Forensic Anthropology

Forensic anthropology is the application of biological anthropology to human remains in a legal setting. The analysis of more or less skeletonized remains by forensic anthropologists can assist with identification of an individual, evaluation of skeletal trauma and/or postmortem modification of the remains, and estimating the postmortem interval. The subfield of forensic anthropology draws on theories and methods developed for osteology and skeletal biology (the study of the human skeleton) as well as archaeology. In particular, evaluation of an unidentified skeleton can involve estimating age, sex, ancestry, stature, as well as assessing skeletal trauma, pathology and postmortem changes. Forensic anthropologists also employ archaeological method and theory to assist with detection and recovery of human remains on behalf of law enforcement agencies. Forensic anthropologists typically work with forensic pathologists, odontologists (forensic dentists), and investigators to assess evidence for criminal and humanitarian investigations.

At the University of Montana - Missoula, students have the opportunity to specialize in forensic anthropology by pursuing the B.A. degree in Anthropology with an option in Forensic Anthropology.


A student must complete all general requirements for the major, including:

  • CJUS 125N
  • SOCI 211S or 221
  • ANTY 310, 314
  • A 400-level course with a lab or field component in physical anthropology, archaeology, non-human osteology, geographic information systems (GIS), subsurface imaging, chemical analysis, genetic/evolutionary analysis, or multivariate statistics
  • Twelve (12) Credits in consultation with advisor in classes relevant to the forensic sciences, such as (but not limited to) archaeology, physical anthropology, biology, chemistry, criminology, drawing, geology, pharmacy, photography, public speaking, or psychology