Master's Degree Programs in Forensic Pathology

A master's degree in the field of forensics will teach you about police procedures, criminal investigations and how to collect forensic evidence. Continue reading to learn about degree options and whether those programs prepare you to work as a forensic pathologist. Also, check out online availability, coursework and career options. Schools offering Anatomy & Physiology degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

Can I Earn a Master's Degree in Forensic Pathology?

Master's degrees specifically in forensic pathology are generally not offered as a forensic pathologist is a medical doctor who has to complete medical school and several years of residency. So, while a master's degree is not the pathway toward a career as a pathologist, Master of Science degrees in forensic science are widely available and are designed to prepare you for careers in criminal investigation or in scientific roles in which you'll analyze forensic evidence.

Degree OptionsNo master's degrees in forensic pathology are available; master's degrees in forensic science are available
Forensic Pathology RequirementsMust attend medical school, complete a residency and pass the American Board of Pathology exam
Online OptionsFully online master's programs are rare; partially online master's programs and graduate certificates in specialized courses available
Common CoursesCriminal justice, clinical pathology, death investigations, DNA analysis
Typical EmployersPolice departments, criminal defense attorneys and prosecutors, medical examiners, crime labs
Median Salary (2018)* $58,230 (for forensic science technicians)
Job Outlook (2016-2026)* 17% (for forensic science technicians)

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Will A Master's Degree Qualify Me to Work as a Forensic Pathologist?

A master's degree won't qualify you to work as a forensic pathologist. To become a forensic pathologist, you'll need to earn a medical degree and complete several years of residency and a forensic pathology fellowship. You will be required to pass the American Board of Pathology exam. You won't be able to enroll in a medical program until you earn a bachelor's or a master's degree. As a forensic pathologist, you will perform autopsies, give court testimony and appear as an expert witness during a trial.

Can I Earn My Degree Online?

Fully online master's programs in forensic science are rare, but may be available. Some programs do let you complete some coursework online. Some of these programs are designed for working professionals who have access to laboratory facilities where they can complete course requirements.

If you're looking to learn about forensic science exclusively online, you can earn graduate certificates in areas like forensic death investigation and forensic toxicology. Coursework for these programs can be completed entirely through the Internet. An online certificate may help you advance your career by acquiring specialized skills used in forensic science.

What Can I Learn In a Forensic Science Program?

Forensic science programs introduce students to the basic procedures used by law enforcement to collect medical evidence. You'll learn about how to tell when a crime has occurred, causes of death and how crime labs analyze evidence to determine the identity of victims and suspects. This study also provides an overview of how evidence is handled so as to preserve its integrity and prevent contamination.

M.S. degree programs can focus on research or be more applied/professional in nature. Professional M.S. degrees usually feature an internship component with local law enforcement agencies and forensic labs. Master's degree requirements also typically include courses in the following subjects:

  • DNA analysis
  • Clinical pathology
  • Death investigations
  • Research methods
  • Criminal justice
  • Biology

What Can I Do With This Degree?

After earning your master's degree, you can help police departments investigate murders, sexual assaults and other crimes by collecting and analyzing forensic evidence. You might be employed by a local police department, criminal defense attorney or prosecutor. You may also assist a medical examiner or coroner. Graduates with an M.S. in Forensic Science also work at state crime laboratories, pharmaceutical companies and research facilities.

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:

  • 1. Degree Options:
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