Best Online Master’s in Forensic Psychology Programs of 2021

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Forensic psychology uses scientific principles to combine criminal justice, law, and psychology. With an online master's in forensic psychology, graduates can assist judges, attorneys, and other legal professionals in using evidence-based and ethical decision-making in social services and criminal justice matters. Typical duties include testifying in court, assisting with criminal investigations, and evaluating offenders.

A master's degree can prepare graduates for advanced, nonclinical occupations in criminal justice or social work. A two-year master's in forensic psychology can also provide a stepping stone to earning a license in clinical psychology, which requires a doctorate.

What Are the Best Online Master's in Forensic Psychology Programs of 2021? Here Are Our Top 10:

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2021 Best Accredited Online Master's in Forensic Psychology Programs

University of Louisiana at Monroe View School Profile Monroe, LA

ULM offers an online master's in psychology degree with a concentration in forensic psychology. The program delivers all coursework asynchronously and does not include any in-person requirements. The curriculum comprises 36 credits and includes required courses, such as psychopathology and advanced theories of crime and delinquency.

Applicants must have already completed nine undergraduate credits in psychology and a three-credit statistics course. Students may complete these prerequisites while enrolled in the master's program. The program does not require a thesis or capstone project to graduate.

Arizona State University-Skysong View School Profile Scottsdale, AZ

A global university, ASU consistently earns recognition for innovation and research. ASU's online master's in forensic psychology program prepares graduates to enter the field or continue on to pursue a doctoral degree.

Students must complete 33 credits, or 11 courses, to graduate. Required courses cover topics, such as legal psychology, criminal justice issues, and mental disorders. All students complete a seminar class in criminal justice and an advanced correctional psychology class.

ASU's forensic psychology program offers a variety of electives so learners can study specialized areas in more depth. The degree culminates with a final capstone project that blends academic research and written exams. All ASU distance learners can access online tutoring services.

ASU is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.

Southern New Hampshire University View School Profile Manchester, NH

Based in Manchester, New Hampshire, SNHU offers a competitive master's in forensic psychology degree. Requiring 36 credits, this flexible program allows students to apply year-round and start their degree in the spring or summer semesters. Incoming students can transfer up to 12 credits from other graduate programs.

SNHU's online master's in forensic psychology degree delivers all coursework asynchronously. The degree includes several experiential components in the field. Students can access a writing center, online tutoring, and supportive academic advisors.

All students in the program can join an online psychology club where they can make connections with alumni and other students. Nearly 100% of SNHU's graduates and current students highly recommend the university.

SNHU is regionally accredited by the New England Commission of Higher Education.

Nova Southeastern University View School Profile Fort Lauderdale, FL

Students who enroll in NSU's online master's in forensic psychology program choose between two concentrations: forensic psychology for mental health workers, first responders, and disaster teams and forensic psychology in the legal system. Program graduates gain employment in law firms, social services agencies, and national security.

Both concentrations comprise 36 credits and do not require a clinical experience. The degree culminates with a capstone course in which learners can either complete a research-based thesis or participate in a field experience. Prospective students may apply three times per year and can start the program in the fall, spring, or summer semesters.

NSU is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.

Saint Leo University View School Profile Saint Leo, FL

Located near Tampa, Florida, Saint Leo is a Catholic liberal arts college that operates multiple campuses, including several on military bases. As such, Saint Leo is ranked among the nation's most military-friendly colleges.

The university has offered an online master's in forensic psychology for nearly 30 years. The program focuses on hands-on, practical, and interactive coursework. All students must complete 36 credits to graduate. Learners take five core classes, four forensic psychology courses, and two electives. Course topics include terrorism in Israel and hostage negotiations.

Prospective students may be able to transfer previous graduate-level courses. Saint Leo also considers applicable military training and field experience as transfer credits.

Saint Leo is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.

What Can I Expect From an Online Master's in Forensic Psychology Program?

Prospective students with compassion, attention to detail, good communication skills, and critical thinking might find forensic psychology a suitable profession. The ability to maintain objectivity also serves forensic psychology specialists well.

Coursework in forensic psychology typically includes advanced psychology and quantitative research methods. Students acquire knowledge of criminal law, mental health, legal and psychological ethics, and human behavior.

Most two-year online master's in forensic psychology programs require a minimum of 36 credits. Students pursuing a master's in forensic psychology can often select a concentration that can help them refine their job search and career path. Common options include applied clinical psychology, criminal justice, intelligence studies, legal studies, and mental health law.

Because the forensic psychology field continually expands, successful practitioners generally seek continuing education to refine their skills and learn new techniques. Professionals in specific concentrations can also seek certification or licensure. For example, some forensic psychologists who work in clinical settings need a license to practice.

