Forensic Genetics: Career and Degree Facts

A degree in forensic genetics could lead to a career spent analyzing DNA, helping to solve crimes and identifying victims. Find out about the degree programs, see what courses are included and learn about your career options and the employment outlook for forensic genetics. Schools offering Sequence Analysis and Genomics degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

What You Need to Know

Forensic genetics degree programs are most commonly found at the master's level. The primary industry for this type of work is the criminal justice system.

Courses Forensic DNA testing, biomedical ethics, trace evidence evaluation, blood spatter investigation, forensic hair analysis, biological evidence
Mean Salary (2017)* $61,220 (forensic science technicians)
Job Outlook (2016-2026)* 17% growth for forensic science technicians (much faster than average)

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

What Types of Forensic Genetics Degree Programs Are Available?

Master's programs emphasize hands-on training using the most current investigative and research technologies. You can prepare for a master's degree program with undergraduate majors in genetics, chemistry or forensic studies. A few schools offer doctoral training in the field of study that allows you to focus your research specifically in forensic genetics. You'll typically need to attend on-campus programs in genetic forensics due to the hands-on laboratory requirements and the use of expensive scientific equipment. You could also take a bachelor's degree program in forensic science.

What Will I Learn?

Master's degree programs in genetic forensics focus on the interpretation, theory and hands-on application of the science. You'll learn the most current and emerging DNA technologies and work with scientific instrumentation. These topics may also be considered in your degree program:

  • Forensic law
  • Ethics
  • Legal testimony in forensic science
  • Current and emergent DNA technologies
  • Genetic analyzers
  • Spectrophotometers
  • Automated laser dissection microscopes

What About Courses in a Doctoral Program?

Participating in a doctoral program allows you to conduct independent research in a specialized field. Coursework usually covers a range of disciplines. The following areas of interested may be covered in your doctoral degree program:

  • Genetics
  • Biology
  • Natural sciences
  • Physical sciences
  • Dissertation research

Are There Any Prerequisites?

You must complete a bachelor's degree to enroll in any graduate program. Some schools might require that you major in genetics or a related field and complete courses in molecular biology, biochemistry, statistics and genetics. Doctoral programs often require written and oral entrance exams encompassing physical sciences, as well as the foundational elements of genetics.

What Careers Can I Pursue?

A master's degree in forensic genetics qualifies you for careers in research, investigations, analysis and consulting. With a doctoral degree, you can enter academia as a professor at a college or university. Doctoral programs usually offer teaching assistantships that give you classroom training for your future career.

To continue researching, browse degree options below for course curriculum, prerequisites and financial aid information. Or, learn more about the subject by reading the related articles below:

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