Home Forensic Scientist Forensic Science Degree Programs in California

Forensic Science Degree Programs in California

When a crime occurs, experts say that there is a very narrow window in which a crime is likely to be solved. That’s why prompt collection, analysis, and interpretation of evidence is one of the most important parts of the justice system. When evidence is collected and analyzed properly, victims are more likely to get closure and see perpetrators brought to justice.

Discover what it takes to become a forensic scientist by requesting information from forensic science programs below.  

What Can I do with a Forensic Science Degree in California?

California is a large state with many different criminal justice issues and challenges. However, forensic science is an essential part of all of them. Forensic technology has decreased processing times, made it easier for prosecutors to take cases to court, and saved lots of money for the state.

Criminal justice professionals note that it takes much less time to solve and try crimes with current forensic technology, which includes advances like 3-D photography and full spectral imaging (WTSP, 2016). Advancements in forensics also allow forensic experts to solve more cold cases. A recent example was the arrest of Joseph DeAngelo, known as the Golden State Killer, in April of 2018. DeAngelo committed a string of rapes and murders throughout the state of California, but his last known attack was in 1986. As familial DNA profiles are becoming available online, forensic experts and detectives were able to solve the 30-year cold case by tracking down a second cousin of DeAngelo.

Since this field is crucial in many criminal justice work settings and environments, you may use your degree to pursue several job opportunities. Some graduates go straight into lab work as a forensic science technician, while others prefer to deal with the direct impact of violent crime by becoming coroners.

In the field of law enforcement, both law enforcement officers and criminal investigators use forensic science in their daily work.

Forensic Science Degrees in California

One of the main benefits of studying forensic science in California is the huge variety of two-year and four-year schools that are located throughout the state. By contacting local schools, you can learn about each school’s credit requirements, average graduation timeframe, practical experience offerings, and coursework.

Certificate programs are generally less than one year long, so they delve straight into forensic science concepts and expose you to different theories and techniques. Earn a certificate in forensic science as a general field or further specialize your study by earning a certificate in computer forensics.

Certificate-Level Courses in Computer Forensics

  • Forensic Evidence Preservation
  • Tools and Technology of Computer Forensic Investigations
  • Forensic Evidence Analysis
  • Computer Forensics – Investigative Simulation
  • Computer Forensic Methodology

 Many job openings require at least an associate degree, which makes this a popular choice for new students. Associate-level programs are generally offered at technical colleges and community colleges.

Each program requires at least 60 credits, although you may find that some California schools expect students to earn up to 70 credits.

After gaining experience in the lab and taking all required theory courses, you may further your education with an internship or practicum. This is a great way to network with people in your field and learn about post-graduation work opportunities.

Associate Degree Courses

  • Criminal Evidence
  • Criminal Investigations
  • Forensic Technology
  • Forensic Investigation
  • Advanced Forensic Photography
  • Fingerprint Identification
  • Forensic Chemistry

 Earning a bachelor’s degree takes the average student four years, although you may save a considerable amount of time if you already have a certificate or an associate degree. As you earn 120 or more credits, you explore the criminology side of forensic science and the physical science side.

This body of knowledge gives insight into current criminal justice issues and the applications of forensic science. Like associate degree programs, many bachelor’s degree programs require or offer internships to students.

Bachelor’s-Level Coursework

  • Survey of Forensic Science
  • Crime Scene Investigation
  • Forensic Science Applications
  • Forensic Anthropology
  • Fingerprint Science
  • Crime Scene and Evidence Photography
  • Forensic Biometrics
  • Forensic Chemistry
  • Forensic Molecular Biology

 If you already have a bachelor’s degree, why not take your education to the next level with a master’s degree? Master’s degree programs can generally be completed in about two years after completing a bachelor’s degree.

Keep in mind that these programs have strict admissions requirements, due to the heavily scientific nature of forensic technology. You may need to provide proof of undergraduate chemistry and biology courses. Furthermore, you need to provide strong references and earn an impressive score on the GRE.

The master’s-level courses below are also typically required for PhD students in this field. However, PhD programs require a dissertation and a significant amount of laboratory work.

Courses in Master’s Degree Programs

  • Forensic Pathology
  • Advanced Criminal Behavior
  • Forensic Psychology
  • Major Case Investigation
  • Crime Scene Investigation
  • Criminal Profiling
  • Advanced Criminalistics
  • Digital Evidence
  • Law and Criminal Procedure
  • Fingerprint Analysis

This is a great time to get started in the field of forensic science. California schools are ready to help you. Find schools that interest you below and get in touch today.

Working as a Forensic Scientist in California

 Forensic science degrees help students build a wide, practical base of knowledge that is useful in quite a few career paths. With a certificate or associate degree, you may become a police officer.

Generally, this involves attending and graduating from a police academy. California law enforcement officers earn an average annual salary of $100,090 per year (Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2017). Demand for law enforcement officers may swell 5% by 2026 (O*Net, 2017).

In the same vein, criminal investigators often stay involved in cases from the beginning until the cases are closed. In California, they report an average income of $103,090 (BLS, 2017). Job openings may jump 5% between 2016 and 2026 (O*Net, 2017).

If you prefer working in a laboratory, you may thrive as a forensic science technician. This field is growing rapidly, with an expected 15% boost in demand through 2026 (O*Net, 2017). An average income of $82,650 per year is reported in California (BLS, 2017).

Coroners use their knowledge of forensic science and investigative techniques to gather as much evidence as possible from deceased individuals. Job openings for coroners may see a 9% increase through 2026 (O*Net, 2017). Their average income is $81,840 per year (BLS, 2017).

This is the time to start preparing for your future career. Contact online and local forensic science schools below to take the first step.

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