7 Forensic Pathology Schools in the United States (FAQs) | 202313 min read

Forensic Pathology Schools: Forensic pathology is an exciting career choice if you are interested in learning how to determine causes of death through scientific methods.

It offers many opportunities for those enthusiastic about learning how to do so. Some students may wish to pursue a career as forensic pathologists to assist with criminal investigations or civil litigation.

Forensic pathology is a field of study offered by several different universities.

As an undergraduate, you will be exposed to a wide range of topics, such as genetics, microbiology, anatomy, hematology, physiology, psychology, and biochemistry. These are just a few of the subjects you’ll be studying.

I’ll be your guide, letting you in on some of the top schools to pursue a degree in forensic pathology, the best colleges for medical examiners. On that note, let’s get right to it.

Who is a Forensic Pathologist, and How do You Become One?

Forensic pathologists are medical examiners that investigate the bodies of persons who have died suddenly or mysteriously to determine the cause of their deaths.

Those interested in becoming forensic pathologists might begin exploring the field as early as in high school or college by concentrating on science studies and enrolling in online forensic science courses.

Apart from completing high school and undergraduate studies, the forensic pathologist career path entails attending medical school to earn a medical degree (either a Doctorate of Medicine or a Doctorate of Osteopathic Medicine) and completing a residency program in either anatomic pathology or anatomic and clinical pathology.

The following year, the doctors will complete a fellowship in forensic pathology to receive more training in forensic medicine. Fellowships normally take a year to complete.

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Who is a Medical Examiner?

A medical examiner also known as forensic pathologist is a professional who investigates unattended deaths, suicides, and violent deaths, as well as deaths caused by infectious diseases and homicides.

As an added service, they step in when a death happens under questionable conditions.

How to determine a Good Forensic Pathology School:

When looking into forensic pathology schools, you should seek schools that offer a well-rounded education through rotations in anatomic and clinical pathology and research opportunities.

Top forensic pathology schools offer you a diverse range of optional subspecialty rounds in pathology, during which you can begin to indulge in forensic pathology and other areas of pathology.

The facilities you operate in should be equipped with the most up-to-date medical equipment and assist internationally renowned academic physicians.

You’ll also want to look for forensic pathology schools that will allow you to study specialist issues and further strengthen your specialization talents.

After completing a residency program, you might look for schools that offer fellowships in forensic pathology.

You’ll be allowed to conduct autopsies regularly and partake in forensic pathology courses at top schools.

The following schools are some of the most prestigious medical schools in the United States, so aspiring forensic pathologists can make an informed selection regarding their future studies.

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Top 7 Forensic Pathology Schools/Medical Examiners in the United States:

1. The University of California, San Francisco:

The department of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine at the University of California, San Francisco, is one of the best forensic pathology schools in the United States.

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Because the university is entirely devoted to studying health sciences, it has become a major medical and biological research and education center.

It is consistently ranked as one of the nation’s top biomedical research and teaching institutions. 

Residents must spend one month of their second year of advanced practice in the San Francisco Medical Examiner’s Office, which performs more than 1,400 forensic autopsies yearly.

On an average one-month rotation, each resident will witness 75 to 100 natural deaths, 4 to 8 homicides, 10 to 12 suicides, 2 to 3 pediatric autopsies, and 20 to 25 accidental fatalities, among other causes of death.

As one of the best medical examiner colleges in the United States, the University of California, San Francisco, offers exceptional on-site services such as radiography, forensic toxicology, odontology, laboratory testing, and anthropology.

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2. New York Medical College:

The New York Medical College Department of Pathology is one of the best forensic pathology schools in the United States.

This institution is a private biomedical and health sciences institution with its main campus in Valhalla, New York, and several satellite campuses.

This information and the ability to use it are indispensable for the ultimate prevention and treatment of all diseases, regardless of their etiology.

The curriculum for the Master of Science degree is meant to develop analytical problem-solving across a broad spectrum of the basic medical sciences, with a focus on the fundamental disciplines of cellular and molecular biology, biochemistry, and immunology.

The graduate programs’ research programs provide a robust multidisciplinary environment to obtain laboratory training for a career in the biomedical sciences.

As one of the best medical examiner colleges in the United States, New York Medical College’s Department of Pathology provides courses and research training leading to a Master of Science.

This curriculum focuses on a comprehensive investigation of pathogenic illness mechanisms.

