At some point in your consideration of obtaining your online bachelor’s degree in the realm of criminology, you may be faced with the decision of whether to pursue your degree in criminal justice or a degree in forensic science. Which is best for you or should you acquire both? Although many favorable careers can come from either degree, you must first familiarize yourself with the general scope of each to make an informed decision regarding your educational journey. Let’s explore the differences in the two degrees and how they are related.
Criminal Justice degree programs generally are directed towards students that are interested in law enforcement which entails three main parts of the legal system; the laws, the courts and corrections. It includes studies in the social aspects of crime, causes of crime and the behavior of criminals, as well as, the way that criminals are detected, comprehended, tried and the process of punishment and incarceration.
A forensic science program is a knowledge of the law coupled with a working knowledge of physical science. Your degree in forensic science will teach you about collecting evidence from crime scenes, testing the evidence and creating a criminal timeline. Your discovery of the facts helps the authorities to solve the crime.
Coursework within the two areas of criminal justice and forensic science may overlap in some areas, however, forensic science requires more emphasis on math and science courses. The criminal justice classes include law enforcement essentials, corrections in society, risk management, criminal justice management, juvenile law and justice, sociology courses, crime intelligence and research methods, just to name a few.
Forensic science coursework requires chemistry, biology and science classes along with crime scene investigation and evidence analysis, in addition to, concentration classes on crime scene forensics, bones, bugs and teeth. With an online bachelor’s degree in forensic science, you will be able to conduct interviews and interrogations, collect fingerprints, utilize crime evidence collection and recreation skills. You will also learn to construct reports, regarding crime analysis, for relevant personnel and gain experience in the crime lab.
Either degree will assure you an exciting and satisfying career. Individuals who decide on a criminal justice degree generally pursue a career in law enforcement as a police officer, state trooper or a U.S. Marshal. The median salaries range from $60,270 annually for a police officer to upwards of $110,000 annually for a U.S. Marshal, depending on experience, education and location.
There are several careers within the forensic science field that might interest you. The median salary for a forensic science technician ranges from approximately $56,320 annually to $94,410 per year, depending on experience. The forensic science technician is usually one of the first officials on the crime scene as they thoroughly collect and protect valuable evidence. They work with law enforcement to piece the evidence together to solve the crime, work in the crime lab to analyze samples and use DNA typing to identify blood or bodily fluids. In addition, a forensic science technician uses their knowledge in ballistics to identify weapons, as well as, compiling reports with the results.
Other careers in forensic science include computer forensics investigators making a median salary of $50,000 – $75,000 annually, forensic anthropologists with a median salary between $54,230 – $89,440 annually, forensic psychologists earning a median salary between $59,440 – $100,000 per year and forensic toxicologists making a median salary of $75,000 annually.
Online bachelor degrees, in criminal justice and forensic science, are available. Many universities offer the crime scene experience via virtual means. You may be asked to investigate a virtual crime scene, gather the evidence, examine evidence via a virtual lab and then write your report to rebuild the crime scene and solve the mystery.
If you are interested in both criminal justice and forensic science, then you should consider combining the two degrees. In addition, some positions require a psychology degree, as well.