Forensic science combines science and investigation in order to aid and support the prosecution or defense in criminal and civil investigations. While the profession has been widely romanticized by various TV shows, make no mistake – this job is most likely different that you expect. In contrast with popular perception, this is a highly scientific role, which often involves detailed, painstaking work. Field duties are limited to a few areas of expertise, and most often than not a forensic scientist will spend his time in the lab.
If you made it this far, though, congratulations! You’re taking the first steps in joining a very rewarding profession and itsGOV is here to guide you through what you need to know and what you need to do to join a forensic science program in Minnesota.
Minnesota’s Department of Public Safety, Bureau of Criminal Apprehension (BCA) is responsible for providing investigative and specialized law enforcement services to the law enforcement, public safety, and criminal justice agencies within Minnesota, from Minneapolis to Rochester.
The services of the BCA include: forensic laboratory analysis, criminal justice training, and criminal investigations. The BCA currently employs more than 300 individuals, including analysts, agents and scientists, through its headquarters in St. Paul, its Bemidji regional office, and through its ten field offices.
The requirements to become a CSI in Minnesota differ depending on whether the job is for a civilian or sworn officer position. Civilian CSI jobs in the state include such titles as a criminalist or forensic scientist.
Civilian CSI jobs in Minnesota generally require a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice or a science field such as chemistry, biochemistry, or biology, along with experience handling or working with physical evidence. Formal CSI education provides the training necessary for the following skills used at crime scenes.
Candidates also need to be able to communicate well both orally and in writing, since they will have to prepare documents about the crime scene and testify in court.
Prospective students in Minnesota can obtain associate’s and bachelor’s degrees in criminal justice from schools in the state and can obtain an associate’s degree in crime scene investigation. Another option is to obtain training from one of the online schools that offer degrees in these fields.
Forensic science requirements
In addition to a well-rounded education in forensic science, chemistry, biology, or a similar field, students seeking forensic science jobs in Minnesota are often best served by completing an internship through the BCA.
The BCA Lab Epstein – Rhoads Internship Program provides college students with an internship experience that allows them to observe forensic scientists within a laboratory setting and work on an assigned laboratory project.
Eligible students in the BCA internship are in their junior or senior year of college or in graduate school and are pursuing degrees in forensic science, chemistry, biology, criminalistics, or a similar program. Forensic scientists in Minnesota are called upon to:
- Process evidence for latent prints
- Investigate crime scenes for physical evidence
- Perform research and technology to assist with evidence processing
- Fingerprint people of interest
- Testify in court as an expert witness
All candidates for forensic scientist jobs in Minnesota must possess a bachelor’s degree in forensic science, biology, chemistry, physics, or criminal justice. Depending on the forensic scientist position, candidates may need to possess experience in processing crime scenes, working in forensic laboratories, or performing crime scene investigations.
New forensic scientists in Minnesota can expect to complete a two- to three-year training period before achieving the position of BCA Forensic Scientist.
Forensic science training
A degree in forensic science or a related discipline from an accredited college or university is essential for any individual who wants to learn how to become a forensic scientist. Many students pursue bachelor’s degrees in chemistry, biology, microbiology, or physics when pursuing careers in forensic science, while some students seek degree-granting schools with programs in forensic science. Another popular option for many students today is an undergraduate degree in a natural science, with a concentration or minor in forensic science.
A forensic science minor or concentration provides students with coursework related to life in the laboratory, including physical evidence collection, analysis and interpretation. As such, required coursework may include the following:
- Introduction to Forensic Science Methods
- Survey in Forensic Science
- Forensic Anthropology
- Forensic Anthropology lab
- Crime Scene Investigation and Reconstruction
- Forensic Document Examination
- Forensic Fingerprint Examination
- Forensic Firearm and Toolmark Examination
Forensic science salary in Minnesota
The state of Minnesota has approximately 100 people employed as forensic science technicians, according to 2012 data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. They are employed in positions in local and state government, in medical and diagnostic laboratories, and in psychiatric and substance-abuse hospitals.
