One of the best forensic psychology degrees will prepare you for the best careers and doctoral programs in the country.
Are you ready to advance in your forensic psychology education? Perhaps you’ve completed your undergraduate degree already, and now there are only a couple of steps left before you can become a forensic psychologist. If you’re looking forward to a graduate degree, and you would prefer completing a program online, consider the 10 Best Online Master’s in Forensic Psychology.
If you’ve already completed an undergraduate program in forensic psychology, you’re probably familiar with the field. But if you’re not, we’ll tell you a bit about it. Forensic psychology concerns itself with the psychological aspect of the legal sector. Was the suspect of a crime under a guilty mind—mens rea—or were they under impaired judgment? Are the witnesses legally sane? These are some questions that forensic psychologists ask and answer.
In this post, we’ll teach you about the contents of master’s programs, potential careers for graduates, the salary ranges of forensic psychologists, and the ten best online programs in the field.
What Is a Forensic Psychology Degree?
Forensic psychology degrees focus on the legal and psychological aspects of the profession. Students in master’s in forensic psychology programs learn about the foundations, ethics, theories, and practices on the field. Not every master’s program exclusively focuses on forensic psychology: Many focus on criminal justice and general psychology as well.
Note that master’s degrees aren’t technically required. To practice forensic psychology, you must obtain a Ph.D. or Psy.D. in the field. And to gain admission to Ph.D. and Psy.D. programs, you only need to have finished an undergraduate degree in a related field. But while the degree isn’t required, it can be helpful for three reasons: It gives you additional knowledge, career opportunities adjacent to forensic psychology, and a good placement to gain admission in doctoral programs.
Admission requirements for graduate programs vary. Typically, graduate programs require applying students to have an undergraduate degree in a related field, resume, purpose statement, two or more letters of recommendation, and other application forms. Some require GRE forms and a 3.0 GPA or higher GPA; others do not.
Careers for Forensic Psychology Majors
If you wish to attend a forensic psychology program, it’s likely that you want to become a forensic psychologist. And as we’ve said, you must obtain a Ph.D. or Psy.D. to gain access to the field. Beyond the Ph.D. and Psy.D. requirement, aspiring forensic psychologists must also complete an internship and professional experience that can last anywhere between two and four years.
Forensic psychologists work in courts, hospitals, prisons, jails, juvenile detention centers, offices, and more. The field is growing, and it’s one of the most stable fields because it complements institutions that are as old as the country.
Other potential professions for forensic psychology majors are as forensic psychology assistants, case workers, counseling psychologists, and more. Some of these careers are accessible with only a master’s or bachelor’s in the field; others require more schooling and field training.
Forensic Psychology Salary Potential
Unfortunately, the Bureau of Labor Statistics doesn’t report specifically on forensic psychologists. It does say that general psychologists earn an average of $86,510; some make more and others make less. Thankfully, PayScale provides more detailed information on forensic psychologists. Note that the data comes from a significantly smaller sample size than BLS-compiled data, so the information may be slightly flawed.
According to PayScale, forensic psychologists earn an average of $69,514 per year. The highest-earning 10% of forensic psychologists earn $90,000 or greater per year, while the lowest-earning 10% make under $39,000. Like most professions, the biggest determinants of your salary is your level of education, years of experience in the field, workplace, and negotiation skills.
Forensic psychologists usually report a high level of job satisfaction. According to PayScale, forensic psychologists report a 94% satisfaction rating in their career. That’s an excellent rating. The job can be stressful and demanding, but it’s rewarding and vital to the legal and psychologist professions.
What Are the Best Forensic Psychology Degrees?
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Average Net Price
With ultimate affordability, excellent programs, and a laundry list of accomplished faculty members, it’s no surprise that Liberty University’s Master of Science in criminal justice with a concentration in forensic psychology is #1 on this list. While forensic psychology is a concentration rather than the core of this program, students still receive a fantastic education that outdoes any online master’s program.
Some courses that students in this program take are Fundamentals of Forensic Psychology, Psychology and the Legal System, Crisis Intervention in Law Enforcement, and Rehabilitation and Reintegration of the Offender. While these courses will introduce you to essential forensic psychology topics, it will also orient you to the criminal justice issues that you need to become familiar with as a forensic psychologist.
