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Q&A - Masters Degrees in Forensic Science

Can I work while studying for my masters degree in forensic science?

There are many opportunities for you to work while studying for your master in forensic science. Since most graduate programs in forensic science require you to have a bachelors of science degree to enroll, you will already be able to pursue 1 of several forensic science careers while working on your degree.

With your bachelors degree in hand, you can work as a forensic science technician while completing your masters degree. As a forensic science technician, you collect and analyze evidence to help with investigations either at the actual crime scene or as a dedicated lab technician. Depending on the specific position, hours and work conditions may vary.

Another possible job is working as a research assistant in a lab on campus. Research assistants work closely with professors and other forensic science professionals to explore and develop new technologies. Working as a research assistant keeps you up to date on the newest innovations and provides you with the opportunity to make connections with professional forensic scientists.

Some students may be apprehensive about working while going to school, but it can help you develop your skills and avoid accruing unnecessary debt. If you are worried about balancing work and school, you may want to consider pursuing an MS in forensic science online. Taking online classes increases your flexibility and provides more opportunities to work.

Are there any scholarships for traditional or online masters students in forensic science?

Some scholarships, such as Virginia Commonwealth University’s Emily R. Murphy Graduate Scholarship, are established directly through the school. This particular scholarship is merit based and was set up as a memorial honoring a former student. It is a 1-time award given to students working toward their MS in forensic science.

George Washington University collaborates with federal agencies like the Department of Defense in a scholarship program that awards promising students with full tuition. Recipients must work with the awarding agency in a professional capacity for each year that the scholarship is given. Receiving this prestigious scholarship essentially guarantees 1 of the more substantial forensic science salaries right after graduation since students also receive work experience.

The American Society of Crime Lab Directors offers a scholarship as well. The $1,000 award is based on a student’s academic record, personal statement and references. Because this scholarship is awarded by an autonomous organization, you are eligible to apply while working through an accredited online masters degree in forensic science.

Many schools have teaching assistantships available for graduate students as well. Assistantships generally include a full tuition waiver and a research stipend. Most often these are awarded by traditional schools, so it might be difficult to find 1 for an online masters in forensic science.

Are there any notable people who have earned masters degrees in forensic science?

Clea Koff, a forensic anthropologist, was instrumental in identifying dead and missing persons after the conflicts in Rwanda and the former Yugoslavia. She began her masters studies at University of Arizona and completed her degree at University of Nebraska-Lincoln in 1999. Her education in top forensic science masters degree programs helped her assist the United Nations in identifying exhumed remains and bringing war criminals to justice.

Another forensic anthropologist, William R Maples, earned his masters degree in 1962, long before you could earn an MS forensic science online. His expertise in identifying skeletal remains earned him the opportunity to work on many high-profile cases. Maples examined the remains of the Elephant Man, Medgar Evers and even Czar Nicholas II. He was also dedicated to assisting local law enforcement agencies in solving a number of cases.

William M. Bass received his masters in forensic science from University of Virginia and is best known for his role in maintaining a “body farm” at University of Tennessee. At this facility he conducts research into how environmental factors affect bodies as they decompose. There has been some controversy surrounding the facility, with many arguing that this treatment of bodies is disrespectful, but the usefulness of Bass’s research, as well as the growing popularity of forensic science in entertainment, has helped calm such worries.

Are there any brick-and-mortar colleges that offer an online forensic science masters degree program?

In addition to offering a general forensic science masters degree online, University of Florida offers a variety of specialized programs. You can earn your masters in forensic toxicology and specialize in forensic pharmacology, postmortem toxicology and doping, or you can earn a masters in forensic DNA and serology to study blood splatter patterns and genetics.

Each specialized program has its own individual requirements, but online programs usually allow greater ease in scheduling. The diverse programs combined with institutional accreditation make a degree from the University of Florida 1 of the best forensic science masters available online.

Duquesne University’s masters in forensic nursing is available online. The program instructs students in traditional nursing procedures but has a particular emphasis on violence. You learn how to examine wounds, determine how they were caused and use that information to assist in criminal investigations. While coursework can be completed online, the program requires 40 hours of time spent on campus completing lab work. Duquesne University’s reputation, combined with the level of commitment required of students, makes this another 1 of the top forensic science masters degrees online.