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What courses in college should I take to become a forensic scientist?

I've thoroughly enjoy science and math in high school throughout the years. I've seen numerous shows and have read several books about forensics and crime scene processes. I know generally a forensic major has to take several science, math, and law courses, but I would like to know specific courses that would help lead to a career in forensics. #law #math #forensic

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SarahMiller’s Answer

Hi Mariah--

You're right that there are foundational courses, these include calculus and statistics or biostatistics for math; chemistry, organic chemistry, physics, cell or molecular biology, and biochem for science courses.

Aside from these courses, at universities with degree programs in forensic science, there are also more specialized courses in criminalistics (interpreting physical evidence using natural sciences), forensic biology (lab work to prepare you for analyzing body and other physical evidence), forensic chemistry (analysis of trace materials such as drugs, explosive in evidence), and forensic toxicology (more specialized analytical chemistry).

Keep in mind that communications--verbal and written--are also quite important. So no matter what type of undergraduate program you are in, find opportunities to develop your communication skills through classes and extracurricular activities.

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J’s Answer


I'm not sure what type of college you going to, but check out these programs (and courses) for some of the top forensic science programs:

Penn state: Undergraduate degree program--Chemistry & Biology tracks

Syracuse University: Integrated Learning Major in Forensic Science

University of California, Davis: Program Track and Units Requirements

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Mackenzie’s Answer

Becoming a forensic scientist typically involves a strong foundation in science and specialized knowledge in forensic techniques and analysis. Here are some college courses and areas of study that can help you pursue a career in forensic science:

Basic Science Courses:

Biology: Study of living organisms and their functions, which is crucial for understanding DNA analysis and biological evidence.
Chemistry: Focuses on the properties and composition of matter, essential for analyzing substances like drugs, toxins, and trace evidence.
Physics: Understanding of principles related to trajectories, ballistics, and other physical aspects of forensic investigation.
Forensic Science Courses:

Introduction to Forensic Science: Provides an overview of the field, its history, and the various sub-disciplines within forensic science.
Forensic Chemistry: Explores the application of chemical analysis to crime scene evidence, such as drugs and explosives.
Forensic Biology: Covers topics like DNA analysis, bloodstain pattern analysis, and serology.
Forensic Toxicology: Focuses on the detection of drugs, alcohol, and toxins in biological samples.
Forensic Anthropology: Examines the identification of human remains, especially in cases of decomposition or skeletal remains.
Forensic Entomology: Studies the use of insects in forensic investigations, particularly for estimating time of death.
Criminal Justice and Law Courses:

Criminal Law: Understanding of legal principles and procedures related to criminal offenses and investigations.
Evidence Law: Knowledge of rules and procedures governing the collection and use of evidence in court.
Criminalistics: Study of various aspects of criminal investigations, including crime scene processing and evidence collection.
Statistics and Data Analysis:

Statistics: Proficiency in statistical methods is essential for analyzing and interpreting forensic data.
Data Analysis: Skills in handling and analyzing large datasets, often used in pattern recognition and crime analysis.
Computer Forensics:

Digital Forensics: Understanding of computer systems, data recovery, and analysis of digital evidence like emails, files, and online activities.
Ethics and Professionalism:

Ethics in Forensic Science: Exploration of ethical considerations and responsibilities in forensic work.
Research Methods:

Research in Forensic Science: Familiarity with research methodologies used to validate forensic techniques and stay updated on advancements.
Internships and Practical Experience:

Many forensic science programs offer internships or hands-on experience in crime labs or related settings to gain practical skills.
When choosing a college or university, look for programs that are accredited by relevant accrediting bodies and recognized for their quality in forensic science education. Depending on your specific interests within forensic science, you might want to choose a program that offers concentrations or tracks in areas such as DNA analysis, toxicology, crime scene investigation, or digital forensics.