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Information on Master’s Degree Programs in Criminal Science

Majors Overview November 1, 2015

Master’s degree programs in criminal justice or forensic science can teach students about the criminal science field. Graduates will be ready for various criminal science careers, including work in forensics and criminal administration.

Master’s Programs in Criminal Science

In accordance with their career goals, bachelor’s degree holders seeking more knowledge about the field of criminal science can earn master’s degrees in forensic science or criminal justice. Graduates can complete each of these degree programs within about two years.

Coursework in a criminal justice program is devised to impart the leadership skills and knowledge necessary for working in law enforcement management positions. Coursework covers topic areas such as victimology, correctional institutions, family violence, and the judicial system. Students will learn about data analyzation and study qualitative and quantitative research.

Enrollees in master’s programs in forensic science gain advanced knowledge of methods of gathering and analyzing evidence for use in solving crimes. Schools may allow students to select a concentration such as forensic anthropology or forensic chemistry. Coursework covers topic areas such as genetics and crime scene investigation. Students are expected to complete laboratory work and internships.

Master’s Programs in Criminal Justice

Schools offer a master’s degree program in criminal justice as a Master of Arts (MA) or Master of Science (MS) in Criminal Justice. In a master’s degree program in criminal justice, students are given an in-depth grasp of the administration of justice and research methodology. Current management issues that crop up in criminal justice are subjects in the program. A combination of research, lecture, and practical experiences are used by students to investigate criminal justice statistics, criminal law, and criminal ethics.

Educational Requirements

In addition to holding a degree, incoming students are typically required to submit scores from the Graduate Record Examinations (GRE).


Coursework within a master’s degree program in criminal justice is devised to help students gain a grasp of criminal justice procedures. Scholars learn about ways of implementing various security, law enforcement, and correctional policies. The curriculum incorporates a thesis or internship, in addition to capstone research. Core coursework may cover topic areas such as:

•Criminal Policies
•Investigative criminal justice
•Criminal law
•Criminal justice system history
•Theory of criminal justice

Career Choices

Program graduates learn how to enforce laws, complete legal research and stay abreast of current events within the criminal justice field. They can choose from available career positions such as:

•Associate justices
•Postsecondary criminal justice teachers
•Special criminal agents

Continuing Education Choices

Program graduates keen on continuing education may enroll in a doctoral program in criminal justice. Program coursework covers topic areas such as criminal justice policy, criminology, and administration, and graduates will be ready for careers in academia or research.

Master of Science (M.S.) Programs in Forensic Science

The program is devised to teach students the skills they would need for developing expertise in forensic technology, in addition to a strong ethical background. Scholars learn about the use of advanced tools for analyzing evidence to solve crimes. Practical experiences and lectures are both in the program while introducing students to evidence analysis, advanced investigative procedures, professional ethics, and legal procedures. A solid scientific background is available to students with an emphasis on forensic anthropology, forensic chemistry, or forensic biology.

Educational Requirements

Admission criteria typically require incoming students to hold a bachelor’s degree, usually in biology or chemistry. Students may also be expected to submit letters of recommendation and a personal statement.


Program coursework is devised to train students in the analysis and identification of evidence. Courses in law, chemistry, and biology are available to students. An internship and research projects may be in the forensic science program. Core coursework may cover topic areas such as:

•Crime scene investigation
•Forensic pattern analysis
•Trace analysis

Job and Wage Outlook

Over the 2012 – 2022 decade, a job growth of six percent has been predicted for forensic technicians (U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics). The growth is due to the increased use of forensic techniques within local and state governments. In May 2012, these professionals brought in an average annual wage of $52,840 (BLS).

Continuing Education Choices

Program graduates keen on continuing their education may enroll in a Ph.D. program in Criminology, such as a doctoral program in criminal justice with an emphasis on forensic science. Program graduates can seek careers as forensic researchers and scientists.

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