University of Montana Catalog 2023-2024

Anthropology M.A. - Forensic and Biological Anthropology

There are three pathways to satisfy the requirements for the M.A. in Anthropology with a concentration in Forensic and Biological Anthropology:  

Thesis Track

Students following the thesis track will develop and demonstrate research skill by formulating a research project designed to contribute original knowledge to the field of forensic and biological anthropology, bioarchaeology, human variation, or human skeletal biology, with the findings presented in a thesis. Pursuing this track will help the student prepare to pursue a career as a forensic or physical/biological anthropologist or to continue their graduate education toward a doctorate.

Professional Paper Track

Students who follow the professional paper track will develop and demonstrate competency by undertaking a project that results in a report, exhibit, or other scholarly contribution of the sort produced by professionals in the field. A scholarly work published in a refereed journal or other reviewed forum is also considered a professional paper. Due to the limited nature of our skeletal collection, many students choose to analyze a case from the teaching collection and produce a comprehensive case report. Pursuing this track will help the student prepare for a career as a forensic anthropologist or other career that emphasizes the practical application of skills in skeletal analysis.

Portfolio Track

This is a non-thesis option. Students following the portfolio track will design a program in which they specify a set of goals and a set of courses and other experiences that lead to achievement of these goals. Students will demonstrate progress toward and satisfaction of their goals by collecting the work produced in their courses and other experiences into a portfolio. This track requires more coursework than the thesis or professional paper tracks and is designed for students who do not plan to work professionally as forensic or physical/biological anthropologists or who plan to use their degree in another context, such as educators seeking an M.A. degree in a field of science.

Master of Arts - Anthropology; Forensic & Biological Anthropology Concentration

Required Credits: Thesis/professional project option: 30; Non-thesis option: 36

Required Cumulative GPA: 3.0

Successful completion of an M.A. in Anthropology requires coursework, successful completion of a comprehensive evaluation, and significant original scholarly work. The Anthropology faculty expects that students will complete the requirements for the M.A. degree in two years.

Some background classes are required for all students in the Forensic and Biological Anthropology Graduate Program, which ideally will have been taken as an undergraduate prior to admittance. At least one course must have been taken in each of the following five areas, though it is possible with approval of the student's advisor for one course to count as both a forensic anthropology course and an osteology course. Students who enter the program without having previously completed these background courses must complete them before their M.A. degree is awarded. Students should understand that they may need more than the minimum number of credits to complete their M.A. degree.

  • Forensic Anthropology - a lecture or lecture plus laboratory course covering the principles of forensic anthropology, such as ANTY 414;
  • Osteology - a laboratory or lecture plus laboratory course covering skeletal anatomy, such as ANTY 412;
  • An archaeological field experience, such as ANTY 466 or ANTY 495;
  • General forensic science, such as CJUS 488;
  • Statistics, such as ANTY 508.


Complete all of the following courses:
ANTY 500Contemporary Anthropological Thought3
or ANTY 553 Evolutionary Archaeology
ANTY 510Seminar on Human Variation & Evolution3
ANTY 512Advanced Forensic Anthropology3
ANTY 513Seminar in Bioarcheaology & Skeletal Biology3
ANTY 515Theory & Methods in Bioanthropology3
Thesis, Professional Project, or Non-Thesis Options - Complete one of the following options:15-21
Thesis/Professional Project Option - Complete 15 credits of the following to achieve a total of 30 credits:
Professional Project
Additional graduate-level courses
Defense of thesis or professional paper/project
Non-Thesis Option - Complete 21 credits of the following to achieve a total of 36 credits:
Additional graduate-level courses
A reviewed scholarly work or portfolio or a comprehensive evaluation
Total Hours30-36