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What College Classes Do You Take to Become a Forensic Scientist?

by Buffy Naillon

Perhaps due to the prevalence of crime dramas on television, the profession of forensic scientist has become the career of choice for many people who love the sciences. This work combines the skill sets from a number of disciplines, and most aspiring forensic scientists find that having a bachelor's degree counts as enough to begin their careers. In college, these budding scientists will enroll in a number of classes, all with the goal of preparing for the profession.

The Biology of Forensic Science

Students wanting to go on to forensic science careers look at majors such as forensic biology or forensic chemistry, recommends Dr. Michael S. Reagan of the biology department of the College of St. Benedict St. John's University. Reagan advises students to take classes in introductory biology, genetics, biochemistry, molecular genetics, toxicology and entomology. While the last suggestion may seem odd, a forensic scientist learns much from the insects that gravitate toward a crime scene, and this area of study counts as an important element of the biological sciences for the forensic science professional.

Chemistry and the Forensic Scientist

A solid understanding of chemistry also plays a significant role in the work life of the forensic scientist. Again, the student should become grounded in the subject by taking a general chemistry course. He can follow it up with classes in organic chemistry, physical chemistry and analytical chemistry. Although not specifically related to chemistry, statistics counts as an important class in this course of study. It allows the future forensic scientist to understand all of the data from the biological and chemistry samples that he collects regarding a case and other related cases and to use this information in his work and in legal settings.

Other Subjects

Forensic scientists don't only deal with crime scenes filled with fingerprints and smoking guns, they come into contact with people during the course of their work. In addition to taking extensive coursework in the natural sciences, the aspiring forensic scientist will find classes in anthropology and criminal justice helpful. The forensic anthropology degree and the criminal justice degree give students a background in crime scene work from different vantage points as well as a look at human behavior.

Advanced Degrees

To move forward in a career as a forensic scientist, the University of Tennessee, Knoxville recommends students look into getting advanced degrees. The possible degrees can include master- or Ph.D.-level training in dentistry, medicine, anthropology or entomology. Because there are no uniform standards for these programs, the only way a student knows what to take at the undergraduate level is to compare offerings with the graduate admissions requirements.

About the Author

Buffy Naillon has worked in the media industry since 1999, contributing to Germany's "Der Spiegel" magazine and various websites. She received a bachelor's degree in German from Boise State University. Naillon also attended New York University and participated in the foreign exchange program at Germany's Saarland University. She is completing her master's degree in educational technology at Boise State.

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