To gain admission to this program, students must submit official college transcripts, the application fee, the online application, proof of English proficiency, and a regionally or nationally accredited bachelor’s degree with a 3.0 or above GPA.
Southern New Hampshire University
Manchester, New Hampshire
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If you’ve researched online programs in any subject, Southern New Hampshire University probably needs no introduction. It is one of the foremost online-focused universities on the planet, with dozens of programs that are each excellent, flexible, and affordable. Southern New Hampshire University offers a fantastic Master of Science in psychology with a concentration in forensic psychology.
Some core classes in this program are Psychology in the Courtroom, Forensic Psychology, Assessment for Forensic Psychology, and Intersection of Law and Psychology. These classes teach students about the foundations and fundamentals of forensic psychology, the ethics of the field, and how psychologists play a vital role in the legal system.
Southern New Hampshire University charges $627 per credit for the 36-credit program, which is reasonable for a master’s program. The university doesn’t require applying students to submit GRE or GMAT scores, but you may submit them if you believe they would strengthen your profile. Notably, admitted SNHU students can transfer up to twelve credits to the program.
Nova Southeastern University
Average Net Price
As the first dedicated Master of Science in forensic psychology program on this list, Nova Southeastern University stands out as a focused, high-quality, and affordable program. Students in this 36-credit program learn about psychology, the legal system, and how the two intersect. Students in this program are either professionals who want to advance in their field or interested students who want to learn more about forensic psychology before gaining a Ph.D. or Psy.D.
Some courses in this program are Psychological Issues in Dependency and Family Law Cases, Assessment of Psychological Injury for Legal Cases, Therapeutic Jurisprudence and Problem-Solving Courts, and Behavioral Criminology. Each class will teach you essential information regarding the field and place you one step closer to becoming a successful forensic psychologist.
At $815 per credit hour, Nova Southeastern University isn’t the most affordable university on this list. It is, however, one of the best. There are only a few other programs that have a sole focus on forensic psychology, and NSU is the best of these programs.
University of California-Irvine
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The University of California Irvine is perhaps the most reputable university on this list. It’s also one of the most selective and demanding schools. Students here take competitive classes, learn from highly regarded faculty members, and earn a name that looks good on any resume. If you feel up to the challenge, consider the University of California Irvine’s online Master of Legal and Forensic Psychology program.
This program takes students one year to complete. And while it’s an online program, the University of California Irvine requires each student to attend a one-week introductory course on the campus. While the trip may sound like a hassle, know that you’ll be near some of the best beaches and nightlife in Southern California during this short trip.
Interested in joining this reputable program? To gain admission, students must have a 3.0 or higher GPA in undergraduate coursework, official transcripts, three letters of recommendation, a purpose statement, a history statement, and an updated professional resume that highlights relevant experience in the field.
Oklahoma State University-Main Campus
Average Net Price
Would you like to attend a fantastic program that focuses on research and immersion in the field? If so, consider Oklahoma State University’s Master of Science in forensic sciences with an emphasis in forensic psychology. There is one catch to this program: Students are often required to take on-campus laboratory classes during the second year of the program. That means the program isn’t 100% online, but if you’re willing to spare some online learning for on-campus immersion, you won’t regret your choice to attend OSU.
Some notable courses in this program are Survey of Forensic Sciences, Questioned Document Examination, Technical Aspects of Forensic Document Examination, Ethical Research and Scientific Writing, and Theory and Practice of Forensic Handwriting Examination. These courses are demanding, but they’re some of the most rewarding classes you can take.
To graduate from this program, students must complete 39 credits with a 3.0 GPA in seven years or fewer. Students must also complete a thesis or capstone project, participate in graduate seminars, and pass the capstone exam.
Saint Leo University
St. Leo, Florida
Average Net Price
Saint Leo University offers a fantastic online Master of Science program in criminal justice with a concentration in forensic science. This program isn’t as focused on forensic psychology as others on this list. Instead, it focuses on preparing students to become leaders, administrators, and supervisors in law enforcement. If you’re unsure about a future in forensic psychology but you know you want a place in law enforcement, consider this degree.
