What Certificates can I add to my Bachelor’s Degree in Forensic Science?

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A certificate program is a quicker and less costly way to enhance your knowledge and skill in a particular area. There are undergraduate and graduate certificates available on campus and online. You should have at least a bachelor’s degree for an entry-level job in forensic science. Therefore, we will focus on examples of graduate certificates for students with a baccalaureate. Schools require successful completion of a bachelor’s degree before applying for a master’s level certificate.

Forensics is a multidisciplinary profession involving anthropology, botany, psychology, biology, computer science, engineering, and more. This article concentrates on programs related to the crime scene investigation (CSI). CSI entails the preservation, collection, documentation, and analysis of evidence.

The following are examples of specialty programs that allow students to learn a new aspect of forensics or boost their expertise in a specific area.

Forensic anthropology is the study of human remains, mainly the skeleton, to determine the cause of and the duration of a person’s death. To work in this specialized field, a master’s degree in the major is necessary. However, an alternative is a certificate that will provide the requisite knowledge to converse intelligently with experts in anthropology.

The fieldwork is similar to archaeology. You carefully dig and brush away soil and other materials to expose the skeleton without compromising the evidence. A course in archaeology teaches the techniques and strategies to uncover human remains. A class in physical anthropology may explore osteology, anthropometry, and paleopathology. Anthropometry is the measurement of an individual as part of the identification process.

Anyone working in forensics should consider adding this certificate to his or her resume. Available on-campus and online, the program benefits individuals working in law enforcement, evidence technicians, prosecutors, and criminologists. The Certificate in Forensic and Crime Scene Investigation (FCSI) covers a range of topics in only seven courses. Examples are pathology, CSI, criminal procedure, and fingerprint analysis. Graduates will understand the significance of the physical evidence, media used at crime scenes, as well as the legal proceedings.

Another example is an online 18-credit hour Certificate in Crime Scene Investigation. This program consists of six courses that expose you to crime scene photography and fingerprint analysis. The latter studies latent print development methods, classification, and comparison of fingerprints and palm prints.

A sibling of toxicology, this branch of forensics examines drug pharmacology, forensic chemistry, quality control procedures, and drug synthesis. Students can complete this 15-credit hour’s specialty at the University of Florida (UF) in as few as 12 months. Applicants need a bachelor’s degree in one of the natural sciences. Once accepted, you will become familiar with the use of various instruments used in the analysis of bodily fluids and drugs. Examples are spectrophotometry, chromatography, and mass spectrometry.

UF also offers forensic toxicology as one of four concentrations. The program will introduce or magnify your knowledge of drug biotransformation. Biotransformation is the study of how the body alters chemicals, such as nutrients, amino acids, toxins, and drugs. A course in this subject deals with the complex metabolic activation of drugs, chemicals, and natural substances.

Criminology is the scientific study of the cause and nature of the crime. This area may appeal to those who prefer to track down the perpetrator of a crime. Instead of working in a laboratory, you are using behavioral analysis and sociology as crime-fighting methods. Your focus as a professional in the field includes relationships between victims and offenders, theories of victimization, and intervention programs. To gain expertise in this role, you may study the criminal personality, sex crimes, and the mind of the sex offender. Other classes may include theories of homicide and violent crime.

The criminology program above does have a course in forensic psychology. However, if the mind stimulates your interest more than the body, you can earn a graduate certificate in forensic psychology. One example is a 12-credit program that delves into the disorders of the psychotic and pedophile. Violent and predatory behaviors, including paraphilia, are common topics. Paraphilias are sexual interests and perversions associated with objects, individuals, and situations. Sexual paraphilia also refers to sadism, masochism, eroticism, and sexual gratification through murder.

DNA testing and analysis, coupled with serology, is another UF graduate certificate program. Forensic serology is the study of all bodily fluids (blood, semen, urine, saliva, vomit, etc.). Additionally, it is the science of detecting, classifying, and identifying the fluids. This specialty has an emphasis on the laboratory analysis of biological evidence and DNA testing. Since 1985, DNA testing has become the mainstay of many criminal investigations. DNA analysis incriminates and exonerates offenders. All criminals must submit a DNA sample, of which the FBI currently has more than five million DNA records.

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