MS in Forensic Anthropology

The MS in Forensic Anthropology at BU Chobanian & Avedisian 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, trauma analysis, 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 the 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.

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, law enforcement, or academic settings.

The Boston University Medical Campus contains state-of-the-art lecture halls, seminar rooms, sophisticated computerized teaching labs, and Boston’s largest biomedical research park.

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

Learning Outcomes

Upon graduation from the Forensic Anthropology program, students will have successfully completed the following learning outcomes:

  • Developed an awareness of the history and development of the forensic sciences in general and forensic anthropology in particular.
  • Established a working knowledge of the biology of bone and its associated tissues as it applies to forensic anthropology.
  • Developed the knowledge and skills in topics that represent the core of forensic anthropology:
    • Osteology
    • Field methods
    • Mapping and GIS
    • Excavation methods
    • Mortuary science
    • Taphonomy
    • Comparative anatomy
    • Medicolegal principles
    • Crime scene investigation techniques
    • Expert witness skills
    • Trauma analysis
  • Obtained practical experience in public speaking and presentation of their ideas and research.
  • Mastered the skills in basic scientific method, biostatistics, experimental design, time-management, library skills, annotated bibliography, report writing, professional skills, oral presentations, and thesis writing.
  • Each student will design, plan, and execute a research experiment and then write a thesis. Students are encouraged to publish thesis work and to present it at a professional society meeting.

Program Requirements


The Forensic Anthropology Program offers a variety of courses in forensic anthropological techniques and procedures, human anatomy, osteology, pathology, human remains recovery, trauma analysis, death investigation, research design, expert witness testimony, and forensic science. Completion of this program will prepare students to continue their education in a doctoral program, in medical or law school, or in a physician assistant program, and/or work in law enforcement, in crime scene investigation, or as a 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
  • Experimental Design for Forensic Anthropology
  • Research in Anthropology
  • Taphonomy
  • Forensic Trauma Analysis
  • Mortuary Archaeology
  • Advanced Osteology
  • Expert Witness Testimony
  • Applied Forensic Anthropology

Elective Courses in Forensic Anthropology

  • Bioarchaeology
  • Zooarchaeology
  • 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.