigan$65,570
Nevada$64,160Mississippi$52,160
New Jersey$60,600Missouri$51,240
New York$65,460Nebraska$56,290
North DakotaN/ANew Hampshire$74,940
Oklahoma$61,400New Mexico$39,870
PennsylvaniaN/ANorth Carolina$45,820
South Carolina$39,550Ohio$67,400
Tennessee$49,610Oregon$77,330
UtahN/ARhode IslandN/A
Virginia$66,960South DakotaN/A
Wisconsin$53,610Texas$53,900
Washington$68,520VermontN/A
West VirginiaN/AWyoming$55,390

Is criminal investigator a good career?

A person working as a criminal investigator typically conducts investigations when there is a suspected crime. This may include violations of federal, state, and local laws. This may be done as a way to prevent or solve crimes that have occurred.

A person working in this position typically checks victims for signs of life, and secure the necessary medical support or services after doing so. They gather facts and statements from all involved, including witnesses, complainants, and accused parties. This may include conducting and recording interviews with each party. They may also secure a deceased body and obtain evidence from it. That includes working to eliminate the risk of tampering prior to the arrival of a medical examiner.

Those who work as a criminal investigator may also record the progress of an investigation, manage files on those involved, and submit reports to those in charge of them. They may also manage warrants. They then prepare charges or a response to the findings for courts or others.

Day-to-day activities may include checking the physical conditions of people or animals, examining the crime scene to find evidence, and interviewing all people involved. They may also prepare investigations as well as incident reports, and prevent any risk of damage to the crime scene.

Those working as a criminal investigator typically need to have vocational schooling or a bachelor’s degree. Some students may obtain on-the-job training for these positions, but some who wish to work in leadership positions within the field may need to have a higher degree of education. Often employers expect those working in this field to have some experience in the field.

Forensic Science Masters , Important Skills for Criminal Investigators
  • Active Listening — Giving full attention to what other people are saying, taking time to understand the points being made, asking questions as appropriate, and not interrupting at inappropriate times.
  • Critical Thinking — Using logic and reasoning to identify the strengths and weaknesses of alternative solutions, conclusions, or approaches to problems.
  • Speaking — Talking to others to convey information effectively.

2020 Median Salary for Criminal Investigators

The median salary earned by those working as a criminal investigator in each state are listed here based on data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics for 2020.

StateSalaryStateSalary
Alabama$59,250Alaska$136,050
Arizona$90,070Arkansas$48,600
California$105,870Colorado$89,990
Connecticut$90,420Delaware$74,280
Georgia$57,930Florida$68,330
Idaho$65,180Hawaii$110,230
Indiana$61,490Illinois$87,610
Kansas$57,190Iowa$73,250
Louisiana$53,200Kentucky$58,790
Maryland$112,240Maine$70,790
Minnesota$77,520Massachusetts$89,090
Montana$86,960Michigan$84,330
Nevada$81,340Mississippi$54,250
New Jersey$106,200Missouri$70,370
New York$91,310Nebraska$69,990
North Dakota$78,020New Hampshire$73,840
Oklahoma$60,790New Mexico$89,500
Pennsylvania$83,140North Carolina$53,590
South Carolina$50,200Ohio$77,020
Tennessee$61,120Oregon$95,920
Utah$68,340Rhode Island$81,080
Virginia$97,900South Dakota$61,190
Wisconsin$81,380Texas$84,400
Washington$98,600Vermont$90,240
West Virginia$95,900Wyoming$70,590
Sandy B CONTRIBUTING WRITER

Sandy Baker

CONTRIBUTING WRITER

Sandy has extensive experience writing educational articles for topics ranging from online education to college degrees. She’s worked with several Ivy League colleges to create blogs, newsletters, sales material for recruiting as well as “how to manage” college lifestyle pieces. Additionally, she’s written for well-respected study abroad programs helping students to find international opportunities spanning the globe from South America to Africa and Asia.

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