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3. The Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine:

The Johns Hopkins School of Medicine is located on the same campus as the Johns Hopkins Hospital, founded in 1889. It is one of the best forensic pathology schools in the United States.

A comprehensive training program in clinical pathology and anatomic pathology, either together or separately, is offered by the Department of Pathology at Johns Hopkins University to newly graduated medical students and individuals with previous postdoctoral experience. 

Autopsy, surgical pathology, and cytopathology are among the topics covered in the anatomic pathology courses offered at the school.

The clinical pathology training program at John Hopkins is vast, and students receive instruction in various clinical pathology specialties.

As one of the best medical examiner colleges in the United States, Johns Hopkins Medical Laboratory’s expertise in Surgical Pathology and Cytopathology consulting is renowned worldwide.

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4. Ohio State University, Columbus:

The objective of the Department of Pathology at The Ohio State University is to develop an academic pathology department known as a local, regional, and national leader in the diagnosis, research, and education.

In addition, the objective is to operate as a team that utilizes cutting-edge emerging technologies and applies new knowledge to address the requirements of patients, while also leading and supporting research and educational initiatives.

The Department of Pathology at Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center is the biggest quaternary care center in central Ohio, providing care in all pathology sub-specialties.

The program provides comprehensive accreditation in clinical and anatomic pathology.

There are over 85 faculty members representing a variety of sub-specialties who are active in various elements of resident teaching, as well as 10 pathology assistants who are well-trained and skilled in assisting residents with grossing, autopsy, frozen section, and tissue procurement.

Students who have completed their M.D. program can apply for a pathology fellowship.

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5. University of Minnesota, Minneapolis:

The Department of Laboratory Medicine and Pathology at the University of Minnesota Medical School is dedicated to advancing scientific and applied research, as well as patient care innovation.

It is one of the best forensic pathology schools in the United States.

Cancer, immunology, cardiovascular disease, renal disease, diabetes, and genetics are among the key research foci of the department’s research-intensive staff, along with cardiovascular disease, renal disease, diabetes, and genetics.

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The Department of Laboratory Medicine and Pathology is dedicated to providing patients with a favorable experience at affiliated clinics and hospitals through the provision of exceptional clinical competence.

Additionally, students take courses such as microbiology and cytopathology as part of the course requirements.

Dolinak’s book Forensic Pathology: Principles and Practice will be required reading for the student, who will also be expected to review the accessible literature.

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6. University of Florida: 

The fourfold mission of UF Health Forensic Medicine is education, research, service, and community engagement.

This division within the University of Florida’s Department of Pathology, Immunology, and Laboratory Medicine utilizes its extensive expertise in forensic medicine to provide comprehensive services and innovative programs related to medicolegal death, forensic toxicology, and animal cruelty investigations.

The College of Medicine at the University of Florida Health Science Center is the largest of six university colleges.

Gainesville, Florida-based University of Florida Health Pathology Laboratories is home to more than 30 nationally recognized pathologists specializing in all pathology subspecialties.

The lab has the experience and expertise to diagnose a patient’s condition as quickly as possible while maintaining professionalism.

More so, it also encourages efficient financial management, strategic planning for growth and operational oversight, and a visible presence of forensic medicine in the Department.

As one of the best medical examiner colleges in the United States, Pathology Laboratories of the University of Florida Health System is a renowned provider of surgical pathology and diagnostic laboratory services in the southeastern United States.

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7. University of North Dakota: 

The University of North Dakota is the oldest and largest university in the state. The school offers more than 225 highly approved on-campus and online degrees.

The forensic psychology and criminology subfield of psychology is expanding rapidly. It is one of the best forensic pathology schools in the United States.

Through the University of North Dakota’s online master’s degree program, you will receive advanced psychological ideas and theories, great analytical, statistical, and assessment abilities, particular forensic-relevant knowledge, and an in-depth understanding of their legal system.

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How To Become A Forensic Pathologist/Medical Examiner (Step-by-Step guide):

To be a forensic pathologist, one must be objective and sensitive to the feelings of others to document medical and legal cases and provide the information that bereaved families need to cope with their loss.

A forensic pathologist is more than just a doctor in the medical field. As medical and legal experts, they are well-versed in forensics, firearms, medicine, medicolegal documentation, and toxicology.

In addition to performing autopsies, a forensic pathologist’s duties include gathering forensic evidence for victims of sexual assault, adhering to scientific and legal procedures, communicating with the families of the deceased, and collaborating with law enforcement to determine and document the cause of death.

