How do I Become a Member of the Young Forensic Scientists Forum?

Thank you for your interest in the Young Forensic Scientists Forum! The YFSF is part of the American Academy of Forensic Sciences. 

The YFSF is dedicated to the education, enrichment and development of emerging forensic scientists and future leaders of the field. The participants of the YFSF are drawn from all sections and membership levels of the AAFS. The YFSF provides an avenue for new forensic scientists to interact with and become part of the established forensic science community. This is accomplished through meetings and educational sessions at the annual AAFS conference, a newsletter, a mentorship program, informational databases and this Web site.  

The only requirement to be a participant of YFSF is a willingness to put in some time and effort and for you to be a current student, trainee affiliate, or provisional member of the Academy or to have your application on file with the AAFS.  If you need more information about joining the AAFS, contact Membership Services for an application and section requirements at 1-800-701-AAFS, fax them at (719) 636-1993 or email to  Along with your membership, you also receive a free subscription to the Journal of Forensic Science and the AAFS Academy Newsletter.  The YFSF usually has a special addition to the Academy News with articles and information for young forensic scientist.

What Courses Should I Take in High School to Prepare for a Career in Forensic Science?

While you are still in high school,  you should concentrate on obtaining a solid background in math and sciences including biology, chemistry and physics.  Since forensic scientists do a lot of writing as well, make sure that you take a composition or writing course.  There are many different fields in forensic science, but if you have a solid education you will be able to continue your studies in college and be well prepared for your future. 

Which Schools Offer Undergraduate and Graduate Degrees in Forensic Science?

To view a list of schools (including links to the individual school) which currently offer forensic science degrees, please refer to the Colleges and Universities list on the AAFS Web site.

What type of education do I need to start a career in Forensic Science?

You will need at a minimum a Bachelors degree in a science such as chemistry, biology, or physics.  Your coursework should ideally include microscopy, statistics, and lab work. Schools offering degrees in forensic science can be found through these Forensic Education Links

Do I need to have a master's degree to get a job in Forensic Science?

The decision to pursue a graduate degree or a degree in forensic science rather than a life science depends on the field you wish to work in and your personal situation. There is no general forensic science requirement for a master’s degree, although if you are interested in employment at a specific laboratory, you should contact the laboratory director to determine what they are looking for.

The following articles contain additional information about educational requirements for a career in Forensic Science
  • Furton, K., Hsu, Y-H., Cole, MD. What Educational Background do Crime Laboratory Directors Require From Applicants? J Forensic Sci, 1999;44(1):128-132. 
  • Higgins, LM, Selavka, CM. Do Forensic Science Graduate Programs Fulfill the Needs of the Forensic Science Community? J Forensic Sci, 1988;33:1015-21. 
  • Siegal, JA. The Appropriate Educational Background for Entry Level Forensic Scientists: A Survey of Practitioners. J Forensic Sci, 1988;33:1065-8. 
  • Gaensslen, RE, Lee HC. Regional Cooperation and Regional Centers Among Forensic Science Programs in the United States. J Forensic Sci, 1988;33:1069-70. 
  • Lee, HC, Gaensslen, RE. Forensic Science Laboratory/Forensic Science Program Cooperation and Relationships: The View From the Forensic Science Laboratory. J Forensic Sci, 1988;33:1071-3.

You may also want to consider doing a low-paying or non-paid internship in a crime laboratory to gain experience in the forensic application of science. There is no "official listing" for such opportunities. You will need to contact the laboratory you are interested in working for.

I am interested in a specific field. Where can I find more information?

The following is a listing of common disciplines and careers in forensic science with informational links for each:

Arson ATF Home Page

Ballistics/Firearms AFTE Links Page

Crime Scene Processing/Investigations/Photography – International Association of Crime Scene Investigators

DNA DNA Typing in Today’s Criminal Investigations DNA Testing: An Introduction For Non-Scientists - An Illustrated Explanation

Explosives ATF Home Page

Fingerprints International Association for Identification – links to all state agencies

Forensic Archaeology and Anthropology American Board of Forensic Anthropology Forensic

Forensic Chemistry/Narcotics – DEA Forensic Laboratory 
http://alt.drugs.chemistry – Drug Chemistry Newsgroup

Forensic Computer Analysis Federal Bureau of Investigation

Forensic Entomology

Forensic Nursing International Association of Forensic Nurses

Forensic Odonotology  American Board of Forensic Odontology

Forensic Pathology/ Medical Examiner/Coroner  Forensic Pathology Careers – FAQs

Forensic Psychology and Psychiatry  American Academy of Forensic Psychology

Forensic Toxicology Society of Forensic Toxicologists

Questioned Documents American Board of Forensic Document Examiners