To become a forensic anthropologist, one must complete a bachelor's degree in anthropology, pursue a specialty in physical anthropology, and complete at least a master's degree in the field. Since forensic anthropologists mostly deal with human skeletal remains, professionals advise students to specialize further in osteology.
An undergraduate program in anthropology usually includes courses in archeology, cultural anthropology and physical anthropology. Some programs might include other specialties such as linguistics. Professionals advise anthropology students to take elective courses in biology, physiology, anatomy and genetics. Students who wish to become forensic anthropologists must pursue a concentration in physical anthropology, which focuses on the evolution and development of human beings.
After completing a bachelor's degree, students enroll for graduate programs in forensic anthropology and pursue a master's degree or a Ph.D. in the field. The master's degree may take up to two years to complete while the Ph.D. program may take up to five years. A student admitted to an institution with a faculty that does not include forensic specialization may seek the mentorship of an osteologist or a skeletal biologist.
Students may also pursue a certification program in forensic anthropology from the American Board of Forensic Anthropology. The certification involves examinations that cover theory and practice. The board also bases certification on a personal and professional record of achievement, experience and training.