Online Forensic Pathology Degree Programs
Find out about forensic pathology and learn about the tasks forensic pathologists perform. Read about the requirements to enter this field, and the education and training options available online.
What Is Forensic Pathology?
Forensic pathology is the field of death investigation, especially concerned with possible criminal activity. As a forensic pathologist, you would examine dead bodies to determine cause of death, including homicide, suicide, unknown, and accidental.
Part of your job would be to explain the circumstances surrounding the death in court, which requires you to be able to explain scientific concepts to juries, judges, and other non-experts. You may work in a lab, a morgue, or on crime scenes, and many in this field are employed by local and state governmental agencies. During autopsies and investigations, forensic pathologists examine clothing, hair, and body tissues. They look for injuries and try to determine their causes. For example, they would look at a gunshot wound to find out whether it was the cause of death.
|Forensic Pathology Tasks||Death investigation, court appearances, examinations|
|Education Requirements||Be a medical doctor, complete a pathology residency and attain certification|
|Online Options||Limited, forensic science degree, certification|
|Median Salary (2018)*||$200,890 (for physicians and surgeons not listed separately including forensic pathologists)|
|Job Outlook (2016-2026)*||11% (for physicians and surgeons not listed separately including forensic pathologists)|
Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics
How Can I Pursue This Career?
To become a forensic pathologist, you must first become a medical doctor, which can take four or more years beyond a bachelor's degree, plus a residency in pathology. An additional fellowship specifically in forensic pathology is also required for board certification, which is available through the American Board of Pathology. You also need to pass an examination and show proof of a valid medical license. There are master's degree programs that can qualify you to work in forensic pathology, but you still need to acquire a medical license. These programs are often geared towards professionals already working in the field or those pursuing another advanced degree at the same time.
Are There Online Options?
Online options for forensic pathology students are very limited. You might be able to find a program that allows you to complete part of your studies online, but you would have to relocate to conduct intensive research and work on your thesis. You could also pursue online forensic science degree and certificate programs, which are offered at the graduate level. These are also uncommon, but there are some online master's degree programs available in related areas, including forensic science, forensic toxicology, and drug chemistry. Additionally, you could earn a graduate certificate in forensic death investigation.