Forensic Science Majors

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Forensic science careers can be found after obtaining a bachelor’s or master’s degree in a related science. Many prospective forensic scientists find themselves narrowing it down and majoring in one area of forensic science by the end of their educational experience. There are 11 different fields that a forensic scientist can go into. Forensic science majors should be based around one of the following categories:

  • Criminalistics
  • Digital and Multimedia Sciences
  • Engineering Sciences
  • General
  • Jurisprudence
  • Odontology
  • Pathology/Biology
  • Physical Anthropology
  • Psychiatry and Behavioral Science
  • Questioned Documents
  • Toxicology

Criminalists analyze, compare, identify and interpret physical evidence. Most find themselves working in labs, identifying evidence and linking suspects, victims and crime scenes through physical evidence. Majors may include chemistry, biology, physics, molecular biology or a related science.

Digital and Multimedia science majors can be used to aid or document crime scenes or injuries. Or it can be used to speed up photography, creating an important area of research, development and evidence. Majors may include computer science, information technology or engineering.

Engineering science majors are used to apply principles of mathematics and science to the purpose of the law. There is numerous different engineering science majors once can take, and it’s important to know that there are only a few universities that offer courses in forensic engineering. Majors may include engineering or an allied science.

General forensic specialties include laboratory investigation, field investigation, clinical work, communication, computer investigation, education, research and more. In most cases, if it falls under the ‘general’ section of forensic science, it’s because the field is emerging still. Careers include everything from crime scene investigators to reconstructive artist/sculptors. Majors should be related to the type of forensic field you are interested in.

Forensic is defined by Black’s Law Dictionary as “belonging to courts of justice.” Forensic science is applied in courts to help resolve disputes and/or questions about evidence in criminal and civil trials. Jurisprudenceof forensics applies a definition more broad than that of forensic science. Generally, all forensic scientists in the jurisprudence section are lawyers. They must pass the bar and complete all requirements by their State to practice. Holding a degree in forensic science can help a lawyer understand, communicate and present evidence easier.

Forensic Odontology basically means the forensic scientist deals with teeth. Because they work with teeth, they must possess a certificate or professional degree in dentistry to practice.

Forensic Pathologists study disease, generally by performing autopsies and examining the tissues removed either by eye or under a microscope. Many times, they are referred to as medical examiners or coroners. All forensic pathologists are medical doctors. However, prospective forensic pathologists are not able to complete their forensic pathology education until they have finished medical school, internships and pathology residency.

Physical Anthropology involves identifying individuals killed, if mutilation is done to the body. Mutilation can be done by other humans or disasters such as airplane crashes. Generally majors vary, as long as a PhD in Anthropology is earned.

Psychiatry and Behavioral science is used by forensic psychologists and psychiatrists as they work in criminal and civil cases. 12 years of education is needed to get into this field. A medical degree is required.

Questioned Documents relates to material, such as ink, paper, toner from a copier or fax, and ribbons, such as from a typewriter. Many times, prospective forensic experts in questioned documents have a variety in majors since no one degree program exists. Majors may include criminal justice, forensic science and Criminalistics, as they all emphasize forensic document examination in their courses.

Toxicology deals with harmful effects of chemicals or drugs on living systems. Majors generally include chemistry, pharmacology, and physical science. Graduate programs in certain schools offer coursework in forensic toxicology at the master and PhD level.