One of the best master’s in forensic psychology degrees will set you up for the success you deserve.
It’ll help a lot of other people, too. Forensic psychologists are some of the most vital people in the judicial and psychology sectors. They verify witness claims, assess the mental state of suspects, and research trends that may curb crime rates. The 10 Best Master’s in Forensic Psychology programs will teach you the skills you need to know how to prosper in the field.
Forensic psychology has its roots in centuries past. The nature of the profession has changed significantly since then, with progressions in technology, psychology, and the legal fields. Now, forensic psychologists are most concerned with the psychological assessments of people involved in the legal system.
Can a suspect plead insanity? Was a person in possession of a guilty mind at the time of the crime? These are a couple of the questions that forensic psychologists ask themselves. But forensic psychologists look at other sides of the legal sector, too, such as threat assessments, child custody evaluations, and counseling services to victims of crime.
What Is a Forensic Psychology Degree?
There aren’t many forensic psychology master’s degrees in America. Why? Well, master’s degrees aren’t required for the field. Almost every employer requires forensic psychologists to have a Ph.D. or Psy.D. in the field. And to get into a Ph.D. or Psy.D. program, you only need an undergraduate degree. Thus, a master’s degree doesn’t suit any professional requirement. But that doesn’t mean it’s not useful.
Imagine arriving at a doctoral program with two more years of education experience than your competition. With your competitive advantage, you’re more likely to flourish in your program, meaning you’re more likely to find excellent jobs outside of it. Thus, while master’s programs in the field are neither required nor abundant, they are beneficial.
Some courses that students take in forensic psychology programs are Advanced Social Psychology, Criminal Profiling, and Biological Bases of Behavior. To gain admission to a graduate forensic psychology program, you should have an undergraduate degree, letters of recommendation, and a proven dedication to the field. Some but not all graduate schools ask for GRE or GMAT scores, personal essays, and a professional resume.
Careers for Forensic Psychology Majors
Most forensic psychology majors seek careers as forensic psychologists. Forensic psychologists are usually employed by public services, but some work in the private sphere. Some common employers for forensic psychologists are courthouses, law firms, police stations, juvenile detention centers, prisons, and jails.
As we’ve said, most forensic psychologists must have a Ph.D. or Psy.D. in the field. This requirement is consistent for all psychologists, and forensic psychology is no exception. After all, would you want a person with limited schooling and experience deciding whether a serial killer can make an insanity plea? Probably not.
The path to becoming a forensic psychologist is long. And if you’re adding a master’s degree, it’s even longer. But know that your efforts will be rewarded handsomely. Forensic psychology is a high-paying field, especially for those who accumulate experience and express their dedication to the profession. We advise you not to let the years of schooling deter you: Once you get to the finish line, you’ll acknowledge the inherent benefits of the path you took to get there.
Forensic Psychology Salary Potential
By this point, you know that forensic psychology is a fascinating field. You also know that it requires a lot of schooling, and you’re probably wondering whether it’s worth it. And one of the best metrics for this calculation is salary. So does the salary measure up to the educational investment?
We’ll let you decide that. The Bureau of Labor Statistics provides no specific statistics for forensic psychology, so we are using statistics from PayScale, a crowdsources website. The average forensic psychologist earns $69,514 per year. That’s more than most professions in the United States. Your salary will be lower when you enter the field; it will be much higher as you gain experience, skills, and a reputation as an excellent forensic psychologist.
The top 10% of forensic psychologists make $102,000 or more per year. The bottom 10% of forensic psychologists earn $39,000 or less per year, but some of these people only work part-time.
What Are the Best Forensic Psychology Degrees?
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California Baptist University
Average Net Price
California Baptist University offers one of the few dedicated Master of Arts in forensic psychology programs in the country. And it’s very, very good. Students benefit from excellent faculty members, fascinating courses, and relatively affordable tuition, considering the quality of this program. Most students complete this 57-credit program in two years.
