What Are the Requirements for a Bachelor's Degree in Forensic Pathology?

While bachelor's degree programs in forensic pathology don't exist, aspiring pathologists have other undergraduate program options. Keep reading to learn more about bachelor's degree options along with residency and certification requirements for training programs in forensic pathology. Schools offering Anatomy & Physiology degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

Forensic Pathology Education and Training Requirements

Forensic pathology is a field of medicine that specializes in illnesses and injuries that are of interest to the legal system. Forensic pathologists perform autopsies and conduct external examinations of bodies in which the cause of death is suspicious. Becoming a forensic pathologist requires many years of study, including earning a bachelor's degree and a medical degree and completing a residency in forensic pathology.

Important Facts About This Field of Study

Prerequisites Bachelor's degree (any area of study may be accepted); may be helpful to take advanced Math, Science, and English courses
Common Courses Math, Chemistry, Biology, and any other required courses needed to get into medical school
Concentrations Toxicology, fire arms and ballistics, trace evidence, blood analysis (Serology), and DNA Technology
Possible Careers Clinical Forensic Pathology or Medical Examiner

Alternative Degrees

Because there are no bachelor's degree programs in forensic pathology in the U.S., you should choose an undergraduate major in biology, chemistry or a related science field. You might also consider enrolling in a pre-medicine program.

After earning a bachelor's degree, you must pass the Medical College Admissions Test (MCAT). You'll then need to apply to medical school to earn either an allopathic medical degree (M.D.) or doctorate of osteopathic medicine (D.O.).

Residency Requirements

Following medical school, the path to becoming a forensic pathologist becomes more customizable. You may choose to complete one of several medical residency combinations, at least one of which will provide you with formal training in forensic pathology.

One option is to complete an anatomic pathology residency, which takes approximately three years, followed by an additional 1-year residency in forensic pathology. An alternative is to complete a residency in clinical pathology, followed by a year of forensic pathology training and an additional residency in toxicology, neuropathology or a similar field.

Whichever path is chosen, it will include hands-on training in forensic pathology, during which residents work under the supervision of experienced forensic pathologists. As part of their training, residents perform autopsies and assist in active death investigations.


After completing all required residencies, forensic pathologists must be certified in at least one state. Certification is gained through a detailed examination process offered by the American Board of Pathology.

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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