So you want to be a Forensic Anthropologist or Bioarchaeologist...
First off, I strongly encourage you to major in Anthropology. These links should be helpful:
- Anthropology Department at Sonoma State
- Requirements for the Anthropology major at SSU
- Advising Sheet for Forensic Anthropology and Bioarchaeology
Joining a professional organization is a great way to meet like-minded students and professors, keep up with the latest research, and learn about new fieldwork opportunities. All of these organizations have discounted rates for students, both for membership and for conference registration.
- American Academy of Forensic Sciences
- American Anthropological Association
- American Association of Physical Anthropologists
- Society for American Archaeology
- Society for California Archaeology
- Western Bioarchaeology Group
You will also need to obtain experience outside of the classroom. This might include:
Internships. In today's budgetary climate, these are not easy to come by. However, it's work taking a look at these resources to see whether there are openings.
- At the Anthropological Studies Center at SSU
- Coroner's Offices of Sonoma County or Marin County.
- SSU's Criminology and Criminal Justice Studies department also has an excellent page on internship opportunities.
- Check out these forensic anthropology programs...
- Forensic Science Academy (JPAC, Hawaii)
- Forensic Anthropology Field School (Ohio State University/PAST)
- Forensic Anthropology: Field Recovery Methods (CSU Chico)
- Short Courses in Forensic Anthropology (Mercyhurst College)
- Forensic Anthropology Field Methods (University of Tennessee)
- San Bernadino County Cemetery (Institute for Field Research)
- ...and these bioarchaeology field schools:
- Kampsville Program (Arizona State University),
- Caves Branch Archaeological Field School in Belize (Michigan State University)
- Slavia Project Bioarchaeology Field School in Drawsko, Poland (Adam Mickiewicz University)
- Field School in Medieval Archaeology and Bioarchaeology at Badia Pozzeveri, in Lucca, Italy (Ohio State University, Universita di Pisa)
- Huari-Ancash Bioarchaeological Project (several universities in Peru)
- Bioarchaeology in San Jose de Moro (Pontificia Universidad Catolica del Peru)
- Sanisera Archaeology Field School (Ecomuseu Cap de Cavalleria in Menorca, Spain)
- Petra North Ridge Project (East Carolina University)
- Medieval Blackfriary, Ireland (Institute for Field Research)
- Historical Bioarchaeology at Spike Island, Ireland (Institute for Field Research)
Finally, for most (but not all) relevant career paths, you will need a graduate degree. Take a look at some excellent graduate programs (most of which are in Anthropology departments) that emphasize Forensics and/or Bioarchaeology.
However, graduate school is not something to undertake lightly! Here are a couple of links that might help you think through the prospects:
- Amory Starr's Guide to Grad School: written from a "radical activist" perspective, but containing many (un)welcome truths
- The Committee on Institutional Cooperation's Guide to Applying to Graduate School: an excellent, step-by-step guide to helping you make the decisions and then make them happen
- From the National Institute of Justice, a handbook to Education and Training in Forensic Science
If you decide that a graduate degree in Anthropology is for you, consider some other options:
- Certificate in Forensic Identification: offered by numerous institutions, including Chico State, City College of San Francisco, Rio Hondo Community College. *Note* that this is not a Master's degree, but instead signifies that the recipient meets certain professional standards.
- Pathologists' Assistant: requires an M.S. from one of several approved institutions
- Forensic Pathologist: requires an M.D. from a licensed medical school
If you would like me to write a recommendation for you (and I am usually happy to do so!), please click here for guidelines.