Monday, December 23, 2019

What is better - Bachelor's in Forensic Science or Master's?

Dr. Bhoopesh Kumar Sharma
Forensic Expert & Associate Professor

Many times, students are confused about whether to go for Bachelor's in Forensic Science and then Masters in Specialized field, or it is better to do Bachelor's in life science or any other branch and then Masters in Forensic Science.

Here, in this post, I will try to answer these questions, which will help you to understand the basics, and you will probably be able to decide your career accordingly.

Firstly, you need to know what is your background. Means before bachelors do you have a science background or not. Let me make it very clear at this point, if you do not have a science background, then it is impossible for you to grow yourself in the career of Forensic Sciences. As forensic science consists of the application of scientific principles to solve the legal issues. 

When I say science background, make it a point that I am asking about the Physics/Chemistry/Biology or Physics/Chemistry/Maths or any of these two subjects at least at you school level (12th standard). If you have a combination of physics and biology, or chemistry with biology you are good to go ahead.

1. Bachelor’s Degree in Forensic Science

Many universities and institutions offer a general Bachelor's in Forensic Science or a Bachelor's in the Criminal Justice System. Now here both are slightly different. In the Criminal Justice System degree, you probably do not need a science background; however, in forensic science, that is compulsory. A number of students asks me. Is it better to do general Bachelor's in science and then go for a Masters in Forensic Science? 

The answer is yes. It is good to have further strong fundamentals at an undergraduate level, and then you can enter in the field with more specialized knowledge, and experience in particular domain. Because many of the institutions (for Bachelor's Forensic Programmes) do not offer basic sciences (physics/chemistry/biology/engineering), then it won't be very easy to make your career sound in this case at the Master's level.

Is it better to do a Bachelor's in Forensic Science?

The answer is again, Yes. If you have already made up your mind that what you want to be in the next 3-5 years, then choosing Bachelor's in Forensic Science is a good option. But please remember, once you have done your Bachelor's in Forensics, then it won't be straightforward to enter in many other field in your Masters. So, be aware of that. However, in related areas like genetics, microbiology, biochemistry, biotechnology, and others, you still have a chance to enter the Masters level.

2. Master’s in Forensic Science

Now here comes the more responsibility on your shoulders in choosing the specialization. There are many specialties available in various universities/institutions around the world at the masters level like Toxicology, Pathology, Ballistics, Forensic Biology, Human Genetics, Human Identification, Cyber Forensics, Cyber Security, Forensic Psychology, Criminology, Criminalistics, Questioned Documents, Fingerprinting, DNA Profiling, and General Forensics, etc.

Individual branches like cybersecurity, forensic engineering, ballistics, forensic psychology need your bachelor's also in the same or similar area or a related field; else, it is difficult to enter for masters in these specific areas. There are some new domains of forensic science like Artificial Intelligence, Social Media Forensics, Forensic Journalism, IoT forensics, etc. and all of these need your bachelor's or certificate or diploma in the related field.

Below, I have mentioned several majors at Master’s Level ( I can not mention all) and their probable requirements/eligibility. However, these eligibilities may vary as per the organization, hence it is always better to contact the particular organization to know more. Also, I am not promoting any of these programme or organization, these are just for your general consideration. I request you to further check the eligibility criteria with the university/institution. I will not be responsible for any discrepancy.

Masters in Forensic Science (General)
No specific qualification needed. Only Bachelors in Science (any science) is fine.
Masters in Digital Forensics/ Cyber Security/Cyber Security/IT Forensics/Mobile Forensics, etc.
You need a Bachelor’s degree in the related field of computer science or IT. In case if you have general science Bachelor's, then many universities may accept if you are able to provide your additional credentials in computer science or IT.
Masters in DNA Profiling/Forensic Biology/Forensic Serology, etc.
You must need a Bachelors in forensic science or biological sciences, biotechnology, biochemistry, etc. Bachelor’s in physics and math will not solve the issue.
Masters in Forensic Psychology
You need a Bachelor’s in psychology or forensic psychology. 
Forensic Auditing and Accounting
Commerce or accounting background is must.
Masters in Forensic Toxicology/Forensic Chemistry
You may need Bachelor’s in forensic science or a Bachelor’s in chemistry or a Bachelor’s in science with chemistry as one of the subjects.
Masters in Forensic Odontology
Bachelor’s degree in dentistry
Masters in Forensic Identification
Bachelor’s degree in biology, biotechnology, forensic science, general bachelor’s, etc.
Masters in Criminology
Probably any Bachelor’s degree from a recognized university.
Masters in Forensic Biotechnology
Any Bachelor’s degree with biology/biotechnology/biochemistry as one of the subjects.
Masters in Medicolegal Death Investigations
A Bachelor’s degree in medicine, GRE scores, pathology, etc.
Masters in Forensic Anthropology
A Bachelor’s degree in forensic science, anatomy, or anthropology.
Masters in Questioned Document Examination & Fingerprints
A Bachelor’s degree in forensic science or related field.
Masters in Environmental Forensics
Any Bachelor’s degree with either biology, chemistry, forensic science, or environmental science.
Masters in Fire Investigation
Bachelor’s degree in forensic science, chemistry, or engineering
Forensic Ballistics
Many universities ask for a physics background at bachelor’s level
Masters in Forensic Linguistics or Speech Science
Bachelor’s in forensic science, physics, linguistics, etc.
Masters in Forensic Art/Facial Reconstruction
A degree in art, design, forensics, anatomy, etc.

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