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Forensic Pathology Degree Programs by Level

Forensic pathology is typically taught in the context of a fellowship program. Fellowship programs usually combine advanced, hands-on medical training with studies in law and physical evidence.

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Essential Information

A year long fellowship prepares trainees to sit for the forensic pathology examination given by the American Board of Pathology. It also qualifies trainees to become autopsy instructors at teaching hospitals, or to practice as coroner's pathologists or medical examiners. Graduation requirements including performing over 200 autopsies and rotations in other forensics specialty areas like criminalistics, anthropology, forensic dentistry and toxicology. Before entering such a program, students must complete their doctor of medicine degree and residency.


Forensic Pathology Fellowship

The fellowship is designed to provide the hands-on training necessary to become a forensic pathologist or transition into an instructor position. The fellowship allows participants to manage cases from discovery through examination of the body, collection of physical evidence, autopsy, documentation of findings, and court appearance. Fellow is trained in:

  • Autopsy procedures
  • Depositions and court testimony
  • Toxicology testing and result verification
  • Ethical practices
  • Criminal case consultation
  • Autopsy laws and regulations

Employment and Salary Outlook

Forensic pathologists perform autopsies during the investigation of criminal cases. They are charged with finding a cause of death and are often asked to determine the identity of a deceased person. There are several potential employment venues for forensic pathologists. Government agencies, hospitals, pathology educational departments, law enforcement agencies and medical offices all offer opportunities. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), physicians working in medical specialties earned a median salary of $411,852 in 2014.

Following the completion of a medical school and a residency, students can begin a forensic pathologist fellowship to learn the hands-on skills necessary to thrive within the field through supervised work.

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