Students earn an online master's in forensic psychology to advance above entry-level positions in criminal justice. This advanced degree also lets students build their skills in specialized areas of forensic science to pursue a Ph.D. in forensic psychology. Read further to learn more about online master's of forensic psychology concentrations, common courses, frequently asked questions, and career paths for graduates.

What Are the Best Forensic Psychology Programs of 2020? Here Are Our Top 10:

Rank School Location
1 The Chicago School of Professional Psychology at Los Angeles Los Angeles, CA
2 University of California, Irvine Irvine, CA
3 Arizona State University - Skysong Scottsdale, AZ
4 Nova Southeastern University Fort Lauderdale, FL
5 Saint Leo University Saint Leo, FL
6 University of Houston - Victoria Victoria, TX
7 Oklahoma State University Stillwater, OK
8 Liberty University Lynchburg, VA
9 University of Louisiana - Monroe Monroe, LA
10 Southern New Hampshire University Manchester, NH

Students can become mental health counselors after earning an online forensic psychology degree. The Bureau of Labor Statistics projects jobs as mental health counselors to grow by 14% from 2018-28. To work as a mental health counselor generally requires that students earn a master's degree and complete an internship. However, some employers may accept only a bachelor's degree. As of May 2018, the top 10% of mental health counselors earned more than $129,250 a year.

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2020 Best Accredited Online Master's in Forensic Psychology Programs

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1

The Chicago School of Professional Psychology at Los Angeles

Los Angeles, CA Cost: $$$$$

Though based in Los Angeles, the Chicago School serves students around the country, offering a fully online master's in forensic psychology. The curriculum prepares graduates to pursue a variety of positions in corrections, law enforcement, and social service agencies, but does not lead to professional licensure.

Coursework occurs entirely online in a primarily asynchronous format with no set login times. However, students may need to complete occasional synchronous sessions, which typically last just 1-2 hours each term. The program offers both full-time and part-time enrollment options and takes 2-4 years to complete, depending on course load.

Applicants to the program must fulfill an undergraduate prerequisite in either research methods or statistics. Students with relevant professional experience may request to waive this requirement.


Program Overview

Program Name: Master of Arts in Forensic Psychology
School Status: Private
Tuition: $1,198/credit
Credit Requirements: 37 credits
Program Length: 2-4 years

Delivery

Format: 100% online
Instruction Style: Synchronous and asynchronous

Admission Requirements

GPA: 3.0 recommended

Contact

Phone: (800)721-8072
Email: admissions@thechicagoschool.edu
Social Media Accounts: Facebook; Twitter

2

University of California, Irvine

Irvine, CA Cost: $$$$$ Graduation Rate: 83%

Offered through UCI's Department of Psychological Science and Department of Criminology, Law and Society, this online master of legal and forensic psychology explores the intersection of psychological principles and legal processes.

The program curriculum comprises 52 credits and takes most students two years to complete. Learners take classes covering quantitative methods, forensic research, and other topics. Instead of writing a thesis, all degree candidates complete a capstone research project related to legal and forensic psychology.

While most coursework occurs online, all students must attend a mandatory campus residency session at the beginning of the program. This five-day, four-credit introductory course serves as both an orientation to the program and an introduction to major concepts in legal and forensic psychology.


Program Overview

Program Name: Master of Legal and Forensic Psychology
School Status: Public
Tuition: $4,823/semester
Credit Requirements: 52 credits
Program Length: 2 years

Delivery

Format: Online with one required campus residency
Instruction Style: Synchronous and asynchronous

Admission Requirements

GPA: 3.0 minimum

Contact

Phone: (949) 824-4611
Email: seambassador@uci.edu
Social Media Accounts: Facebook; Twitter

3

Arizona State University - Skysong

Scottsdale, AZ Cost: $$$$$ Graduation Rate: 48%

With a psychology program ranked highly by U.S. News & World Report, ASU offers an online master's in forensic psychology that explores the intersection of mental health, human behavior, and the legal and criminal justice systems.

