Classes in forensic anthropology teach techniques to categorize, identify and interpret human remains at crime scenes, in courts of law and for scientific study. Online classes can be used to fill some requirements for 2- or 4-year degrees in anthropology, forensic criminology, criminal justice or crime scene investigation. Potential graduate degrees include a master's degree in anthropology and a master's degree in forensic science. Certificates in crime scene investigation, forensic criminology, toxicology, forensic nursing, advanced crime analysis and death investigation are also available.
Online Forensic Anthropology Courses
Below are some examples of commonly offered online forensic anthropology courses.
- Basic Forensic Anthropology: This course builds on a general anthropology background by applying concepts from other disciplines--anatomy, botany, biology, entomology and chemistry--to crime scene investigations or field settings, such as an archaeological dig. It teaches methods to retrieve skin, hair and bone fragments; measure decomposition progress; and establish identity using evidence. Lessons explain how to determine cause of death, evaluate evidence, provide expert testimony in court and balance the needs of the investigation with ethical concerns.
- Forensic Osteology Analysis in Investigations: Attendees review human skeletal structure, bone function and composition. They examine complete bones and microscopic fragments to differentiate between human or animal remains and identify ethnic-, age- and gender-based characteristics. They review evidence of cut marks, bites and scorching patterns. Students also study dentition and use dental records to reconstruct faces for establishing identity.
- Forensic Pharmacology and Toxicology: This course presents serological analysis techniques to identify poisons and poisoning techniques encountered in hospitals and at crime scenes. The effects on human metabolism, individual organs and body systems are studied, and the course details the absorption and elimination processes of specific toxins.
- Crime Scene Preservation Techniques: Students learn how to apply essential forensic anthropology tools to preserve a crime scene while collecting evidence. They examine entomological artifacts, determine decomposition status, categorize blood splatters and evaluate other evidence. They learn the responsibilities of medical and legal personnel at a crime scene and the value that photography, scale diagramming and sketching provides in the field. By reviewing and critiquing both recent and historical case studies, students also identify mistakes and critical recurring issues.
- Interviews and Interrogations: This course reviews the processes and methods of criminal interrogation, with an emphasis on professionalism and efficiency. Legal perspectives are also explored. Students receive training in the interpretation of oral communication and body language.