Some classes in this program are Public Policy Making in Criminal Justice, Ethical Issues in Criminal Justice Administration, Introduction to Forensic Management, Advanced Forensic Science, and Leadership Applications in Criminal Justice. Students also choose two electives from a list of over thirty, allowing them to become experts in niche subjects.
The 36-credit program takes most students two years to complete. Saint Leo University graduates have become criminal justice practitioners, federal law enforcement officers, state and local law enforcement officers, loss prevention investigators, and more. Note that you can go onto a Ph.D. or Psy.D. program in forensic psychology, but these classes won’t prepare you for the psychology side of the curriculum.
Arizona State University-Skysong
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Arizona State University probably needs no introduction. It’s one of the largest schools in the world, and the school has promoted distance learning since online classes came into existence. And with one of the only Master of Science in forensic psychology programs in America, there’s very little not to like about the program. The program format is simple: eleven classes, 7.5 weeks per class, and 33 credits to graduate.
Some courses in this program are Psychopsychology, Advanced Correctional Psychology, Advanced Legal Psychology, Quantitative Analysis, and Seminar in Criminal Justice. Between the statistics and methods, criminal justice, and psychology classes, students become knowledgeable in all things forensic psychology. And they become ready to join the best doctoral programs in the field.
To join this program, applicants must have a 3.0 or higher GPA in the last 60 credits in their undergraduate degree or a 3.0 or higher GPA from a master’s program. Additionally, students must provide official transcripts, three letters of recommendation, and the application fee. International students must also provide proof of English proficiency.
Grand Canyon University
Average Net Price
Why do people commit crimes? What is psychology’s role in the legal system? These are some of the many topics you’ll examine in Grand Canyon University’s Master of Science in psychology with an emphasis in forensic psychology program. This program is available online or on-campus; students can also enroll in a hybrid format if they wish. Notably, students may also transfer up to twelve credits to this program.
Some classes that Grand Canyon University students take are Psychopathology of Crime, Theories of Criminal Behavior, Psychology and the Legal System, and Offender Rehabilitation and Reintegration. Through these classes and the research that students undergo, attendees learn about the biological, genetic, neurochemical, cognitive and sociological elements of why people commit crimes.
Students in this program have gone on to become victim advocates, court liaisons, police consultants, and jury consultants in courtrooms, police departments, law firms, public agencies, rehabilitation centers, and more.
University of Houston-Victoria
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The University of Houston-Victoria offers an outstanding Master of Arts in forensic psychology programs. The university has relatively strict requirements: Students must have taken statistics, research methods, and abnormal psychology courses to gain entrance to this program. They should also have some completed coursework in forensic psychology. Besides that, applying students must provide at least one letter of recommendation, a personal statement, official transcripts, and an interview with a faculty member.
Some notable classes in this program are Vocational Psychology and Career Counseling, Intellectual Assessment, Techniques of Psychotherapy, Group Psychotherapy, and Addictions Counseling. Students must also complete the nine-credit Practicum in Forensic Psychology.
Students begin school every Fall semester. To join this program, then, students must submit their application prior to the February 15th deadline. Note that this program specifically meets the requirements for Texas licensure. While it meets most other states’ requirements, you should check before enrolling in the school.
University of Louisiana at Monroe
Average Net Price
Do you want to become a psychologist, and you’re pretty sure you want to practice forensic psychology but you’d rather leave other options open? If so, consider the University of Louisiana at Monroe’s Master of Science in psychology with a forensic track.
Some notable courses in this program are Intelligence Testing, Psychological Assessment, Counseling in Criminal Justice, Sociology of Law, and Proseminar in Criminal Justice. These are the courses in the Forensic Track. Besides that, students take general psychology courses that focus on theory, foundation, and practice.
To gain admission to the University of Louisiana at Monroe’s esteemed program, students must meet two of the three following requirements, per the school’s website: “A minimum cumulative grade-point average of 2.75; and/or a minimum combined score of 900 on the GRE General Test (Verbal plus Quantitative); and/or a total of at least 1900 points based upon the formula—400 times the overall undergraduate grade-point average plus the GRE General Test score (Verbal plus Quantitative).”
If you’re interested in pursuing higher education, then you should check out The Top 10 Online Masters in Counseling Degree Programs and The 20 Best Online Psychology Degree Programs!