Forensic Entomology Degree Programs
|Bachelor of Arts in Forensic Psychology
There are many branches of criminal analysis and investigation in forensic science. Blending these studies with entomology focuses on analyzing dead bodies and the impact insects and the environment have had. Understanding these concepts can help to identify heavily-decomposed remains and potential motives that took place.
Known as forensic entomology, this procedure is often completed in a laboratory setting. Understanding how insects and arthropods have interacted with the dead body may determine how long it has been at a crime scene. They may be able to identify behaviors, internal problems, or environmental impact in the cause of death.
Work is not limited to a laboratory setting as entomologists may observe the crime scene for additional evidence. Environment plays a significant impact as interaction among insects and other organisms changed based on many variables. For example, temperature can decrease or increase decay that occurs on the human body.
Career Opportunities in Forensic Entomology
Having strong knowledge and skills in entomology and criminal investigation greatly helps cases featuring decomposed bodies. Professionals can identify how long decay has occurred based on colony development and environmental impact. Regardless of setting, these professionals work with investigators and leaders to solve theory and criminal cases.
Many opportunities in forensic entomology are in an academic setting. With high competition at this level, it is recommended that individuals look to complete a Master's degree or PhD in entomology. Other full-time positions to consider are consultants for law enforcement agents or specialized researchers within entomology.
Forensic entomology is not limited to studying body decay in a criminal event. Urban entomology looks at infestation of insects in a residential building or public/community gardens. Product-based entomology observes criminal cases that feature insect contamination of goods, which are commonly foods and other perishable items.
Are There Forensic Entomology Degrees Online?
Individuals are limited in their online studies with forensic entomology. At this time, there are no specific disciplines in forensic entomology itself available online. Students must research programs that provide a unique blend of criminal investigation that is impacted with insect behavior.
Example discipline options feature Entomology or Forensic Science. Either of these options may provide elective coursework in the opposite category. For example, a degree focusing on entomology may have course topics available in forensic science and evidence analysis.
For those looking at online programs, finding accreditation can verify the online education. Regional accreditation is often required or recommended for graduate education at universities. One of the popular field standards is the Forensic Science Education Programs Accreditation Commission (FEPAC).
FEPAC looks to apply national standards for forensic science study, including niche opportunities in entomology. This process first started recognizing schools in 2004. Programs must assess their goals to determine if graduates are meeting high standards and need to alter curriculum requirements when necessary.
Top Online Programs for Forensic Entomology
University of Nebraska-Lincoln
The Institute of Agriculture and Natural Resources offers an online Master of Science in Entomology. There are thesis and non-thesis options based on research desire and program option selected. Various undergraduate courses are also available through online distribution.
Students completing the online format of the program have an option for a non-thesis pathway. This requires 36 credit hours in coursework with an additional final project. A thesis option is available for students pursuing the program on-campus.
GRE scores are not required for the admission process. At least a 3.0 GPA or higher is needed with an undergraduate degree. Prerequisite topics include mathematics, biology, and introductory-level entomology.
Start times are available in the fall, spring, and summer semesters. 50 percent of the curriculum is eligible for transfer credit. Example courses include Insect Physiology, Forensic Insect Succession, and Insecticide Toxicology.
Arizona State University
The Professional Science Master’s degree in Forensic Science is available conveniently online. This provides advanced study in a number of different topics in forensic study. Students may explore topics in entomology, botany, toxicology, and advanced psychology.
All students must complete these course: Forensic Science and Governance, Ethics in Forensic Science, and Laboratory Leadership, Policy, and Practice. The end of the program features an overview of clinical forensic work and students showcase skills with a capstone project.
30 total credit hours are needed for the program across nine courses. Each course is distributed in a 7.5-week module with students completely focused on one course at a time. It also offers an opportunity for incoming students to start the program at multiple times throughout the year.
Admission into the program requires a Bachelor’s degree in forensic science or similar science discipline. Students holding a Bachelor of Arts degree must have additional merits for consideration, such as professional experience. A 3.0 cumulative GPA is also needed over the course of these studies.
