Forensic Anthropology PhD Programs

Forensic anthropology is the science of identifying individuals by their bone remains. Ph.D. programs in this field are rare, though biological and physical anthropology programs at the doctoral level may offer a forensic anthropology concentration. Continue reading to learn more about topics of study in such programs and employment information. Schools offering Social Science degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

What Programs Are Available in Forensic Anthropology?

Online programs in forensic anthropology are extremely rare. On-campus programs are more common, and are available at both the undergraduate and graduate levels. It is not common for degree programs in this field to confer credentials in forensic anthropology. However, there are programs awarding degrees concentrated in related areas of anthropology, like biological anthropology or physical anthropology. In one example, it is possible to earn a Master of Arts or a Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) in Physical Anthropology with an emphasis in forensic anthropology methods.

Program FieldsPhysical or biological anthropology with an emphasis in forensic anthropology
CoursesOral biology, evolutionary theory, statistics, anthropological genetics, biological anthropology lab methods
Career OptionsUsually work as professors or researchers, can assist forensic odontologists and homicide investigators

How Does the Ph.D. Program Work?

If an anthropology Ph.D. student decides to focus on forensic anthropology, he or she will study the biological, anatomical and anthropological theories and methods used to identify decomposing or skeletal human remains. Specific class topics might include oral biology, evolutionary theory, statistics, anthropological genetics and the part anthropology plays in the medico-legal system. Curricular offerings may also include a lab methods course that allows students to gain hands-on experience in a biological anthropology lab.

A school may also offer field experience and forensic anthropology-centered education through a dedicated center for forensic anthropology. Courses available from this field-specific center may cover field methods, outdoor recovery of human remains, arson investigation and cadaver identification. However, not all courses are necessarily available to graduate students, but may instead be aimed at working professionals.

What Can I Do With This Degree?

Forensic anthropologists are responsible for analyzing human remains and identifying the individuals' age, sex and ancestry to determine if and when a crime took place, according to the American Board of Forensic Anthropology (ABFA), an organization that offers a certification for forensic anthropologists. According to the ABFA, forensic anthropologists need a master's or doctoral degree in physical or biological anthropology in order to practice, and it is not common to find individuals who practice forensic anthropology full-time ( The Board further states that most forensic anthropologists work as professors and researchers. They can also work with forensic odontologists and homicide investigators to identify murder victims.

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:

  • 1. Degree Options:
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Popular Schools

  • Syracuse University

    Campus Locations:

    • New York: Syracuse
  • Northwestern University

    Campus Locations:

    • Illinois: Evanston
  • Yale University

    Campus Locations:

    • Connecticut: New Haven
  • Washington University in St Louis

    Campus Locations:

    • Missouri: Saint Louis
  • University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

    Campus Locations:

    • North Carolina: Chapel Hill
  • University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

    Campus Locations:

    • Illinois: Champaign
  • University of Illinois at Chicago

    Campus Locations:

    • Illinois: Chicago
  • University of Hawaii at Manoa

    Campus Locations:

    • Hawaii: Honolulu
  • University of Colorado Boulder

    Campus Locations:

    • Colorado: Boulder
  • University of Chicago

    Campus Locations:

    • Illinois: Chicago