Forensic science technicians in Minnesota earned mean annual wages of $51,740, according to the BLS. This is just below the nationwide wage average of $55,730 for forensic science technicians. However, pay can vary based on time spent on the job and the type of education that one has. Nationwide, forensic scientists earned as little as $32,200 and as much as $85,210, according to 2012 BLS data.
Forensic science schools in Minnesota
Bachelor’s programs in Minnesota
|University||Walden UniversityMinneapolis, Minnesota, Forensic Psychology B.S.|
|Type||Full time, Part time|
|Tuition and fees||$ 58,030 per year|
- Introduction to Forensic Psychology
- Cross-cultural Psychology
- Human Development: Childhood and Adolescence
- Social Influences on Behavior
- Psychological Disorders
- Methods in Psychological Inquiry
- The Criminal Mind
- Forensic Interviewing and Investigation
- Forensic Assessment
- Criminal Law
- Courts and Judicial Processes
- Contemporary Criminal Justice Systems
|University||Hamline University, Minnesota, Criminology and Criminal Justice B.S.|
|Type||Full time, Part time|
|Tuition and fees||$16,200 per year|
Hamline’s criminology and criminal justice (CCJ) major provides students a social science approach to the study of crime. The required courses provide a broad foundation in crime and justice, and social research methods to understand criminal justice policy and interventions. Criminology and Criminal Justice (CCJ) majors develop a working knowledge of the key components of the criminal justice system. Students learn how policy impacts both the institutions and individuals working within the system. Majors gain a solid methodological foundation to critique policy and correctional interventions being used by professionals today. Hamline University is unique in offering students the opportunity to complement their CCJ major with a forensic science minor. The core modules are:
- Crime and Justice in America
- Introduction to Criminal Justice and Forensic Science Methods
- Constitutional Issues in Criminal Procedures
- Theories of Criminal Behavior
- Capstone and Internship in Criminology and Criminal Justice
- Juvenile Delinquency
- Punishment, Corrections and Society
- Policing in America
- Criminal Law and Practice
- Courts and Sentencing
- Crime Policy Evaluation
- Survey of Forensic Science
- Addictive Disorders
- Approaces to Conflict Response
Master’s programs in Minnesota
|University||Hamline University, Minnesota, Criminal Justice and Forensic Science|
|Type||Full time, Part time|
|Tuition and fees||$16,200 per year|
The Forensic Science Certificate prepares students with majors in biochemistry, biology, or chemistry to work in forensic science laboratories, and students with majors in anthropology, biochemistry or biology to work in medical examiner’s offices and other medico-legal forensic science workplaces.
The forensic science certificate is designed for students pursuing a career in venues such as local, state, or federal forensic science laboratories, medical examiner/coroner offices. The forensic science certificate at Hamline is interdisciplinary by design and exposes students to the application of scientific principles and analytical methods to criminal and civil investigations.
The Forensic Science Certificate is also available for students who have already earned a bachelor’s degree from an accredited college or university in a natural science. The core modules are:
- Principles of Genetics
- Principles of Cell Biology
- General Chemistry I and II
- Survey of the Forensic Sciences
- Forensic Science Internship
- Forensic Science Seminar
Students pursuing a forensic science certificate who already have completed a natural science degree can transfer a maximum of two courses, with grades of C or better, from prior college work to apply toward the certificate.
Relevant courses from other colleges will be considered through petition to the director of the program. No course in which the grade received is less than a C may be used to meet certificate requirements. If a Hamline course is repeated to meet this Forensic Sciences certificate grade requirement, the repeated course credit will be changed to zero and the resulting grade will be excluded in the grade point average computation.
The grade point average of all courses taken in the certificate must be 2.7 or higher and the cumulative GPA of all Hamline courses taken must be 3.0 or higher. Violation of the Hamline University Student Honor Code may result in suspension from the Forensic Sciences Certificate Program.