Undergraduate Programs in Forensic Entomology
Entry-level entomology courses are available when pursuing a Bachelor’s degree. These foundational topics give students an understanding of how an insect lives and interacts with its environment. There is limited study in the actual investigation process unless the discipline is in forensic science or criminal justice.
General education features a number of different sciences, including chemistry and physics, and are often required. This provides additional subject material in preparation of understanding entomology. Laboratory sessions may be needed along with these science courses.
Communication and writing courses are also required in many undergraduate programs. It is important that students comprehend and analyze their evidence accurately. Many professional jobs require communication with investigators or providing testimony in a court case when necessary.
The College of Agriculture features a Forensic Entomology concentration in insect biology. It may apply to a number of different sectors, including government or private companies. This program is geared toward professionals looking at crime scene investigation or disease treatment.
Four different fields of forensic entomology are applied in the concentration. One includes medicolegal, or the gathering of insects eating dead organisms. Urban study looks at how and why insects can impact building structure and living spaces.
Overall, the curriculum blends biology and general science with law-based study. Field study is required for exposure to unique environments and how insects may impact these areas. This incudes protecting endangered species, transmission of potential diseases, and discovery.
Students have the ability to study abroad or compete for an internship at a partner location. Approximately 40 percent of students complete the program with studying abroad. Example locations include Costa Rica, France, and New Zealand.
Texas A&M University
There are various levels of Entomology disciplines to pursue at the university (Bachelor’s degree, Master’s degree, etc.). Students may also consider the Bachelor of Science in Forensic and Investigative Sciences. Two concentrations are available through this program: Science and Pre-Law.
The Science concentration is accredited by the Forensic Science Education Programs Accreditation Commission (FEPAC). Courses include The Science of Forensic Entomology, Applied Forensic Entomology, and Forensic Soil Science. Students must complete all courses with a C grade or higher.
36 credit hours are needed in courses at the 300 or 400-level, designating advanced coursework completed in the major. 120 total credit hours are needed to complete either concentration. This is often completed on a full-time status across four years of study.
An internship often counts for two credit hours and a total of six clock hours per weeks for the whole 15-week semester. Students must document their experience with a detailed journal and photographs when approved. Research requirement tests a hypothesis with skills learned throughout the program.
University of California-Davis
The Department of Entomology and Nematology features a Bachelor of Science in Entomology. Total credit hours needed for the program is approximately 107 to 121 credit hours. There are five different minors that focus in specific topics of entomology, including forensics and ecology.
Half of the program focuses on general education and preparation toward entomology courses. Topics in this program include physics, chemistry, biology, and mathematics. Between 34 to 43 credit hours are for the major with many options available to customize studies.
One of the minor programs focuses on Forensic Entomology, requiring 20 total credit hours. Required topics in the minor include a general overview of entomology and insect physiology. One additional closed elective is in ecology, which blends the study of living organisms and the environment.
Nematology is another minor focus that is a branch of zoology and biology that studies nematodes. This requires 18 to 19 credit hours, and at least nine credit hours are needed from a group of restricted electives. Topics include soil science, microbiology, and pathology on top of general entomology.
Graduate Programs in Forensic Entomology
Advanced topics in entomology and investigative procedures are gained at the graduate level. Positions at the academic level or in case management often require a Master’s degree or Doctor of Philosophy. Gaining a degree at this level improves job prospects and salary within a niche aspect of criminal investigation.
In order to get into these graduate programs, a strong background in science and criminal justice is recommended. At the least, prospective students should have academic backgrounds in biology or entomology. Individuals with an alternative background may need to complete prerequisites to gain entry into a graduate program.
Around 30 to 40 credit hours is needed for the majority of these Master’s degrees. Average length of study is between one to two years with full-time study. Individuals that plan to study on a part-time basis should prepare for additional time.