Here are the step-by-step guide to becoming a forensic pathologist:

1. High school diploma or GED:

High school or GED certification is the first step toward several rewarding careers.

A high school student who wants to pursue an undergraduate degree in forensic pathology should take as many science and math courses as possible in high school.

2. Earn a Bachelor’s Degree:

A bachelor’s degree is a college undergraduate degree, also known as a Baccalaureate degree, that students earn from college and University after completing a major.

The degree comes after you must have got a high school diploma from High school or a GED. Usually, it lasts for four years, but due to some factors, it can take longer than that.

A bachelor’s degree in pre-med, biology, or chemistry is the next step toward a career in forensic pathology.

Consider taking forensic science or criminal justice, or psychology-related undergraduate electives.

3. Get a Medical Degree: 

From beginning to end, applying to medical school necessitates a significant amount of work.

Medical students should expect to spend most of their time in classes, clinical rotations, and preparing for examinations during the application process.

Anatomy, physiology, biology, chemistry, and medical law are common electives in medical schools.

Clinical rotations are required of all medical students in addition to the rigorous academic requirements.

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The county medical examiner’s office or the morgue are good choices for prospective forensic pathologists to complete their clinical rotations.

4. Get a Medical License:

Medical students must complete a three-step process to becoming licensed physicians.

Most medical schools require students to complete all three steps during their training, which generally consists of demanding multi-day examinations administered by the FSMB and the National Board of Medical Examiners (NBME).

5. Get a Medical Residency:

Forensic pathologists must complete a residency program after obtaining a medical degree and obtaining a medical license to practice medicine.

Students should look for programs accredited by the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education (ACGME) when applying (ACGME).

Toxicology and medical laboratory testing are common topics covered in forensic pathology residencies.

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6. Enroll in a Forensic Pathology Fellowship:

With the help of a mentor, fellowships in forensic pathology allow students to gain more in-depth knowledge and practical experience.

Fellowships are often required for board certification in medical forensics, and advanced studies in toxicology, trace evidence, DNA technology, firearms, and ballistics are available to those who wish to practice.

In addition, medical examination offices at the local, state, and federal levels can set up forensic pathology specialization programs.

7. Finally, Earn Board Certification:

The American Board of Pathology (ABP) accepts applications from physicians who have completed a fellowship in forensic pathology.

You may need to be board certified if you want to work as a medicolegal examiner. Becoming a forensic pathologist requires a lot of perseverance and dedication to the job path.

Aspiring forensic pathologists can expect to spend 12 years after high school completing the rigorous academic and hands-on training required to enter this rewarding but demanding field.

Frequently Asked Questions on Forensic Pathology Schools:

What is the best major for forensic pathology?

A bachelor’s degree in pre-med, biology, or chemistry is the best first step toward a career in forensic pathology. Undergraduate elective courses in criminology or psychology are also recommended.

How can I study forensic pathology?

An M.D. or D.O. is required of all forensic pathologists after completing a bachelor’s degree in biology or a closely related field of study in a college setting. Training in anatomic, clinical, and/or forensic pathology and a one-year residency or fellowship are required for those who want to specialize in this area of medicine.

Who performs an autopsy?


What is the difference between a medical examiner and a forensic pathologist?

A medical examiner can do autopsies; they aren’t elected—they are chosen for the job. Forensic pathology tries to figure out why someone died by looking at a dead body.

Who is a Medical Examiner?

A medical examiner is a professional who investigates unattended deaths, suicides, and violent deaths, as well as deaths caused by infectious diseases and homicides. As an added service, they step in when a death happens under questionable conditions.


Becoming a forensic pathologist is a difficult but ultimately rewarding journey. It will take you into the most insidious and darkest corners of the human psyche.

What causes people to take their own lives? What causes them to die? When did they die, and what did they do to cause their death?

Going down this road is that you have plenty of time to change your mind if you so desire.

Because you are obtaining an MD, you will be able to change specializations later on if you discover that working with corpses all day is not for you.

Forensic pathology is an extremely interesting field.

If you’re not bothered by its morbidity, this might be your path. But, please, don’t become involved in this because you’ve seen a coroner “at work” on a television show or anything.

This is a heavily romanticized portrayal of the work where nasty facts are left out to make the visuals more appealing to the general audience.

Awesome one; I hope this article answers your question.

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