Bachelor’s Forensic Science Vs Criminology: Which one to Choose?

Forensic Science and Criminology are two similar fields. Both work side by side with the judicial system in criminal proceedings. However, there are some differences between them. Based on that there are two distinct bachelor’s and master’s degrees in Forensics and Criminology.

So, I am trying to give my opinion about bachelor’s and master’s degrees in Criminology and Forensic Science: How to choose, and which one is best for whom?

The following are the eight main bases of comparison of BSc or MSc in Forensic Science and BA in Criminology:

1. Curriculum and Syllabus 

The curriculum of BS. Forensic Science and B.A. Criminology is designed on the following criteria:

  • Emphasis on the importance of investigations using scientific methods for detecting crimes.
  • A focus on the introduction to newer techniques used in the field of forensic science.
  • Highlighting the importance of forensic science in society’s perseverance.
  • Generation of human resources keeping a view of the latest requirements of forensic science.
  • Providing the platform for students and forensic scientists to work collaboratively for advancements in the field.

Depending on the objectives of the curriculum, many universities and colleges had prepared the syllabus for B.Sc. Forensic Science comprised of the following branches and disciplines:

  • Introduction to Forensic Science (History and development)
  • Forensic Chemistry & Toxicology
  • Forensic Biology & Serology
  • Forensic Documents
  • Forensic Physics
  • Forensic Ballistics
  • Forensic Medicine
  • Computer and Cyber Forensic
Curriculum and Syllabus of forensic science and criminology

However, the overall construction of the syllabus varies with institutions as follows:

  • The Sam Higginbottom University of Agriculture, Technology, and Sciences (SHUATS) include Quality Management System in its syllabus.
  • LIU Bachelor of Science in Forensic Science degree includes Psychological Statistics and Sociological Statistics as core curriculum subjects.

Also, there is variation among universities regarding the duration of the course (3/4 years).

In contrast, the syllabus of B.A. Criminology includes the following sections:

  • Introduction to crime
  • Schools of Criminology
  • Various theories of criminology
  • Legal approaches for the crime.
  • Penology 
  • Introduction to Prisons
  • Juvenile justice
  • Victimology

Broadly speaking, the syllabus of B.Sc. Forensic Science is more focused on scientific investigations after a crime had happened. In contrast, B.A. Criminology syllabus focus on prevention, execution of the law, and justice delivery after the crime had been proven.

2. Current Trends

There is a regular increase in courses offered by various institutes related to Forensic Science as well as Criminology. This had attributed to the following factors:

current trends of forensic science as compared to criminology
The above data is upto 2007 but the trends of FS is nearly getting 3x by the end of 2023[Report]
  1. The government is taking steps at every level to increase the number of forensic labs to examine cases to avoid delays in administering justice.
  2. The government is also introducing forensic study and training as a part of the MBBS course.
  3. Numerous funds are sanctioned under the Police modernization scheme. Eg: in Asian countries such as India, NHRC officials, more than $2 million had been sanctioned under the police modernization scheme.
  4. Development of Forensic Colleges is seen more in the last two years under the Nirbhaya fund.
  5. In India, Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman also proposed the establishment of a National Police University and National Forensic Science University for education and developing skills of students.
  6. In the USA, the National Institute of Justice (NIJ) Announces $1.3 Million to Fund Research in Public Forensic Laboratories in 2022.
  7. Today’s government is focusing emphasis on research on forensic infrastructure, forensic expert manpower, and forensic technology. The Government is having the vision of setting up a campus of the National Forensic Science University in every State by 2025.

 Even in foreign countries, the trend is increasing for years.

3. Career Opportunities for Graduates

Unlike the world, majorly forensic-related jobs are limited to government facilities and private forensic firms assisting the judiciary system. Depending on the specializations, there are many options for a graduate as follows:

Career Opportunities for Graduates for Forensic Science and criminology
  1. Forensic Pathologists (Government and Private Hospitals)
  2. Forensic Science Technician
  3. Forensic Scientist
  4. Forensic Analyst
  5. Crime Scene Investigator
  6. Forensic Computer analyst
  7. Questioned Document Examiner and Forgery Detection Expert (In Trend)

However, a skilled forensic science graduate can also work in the private sector under various posts as follows:

  1. Forensic Auditor
  2. Insurance companies hire an investigator
  3. Detective agencies hire private investigators
  4. Various private labs and clinical diagnostic labs hire technicians based on the instruments
  5. Psychology counselor
  6. Forgery Detection Experts by various insurance and banks (In Trend)

For criminology graduates, the various options are as follows:

