MS in Forensic Anthropology

The MS in Forensic Anthropology at Boston University School of Medicine is designed to train individuals in the theory, practice, and methods of biological and skeletal anthropology employed by forensic anthropologists in medicolegal death investigations. Students will receive extensive training in osteology, forensic anthropological techniques and procedures, forensic anthropology field methods, biological anthropology theory, taphonomy, mortuary archaeology, human anatomy, crime scene investigation, and methods of human identification.

This full-time, 42-credit Master of Science degree offers students a unique opportunity to apply the principles of anthropology, anatomy and osteology to establishing biological profiles, excavation of remains, criminal case work, and other scenarios with unidentified remains.

Classes are lecture and laboratory based with opportunities for internships and directed studies. Students complete a graduate-level research project that culminates in a full-length thesis. Resources for student research projects include access to our Outdoor Research Facility and Anatomical Sciences Laboratory, faculty in the Department of Radiology, and affiliated faculty at University of Tennessee and skeletal collections at other universities and museums.

This program is one of the only graduate forensic anthropology programs in a department of anatomy at a major medical center. This setting provides students and faculty access to extensive resources and facilities, including a human gross anatomy laboratory.

Closely affiliated with the MS in Biomedical Forensic Sciences program, this program affords students the opportunity to pursue training in multiple areas of forensic sciences.

Employment and Educational Opportunities for Graduates of this Program

Upon completion of this program, students will be eligible and qualified to continue their education in a PhD program in Anthropology or pursue employment in a variety of settings. Potential employment opportunities for graduates include state medical examiner offices, government or private crime laboratories, or academic settings.

Boston University Medical Campus contains state-of-the-art lecture halls, seminar rooms, sophisticated computerized teaching labs, and Boston’s largest biomedical research park. In addition, the campus is in close proximity to the Office of Chief Medical Examiner for Massachusetts and the Boston Police Department Crime Laboratory.

We are happy to answer your questions regarding admissions, eligibility, or curriculum. Please contact us at

Program Requirements


The Forensic Anthropology Program offers a variety of courses in forensic anthropological techniques and procedures, human anatomy, osteology, pathology, human remains recovery, death investigation, research design, expert witness testimony, and forensic science. Completion of this program will prepare students to continue their graduate education in a doctoral program and/or work as a forensic anthropologist or medicolegal death investigator.

Core Curriculum

Required courses include:

  • History, Methods and Theory in Biological Anthropology
  • Human Anatomy and Osteology
  • Professional Skills and Thesis Research Development
  • Special Topics in Forensic Anthropology: Outdoor Crime Scene Awareness
  • Forensic Anthropology Techniques
  • Bioarchaeology
  • Experimental Design for Forensic Anthropology
  • Research in Anthropology
  • Taphonomy
  • Mortuary Archaeology
  • Advanced Osteology
  • Expert Witness Testimony
  • Applied Forensic Anthropology
  • Field Methods in Forensic Anthropology

Elective Courses in Forensic Anthropology

  • Field Methods in Forensic Anthropology
  • Forensic Pathology
  • Advanced Crime Scene Investigation

Elective Courses in Anthropology and Archaeology

Students are strongly encouraged to complete selected courses in the departments of Anthropology and Archaeology on the Charles River Campus.

Elective Courses in Biomedical Forensic Sciences

Students may complete certain courses in the Biomedical Forensic Sciences program.

Forensic Entomology Option

The Forensic Anthropology program has added a new option in Forensic Entomology. Students will complete all requirements for the MS in Forensic Anthropology but in addition, will complete extensive coursework and research in Forensic Entomology. Students will be trained and supervised by Dr. Ian Dadour, a leading forensic entomologist from the University of Western Australia.

Students who successfully complete the Forensic Entomology Option will be eligible to apply for a doctoral position at the University of Western Australia.

Completion of the Forensic Entomology Option will require additional coursework and thesis research in Forensic Entomology. Courses include:

  • Forensic Entomology
  • Research in Forensic Entomology
  • Directed Studies in Forensic Entomology

Students in the Forensic Entomology Option will develop a thesis topic within the field of forensic entomology such as identifying insect populations by environment and how they are used to determine post-mortem interval. This program provides students the unique opportunity to conduct research projects and complete courses at our 32-acre Outdoor Research Facility.