Throughout the two-year program, students take fascinating courses, such as Advanced Psychopathology and Criminality, Criminal Profiling, Qualitative Forensic Research Methods, Advanced Criminal Law, and Advanced Social Psychology. Students also enroll in a three-part, nine-month forensic practicum. In this practicum, students receive practical experience in the field and gain skills they’ll use for the rest of their lives.
Students in this program choose between writing a thesis or taking a seven-hour comprehensive exam. California Baptist University encourages students to write a thesis paper: The research students do on their thesis will reflect and inform them in their later experience in postgraduate school and the field.
California State University-Los Angeles
Los Angeles, California
Average Net Price
California State Los Angeles is an excellent school. Being a public school, tuition rates are quite affordable, especially for in-state students. The school’s Master of Science in forensic psychology is the best program offered by a public university in the country. It focuses on coursework and a nine-month practicum in which students gain experience observing and practicing the profession.
Some notable courses in this program are Principles of Research, Seminar: Abnormal Psychology, Analysis of Variance, Advanced Statistical Methods, and Seminar: Developmental Psychology. All graduate students in this program must write a thesis based on original research.
Are you interested in joining the ranks of one of the best graduate forensic psychology programs in the world? Applying students must submit an online application, a one-to-three-page statement of career goals, three letters of recommendation, unofficial transcripts from all universities attended, and GRE scores. Note that the GRE isn’t required—students may submit it, though, if they think it will strengthen their application.
CUNY John Jay College of Criminal Justice
New York City, New York
Average Net Price
The John Jay College of Criminal Justice is one of the most notable aspects of the City University of New York system. Graduates from this school have become leaders in all things criminal justice, from law enforcement to administration to forensic psychology. The John Jay College of Criminal Justice offers the best Master of Arts in forensic psychology in the Eastern United States.
The program puts a significant emphasis on the intersection of social identity and peoples’ understanding of psychopathology. Some notable courses in this program are Intermediate Statistics in the Social Sciences, Clinical Interviewing and Assessment, Objective Personality Assessment, and Social Science Evidence in Court.
Students must write a master’s thesis to graduate from the program. Each student’s thesis must demonstrate their ability to synthesize scholarly material, critically analyze literature, contribute to the field, design a project with sound methodology, and demonstrate their aptitude for professional writing.
Holy Names University
Average Net Price
Some programs focus on the theoretical foundations and practices of forensic psychology. Holy Names University is one of these schools, but it also puts a special focus on the intersection of psychology, law, and social justice. Students here learn not just about crime, but why crime happens and how systemic issues directly affect crime rates in the country. If you’re interested in the social justice side of the field, consider Holy Names University’s Master of Arts in forensic psychology program.
Some of the many notable courses that Holy Names University offers are Foundations of Counseling: Models and Skills, Forensic Psychology and the Law, and Psychology of Criminal Behavior. These courses focus on your role as a forensic psychologist and the background to the work you do.
Students who want to go above and beyond should consider the school’s dual Master’s of Arts in counseling and forensic psychology. This program is ideal for those who want to practice both professions and people who are torn between the two.
Roger Williams University
Bristol, Rhode Island
Average Net Price
Roger Williams University acknowledges that most of its students will continue onto doctoral degrees in forensic psychology and other psychology fields, and the school aims to prepare students for those programs and life beyond. If you want to attend a program that emphasizes academic achievement and education, consider Roger Williams University’s Master of Arts in forensic psychology.
This forensic psychology program is 45 credits, and most students take two years to graduate. Students take around a dozen courses, complete a research practicum or directed research project, and write a thesis. Some classes students take are Assessment in Criminal Law, Adult Psychopathology, Multicultural Competence in Psychological Practice, and Assessment in Criminal Law.
Are you ready to apply to Roger Williams University? Let’s make sure you have the requirements. Students must submit official transcripts, a statement of purpose, GRE scores, three letters of recommendation, and a completed application form to be considered for admittance.
University of North Dakota
Grand Forks, North Dakota
Average Net Price
Forensic psychology is a complicated field. Sitting at the intersection of psychology and the legal system, gaining a full understanding of the field is challenging. But the University of North Dakota’s Master of Science in forensic psychology program does an excellent job of distilling the vital pieces of the puzzle. The program emphasizes psychological foundations, forensic-relevant knowledge, an understanding of our legal system, and the soft skills that forensic psychologists need to prosper.
