Online degrees in forensic science prepare students to work in crime labs, where they analyze physical evidence found at the scene of crimes. Physical evidence might include everything from bodily fluids to clothing fibers to weaponry. Online forensic science degrees also train students how to properly process a crime scene, including photographing the scene, making notes of their observations, and collecting evidence.
While forensic science degrees and crime scene investigation degrees are similar in some regards, forensic science is actually much broader, and emphasizes scientific lab skills to a much greater degree. Forensic science students must get comfortable working with microscopes and other lab equipment, which is why the best online programs will require campus-based labs in addition to online learning. Required courses in the hard sciences, such as chemistry and biology, will also incorporate campus-based lab components, even for online programs.
As a broad discipline, forensic science offers numerous specializations at the graduate level, and students can explore forensic DNA and serology (study of bodily fluids), forensic toxicology, and forensic drug chemistry in greater depth, depending on their career interests. A minimum of a bachelor’s degree is required for forensic science technician careers in crime labs, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), and an overview of forensic scientist positions revealed that a minimum of a bachelor’s degree in either forensic science or one of the natural sciences was required, often with a specified amount of course work in chemistry.
After graduating from an online forensic science degree program, you may be qualified for forensic scientist positions specializing in areas like firearms, latent prints, post-mortem toxicology, drug unit forensics, genetic identity, and more. An online graduate degree in forensic science can also lead to careers in research, academia, or consulting.