Forensic Anthropology

Forensic Anthropology Bachelor of Arts (B.A.) Degree Anthropology: Forensic Concentration On-Campus

About Forensic Anthroplogy

Get real knowledge and experience in the field of forensic anthropology.

With the popularity of television shows such as Bones and CSI, forensic anthropology, just like other forensic sciences, has attracted strong public interest. PennWest California is one of the few universities in Pennsylvania where students can go beyond a single introductory course to take an active role in forensic research and actual casework.

 In the B.A. in Anthropology degree program with a concentration in forensics, you'll receive personalized attention and excellent opportunities to play a significant part in forensics, both in the field and in the lab. Our students learn how to use the basic archaeological tool kit, as well as more high-tech equipment to prepare for professional forensic anthropology work.

 PennWest California anthropology students engage in hands-on research of artifacts and skeletons, and in all phases of archaeological fieldwork. Students learn about report and grant writing, write research papers, and present findings at local and regional conferences. As a student of forensic anthropology, you will learn firsthand what the discipline requires. Your PennWest California experiences also will enhance your resume, giving you important advantages as you enter the workforce or apply for graduate school.

The anthropology program offers two concentrations: archaeology and forensic. Exchange and study abroad educational opportunities are also available.  

PennWest California's hands-on forensic anthropology program engages you in study and research.

The anthropology program with forensic and archaeology concentrations offers a strong sense of community, from fall events to welcome new students to the spring honors dinner, where all majors, minors and alumni are encouraged to attend. Anthropology faculty members work closely with students to help them achieve professional and graduate school aspirations.

Because of the anthropology degree's broad and holistic approach, you'll be equipped with the necessary tools to excel in a broad range of careers, from nonprofit organizations to the private sector. Anthropology may also be an ideal choice as a minor if you're obtaining a degree in  other social sciences, Earth sciences, biological sciences, education or humanities.


Concentration: In this undergraduate degree program, forensic anthropology combines archaeological search and recovery techniques with the laboratory skills of skeletal analysis to aid medico-legal death investigators in cases involving suspected human remains. You'll learn about vital aspects of forensic anthropology, including how the biological profile of an individual is determined from the skeleton, how skeletal traumas are evaluated, estimation of the interval since death, discussion of investigations of crime scenes, the legal role of the physical anthropologist as an expert witness, and the importance of report preparation. You'll have the opportunity to learn from actual case studies of individuals.  

Solid foundation: As part of the College of Liberal Arts, the B.A. in Anthropology program enables students in forensic anthropology and in archaeology to develop effective writing and speaking skills and learn to perform effectively in a wide variety of settings within a multicultural world. The anthropology program emphasizes an empirically based, comparative and cross-cultural perspective that's grounded in a scientific framework. 

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Student-to-faculty ratio at PennWest California.
Credit hours for the bachelor's degree in anthropology with a concentration in forensics, which can be completed in eight semesters or four years.
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Degree Benefits

All anthropology majors are required to take the archaeological field school course to acquire practical skills in excavation and artifact identification. The forensic concentration offers lab method courses that entail extensive analysis of either bones or artifacts. Most other courses also include a significant number of experiential projects. Gaining field experience through internships is a critical part of our students' curriculum. PennWest California students have interned at the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History, Allegheny County Medical Examiner's Office, Westmoreland County Coroner's Office, Westmoreland Historical Society, and Monongahela River and Rail & Transportation Museum. 

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Graduate Outcomes

A student who focuses on forensic anthropology as an undergraduate will have the skills to serve as an investigator in a medical examiner's office or in law enforcement. As public awareness continues to rise, the types of cases in which forensic anthropologists are asked to assist will continue to grow. PennWest California anthropology graduates typically go on for graduate degrees if they wish to become university professors or work as primary investigators for archaeological firms. Graduates have attended such schools as West Virginia University, Ball State University, Duquesne University, Indiana University of Pennsylvania and Michigan Tech University. Currently, two graduates are in the master's degree program in museum studies at Johns Hopkins University. 

Anthropology (B.A.) Forensic Anthropology Concentration
A PennWest California forensic anthropology professor works with students in field.

Professional Connections

PennWest California forensic anthropology students gain valuable field experience; they have assisted the Pennsylvania State Police on casework, analyzed remains from archaeological sites of prehistoric importance in southwestern Pennsylvania, and assisted in risk assessment for a historic cemetery threatened by road construction. Additionally, forensic anthropology majors are involved in faculty and independent research, symposiums and community service projects. Students can take advantage of study abroad opportunities, including spending a semester abroad or taking part in international archaeological digs. Anthropology majors have completed a semester in Spain and participated in archaeological digs in Sicily and Romania. The Anthropology Club is a very active group, raising money to help support trips to regional and state conferences.

