There are four steps to get a forensic science degree: qualify for admissions, find an accredited school, pay the tuition, and complete the coursework. Forensic science degrees provide training in data analysis, artifact preservation, and evidence collecting. This type of degree is available from a wide range of universities, with programs available at the bachelor, graduate, and doctoral levels.
A forensic scientist is responsible for scientifically examining evidence and determining through a series of tests the current state of the evidence. They are expected to postulate, based on facts presented, how the evidence was created. This type of study requires a great attention to detail, meticulous record keeping, and a very high degree of accuracy.
Forensic science degree programs have become very popular in the past five to ten years due to the depiction of this role in the popular media as a quasi-detective, law enforcement officer. In reality, there is very little interaction between the law enforcement staff and the laboratory scientists. This separation allows the scientist to arrive at her conclusions independent of any theory or bias presented by law enforcement staff.
The requirements to qualify for admission to a forensic science program include high school courses in biology, chemistry, physics, calculus, and English. Due to the increased popularity of the program, many schools have included a personal essay or interview as part of the application process. This allows the admissions counselor to determine the motivation for the application, personal goals, and suitability.
When looking for a forensic science degree program, the first item to check is the accreditation status of the school. An independent third party grants accreditation. As part of the review process, it examines the academic and administrative policies of the school and compares them against a minimum standard. Credits completed at an accredited school can be transferred to other post-secondary institutions and are accepted by certification and licensing boards.
The tuition fees for a forensic science degree range between $8,000 and $15,000 US Dollars (USD) per year. Most schools require payment for each semester at least four weeks before classes begin. Investigate different sources of student aid, such as scholarships, bursaries, or grants. Accredited schools are able to offer students access to government student aid programs, which can help alleviate the cost of tuition with loans or grants.
The first year of forensic science courses includes calculus, biology, human anatomy, physics, biomechanics, and communications. In each subsequent year, the courses become more focused and specialized. Several programs have cooperative job or field work terms that allow students to gain valuable work experience. Competitions for these positions are quite fierce and are usually granted based on course marks and classroom participation.