Forensic Anthropology Degree Programs

Forensic anthropologists analyze physical evidence to determine identities of human remains and help solve crimes. While lower-level degree programs are available, most positions require a graduate degree. Continue reading for information about what you can learn in master's and doctoral degree programs and employment prospects. Schools offering Social Science degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

What Degree Do I Need to Become a Forensic Anthropologist?

Programs are available at all degree levels, but you will need to choose a program based on your career goals. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), entry-level forensic anthropologists need a bachelor's degree (www.bls.gov); however, most forensic anthropologists hold either a master's degree or doctorate; according to the American Board of Forensic Anthropology, and relatively few job opportunities in this field are open to candidates who hold only a bachelor's degree (www.theabfa.org).

Education Requirements Bachelor's degree needed for entry-level forensic anthropologists, but most in the field have a master's or doctoral degree
Important Prerequisites Master's programs require a bachelor's degree in related field; other prerequisites vary by school and program
Common Courses Forensic pathology, evidence recovery, human anatomy, taphonomy, skeletal analysis
Online Availability Full programs are rare, though some classes may be online
Careers Forensic anthropologist with law enforcement agencies, crime scene investigator, university teacher or researcher, museum curator (varies based on education level)

What Are Some Admission Details?

In order to be admitted to a master's degree program, schools require you to have achieved a specified grade point average (GPA) in a bachelor's degree program from an accredited school. Your major can be in an area appropriate to forensic anthropology, such as bioarcheology, physical anthropology, forensic science, biology, chemistry or another natural science. In addition to general education courses, within these degree programs, you can generally find courses directly related to forensic anthropology including human variation, criminology and forensic archaeology.

What Can I Expect In A Program?

A graduate program can take 2-3 years to complete and lead to a Master of Science or Master of Arts in an area such as forensic anthropology or biology, forensic science or anthropology with a concentration in forensic anthropology. Typical courses can include an overview of forensic anthropology, osteology, forensic pathology, human anatomy, skeletal analysis, evidence recovery, forensic radiology and taphonomy, which is the study of decaying and fossilized organisms.

Many programs require a great amount of laboratory and practical work. Field work and internships also play a large part in the master's degree curriculum. You may be required to sit for a comprehensive examination and submit a thesis prior to graduation.

Although you may qualify for admission to a Ph.D. program related to forensic anthropology even if you hold only a bachelor's degree, you're often required to complete 60 postbaccalaureate academic credits to earn a doctorate. This is tantamount to 30 credits of a master's degree program and an additional 30 credits in the doctoral program.

Completely online programs are extremely rare. Some programs may allow you to complete a number of courses online, but most programs require a large in-person component.

What Can I Do With This Degree?

An associate's and bachelor's degree in forensic science or anthropology with an emphasis on forensic anthropology can prepare you to go into forensics work, possibly as a crime scene investigator or technician.

If you're pursuing or hold a Ph.D. in forensic anthropology, you may be able to secure a university position as an instructor or researcher. In such a position, you may find it possible to work as a part-time consultant to law enforcement agencies. You might land a staff job with a local, state or federal crime laboratory or law enforcement agency. A degree in forensic anthropology may also qualify you for employment as a curator at a museum.

Because jobs in forensic anthropology can be part- or full-time propositions and can vary according to geographic place and nature of employment, job opportunities can be sporadic at best. The pay scale for forensic anthropologists can also vary greatly, depending on the school or agency where they work, their experience and education level.

The BLS classifies anthropologists and archeologists as social scientists and states that they require a master's degree. The BLS determined the median annual pay for archeologists and anthropologists was $59,280 in 2014 with a projected rise in employment of 4% in 2014-2024. However, this figure represents a broad grouping of professions. In the same year, forensic science technicians, requiring a bachelor's degree, made a median of $55,360 per year with a projected 2014-2024 employment rise of 27%.

To continue researching, browse degree options below for course curriculum, prerequisites and financial aid information. Or, learn more about the subject by reading the related articles below:

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