The 33-credit program highlights the varied roles psychologists play in the legal system and prepares graduates for positions in the mental health and criminal justice fields. Courses focus on core psychology concepts, the criminal justice system, statistics and methods, and psychology electives. All candidates also must complete a culminating capstone project.

Program applicants should hold an undergraduate degree in psychology, social sciences, criminal justice, or another closely related field. Applicants should note that this program does not lead to licensure for clinical practice.


Program Overview

Program Name: Master of Science in Forensic Psychology
School Status: Public
Tuition: $11,584/semester
Credit Requirements: 33 credits
Program Length: 2 years

Delivery

Format: 100% online
Instruction Style: Synchronous and asynchronous

Admission Requirements

GPA: 3.0 minimum
Standardized Tests: GRE recommended for applicants with GPA below 3.3

Contact

Phone: (602) 543-3000
Email: NCGradOnline@asu.edu
Social Media Accounts: Facebook; Twitter

4

Nova Southeastern University

Fort Lauderdale, FL Cost: $$$$$ Graduation Rate: 50%

A private college located in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, NSU hosts one of the region's top online master's in forensic psychology degrees. The program's fully online delivery mode and nonclinical curriculum are ideal for working students and those who live in more rural areas.

The 36-credit degree includes 24 credits of core courses, nine credits of specialization courses, and a three-credit culminating experience. Candidates choose from two specialization options: forensic psychology in the legal system or forensic psychology for mental health workers, first responders, and disaster teams.

Degree candidates can fulfill the culminating experience requirement through either fieldwork or a thesis. The fieldwork pathway typically serves students looking to enter the workforce upon graduation, while the thesis pathway serves those planning to pursue a doctorate.


Program Overview

Program Name: Master of Science in Forensic Psychology
School Status: Private
Available Concentrations: Forensic psychology in the legal system, forensic psychology for mental health workers, first responders, and disaster teams
Tuition: $790/credit
Credit Requirements: 36 credits
Program Length: 2 years

Delivery

Format: 100% online
Instruction Style: Synchronous and asynchronous

Admission Requirements

GPA: 3.0 recommended
Standardized Tests: GRE optional

Contact

Phone: (954) 262-7563
Email: gradschool@nova.edu
Social Media Accounts: Facebook; Twitter

5

Saint Leo University

Saint Leo, FL Cost: $$$$$ Graduation Rate: 51%

A Roman Catholic college based in Florida, Saint Leo hosts an exclusively online master of science in psychology with a concentration in forensic psychology. The nonclinical program is geared to criminal justice administrators, first responders, and other professionals who are not planning to pursue professional licensure.

Candidates complete a minimum of 36 credits, divided among an 18-credit psychology core, a 12-credit forensic psychology concentration, and a six-credit elective section. The program core covers topics in criminal justice administration, public policy, and leadership, while the concentration section explores forensic interviews, psychopathology, and courtroom psychology.

Saint Leo's online master's in forensic psychology uses a cohort format in which candidates complete courses in a cohesive group of no more than 15 students. Moving through the curriculum in a set sequence, online learners complete one course during each eight-week academic term.


Program Overview

Program Name: Master of Science in Psychology with a Concentration in Forensic Psychology
School Status: Private
Tuition: $670/credit
Credit Requirements: 36 credits
Program Length: 2 years

Delivery

Format: 100% online
Instruction Style: Synchronous and asynchronous

Admission Requirements

GPA: 3.0 recommended
Standardized Tests: GRE required for applicants with GPA under 3.0

Contact

Phone: (877) 622-2009
Email: grad.admissions@saintleo.edu
Social Media Accounts: Facebook; Twitter

6

University of Houston - Victoria

Victoria, TX Cost: $$$$$ Graduation Rate: 19%

Located approximately 130 miles southwest of Houston, UHV offers an online master of arts in forensic psychology that prepares graduates to serve as licensed mental health professionals. Most students complete the program in about two years.

This online master's in forensic psychology comprises 63 credits, divided among 21 core, 33 forensic specialization, and nine practicum credits. The forensic specialization covers key topics, including psychotherapy, personality assessment, addiction counseling, and crisis intervention.

