Forensic Anthropology Degree Programs
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Anthropology is the study of humanity, including the physical and social aspects of individuals. In the forensic science field, this converts into studying what specifically happened to the deceased. They often investigate the cause of death, which could be from criminal activity or naturally.
Less of an emphasis is put on forensic anthropologists being active on a crime scene. Instead, they examine human body or animal remains in a laboratory setting. This is to aid investigators into determining or limiting factors into the cause of death.
Are There Forensic Anthropology Degrees Online?
No Forensic Anthropology discipline is available in a fully online format. Students must look at different focuses in their education and add concepts of anthropology to their curriculum. As an example, an interdisciplinary degree may feature social science courses in anthropology.
Some Anthropology degree concentrations are available in Forensic Anthropology. This is a pathway that provides a general overview in anthropology. It may expand into unique subcategories, including cultural relevance, behavioral patterns, and human biology.
Individuals finding specific coursework or entire programs online must have the right computer equipment to succeed in the program. This includes modern hardware with the Windows or Mac operating system. High-speed internet access is needed to view or participate in lectures and download assignments.
Many universities have expanded their education access to mobile devices, including tablets and smartphones. This varies depending on the learning management system (LMS) distributed at the college. It is often required that students have a computer or laptop device in order to complete assignments and access all course materials.
Studying Forensic Anthropology Online
What is the difference between anthropology and archaeology? The latter emphasizes ancient history and the extraction of human remains. There are many similarities in these fields and archaeology topics are often available in anthropology disciplines.
Universities offer forensic anthropology degrees in many different formats. Few colleges offer a specific Forensic Anthropology discipline at the undergraduate and graduate level. There may also be anthropology courses in Forensic Science and general Anthropology studies.
As with many niche forensic categories, positions are limited and competitive across the country. With many positions in a laboratory setting, there is little risk to thrive in this field. However, these jobs require a high level of attention to detail and casework can be very intense.
Specific duties outside of analysis include responsibility in moving remains and ensuring that they are in optimal condition. Written reports detail findings from analysis and further explains results and potential motives. In a different setting, anthropologists may provide testimony when necessary.
Top Online Programs for Forensic Anthropology
Oregon State University
Students can choose between a Bachelor of Arts or Science in Anthropology. These online programs focus on the science of human beings and how it may be improved. Concentrations are offered in Archaeology, Biocultural, Cultural and Linguistic, or a general overview.
180 total quarter credit hours are needed to complete the Bachelor’s degree. 33 total credit hours are needed in the Archaeology concentration. Example core courses includes Archaeological Inference and Policy and Procedures in Cultural Resources.
In order to complete the Archaeology concentration, 12 credit hours must be dedicated to field work. Forensic methods are used when analyzing evidence in archaeology. This may also feature theory in archaeology, history among different civilizations, and current topics.
45 of the last 75 credit hours in the entire degree must be completed at Oregon State University. This is accomplished either on-campus or through the Ecampus online system. No core courses are needed in the general anthropology focus.
Humboldt State University
The Master of Arts in Applied Anthropology Program is an online-based program. Students can select either full-time or part-time enrollment which takes three or six semesters, respectively. An internship featuring 180 field work hours is mandatory and culminates with a thesis project or final exam.
Content in biological anthropology satisfies forensic studies when working with human and skeletal remains. Core topics explore different methods, theory, and explores different careers in this field. 9 to 12 elective credit hours are needed depending on pathway to the thesis or exam.
For the thesis project, students present their topic and it must be approved. This is then defended orally through an in-person or Skype meeting with a presentation and and answering questions. The committee working with the student through this will consist of two or three members and must satisfy requirements set by the school.
There is an on-campus segment in the Summer Institute at the beginning of the program. This is alternately available in the fall if desired. Asynchronous education is offered for flexibility with weekly meetings. All courses are distributed through the Canvas LMS.
Students meet with faculty members over the Zoom webconferencing program on Thursday nights during the program. This provides an easy way to keep in contact with other peers. In some cases, course material may be distributed in these sessions.
Undergraduate Programs in Forensic Anthropology
Forensic study in anthropology is generally found in the discipline of the field. While not available as a standalone major, it may be offered in the core content, area of emphasis, or elective options. In many cases, students will choose the Bachelor of Science for forensic anthropology study, but there is availability within the arts.
Forensic anthropology, or topics within general forensic science, may be available as a minor. This portion of the degree generally requires around 18 to 21 credit hours in the Bachelor’s degree. Applicable toward programs that may utilize skills in examining human society and culture.
Specific forensic anthropology courses are taken in the final half of the program. The first one or two years emphasize general education requirements and introductory topics within anthropology. In total, an average of 120 total credit hours are needed across four years of full-time study.