PennWest California professor Dr. Cassandra Kuba.

Faculty Expertise

Dr. Cassandra Kuba is a biological anthropologist, trained in forensic anthropology and bioarchaeology. She has assisted local death investigators and local archaeological firms with the search, recovery and/or analysis of skeletal remains from a variety of settings. Dr. Kuba also serves as a consultant to the entertainment industry, providing advice to mystery writers and to television writers for such shows as Bones, CSI: Crime Scene Investigation, Rosewood, Criminal Minds: Beyond Borders, Rizzoli & Isles, and The Black List. She has analyzed skeletal remains from both historic and prehistoric settings, ranging from ancient Nubia to post-medieval England. As a member of the Pennsylvania Institute of Criminological and Forensic Sciences at PennWest California, she provides training and consultation services to law enforcement, coroners and medical examiners.

A PennWest California forensic anthropologists works with ground penetrating radar.

Unique Opportunities

The anthropology program strives to develop student research skills, and success has been shown by students winning awards at the PASSHE STEM conference and the Society for Pennsylvania Archaeology conference. A PennWest California student also has been selected for the highly competitive Natural History Research Experience Fellowship at the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History. The Anthropology program has a dedicated lab/classroom that is used for the courses requiring skeletal/artifact analysis. An area is set up for processing of decomposing remains, secure storage of forensic case material, and cleaning/analysis of artifacts. The forensic program also uses PennWest California's SAI Farm, where burial sites are created for students to search out and excavate. The program has a laser TOTAL station for surveying and access to ground-penetrating radar and handheld submeter GPS units, all which aid accurate search and recovery.

B.A., Anthropology Courses Forensics Concentration


Course Credits
General Education Courses 40 or 41
Building a Sense of Community
UNI 100  First-Year Seminar
ENG 101  English Composition I
Public Speaking
Any CDC General Education Course
Mathematics and Quantitative Literacy
Any Mathematics and Quantitative Literacy Course
Health and Wellness
Any Health and Wellness Course
Technological Literacy
Any Technological Literacy Course
Any Humanities Course
Fine Arts
Any Fine Arts Course
Natural Sciences
Any Natural Sciences Course
Social Sciences
Any Social Sciences Course
Ethics and Multicultural Awareness Emphasis
Any JUS, SOC or WST Course on EMEL Menu
General Education Options
  • Any Social Science Course
  • Additional General Education Courses (two courses)
Required Major Courses 18
ANT 100  Intro to Anthropology 3
ANT 101  Archaeology Field School 3
ANT 290  Archaeology 3
ANT 421  Anthropological Thought 3
ANT 499  Senior Seminar in Anthropology 3
MAT 215  Statistics  OR  PSY 220  Descriptive Statistics 3
Required Related Courses 18
ANT 245  Human Osteology 3
ANT 254  Intro to Forensic Anthropology 3
ANT 340  Research/Lab in Physical Anthropology 3
ANT 370  Forensic Archaeology 3
ANT 446  Advanced Forensic Anthropology 3
ANT 497  Seminar in Physical Anthropology 3
Related Electives 3
Select from the following:
  • ANT 101  Archaeology Field School (extra)
  • ANT 200  Old World Prehistory
  • ANT 220  Aztecs, Mayas and Incas
  • ANT 231  Medical Anthropology
  • ANT/BIO 232  Biological Anthropology
  • ANT 255  World Ethnology
  • ANT 280  Indians of North America
  • ANT 300  Cultural Views of Women
  • ANT 345  Cultural Politics Food and Eating
  • ANT 379  Special Problems in Anthropology
  • ANT 385  Primate Social Behavior
  • ANT 390  Human Origins
  • Adviser-Approved ANT Course
Free Electives 40 or 41
Total 120

Additional requirements, not counted toward the General Education requirements, include:

  • Special Experience Course (1 course required): ANT 499 Senior Seminar in Anthropology
  • Writing-Intensive Component Courses (2 courses required): Any Two ANT Approved Writing-Intensive Menu Courses
  • Laboratory Course (1 course required): Any Laboratory Course

Program Notes: 42 credits (or 14 courses) of upper-division (300- or 400-level) courses are required. Related electives other than those listed must be approved by academic adviser.

B.A., Anthropology - Concentration and Minors

Concentrations and Minors

Anthropology - Minor

Archaeology - Concentration