The practicum forms a major component of the program curriculum and provides students with the opportunity to gain hands-on experience in a relevant professional environment, such as a criminal justice agency or counseling center. Degree candidates complete a minimum of 450 clock hours of practicum work, which typically spans three semesters.


Program Overview

Program Name: Master of Arts in Forensic Psychology
School Status: Public
Tuition: $352/credit in-state, $774/credit out-of-state
Credit Requirements: 63 credits
Program Length: 2 years

Delivery

Format: 100% online
Instruction Style: Synchronous and asynchronous

Admission Requirements

Standardized Tests: GRE

Contact

Phone: (281) 396-3712
Email: ParsonsonK@uhv.edu
Social Media Accounts: Facebook; Twitter

7

Oklahoma State University

Stillwater, OK Cost: $$$$$ Graduation Rate: 61%

One of Oklahoma's premier health science colleges, OSU hosts a primarily online master of science in forensic science with a concentration in forensic psychology. The program prepares graduates for a variety of careers with law enforcement agencies and similar organizations, but does not lead to clinical licensure.

The curriculum comprises 39 credits including a six-credit graduate thesis. Most students present and defend their thesis during the program's final semester, though forensic psychology candidates may complete a non-thesis track with faculty approval.

OSU offers both full-time and part-time enrollment options, and candidates have up to seven years to complete the degree. Most students complete the program in two years. While courses occur fully online during the first year, the second year may include some required on-campus lab courses.


Program Overview

Program Name: Master of Science in Forensic Science with a Concentration in Forensic Psychology
School Status: Public
Tuition: $230/credit in-state, $876/credit out-of-state
Credit Requirements: 39 credits
Program Length: 2-7 years

Delivery

Format: Online with some required on-campus lab sessions
Instruction Style: Synchronous and asynchronous

Admission Requirements

GPA: 3.0 minimum

Contact

Phone: (918) 561-1108
Email: forensic@okstate.edu
Social Media Accounts: Facebook

8

Liberty University

Lynchburg, VA Cost: $$$$$ Graduation Rate: 50%

A leading Christian college and top provider of distance education, Liberty offers a fully online master's in forensic psychology that requires no campus visits. The degree covers principles of social-cognitive psychology within the legal practices of the U.S. criminal justice system.

Online learners benefit from a highly flexible course format, with eight annual start dates and a fully asynchronous delivery mode with no required login times. Most students complete the degree in about 1.5 years.

Liberty offers generous support for law enforcement officers and other first responders, including a 25% tuition discount and personalized advising services. First responders may also be able to earn academic credit for professional training and other relevant work experience, enabling them to complete their degree faster and more affordably.


Program Overview

Program Name: Master of Science in Criminal Justice - Forensic Psychology
School Status: Private
Tuition: $565/credit
Credit Requirements: 36 credits
Program Length: 1.5 years

Delivery

Format: 100% online
Instruction Style: Asynchronous

Admission Requirements

GPA: 3.0 minimum

Contact

Phone: (800) 424-9595
Email: luograd@liberty.edu
Social Media Accounts: Facebook; Twitter

9

University of Louisiana - Monroe

Monroe, LA Cost: $$$$$ Graduation Rate: 44%

As the only university in Louisiana with an on-campus medical school, ULM also hosts one of the state's best master's in forensic psychology programs. The master of arts in psychology with a concentration in forensic psychology offers a fully online format and accelerated eight-week courses.

Degree candidates complete a minimum of 36 credits, including nine credits of required core courses, 27 credits of forensic psychology concentration courses, and six credits of electives. The program core covers key topics in quantitative methods, research methods, and neuropsychology, while concentration courses include psychopathology and sociology of law.

Students have several options to fulfill elective credits, including a practicum, independent research, and a graduate thesis. While all candidates have the option to complete a non-thesis track, ULM strongly encourages those planning to pursue doctoral studies to complete a six-credit thesis.


