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M.A. Degree in Anthropology with Forensic Anthropology Option

The forensic anthropology option is a way to satisfy the requirements for the Master of Arts (MA) degree in anthropology while concentrating on classes of relevance to forensic anthropology.  There are three pathways to doing this:

Thesis track: Students may develop and demonstrate research skill by formulating a research project designed to contribute original knowledge to the field of forensic anthropology, bioarchaeology, human variation, or human skeletal biology, with the findings presented in a thesis. Pursuing this track will help the student prepare to pursue a career as a forensic or physical/biological anthropologist, or to continue their graduate education toward a doctorate.

Professional Paper Track: Students may develop and demonstrate competency in the skills forensic anthropologists by undertaking a project that results in a report, exhibit, or other scholarly contribution of the sort produced by professionals in the field. A scholarly work published in a refereed journal or other reviewed forum is also considered a professional paper. Due to the limited nature of our skeletal collection, many students choose to analyze a case from the teaching collection and produce a comprehensive case report type of professional paper. Pursuing this track will help the student prepare for a career as a forensic anthropologist or other career that emphasizes the practical application of skills in skeletal analysis.

The Portfolio Track (the Graduate School refers to this as a non-thesis option): Students may design a MA program in which they specify aset of goals and a set of courses and other experiences that lead to achievement of these goals. Students demonstrate progress toward and satisfaction of their goals by collecting the work produced in their courses and other experiences into a portfolio. This track requires more course work than the thesis track or professional paper track. This track is designed for students who do not plan to work professionally as a forensic orphysical/biological anthropologist or who plan to use their MA degree inanother context (for example, educators seeking an MA degree in a field of science).

Students who complete the core requirements and one of the tracks described below will earn the M.A. Degree in Anthropology with theForensic Anthropology Option. A detailed checklist for this option can be downloaded from the Anthropology Department website.

Core requirements for all students in the forensic anthropology option, regardless of whether they are pursuing the thesis,professional paper, or portfolio track:

  • The background courses listed below, which ideally will have been taken previously as an undergraduate.
  • A set of background courses, which ideally will have been taken previously as an undergraduate. At least one course must have been taken in each of these five areas, though it is possible with approval of the student's advisor for one course to count as both a forensic anthropology course and an osteology course. Students who enter the program without having previously completed these background courses must complete them before their MA degree is awarded and should realize that they may need more than the minimum number of credits to complete their MA degree
  • Forensic anthropology - a lecture or lecture plus laboratory course covering the principles of forensic anthropology (such as ANTY 314);
  • Osteology - a laboratory or lecture plus laboratory course covering skeletal anatomy (such as ANTY 412);
  • An archaeological field experience (such as ANTY 413, 466, or a volunteer or paid archaeological field experience);
  • General forensic science (such as FS 100 or 400 -- formerly numbered ANTH 286/488);
  • Statistics (such as ANTY 401).
  • The following five (5) anthropology graduate seminars: ANTY 500, 510, 512, 513, and 515.

Thesis Track: In addition to the core requirements:

  • A total of 1 to 10 credits in ANTY 599: Thesis, consistent with Graduate School requirements (6 credits recommended).
  • Other appropriate courses as necessary to accumulate a total of 30 credits. ANTY 408 (formerly ANTH 402) is strongly recommended);
  • A thesis that makes an original contribution to the field of physical/biological anthropology by applying data to test a hypothesis;
  • A defense of the thesis.

Professional Paper Track: In addition to the core requirements:

  • A total of 1 to 10 credits in ANTY 593: Professional Project, consistent with Graduate School requirements (6 credits recommended);
  • Other appropriate courses as necessary to accumulate a total of 30 credits;
  • A professional quality report, exhibit, or other scholarly contribution of the sort produced by professional forensic or physical/biological anthropologists.
  • A defense of the professional paper, exhibit, or scholarly contribution.

Portfolio (Non-Thesis) Track: In addition to the core requirements:

  • A total 1 to 10 credits in ANTH 597: Research, consistent with Graduate School requirements (6 credits recommended);
  • One additional graduate seminar course numbered 500-589, 595, 598, or 600-694;
  • Other appropriate courses as necessary to accumulate a total of 36 credits;
  • A portfolio that documents the student's satisfaction of their educational goals and which is reviewed by the student's committee;
  • A comprehensive evaluation (a defense of the portfolio will satisfy this requirement - otherwise it may be administered as an examination).