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What does an Anatomist do?

Anatomists are scientists that study the structure of living organisms. Anatomists don't limit their studies to just human beings but other species as well. Common professions are forensics, molecular development, cell biology, biological imaging, genetics, histology, neuro-science, endocrinology, microscopy, and physical anthropology. Anatomists usually work in medical centers and universities teaching or doing research.

Education and Training Requirements

You generally need an advanced degree to become an anatomist. In college you should major in premedicine, biology, chemistry, or a related field and take a variety of courses in the biological, physical, and behavioral sciences. With a bachelor's degree you may be able to get a job as a biological technician, but your opportunities for advancement will be limited. If you have a master's degree in anatomy or a related field, you may be able to get a job in teaching or applied research, or in a field such as medical publishing. You usually need a doctoral degree to get a research and teaching position at a university or medical school.

Because anatomy is a broad field, you can get your specialized training in anatomy in one of three areas biology, veterinary medicine, or medicine. Whichever area you choose, however, you are likely to spend at least eight years as a student after high school. Some anatomists get both a doctor of medicine (M.D.) degree and a doctoral (Ph.D.) degree. To keep up with new developments in anatomy and related fields, anatomists must continue to study throughout their careers.


Applicants must have a bachelor of arts degree (or equivalent), and a minimum Grade Point Average of 3.0 (B) overall (4.0 scale), and a 3.0 GPA in science courses. The Graduate Record Exam (GRE) General Test is required. Applicants with a weak science background, but an otherwise strong application, may be requested to take the GRE Advanced Biology examination.

It is recommended that applicants have a strong science background, with an undergraduate major in the biological sciences, chemistry, physics or engineering. It is recommended that the applicant already have completed courses in cell biology, developmental biology, molecular biology, general and organic chemistry, physics and calculus. Performance in these courses will be assessed as a factor in the application review process. In addition, bench research experience and a publication record in the sciences will likely have a strong positive influence on Graduate Committee deliberations. Applicants must be prepared to correct deficiencies during the first year of graduate study