Forensic Pathology Graduate Programs

A forensic pathologist plays a pivotal role in criminal investigations, performing autopsies and helping others understand the crime scene. Learn more about forensic patholgogy programs, prerequisites for enrollment and training and licensure requirements for a career as a forensic pathologist, as well as graduate degree options and job duties. Schools offering Anatomy & Physiology degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

What Graduate Degree Do I Need To Become A Forensic Pathologist?

As a forensic pathologist, you'll perform autopsies and related investigations in order to determine a cause of death in suspicious circumstances. You'll need to complete medical school as a key step towards entering this field. All forensic pathologists possess a Doctor of Medicine degree. While in medical school, you'll study many aspects of human biology, including anatomy, diseases and injuries. You can't complete medical school by studying online; only campus-based programs are available.

Required Education Medical school
Online Options Only campus-based programs are available
Admission Requirements Bachelor's degree with prerequisite courses such as organic chemistry, inorganic chemistry, biology and physics
Additional Training 3- to 4-year residency program, 1-year fellowship
Licensing A medical license is required; board certification in the specialty is optional
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

What Prerequisites Do I Need?

You can apply to medical school immediately upon completing your undergraduate degree. Though most medical schools don't stipulate a particular undergraduate field, there is significant coursework that you should take while earning a bachelor's degree. These subjects include inorganic and organic chemistry, biology and physics. You'll want to take a combination of lecture and laboratory-based sciences.

What Additional Training Will I Need?

After earning your medical degree and license, you can enter a residency program in pathology. This program can be either a 4-year residency in anatomic and clinical pathology or an anatomic pathology residency that lasts 3-4 years. These residencies often include a clinical rotation specifically in forensic pathology. You follow either residency option with a 1-year fellowship in forensic pathology, where you perform autopsies and work on death investigations in a supervised environment. You may also receive broader career-focused preparation, including the opportunity to present a lecture at a forensic pathologist conference or meeting.

Including your 4-year undergraduate degree, your 1-year fellowship will cap up to 13 total years of preparation for your career in forensic pathology. The final step is to earn board certification through the American Board of Pathology (ABP). The forensic pathology examination through the ABP is a 1-day, computer-based test that includes 125 written questions, which take nearly two hours to complete ( The process finishes up with two practical components, including a 125-question, 2.25-hour image section, followed by a 50-question, 3-hour microscopic section.

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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