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Degree Overview: Graduate Degree Program in Forensic Pathology

Majors Overview April 25, 2015

Get information about graduate degree programs in forensic pathology and their educational requirements, coursework, career choices, job and wage outlook, and continuing education choices.

Graduate Degree Programs in Forensic Pathology

Autopsies are performed by forensic pathologists in an endeavor to discover the cause of a person’s death; they focus on the body’s soft tissue, including bodily fluids and organs, in addition to bones. Students who wish to pursue a career in forensic pathology would need forensic training augmented by a Doctor of Medicine (M.D.) degree.

Before they complete their M.D., students must earn a bachelor’s degree, including pre-med courses; a master’s degree, including a specialization in forensic pathology; followed by four years of medical school; succeeded in turn by a residency program.

The primary focus of master’s degree programs in forensic science with an emphasis on forensic pathology is on principles of physics, mathematics, chemistry, and biology. Additionally, studies in forensic science, criminal justice, and social science theory and law are included and are aimed at helping in law enforcement investigations.

Educational Requirements

Apart from an undergraduate degree in the physical, medical, biological, or behavioral sciences, completion of two semesters each of organic chemistry and general chemistry lab experiences are requirements for applicants. Applicants to many programs are also expected to have completed previous coursework in quantitative analysis.


Students enrolled in forensic science graduate degree programs are expected to complete 30 credits of classroom lectures and laboratory experiences augmented by internships and group or individual research projects. Core coursework may include topic areas such as the following:

•Forensic biology
•Law enforcement procedures and policies
•Ethics and legal issues in forensic science
•Introduction to criminalistics
•Principles of crime scene investigation

Career Choices

In 2012, over 12,000 individuals were employed as forensic science technicians in the United States. Law enforcement at the local, state, and federal levels were supported by many of these jobs (U.S. Bureau of Labor of Statistics).

Job and Wage Outlook

In May 2012, forensic science technicians brought in an average hourly wage of $25.41. Over the 2010 – 2020 decade, these professionals were predicted to see job growth rate of six percent (BLS).

Continuing Education Choices

Those who graduate from a master’s degree program in forensic pathology may pursue further education by completing four years of medical school. They can also avail numerous opportunities for professional development in the forensic science field, including conferences, workshops, and advanced classes in new topic areas in forensic science.

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