Field experience is optional or required based on the college. Anywhere from 120 to 150 clock hours are necessary to satisfy this need. If up to student choice, it is recommended to complete field experience for those interested in graduate education in the future.
University of Louisville
The Department of Anthropology distributes undergraduate and graduate studies in various topics in this field. There is no specific discipline in forensic anthropology, but certain courses can be added as a minor to an undergraduate degree.
Between 21 to 23 total credit hours are needed to satisfy Forensic Anthropology minor requirements. There is a general overview in biology related to anthropology and archaeology. After completing core courses, students elect two electives to conclude the minor.
At least three credit hours of this minor must be completed at the University of Louisville. There is an option to join the Anthropology Student Association at the university. This group offers student meetings and activities that can expand academic skills and networking.
Internships are offered through the college if a student if eligible. They must have 45 or 60 credit hours with nine or six credit hours toward the field they pursue the internship in. Students complete between 120 to 140 working hours. A project and essay should demonstrate experience and accomplishments in the experience.
University of Baylor
The Department of Anthropology features multiple ways to gain forensic skills in this field. A Bachelor of Science in Anthropology features a concentration in Forensic Anthropology. The alternative is adding a minor in Forensic Science that requires 18 total credit hours to complete.
Forensic science concepts focus on the identification and analysis of the human body. Required topics in the major include cultural anthropology, human evolution, and archaeology. Specialization courses include skeleton examination and techniques used for court case preparation.
Nine total credit hours are reserved for electives. This breaks down to six credit hours focused for anthropology courses and the remaining may be applied to a forensic course. Science courses in biology, chemistry, physics, and others, must have an accompanying lab session. Additional courses are needed in entry-level calculus and statistical methods.
It is recommended that students complete the Forensic Science minor with the concentration. This requires at least 12 credit hours worth of forensic courses. 9 of the 12 credit hours must be at the 3000 or 4000 course level.
Western Carolina University
Anthropology study is available in a major or minor form of study with a Bachelor’s degree. There is a concentration in Forensic Anthropology with the major. Students complete these studies at the main Cullowhee campus.
Four main subcategories of anthropology are explored: archaeology, bioanthropology, linguistic, and sociocultural. These may all be expanded on by joining the Anthropology Club. This student resource offers various activities and potential to connect with internship opportunities or future job considerations.
The concentration is applicable to the Bachelor of Science in Anthropology. Courses within the minor include an entry-level overview, human osteology, and method and theory. Students gain an understanding of different human cultures and how these have formed over time.
Anthropology may be applied in the Forensic Science discipline as a minor. Along with core concepts, an additional six credit hours are needed in high-level anthropology topics. Up to three credit hours worth of Native American studies are possible.
Graduate Programs in Forensic Anthropology
More focused disciplines are available at the graduate level. Prospective students can find a handful of programs that feature Forensic Anthropology courses. In a more common offering, this content is a specialization in a larger anthropology focus.
Full-time or part-time enrollment with limited online options are available. What enrollment a student selects makes an impact on how long the Master’s degree takes. This also depends on any prior academics in anthropology that may shorten the amount of total credits needed.
Advanced forensic skills and anthropology topics are generally covered at this level. It is important to have some foundational academics already in this field. Programs that require certain courses may require individuals to complete the prerequisites that are needed.
Many Master’s degrees offer multiple pathways to complete the program. A final project or examination gives graduates preparation and a portfolio to job opportunities. A thesis explores a particular topic in forensic anthropology in preparation for a doctorate or teaching opportunity.
42 total credit hours are needed to complete the Master of Science in Forensic Anthropology. Scientific skills and theory blend with presenting findings in a public setting. A thesis project culminates the program and gives students preparation for a doctorate degree.
Required courses feature research topics, taphonomy, and forensic trauma. Students gain skills in giving testimony on their findings and knowledge over the history of anthropology. Mortuary archaeology specializes analysis in human remains from burial.
Elective options are available in zooarchaeology, pathology, and crime scene investigation. These are all specific to forensic science procedure. Additional courses are available in the archaeology and biomedical fields.
Students complete the research project through various resources at the institution, including the Anatomical Sciences Laboratory. There is a connection with the University of Tennessee and their Department of Radiology. The Boston University Medical Campus is one of the largest in the city.
University of South Florida
The Department of Anthropology offers a concentration in Archaeological and Forensic Sciences. 30 total credit hours are required with estimated completion time at one to two years. Either the internship or thesis project is required with at least six credit hours.
