Criminalistics: Adding a Specialization to Your Master in Forensic Science Online
Not all superheroes wear capes. Some of them wear lab coats. If your superpower is science (either chemistry or biology at the undergraduate degree level), you could be joining the fight against crime and solving real-world mysteries with a master in forensic science online degree specializing in criminalistics at National University.
The criminalistics specialization of the master in forensic science online degree program prepares students with the knowledge and skills required to collect, preserve, and analyze biological, trace and toxicological evidentiary evidence relating to a crime scene or scene of death. The online degree also details the importance of the chain of custody (the careful documentation required to record the custody, control, transfer, analysis, and disposition of evidence), and the preparation of reports used during the investigation and any later court proceedings.
Due to the complex nature of many of the subjects covered in the criminalistics specialization, which require access to highly technical and expensive equipment, students in the online degree program are required to attend some classes at National University’s campus in San Diego. Students in the program currently can complete up to eight courses online and four courses on site.
Real World CSI
Criminalistics is at the sharp end of forensic science, using advanced forensic toxicology, serology (the study of serum and other bodily fluids), DNA, anthropology, and archeology to identify the remains of deceased individuals, determine the cause of death, and to provide evidence in any criminal investigation. It’s the real-life science behind hit TV shows like CSI: Crime Scene Investigation.
The popularity of such shows and the interest they generate in careers in forensic science isn’t lost on Professor Ismail M. Sebetan, Director of the Forensic Sciences Program at National University when asked what attracts students to the master in forensic science online program.
“I really believe that maybe the TV shows are one factor,” says Sebetan.
However, Sebetan is also very quick to highlight the difference between TV fiction and the real world of criminalistics as part of a crime scene investigation team.
“It’s completely different,” says Sebetan. “The full process from collection, avoiding contamination, keeping a chain of custody, maintaining quality control and quality assurance, doing all the required analysis wouldn’t make such entertaining television where the case is typically solved in 30 minutes.”
Employment Opportunities in Criminalistics
While the patience and methodical work patterns of a skilled forensic technician might not make for great television, the opportunities in real-world crime labs for those who get excited by the science behind criminalistics are very real.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median wage for a forensic technician in the state of California is $85,280 per year (or $41 per hour). It’s also a growing field, with nearly 2,500 new and highly-skilled jobs being created over the last decade.
Sebetan is particularly proud of where his graduates have found employment after completing their online forensic science masters degree, with senior managers of crime and police labs all over the United States being National University alumni. In turn, these professional connections help new graduates find employment opportunities and develop their careers through carefully nurtured mentoring programs and internships.
Students without a hard science background wishing to follow a career in forensic science should consider the master in forensic science online degree program with a specialization in investigation. This path will create opportunities to work in crime scene investigation with police departments, the FBI, NCIS, and District Attorney offices.
An Open Invitation to Join A Class
If you are interested in following a career in the criminalistics field of forensic science, Sebetan recommends you first attend a class and talk to faculty members and students.
According to Sebetan, 80% of students in the master in forensic science online degree joined the program following a recommendation from a fellow student.
“Potential students typically ask me about the faculty qualifications,” says Sebetan. “Luckily we have faculty who are not only qualified for teaching but all have also field experience.”
Fighting Crime with Science
To start your journey from scientist to crime fighter, visit the master in forensic science online degree program page and get in touch to request more information on the criminalistics specialization.