Program Overview

Program Name: Master of Arts in Psychology with a Concentration in Forensic Psychology
School Status: Public
Tuition: $500/credit
Credit Requirements: 36 credits
Program Length: 2 years

Delivery

Format: 100% online
Instruction Style: Synchronous and asynchronous

Admission Requirements

GPA: 2.75 minimum
Standardized Tests: GRE

Contact

Phone: (318) 342-3145
Email: palmer@ulm.edu
Social Media Accounts: Facebook; Twitter

10

Southern New Hampshire University

Manchester, NH Cost: $$$$$ Graduation Rate: 54%

One of the country's largest distance education providers, SNHU also hosts one of the top online master's in forensic psychology degrees. While the program does not lead to professional licensure or certification, it does prepare graduates for a variety of legal and law enforcement positions and doctoral study.

The program curriculum comprises 36 credits divided between 24 major and 12 forensic psychology concentration credits. Students typically complete two courses during each 10-week academic term, with some candidates graduating in as few as 15 months of full-time study.

Program applicants typically hold a bachelor's degree in psychology. SNHU also accepts applicants with course credits in psychology, social science statistics, and research methods. Students who lack these prerequisites may complete their credits at SNHU prior to beginning the forensic psychology curriculum.


Program Overview

Program Name: Master of Science in Psychology with a Concentration in Forensic Psychology
School Status: Private
Tuition: $627/credit
Credit Requirements: 36 credits
Program Length: 15+ months

Delivery

Format: 100% online
Instruction Style: Synchronous and asynchronous

Admission Requirements

GPA: 2.75 minimum

Contact

Phone: (888) 387-0861
Email: enroll@snhu.edu
Social Media Accounts: Facebook; Twitter

Online Master's in Forensic Psychology Program Overview

Students earning an online master's in forensic psychology learn how to apply the principles of psychology to the criminal justice and legal systems.

Students take courses in psychopathology, research methods, and quantitative analysis — all of which prepare them to work immediately after graduation. Select courses also teach students how to answer psychology-related questions in a court setting.

Graduates leave college ready to work in schools, law firms, prisons, government agencies, and police departments. They work as criminal investigators and forensic science technicians for the local, state, or federal governments. Students who want to work as forensic psychologists go on to pursue a Ph.D. in psychology and gain supervised clinical work experience.

Common Master's in Forensic Psychology Degree Courses

Adult Psychopathology

A course in adult psychopathology covers diagnoses, assessments, and contemporary treatments used for mental disorders identified in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders. Students examine current research and explore the ethical and legal issues involved in the administration of forensic psychology. They also think critically about the cultural and social impacts of evidence-based psychological interventions.

Criminal Psychological Assessment

The goal of this course is to teach students how to conduct a criminal forensic assessment. By the end of the class, students can use forensic psychological tools and models to assess and interpret a person's mental state at the time of the crime.

Forensic Evaluations

The purpose of this course is to teach students how to conduct forensic evaluations with clients in a legal setting. The goals of evaluation include making a diagnosis, determining an insanity defense and competency to stand trial, and/or making criminal sentencing suggestions. Throughout this course, students survey clinical interviewing theories.

Human Growth and Development

A class in human growth and development provides a survey of the human lifespan. Students study the normal cognitive and psychosocial developmental markers in order to identify developmental abnormalities. Students examine criminal behavior and its relationship to developmental issues from infant, adolescent, and adulthood.

Research Design and Methods

Students enrolled in a research design and methods class get an overview of how to develop research questions and create hypotheses that can withstand analysis. Coursework introduces students to the techniques research assistants and forensic psychologists use to collect data and how to conduct surveys and experiments.

Related Master's in Forensic Psychology Degree Concentrations

Abnormal Psychology in Forensic Populations

This concentration allows graduates to work as a counselor, including a licensed professional clinical counselor. It teaches students how to use forensic case studies to focus on mental disorders commonly found in the criminal justice system, including pedophilia, psychosis, and psychopathy.

Forensic Assessment

Probation officers, police consultants, and correctional counselors can benefit from a concentration in forensic assessment. Skills gained in this concentration help officials to use forensic tools to assess a client's sanity or their competency to stand trial. Classes teach students how to use a protocol to conduct assessments and how to score and evaluate them.