Elective courses in the concentration include two current or specialty topics in archaeology. Other subjects include anthropology and its related methods. Three or less credit hours may be dedicated to independent study.
Field experience is required for this program. If this is not finished prior to arrival, students complete this requirement right after the first year of study. An alternative to the final requirement may blend together internship experience with a traditional thesis or peer-reviewed article.
Specific admission requirements include official transcripts, resume, and signed ethics statement. Incoming students should have completed an anthropology discipline in their undergraduate studies. If not, they must complete the following courses: Cultural Anthropology, Biological Anthropology, Anthropological Linguistics, and Archaeology.
University of Montana
The Master of Arts in Anthropology features a Forensic Anthropology concentration. Students complete core concepts in anthropology and finish the program with various project options. Requires two years of study on a full-time basis with 30 or 36 total credit hours needed.
Five seminars are needed in the core requirement of the curriculum. Subjects within the program include an overview of forensic anthropology, osteology, and statistics. Volunteer or paid field experience is required.
Students may complete the program with one of the three pathways: thesis, research paper, or portfolio. The research paper may count toward 1 to 10 credit hours of the curriculum, with six credits recommended. This paper should hold quality to a professionally published piece and is defended in front of faculty members.
In contrast, the thesis option uses statistical analysis to test a proposed hypothesis. A similar amount of credit hours can be applied to this and is also defended in front a committee. Students may defend their completed portfolio or pursue the comprehensive exam.
Top Courses in Forensic Anthropology
Methods may apply to work in the field, laboratory, or a blend of both. This could go into data collection in different quantitative or qualitative methods. For example, students may learn how to interview people or conduct a focus group to gain valuable qualitative information.
Explores concepts of theory and how human kind is impacted but numerous factors. This can dive into world history, civilization, power dynamics, culture, and much more. Students analyze theory and develop their own conclusions by testing out their proposed hypothesis.
Topics touch on the development of humankind and how the environment has impacted major historical events. Span of history can be from the beginning of civilization on Earth up to present-day culture.
Goes into reasoning behind criminal activity by identifying traits of the perpetrator. Students blend what takes place in a crime scene and connects it toward why certain crime happens. This course provides a better understanding of environmental and policy impact with criminal action.
Students learn how to identify skeletal remains and have knowledge of all human bones. They are able to develop a profile of these remains and determine specific trauma and lesions. These efforts can lead to identifying the cause of death even after burial and lengthy body decay.
The human skeleton is very complex. These courses look into how the skeleton is put together along with tissues and organs in the body. Topics may also go into regeneration, impact of trauma in certain locations, and evolution of our understanding of the human body.
History and development of human culture and comparing different time periods. Often looks into what significantly impacts culture and may survey specific cultures. May touch on subjects such as postmodernism, globalization, and critically discuss writings and policies in different periods.
Many forensic anthropology degrees offer archaeology specializations and electives. This subject focuses on ancient remains and how life was in these historic time periods. Topics may touch on surveying and excavation at sites, lab sessions that focus on examination, and how to document findings.
A subcategory of archaeology that focuses on studying bones and other remains of animals. Similar to human culture and evolution, these courses focus on these same impacts for animals. This includes migration patterns, eating habits, and mating.
What Can You Do With a Forensic Anthropology Degree?
There are numerous anthropology and archeology jobs that focus on analyzing human remains and determining cultural influences and various characteristics. Anthropologists break down into fields of physical, social, and linguistic settings. Archaeologists review and determine how cultures developed in ancient time periods.
With a forensic anthropology degree, graduates will have expertise in laboratory work. They can aid in criminal investigations or take part in testimony when necessary. Archaeology jobs focus on the extraction and examination of various remains with similar input.
According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average salary for these positions is $63,670 nationally. This jumps higher for positions within the federal government at $77,560 annually. These estimates are accurate as of May 2019.
Employment growth is estimated at five percent, which is slightly higher than the average of all occupations. There will generally always be a need for forensic anthropologists to investigate and analyze humanity and body remains. However, this remains a niche work field with limited opportunities.
High employment for anthropology is found across the western half of the United States. Many positions are available in the states of California, Oregon, Arizona, and Texas. Popular states along the East Coast include Florida and Virginia.
All Schools with Forensic Science Programs
- Bachelor of Science in Anthropology
- Master of Science in Forensic Anthropology
California State University Los Angeles
- Master of Arts in Forensic Anthropology
Mercyhurst Archaeological Institute
- Bachelor of Arts in Forensic Anthropology
The University of Louisville
- Forensic Anthropology Minor
University of Hawaii
- Applied Forensic Anthropology
Western Carolina University
- Bachelor of Science in Forensic Anthropology
- Minor in Forensic Anthropology