Students at the University of North Dakota take excellent classes like Behavior Pathology, Forensic Assessment, Cognitive Psychology, Advanced Social Psychology, and Psychology and Law. These courses will give you the foundations you need to prosper in postgraduate school and beyond.
Graduates from the University of North Dakota have become successful forensic psychologists, working in places like prisons, social service agencies, probation services, hospitals, and addiction services. Others have become acclaimed researchers, administrators, law enforcers, and educators in the field.
University of New Haven
West Haven, Connecticut
Average Net Price
Are you at least as focused on criminal justice as forensic psychology? Perhaps you want to become a police detective, an investigator, or simply a police officer with an understanding of forensic psychology. If so, consider the University of New Haven’s Master of Science in criminal justice program with an emphasis on forensic psychology. Students in this program have become successful police officers, administrators, and forensic psychologists working for public and private organizations.
Some notable courses that students in this program take are Research Methods in Criminal Justice, Theories of Criminal Behavior, Mental Health Law, Forensic Assessment, and Abnormal Psychology in Forensic Populations. These classes will equally prepare you for a future in forensic psychology and law enforcement.
To gain admission to this program, students must have a bachelor’s degree from an accredited institution. If students don’t have an academic background in criminal justice, they may have to take one additional class. Additionally, students must submit GRE scores, letters of recommendation, transcripts, and the online application.
Fairleigh Dickinson University
Teaneck, New Jersey
Average Net Price
Are you a high school student or somebody who hasn’t yet started undergraduate school? Or perhaps you have started, but you realize the program you’re in doesn’t suit your needs? If so, you might be in luck. Fairleigh Dickinson University offers an excellent dual Bachelor of Arts and Master of Arts program in forensic psychology. This six-year program is long and challenging, but it rewards students well.
Students take courses like Experimental Psychology, Juvenile Justice and Delinquency, Theories of Personality, Social Psychological Applications, Criminal Practice in Forensic Contexts, and Ethical Issues in Forensic Practice. There is a clear line between the program’s undergraduate and graduate components. Students in the graduate school must also complete an externship in the field.
This program is highly selective. If you’re applying straight from high school, you must have a high school GPA of 3.5 or higher. Additionally, you must submit official transcripts, two letters of recommendation, and a personal statement expressing your academic and professional goals.
Average Net Price
Do organizations like the CIA, NSA, U.S. Department of Justice, and FBI sound like ideal employers to you? Or are they organizations you otherwise greatly respect? Marymount University’s Master of Arts program in forensic and legal psychology allows students to intern with these organizations, visit their campuses and attend lectures by the leaders of these organizations.
Some notable courses in this program are Psychology of Criminal Behavior, Wrongful Convictions: Case Analysis, Issues in the American Legal System, Psychology of Law Enforcement, and Victims of Interpersonal Violence. Students also complete a project and internship in this graduate program, which requires meticulous research and experience in the field.
To gain admission to this program, students must first submit a professional resume, official transcripts, the online graduate application, GRE scores, two letters of recommendation, and a personal statement. Marymount University is selective in its admissions, but with excellent academic and professional experience, there’s a good chance the university will invite you to be a student.
University of Denver
Average Net Price
The University of Denver is one of the better private liberal arts universities in the nation. It’s by no means the most affordable option on this list, but the small class sizes, excellent academics, and experienced faculty members make up for the cost. If you don’t mind paying a pretty penny for a fantastic education, consider the University of Denver’s Master of Arts in forensic psychology program.
Some courses students in this program take are Psychology, Public Policy, and Advocacy; Psychopathology, Evaluation and Treatment of the Adult Offender; and Criminal Evaluations. These classes offer students insight into the foundational theories of the field and the practices that forensic psychologists use every day.
To gain admission to this program, students must have a bachelor’s from a regionally accredited college with a 2.5 or higher GPA. Additionally, applying students must provide letters of recommendation, meet the prerequisite requirement of the program, and complete the online application.