Intelligence Studies

A student earning a concentration in intelligence studies may take classes in counterintelligence, intelligence ethics, and intelligence analysis. This concentration helps students build analytical skills and learn how to implement methodologies to collect intelligence in a criminal justice system. After graduation, students can pursue a career as a police consultant.

Statistical Data Analysis in Psychology

Students hone their statistical data visualization techniques and data literacy in this concentration to prepare for jobs as research assistants. Courses teach students how to use regression models and interpret predictive modeling.

Mental Health Law

A concentration in mental health law prepares graduates for a career as a correctional counselor, jury consultant, or police consultant. Students enrolled in this concentration explore mental health in the criminal justice system and current reform policies. They gain a firm understanding of the legal rights of persons with mental illness.

Online Master's in Forensic Psychology Admission Requirements

  • Bachelor's Degree

    Any master's program requires applicants to complete a bachelor's degree from an accredited college. Admissions may prefer a student who earned an undergraduate degree in forensic psychology or a related field. Students with a background in unrelated majors may need to take additional courses. Enrollment advisors review a student's transcripts during the admissions process to determine eligibility.

  • Online Application

    Students need to complete an online application with their academic history and personal information to apply for an online master's in forensic psychology degree. Students typically must also pay an application fee, although in some instances, schools waive this fee.

  • Letters of Recommendation

    Graduate school applications often ask for supplemental materials, such as transcripts, resumes, and letters of recommendation. Students may need to submit up to three personal or professional letters of recommendation from former employers or professors. A student's references usually submit their letters directly to the school.

  • Personal Essay

    Online master's in forensic psychology programs may ask students to submit an essay to explain their career interests and reasons to pursue a degree in this subject. The essay may require students to write 500-1,000 words. This essay differs from a personal essay in which a student provides a personal biography.

  • GRE Test

    Every online master's in forensic psychology program asks students to meet different admission requirements. Students may need to take the GRE and submit their best scores. In some cases, schools only require GRE scores when students demonstrate lower undergraduate GPAs. Not every program requires GRE or GMAT scores.


Online Master's in Forensic Psychology Career Paths

After earning an online master's in forensic psychology students take different career paths. They work as probation officers, victim advocates, police consultants, researchers, expert witnesses, adolescent counselors, and jury consultants.

This degree allows students the career mobility to work beyond entry-level positions available to people with only a bachelor's degree. Master's graduates take on leadership roles in the courts, government agencies, prisons, and law offices.

Students can continue to advance in their careers by earning a Ph.D, which opens up careers as forensic psychology professors, criminal profilers, or licensed professional clinical counselors, a job requiring state licensure.


Related Careers

Frequently Asked Questions

What can I do with a master's degree in forensic psychology?

A master's degree in forensic psychology allows students to provide counseling assessments and evaluations, unlike graduates with only a bachelor's degree in forensic psychology. Graduates who earn an online master's in forensic psychology can also pursue a Ph.D. in forensic psychology or work as research assistants, jury consultants, or juvenile offenders counselors.

Can you be a forensic psychologist without a master's degree?

Without a Ph.D. or Psy.D., students cannot practice as a forensic psychologist. To get licensed in their respective state as forensic psychologist, students need a doctorate degree and the completion of supervised clinical hours.

How long is a master's degree in forensic psychology?

The length of an online master's in forensic psychology degree depends on the school. On average, students should expect to devote a minimum of two years toward a master's degree. However, many programs have shortened semesters or accelerated coursework that lets students graduate in 1.5 years.

How much do forensic psychologists make in the FBI?

Forensic psychologists employed by the FBI earn an annual salary of $55,000, according to PayScale. As forensic psychologists gain work experience, their salaries tend to increase. The majority of forensic psychologists at the FBI earn more than $86,000.

Do forensic psychologists go to crime scenes?

The day-to-day duties for every forensic psychologist differ depending on where they work. Most forensic psychologists do not visit crime scenes, but they do serve as witnesses and experts for criminal cases.

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