Universities with Majors in Forensic Pathology: How to Choose

Apr 26, 2020

Forensic pathology is a medical specialty concerned with identifying the cause of death during an autopsy. Universities do not offer undergraduate majors in forensic pathology, though there are related degrees that can prepare students for medical school, one of several steps required for a career as a forensic pathologist.

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Choosing a Major in Forensic Pathology

Individuals who are interested in forensic pathology can consider curriculum options when looking for undergraduate institutions. School rankings can be helpful for trained physicians seeking fellowship programs. Forensic pathology programs aren't offered at the undergraduate level. Training in this medical subspecialty usually takes place during a one- to two-year fellowship program available to licensed physicians who've completed medical school and a post-graduate residency in pathology.

Choosing an Undergraduate Program

Undergraduate students interested in forensic pathology careers will want to consider bachelor's degree programs that can prepare them for admission to medical school. Prerequisites generally include a year each of general chemistry, organic chemistry, biology, and physics courses. Bachelor's degree candidates might also want to seek out a curriculum that can prepare them for the Medical College Admission Test (MCAT). Although undergraduate coursework in the field is not required for a job as a forensic pathologist, prospective undergraduates who are passionate about forensic science may want to choose a school that includes coursework or concentration options in the field, or in general pre-medical studies. Some options will be discussed next.

Ferris State University

The College of Arts and Sciences at Ferris State University, a public four-year school, offers a Bachelor of Science in Biology with forensic biology and pre-medicine concentrations. Both programs include a science core consisting of classes in genetics, ecology, and chemistry. The forensic biology option features additional instruction in such areas as forensic DNA analysis, medical parasitology, botany, and pathophysiology. The pre-medicine concentration covers topics like advanced microbiology, genetics, anatomy, and chemistry.

St. Edward's University

Prospective forensic pathologists at St. Edward's University can take advantage of a forensic science bachelor's degree program with a laboratory emphasis. Coursework combines forensics instruction with a science core designed to prepare students for admission to medical school. Students can also complete a forensic science practicum. Courses include crime scene and death investigation, molecular biology, organic chemistry, forensic chemistry, and microbiology.

Missouri State University

Missouri State University's Biomedical Sciences Department offers an undergraduate cell and molecular biology program that prepares students interested in forensic pathology to continue their education in medical school. To fulfill elective requirements, the department suggests enrolling in physical anthropology, physiology, and human anatomy courses that provide experience working with cadavers. Other required courses cover such areas as human genetics, molecular biology, organic chemistry, physics, and virology.

Youngstown State University

The bachelor's degree program in forensic science at Youngstown State University offers tracks in chemistry, biology, and anthropology. All program options require an internship and coursework in general and organic chemistry, biology, and genetics. These topics are covered in greater detail in the chemistry and biology tracks, while the anthropology option allows students to study such areas as biological and forensic anthropology, osteology, and archaeology.

Choosing a Fellowship Program

After completing a medical degree and a residency in clinical and/or anatomic pathology, aspiring forensic pathologists can enroll in a fellowship. One way to choose between universities is to look for medical schools that have been highly ranked by U.S. News & World Report. Each of the following schools offers a forensic pathology fellowship and was ranked within the top 25 medical schools for primary care on the U.S. News & World Report list for 2019.

  • University of North Carolina
  • University of Colorado - Denver
  • University of New Mexico
  • University of Texas - Southwestern Medical Center
  • Brown University
  • University of Michigan

Aspiring forensic pathologists can choose between undergraduate institutions based on their course offerings in the field. They can choose between fellowship programs with the help of medical school rankings.

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