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 BCA lab, which was created in 1947, holds the distinction of being one of the first DNA laboratories in the United States and of being the first lab in the nation to identify a suspect based solely on DNA.
Forensic testing services of the BCA include:
- Crime scene processing
- Combined DNA Index System (CODIS)
- Mitochondrial DNA
- Nuclear DNA
- Drug Chemistry
- Questioned Documents
- Latent Prints
- Trace Evidence
- Chemical Testing
Forensic Science Colleges and Degree Granting Schools in Minnesota
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
How to Become a Forensic Scientist in Minnesota: Forensic Science Internships
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. Their coursework includes the following:
- Analytical Chemistry
- Cell Biology
- Inorganic Chemistry
- Instrumental Analysis
- Molecular Biology
- Organic Chemistry
- Physical Chemistry
- Qualitative Analysis
- Quantitative Analysis
The BCA program is a 10 to 16-week non-paid internship program that involves laboratory experimentation and research, compilation of data, and an oral presentation.
Forensic Science Careers Found in Minnesota
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.