A degree from abroad is great, but is it really worth it? A major chunk of students who want to pursue Masters in Forensic Science have this question in their mind. There are ample of good options in India to do your M.Sc in Forensic Science. The options abroad are lucrative but it takes much more than just the studying to get through your time abroad. Let us find out how to break this dilemma of whether you should pursue M.Sc Forensic Science in India or Abroad.
M.Sc. in Forensic Science is now-a-days offered in as many as 20 colleges / universities in India (private and government) but still dreams of studying abroad for a Master’s degree is one of the plans students have for their careers to go forward. Because there are only handful number of good colleges for M.Sc in Forensic Science in India, students feel that if they do not get admission in the country, they will pursue it abroad. Countries like U.S.A, U.K.,Canada, Germany, Australia, New Zealand are considered hubs for M.Sc degree in Forensic Science.
In this post we will try to come to a conclusion regarding the better option, keeping in mind the future prospects and we will also share someone who has done her M.Sc Forensic Science from abroad and her experiences once she returned to India.
1. Number of ‘good’ colleges
Scenario In India – Until recently, the onus on imparting educational programmes and training in Forensic Science lied on Government Institutes. LNJN NICFS, Delhi that comes under Ministry of Home Affairs. The institute was established by Government of India in 1972 within the Bureau of Police Research and Development following recommendations of the University Grants Commission.
Before NICFS came into picture, University of Saugor (now known as Dr. Hari Singh Gour University) established the department on 18th July 1959. These two were considered the ‘IITs’ of Forensic Science so as to say. There have been proliferation of Government Institutes lately like Gujarat Forensic Science University(GFSU), B.H.U., Osmania University, IFSc , Mumbai, etc. We have so many private universities in the picture that are running B.Sc, M.Sc and Ph.D courses.
Universities like Amity University, Galgotias University , Mody University, G D Goenka and more are offering M. Sc in Forensic Science. So to say that we do not have universities to pursue courses in Forensic Science would be wrong.
Scenario Abroad – Keeping in mind the intense competition to get into best universities for M.Sc in Forensic Science in India, along with the rising cost of private universities, students are exploring overseas options. Some students look for top-ranked universities, irrespective of employment opportunities, while others consider permanent residence to settle overseas as their priority. University of Florida, USA, Boston University, USA., University of Cambridge, UK., Western Sydney University, Australia, University of Ontario, Canada are some of the reputed universities offering MS in Forensic Science.
Find out the best university with best infrastructure and if you can manage to get a scholarship, then it is all set and done. Since we have to rely on the websites and may be on education fair the embassies hold, for information, always double check the information shared with you. Do not shy away to talk to people on LinkedIn and on other professional portals to guide you regarding this. Always check the credibility of a university on the global ranking systems before applying.
In India – Before taking admission in any of the college, please keep in mind that you may think that this college has reputation but lack infrastructure, and that’s fine. All I want is degree from this University because as people say Branding is everything, sorry to break your bubble but that does not hold true in Forensic Science. It is very important that you get access to “well-equipped”laboratories , best of the faculties, library “filled” with best of the reading material. These are some crucial elements of learning in Universities.
To my knowledge, I feel NICFS and GFSU have state of art facility. But please make sure that you get an idea regarding this by either visiting or talking to alumni of a particular college. They will give you the best idea. I feel one should not rely just on the information available on their websites.
Abroad – There is no denying the fact that students find better infrastructure and better quality of research opportunities abroad. But what you always think and see isn’t always true. This goes for Indian as well as Foreign universities. So always find out from alumni , current students , admission counselor regarding the same. There is no point going to a country far far away and getting to know later that it is not up to the mark because there is no plan B in such cases.
Your tuition fee would depend on the kind of university you choose to study in.
In India – Since both government and private universities offer M.Sc in Forensic Science, your expense to pursue the course may range from low budget to high budget. Take into consideration the accommodation charges, tuition fee and keeping in mind that parents are not getting burdened, make a ‘wise’ choice. In India, if you choose NICFS, the yearly fee is around 35000 minus the accommodation, but if you opt for private universities it may range from 60,000 -70,000/- an year excluding the living expense.
Abroad – When studying abroad, depending on the region , Universities offer a certain bracket of expense. Usually the tuition fee, living expense and all miscellaneous expenses fall in the same bracket. Always find out the total expense and also try finding out scholarships these universities provide for students of other countries. Without any financial aid, the fee for MS programs in the US ranges from $10,000 to $80,000 (7 – 56 Lakh Rupees) for the 2 years. Check your financial situation before plunging into bank loans.
To better experience the study and research scenario, internships are made compulsory in Masters.
In India – While pursuing your M.Sc , last semester i.e six months are assigned for out house attachment or Internship. You need to choose an area of expertise and need to explore and research on a ‘problem’ chosen by you. For a forensic science student, the range is diversified and plenty. But first you need to find out where your interest lies, whether it is toxicology or chemistry, ballistics or digital forensic. You can do your internship at Forensic Labs or any CSIR labs. You can also intern at a private lab or any corporate office. Make this choice very wisely because a lot of the choices you will make later will depend on this choice . I did my internship from AIIMS when all my friends chose FSL over AIIMS. But if you ask me I think it was one of the best learning experiences of my career. If you want any assistance regarding choosing a place for your internship, write to us, we will guide you.
