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Study a graduate program in forensic science

What will I study in a graduate forensic science programme?



Forensic science is the application of scientific procedures, in order to both extract and provide evidence that a crime has been committed and prove how the crime was carried out. This means providing the police and law enforcement agencies with clear scientific evidence, through information including fingerprints, DNA and fibres, with the aim of unlocking facts.

A masters degree in forensic science might features modules or classes in areas such as forensic medicine, dentistry, psychology, graphology, criminology, pathology, psychiatry, ballistics, serology and toxicology. There are also other degree options within the forensic science remit – for example crime science.

Degrees teach the practical skills needed for careers, including statistics, analytics and research methods. You are also likely to study and learn to use effectively the computer software packages that you will use to achieve your results. Your degree is likely to also include a large amount of criminology, and could even include subjects as diverse as geography.

In the majority of countries you will choose between a taught or research masters. Taught masters programmes in forensic science involve lectures and seminars, whilst research programmes contain more independent study and work towards the completion of a thesis.

Length of programme


The length of a graduate forensic science programme depends on where you study and how far you want to go into academia. Postgraduate courses generally last the following duration in these countries: 

UK – 1-2 years
US – 1-3 years
China – 1-3 years
Canada – 1-2 years

Entry requirements


The nature of a masters degree in forensic science means that you will have to have completed a degree in a similar area first. This degree could be in the field of science or bioscience, or in an area as broad as criminology or psychology.

In the UK it is likely that you will need a 2:1 or a First in this degree to progress onto a masters, and it is also likely that you will need to complete an interview. Requirements in other countries may be more or less rigorous.

If you are studying in a country where the first language is different from your own, you may be required to take a language test to prove your skills.

Career development


Completing a masters degree in forensic science equips students with a specific set of technical and practical skills that prepare them for successful careers within the area of scientific analysis.

Some career areas for those with a masters in forensic science include:

-          Forensic analysis
-          Crime intelligence analysis
-          Risk and compliance
-          Law enforcement
-          Crime prevention
-          Environmental criminology
-          Teaching
-          Research

Many students who complete masters degrees in forensic science also choose to go on to PhD study, in preparation for careers in research.

Fees and funding



The cost of graduate forensic science programme varies widely from country to country and university to university. Remember that fees depend on whether you are a home, EU or international student. As a guide, expect to pay the following in these countries per year:

UK - £4,500 - £17,250
USA - $5,000 - $30,000
Germany  €2,000 - €5,000
Canada - $4,000-8,000
China – RMB 21,000-24,000

What to do next


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