Forensic Anthropology Graduate Programs

Forensic anthropologists help solve crimes by analyzing skeletal and decomposing human remains. Read about what you can learn in master's and doctoral degree programs, which typically involve fieldwork, and find out about employment prospects. Schools offering Social Science degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

What Forensic Anthropology Graduate Programs Exist?

You can pursue a graduate degree in forensic anthropology at the master's or doctoral degree level. Some schools offer programs in forensic anthropology as a standalone field of study; however, many programs are available in general anthropology and then allow you to choose forensic anthropology as a concentration. You generally won't find graduate forensic anthropology degrees available online. This is due to a variety of factors, including laboratory and fieldwork requirements.

Program Levels Master's degree, doctorate
Prerequisites Bachelor's degree (doctorate programs also accept master's degree holders); anthropology or archaeology coursework
Common Courses Genetic variation, anatomy, data compilation, skeletal biology, human development
Other Requirements Programs often require extensive fieldwork and an internship
Possible Careers Forensic anthropologist, museum curator, professor
Median Salary (2018) $62,410 (for all anthropologists)
Job Outlook (2016-2026) 4% growth (for all anthropologists)

Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics 

Are There Any Prerequisites?

The admissions requirements for master's and doctoral degree programs in forensic anthropology are generally similar. To enter a master's degree program, you'll need a bachelor's degree. For Ph.D. programs, you can typically apply with either a bachelor's or master's degree.

Previous study in anthropology is also a requirement of most graduate programs. Some programs will prefer that you specialize in physical or biological anthropology. Another acceptable undergraduate field is archaeology. Undergraduate coursework relevant to your graduate studies includes osteology and cultural anthropology. You will also need a strong background in science, including biology, chemistry and anatomy.

What Will I Study?

Graduate forensic anthropology programs provide you with the skills needed to study human remains and provide help to criminal investigations. You'll take lecture and laboratory-based courses covering topics in anatomy, skeletal biology, human development and genetic variation. Because you may often need to analyze remains that have been buried or left to decompose in nature, you will also study soil and water science. Forensic anthropologists are often called upon to help law enforcement with criminal investigations; therefore, you may take courses in compiling data accurately, interpreting statistics and providing expert testimony.

Most programs are designed to develop your understanding of forensic anthropology through extensive fieldwork. This involves uncovering and analyzing human remains in an outdoor setting or crime scene, which are typically simulated. It is also common to participate in an internship during your studies, whether you are a master's or doctoral degree student. As an intern, you may work in a medical examiner's office, gaining practical experience with live crime scenes and investigations.

What Are My Career Options In This Field?

As a forensic anthropologist, you can work with local, state or federal law enforcement to identify and analyze skeletal and decomposed human remains. You may also work for private firms who contract their services as needed. Your work may take place in a crime laboratory or medical examiner's office. Though many forensic anthropologists have earned a Ph.D., you can find work with a master's degree.

In addition to job opportunities assisting with criminal investigations, you might also choose to work in a museum as a curator or scientist. You can also work in education at a college or university. Working in a museum or in higher education typically requires a Ph.D.

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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