There tends to be more advanced education available online in forensic entomology. Students should pursue a thesis pathway if they are interested in pursuing a PhD or an academic-focused career. Other options that culminate a program include a comprehensive exam or project that applies skill that are learned in entomology.
University of Kentucky
The College of Agriculture, Food, and Environment offers a Master of Science in Entomology. Content in this program looks at general study of insects and how humans and the environment impact these creatures. Additional graduate study is also available with a doctorate degree.
Requirements for students in the program includes statistical analysis, general entomology, and two semesters of seminar sessions. Plan A is a research pathway that requires approval of the proposal and completion of an exit seminar. Plan B is a practicum satisfied with a project or internship.
Students opting for the thesis option require 24 total credit hours. This program is available online with similar course options. 36 total credit hours are needed for the non-thesis format of the Master’s degree and for the doctorate degree.
Applicants must submit a two-page personal statement featuring why this program is being pursued and best faculty member as a mentor. Other materials include published scientific papers, resume with professional and leadership opportunities, and three letters of recommendation. GRE scores are not required in the admission process.
Top Courses in Forensic Entomology
Offered at the undergraduate level and provides an overview of forensic entomology. This includes the science behind studying insects and may expand the scope to zoology. May explore the various subcategories of entomology and what factors to consider when examining insects.
Many forensic programs feature soil science topics within entomology studies. This looks at different properties of soil on a chemical and biological level. In forensics, students learn how to identify certain characteristics to find evidence in a crime scene.
Specifically looks at the functions of an insect and its main body parts. Provides insight to students that understand insect behavior and community when studying crime scenes. Students understand insect design how the digestive, nervous, and reproductive systems operate.
Overview of animal and insect organisms and evolution in biology over time. These courses are wide-ranging but prepares students to identify insect structure and understand organism functions. Students compare insects and arthropods along with the origin of these creatures and its impact.
Applied Forensic Entomology
Students learn how to collect and identify evidence in a laboratory or courtroom setting. It often blends both of these areas of forensic studies when working with insects, arachnids, and other arthropods. These courses focus on applying these skills in different industries and in the private and/or public sector.
Introductory course in the study of organisms together in an environment. Often consists of theory, principles, experimentation, and the latest developments in this field. Theory may consist of development in how organisms operate with each other and geographical impacts.
A branch of ecology looks at animal and insect behavior that may aid in the investigation process. This may feature what type of insects colonize in certain environments. Community characterization and behavioral patters are often explored in the course.
These courses often focus on how insects and humans may impact quality of life and the environment amongst each other. Provides additional information needed that may impact an investigation. Skills in management may be necessary when investigating insects in relation to victims in a crime scene.
What Can You Do With a Forensic Entomology Degree?
There are a few opportunities to consider when pursuing a forensic entomology program. A main goal is to provide valuable information in an investigative process that may have limitations in traditional evidence. As experts in understanding a segment of analyzing dead bodies with decay and insect colonization, they often work with law enforcement and other investigators.
Not limited to a job category, individuals can become a forensic entomologist to solve criminal activity involving insect activity and infestation. Beyond analyzing a dead body, duties may feature how insects impact distribution of perishable goods and potential criminality with negligence or sabotage. This can also account for situations in a public or private setting that impacts groups of people.
According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, forensic science technicians make an average of $59,150 annually. This salary is significantly higher than life and social science technicians which average at approximately $48,230 annually.
The highest-paying locations across the United States include, California, Illinois, and Massachusetts. The Sunshine State offers high employment opportunity and the highest annual mean wage overall at $87,200. Most opportunities are located in the southern portion of the state. The state of Alaska features the fourth-highest salary estimates at $72,380 annually.
In general, forensic science technicians should see a 14 percent increase in employment between the 2019-29 decade. This is a significant increase from other occupations in general. The technical aspects of forensic investigation is expected to increase efficiency in criminal matters which leads to occupational growth.
All Schools with Forensic Science Programs
- Forensic Entomology Minor
University of Nebraska-Lincoln
- Online Bachelor of Science in Entomology