- Michigan State University - Master of Science in Law Enforcement Intelligence and Analysis | Master of Science in Criminal Justice
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In the last decade, the use of technology for online degree programs has made a profound difference in how people pursue higher education as well as the availability of opportunity for people from all backgrounds.
Online degree programs in forensic science provide students with the same curriculum and experience as traditional degree programs, while still allowing the personal freedom to work or handle day-to-day responsibilities.
Levels of Available Degree Programs
Online Associate-Level Degrees in Forensic Science
The Associate degree is the first level of collegiate education available. This level of degree can be helpful for current professionals that are looking to add expertise to their resume, or new college students that want to start off at the basic level. Most associate-level programs provide students with a basic understanding of forensic science through helpful online courses. Since the focus of the majority of forensic science programs is on criminal investigations, students are given an in-depth look into the criminal justice systems in addition to the various scientific methods associated with conducting a proper investigation. The blend of these two topics can provide students with an able foundation for future degree programs or direct entry into the field. Most online associate degrees in forensic science require the completion of 60 credit hours for graduation. Our researchers have provided a list of sample classes below for you to browse.
Sample Online Associates in Forensic Science Courses
If you plan to enroll in an online Associate Degree program in Forensic Science, you may find that the classes vary depending on the university. Our researchers have found some common courses amongst the different programs available online, which you can view below.
- Criminalistics – Physical and Biological Evidence
- Forensic Anthropology
- Criminal Investigation
- Criminal Law
- Administration of Justice
Online Bachelors Degrees in Forensic Science
The bachelors level is the most commonly attended online program for students in forensic science. At this level, students will be expected to complete the general education requirements in conjunction with courses that focus on the different disciplines included in forensic science. Online Bachelors degree programs in Forensic Science can be completed in about 4 years at standard full-time enrollment, with extremely dedicated students completing sooner due to implementing hybrid coursework and densely packed schedules.
There are plenty of options for students that cannot balance a full-time work schedule with school, but can increase the amount of time it takes to complete their degree. If you are a person that loves to scrutinize your environment or have a highly investigative mindset, this is likely a degree program that you would find fascinating and enjoyable. Take a look below at some of the common courses for this degree program.
Sample Online Bachelors in Forensic Science Courses
The online Bachelors in Forensic Science involves many of the diverse principles that come into play during criminal investigations. There are many platforms that are favorable for crime, so it is important for students to have a long reach when it comes to forensic knowledge. Some of the courses are outlined below to give you a better idea of what to expect in these programs.
- Criminal Procedure & Evidence
- Cyber Crimes and Security
- Medical and Legal Death Investigations
- Fingerprint Analysis
- Firearms Analysis
Online Masters Degrees in Forensic Science
The standard online Masters in Forensic Science can be completed by most students in around 2 years. Some graduate programs that are offered by colleges, like the Criminal Justice MS offered by Lamar, can potentially be completed more quickly.
During this time, students will be permitted to choose a specialization if desired to center their studies around. There are many different specialties that are available in this field, some of which will be discussed in the next section. The total credit hour requirement for most online masters programs is 32-35, with some universities requiring a master’s level project or paper. It is at this level that students are provided an environment to reach their maximum potential and gain the expertise needed to be an advanced professional in the field of forensic science. Through virtual laboratory studies and possible field experience, masters level students can learn about how investigations take place in the field and the specific art of gathering and interpreting evidence. Check out some of the sample courses listed below.
Sample Online Masters in Forensic Science Courses
Depending on your specialization, you could be introduced to varying topics in forensic science. Some of the common core elements of this online degree programs are listed below for you to review.
- Forensic Toxicology
- Applied Statistics for Data Analysis
- Forensic Analysis of DNA
- Biological Evidence and Serology
- Metabolic Biochemistry
Common Online Forensic Science Specialties
Anthropology as a whole encompasses the various human elements of civilization including cultural diversity and physiological characteristics. In forensics, these professionals are especially helpful in cases that involve human remains and the investigation of crime scenes. Forensic anthropologists can play a large role in the analysis of skeletal remains, potential trauma, and biological profiles of individuals being studied. This is a great career path for students that exhibit an interest in physiological sciences and criminal investigations.
In the event that a crime has taken place, many different hands are needed to properly identify mysterious substances or materials that could have been used during the criminal act. Using the extensive knowledge of chemistry and chemical reactions, forensic chemists provide expert advice about unknown substances found at a crime scene. Items or substances that seem irrelevant at first glance could prove to be a case-breaking element during an investigation. It is imperative that forensic chemistry professionals work alongside crime scene investigators in order to assist with piecing together the various pieces of a disorderly crime scene.
When someone is hurt during the commission of a crime, the first person they are likely to come in contact with is a nursing professional. Forensic nurses are trained to properly assess victims to provide supporting evidence should a criminal case be apparent. Through diagnostic tests and observations, forensic nurses gather what evidence they can from the victim in an effort to provide information about how the injury occurred, which can be an important part of a criminal court hearing. Professionals in this field may also be called before the court to testify about their findings during medical examinations.
The rise in cyber crimes has opened doors to even more fields in forensic science. Computer forensic specialists work to investigate computer systems that are used during a crime, or provide evidence regarding criminal activities. Individuals that have experience working with computers or that have an interest in both computer and forensic science are a great fit for this specialization. Investigating web-searches, emails, internet activity, or business activity are a few of the responsibilities of those that choose this path.
For a long time, law enforcement was forced to investigate criminal cases without the knowledge of DNA fingerprints. Since the DNA information system has been implemented, DNA analysts are needed to test DNA that is found during the course of a criminal investigation. These methods are used in an effort to identify criminals based on previous criminal records, identify victims without a known identity, and identify fluids found in crime scenes to provide a better outlook for potential conclusions.
Medical examiners are forensic pathologists that have received licensure as physicians. These professionals conduct full internal examinations of the deceased to find a potential cause of death. Medical examiners perform autopsies that look closely at each bodily organ, the tissues of the body, and the weigh and amount of fluids to help determine how the patient died. This information plays a large role during criminal investigations.
Determining Proper Accreditation
Quality is the key to properly assessing how reliable your online forensic science degree program will be throughout your professional experience. The only way to truly validate the reliability of an online degree program is through the university’s accreditation information. The American Academy of Forensic Sciences (AAFS) recognizes universities that are accredited by the Forensic Science Education Programs Accreditation Commission (FEPAC) as having the necessary curriculum for effectively educating future forensic science professionals. In order to understand the structure of these organizations, take a look below at both the AAFS and FEPAC and what they both provide to online forensic science degree programs.
The American Academy of Forensic Sciences (AAFS)
The AAFS is the largest professional organization for forensic science professionals. If you are working in forensic science, organizations such as this one are a great way to network with other professionals in the field and have access to important publications and relevant information in forensic science. Only FEPAC accredited universities can advertise through this agency and receive support through the AAFS website, use of AAFS mailing labels, and exhibits at events.
The Forensic Science Education Programs Accreditation Commission (FEPAC)
The FEPAC is the largest accreditation agency for forensic science programs across the country. The primary purpose of organizations such as this one is to review and accredit degree programs in forensic science. If you choose an online forensic science degree program that has been accredited by this agency, you can rest assured that you are receiving a high-quality education that will be deemed acceptable by higher-education authorities as well as other professional organizations within the forensic science field.
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