Mercyhurst Archaeological Institute

Forensic and Biological Anthropology Program Philosophy

The Forensic and Biological Anthropology concentration in the Master of Anthropology program at Mercyhurst University lies within the Applied Forensic Sciences Department and the Mercyhurst Archaeological Institute. This program represents the first in the country focused primarily on providing students with a comprehensive basic training regimen in these two combined fields. The program encompasses a rigorous curriculum that includes a strong grounding in biological/bioarchaeological anthropology, while emphasizing all of the major components of the discipline of forensic anthropology. These components include forensic osteology, forensic archaeology, forensic taphonomy, biostatistics, and skeletal trauma.

Graduates of the program are encouraged to continue their education in a doctoral program within the disciplines of forensic anthropology, biological anthropology, bioarchaeology, criminal justice, or forensic science. Graduates possess a competitive array of skills honed at Mercyhurst through field experience, a comprehensive academic curriculum, and extensive laboratory training. This intensive training also includes assistance on actual cases in every aspect of medicolegal investigations, from initial recovery to laboratory analysis and interpretation of results. The diversity of the Mercyhurst graduate’s skill set ensures that these students compare with those from larger universities to compete for teaching assistantships, grants, and other funding.

Other graduates will choose to seek employment within all levels of law enforcement and investigative or archaeological agencies. These graduates are able to put their wide skill set to use in the field and in the laboratory, as a result of hands-on training and assistance on forensic cases. They are able to conduct searches, properly document scenes, conduct careful excavations, and recover and analyze data. These experiences at Mercyhurst allow graduates to handle a variety of outdoor, fire and mass fatality scenes making them a valuable asset to any employer. In addition, graduates are able to successfully analyze recovered human remains to produce biological profiles, trauma reports, and interpret taphonomic indicators to develop post-mortem interval estimates.

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