  1. Crime Investigator
  2. Social worker
  3. Rehabilitation Specialist
  4. Counsellor
  5. Policymaker
  6. Police officer
  7. Drug policy advisor

4. Skills and Knowledge Gained 

Skills and Knowledge Gained in forensic science vs criminology

During BS. In Forensic Science, a graduate gains the following knowledge:

  1. Working of Judicial System
  2. Various scientific techniques (Fingerprinting, Documents identification, instrument working related to analysis of drugs, food products, explosives, petroleum products)
  3. Various biological analysis techniques (DNA fingerprinting, STR analysis, PCR, Genetic mapping)
  4. Crime scene management skills
  5. Quality management system

Bachelors in Criminology graduates gain the following skills:

  1. Logical reasoning
  2. Psychological understanding of human behavior
  3. Observational skills
  4. Working of criminal jurisprudence system
  5. Working in the prison system
  6. The legal system is involved in various fields

5. Laboratory and Practical Components

Laboratory and Practical Components of forensic science

The syllabus of B.S. Forensic Science encompasses a variety of laboratory practices as per the specialization as follows:

  1. Crime Scene Investigation: preservation, collection of evidence, and maintenance of chain of custody.
  2. Forensic Biology & Serology: DNA extraction, identification, genotyping, PCR amplification, Blood grouping analysis.
  3. Forensic Chemistry & Toxicology: Instrumental techniques (GC, HPLC, GCMS, LCMS, TLC).
  4. Forensic Documents: Documents analysis using a microscope, forgery analysis
  5. Forensic Physics: Glass analysis, Paint analysis using various instruments.
  6. Forensic Psychology: Narco-analysis
  7. Computer and Cyber Forensic: Data retrieval from computers and mobile using software, encryption-decryption, and internet fraud analysis.

In contrast, Bachelor’s and master’s in Criminology induces practical training and internship in police stations, prisons, and courts to gain more knowledge about the working of these systems.

Read More: 21+ Forensic Questioned Document Instruments And Tools With Uses

6. Earning Potential 

Earning Potential in both forensic science and criminology graduates

Forensic graduates have a very high earning potential depending on their specialization. The average salary as per the report of a Forensic expert is roughly $40,950 per year or $19.69 per hour. (In USA)

However, in terms of government jobs, most of the jobs in forensic laboratories are now contractual leading to low wages and job insecurity. 

In private companies, the salary varies depending on the post of hiring. Since, a graduate will be hired for the initial level post, with the experience gained the salary increment will become drastic.

While talking about the Forensic job profile outside the USA, there is a major salary hike as per the economy of the country.

Similarly, Bachelors in Criminology graduates also face the hammer of contractual jobs

7. Future for Graduates for Further Education as Masters or PhD

Future for Graduates for Further Education as Masters or PhD in forensic science and criminology

A graduate student can also choose to procure higher studies in both courses which will increase his chances of jobs (government or private). There are also a large number of colleges offering post-graduation in both courses.

In addition, if you’re a college student from the science stream, you can pursue a master’s in Forensic Science and Criminology.

However, very few institutes provide the Ph.D. course. After getting a Ph.D. one can easily apply for an academic profiler in universities.

My Opinion and Thoughts

Forensic Science and Criminology are the two complementary pillars of the judicial system of a country. Both work in making the judicial system more efficient, and impactful for society.

So, the choice of the course should depend on your High school preferences. If you love scientific involvement and are not good at talking, Forensic Science would be better than a bachelor’s in Criminology. Also, for opting for BS. In Forensic Science, a student must have a science background.

Similarly, if you want to pursue a legal advisor or a future lawyer (on second thought), Criminology will be better for you.

Before deciding your preference, I recommend you to read eleven major differences between Criminology And Forensic Science

At last, there is only my view. The final discissions are on you. If you want to ask any questions you can comment. We’ll happy to answer you.


  • Forensic undergraduate education during and after the COVID-19 imposed lockdown: Strategies and reflections from India and the UK [NCBI]
  • Forensics: The call of the crime lab [Nature]
  • National Commission on Forensic Science [NIST]
  • Too Many Forensic Scientists [Royal Society of Chemistry]
  • The Status of Forensic Science Degree Programs in the United States [Research Gate]
  • Select Committee on Science and Technology Seventh Report [Link]
  • Academic Programs Gear up to Meet Rising Interest in Forensic Science [Link]
  • A survey of senior practitioners regarding most desirable qualifications for hiring and advancement within forensic science [NCBI]
  • Prospects of Criminology [Link]
  • Adventures in Advising: Strategies, Solutions, and Situations to Student Problems in the Criminology and Criminal Justice Field [Eric.Edu]

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