Abroad – Internship is given a lot of emphasis abroad as it helps a student gain first-hand exposure of working in the real world. In India we are not given a lot of choices when it comes to choosing an area of specialization. It is either toxicology, Questioned documents, Fingerprints, Chemistry, DNA, Digital Forensics. But foreign universities have specializations in areas like crime scene investigation, Forensic Archaeology, Fire & Explosion Investigation, forensic accounting, Forensic Dentistry, etc.
5. Employment Prospects
It is important to be focused on the employability factor when you take admission in any course in India or abroad. Because at the end of the day what matters is what you get once you are done with the program.
Scenario in India – In India, you might have noticed a lot of students with master degrees irrespective of the field jobless or clueless as to what next they should do. A master’s degree in Forensic Science is no different. Like a M.Sc in Mathematics won’t guarantee you a decent job in India, same goes with Forensic. UGC- NET, job in private laboratory, contractual job at Forensic Science Laboratories or should I drop my year and prepare for some competitive exams. There are some of the common thoughts that cross each one of our minds.
At this point I would like to give you a very practical career advice. “Get a hand on what you have”, if your dream is to be in research or teaching, clear NET exam. If you do not clear it (while in your masters) take up a job and start working and keep appearing for NET exam. If you clear interviews for any contractual jobs , JOIN IT!! It will give you hands on exposure to what you had only been dreaming of doing. You can get jobs in FSLs, in labs like NDTL, Reliance, Cipla, etc., in corporate companies like E&Y, Deloitte, PWC. So, honestly speaking ‘there is’ dearth of opportunities and ‘there is not’. On a personal note, I was lucky that I did not spend a single day being jobless after my Masters, I had an Offer letter in my hand before my final year mark sheet.
Scenario Abroad – Students think since economy is better in foreign countries we will land up in 5-6 figure jobs once we finish off our course.They feel there are better opportunities abroad. Securing a job in a Forensic Laboratory, that too in a country you are not a citizen of is next to impossible. Priority is given to citizens of the country as it is a very sensitive profile. Once you have the citizenship of that country may be you can think of your dream job. Hope it doesn’t hit that hard because I am only sharing experiences here. With international experience on the CV, we feel we can pitch ourselves better in the job market, and may get an advantage over the other candidates applying for the same. Before taking admission always make inquiries regarding employment prospects. God forbid , if you decide to return to India with your foreign university masters degree, you will have a hard time securing a place in Government Sector as the duration of most of these degrees is of 18 months*( 1 year + 6 months internship), so you will have 10+2+3+1.6 whereas in majority of the examinations the eligibility criteria is set as per Indian standards i.e.10+2+3+2. I have given idea regarding employability at both the ends.
*depending on the country and university the education period may vary.
Before writing this article , I talked to as many as 6 friends who have done there M.Sc in Forensic Science from abroad. Here is one of the experiences which a friend of mine shared with me and I have done zero editing to her write up.
“It was a dream to become a forensic scientist who would change how investigations take place in India, especially after having studied about so many botched up cases where the crime scene investigation was faulty. After looking up a couple colleges in India, I decided what could be better than a foreign degree in forensics to bring in the best expertise I could offer to the field. Hence, I got my Masters in Forensic Sciences from London South Bank University. This degree is valid across the world and so I truly believed nothing would stop me from achieving my dreams. I was in for a rude shock when I got back after my degree however. I found that none of my applications into the government sector was going through, despite having a Bachelors in Biochemistry from India and a Masters in Forensics from U.K.. I couldn’t clear any examinations to apply for government posts as my credentials weren’t valid. The problem, I eventually found out, was that M.Sc in the UK is a year long degree with an additional 6 months or more for dissertation. I completed mine in 18 months, This duration doesn’t classify as a full time masters course apparently – even though it is a full time degree that I achieved, one that is valid across the globe! Yet, as per Indian standards it isn’t acceptable as they do not have such a point in their selection ‘checklists’. Also, there are no clear guidelines on how one can obtain an equivalence certificate in India to equate my degree to Indian standards. I found out too late that all the money my parents poured into getting my foreign degree to help me be my best, all the hours that I put into my masters, the joy of completing my dissertation, everything went down the drain when I decided I wanted to do all of it to work in India. India doesn’t have any place for us in its outdated selection criteria for forensics. They will hire masters in pure sciences, some of the officials in the government forensics department do not even have a masters, let alone one in Forensic Science; while us qualified post graduates are not qualified because our degree is not ‘equivalent’. I finally had to let go of my dream of working in this profession as I had no time nor added resources to spend on getting another masters in the same subject in India. To this day, I let anyone who wishes to attain a foreign degree in forensics, that it just isn’t worth it, especially if you want to come back to use it. “
Points to note
- Find out the credibility of the course/college you opt for and whether it will ensure you can compete with others for a job with that degree all over the world. Holds true for both the cases.
- Do not go abroad for MS in Forensic Science without a scholarship.
- Infrastructure is important!
- Employability percentage at India is better than abroad for students with masters degree.
- Choose a college where you can fufill 10+2+3+2 criteria i.e. a course of 2 year duration.
- Everything is possible if you know what you really want to do and what makes you happy.
Find out the best college for Forensic Science in India in our next post.