Students can pursue different degrees within the field. For example, a master of arts prepares students more for psychological profiling and counseling, whereas a master of science emphasizes research, analysis, and other scientific subjects. Both degrees adequately prepare professionals for work in this field.

Admission Requirements for Online Master's in Forensic Psychology Programs

Applicants to a master's in forensic psychology program typically must hold a bachelor's degree in psychology or a related field. In addition, prospective students usually need a GPA of 2.75-3.0; although, applicants with lower GPAs might qualify for conditional admission. Some programs require prerequisite courses, such as research methods, introduction to psychology, and statistics.

Additional requirements often include GRE scores, especially from prospective students with lower undergraduate GPAs. Applicants should also submit letters of recommendation from professors, employers, or mentors. Most programs also require a personal essay of at least 500 words.

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What Courses Will I Take in an Online Master's in Forensic Psychology Program?

Crime, Psychology, and the Law

This course exposes students to the fundamentals of forensic psychology and various subfields. Covered topics include correctional psychology, criminal court proceedings, and criminal profiling. Students also learn about the legal and ethical issues that accompany working with offenders and criminal suspects.

Forensic Evaluations

This course teaches students how to conduct forensic assessments in legal contexts. Learners acquire knowledge of clinical interviewing theory. They also learn the process and goals of forensic evaluation, including diagnosis, assessing competency to stand trial, judging the merits of an insanity defense, and making sentencing recommendations.

Adult Psychopathology

Psychopathology involves the study of mental and behavioral disorders. The course covers diagnosing mental illness and developing appropriate treatment. Students learn about practicing clinical psychology and conducting forensic evaluations, including determining the competency of a person to stand trial in criminal court.

Sex Offender Behavior

Students learn about the issues inherent in working with sex offenders. This course covers risk assessment, diagnosis, treatment, legal implications, prevention, and other aspects that help practitioners understand the sex offender population.

Violence and Risk Assessment

Professionals working with sex offenders, violent criminals, and residents of correctional facilities typically benefit from this course. Students learn to determine an offender's likelihood of re-offending and level of risk to society. They also learn how to provide recommendations during court proceedings, identify approaches that reduce risky behavior, and use appropriate assessment tools.

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What Can I Do With an Online Master's in Forensic Psychology Degree?

Graduates with an online master's in forensic psychology can work in government, correctional facilities, the legal field, schools, and law enforcement. Forensic psychologists who want to work as licensed clinical psychologists typically seek a doctorate in psychology and acquire clinical work experience.

The criminal justice system increasingly requires the expertise of well-trained people in forensic psychology and related fields. For example, the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects that jobs for behavioral disorder, substance abuse, and mental health counselors could grow by 25% between 2019 and 2029.

With an online master's in forensic psychology, you can work in a variety of fields. Learn more about a career in forensic science.

Jury Consultant

These consultants work in the criminal court to assist attorneys with jury selection, including researching potential jurors. Jury consultants also evaluate witness testimony, give lawyers advice on preparing witnesses, and provide other types of consultation.

Police Officer or Detective

Detectives and police officers enforce the law, respond to emergency calls, and arrest criminal suspects. They also testify in court and help with crime scene analysis. A master's in forensic psychology can help detectives specialize in a specific population, such as sex offenders.

Probation Officer and Correctional Treatment Specialist

These professionals provide rehabilitation, counseling, job training, and resources to law offenders and incarcerated individuals. Many correctional specialists testify in court about offenders' backgrounds, their capacity to re-offend, or their suitability for parole. An online master's in forensic psychology can qualify some professionals for managerial positions.

Licensed Forensic Psychologist

Forensic psychologists in nonclinical settings often provide mental health care and referrals to social services to people involved in the criminal justice system. They also offer help to victims of crime and abuse and write reports of their cases. A master's in forensic psychology can prepare students for doctoral programs in clinical psychology.

Substance Abuse, Behavioral Disorder, and Mental Health Counselor

These professionals work with clients suffering from addiction, mental health disorders, and behavioral problems. Some counselors help law offenders with substance abuse and other issues that affect their behavior.

Forensic Psychology Not For You? Check Out These Related Careers.

Forensic Science Careers Behavioral Psychology Careers Criminal Justice Careers

Frequently Asked Questions About Master's in Forensic Psychology Programs

Is a master's in forensic psychology worth it? true

Despite the long and irregular hours that their work often requires, many forensic psychologists find their careers meaningful and rewarding. This diverse path allows graduates to seek employment in the public and private sectors and generally involves helping people. In addition, professionals can earn relatively high pay with work experience and a good job record.

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

An online master's in forensic psychology enables graduates to work in law enforcement, security, corrections, social services, and other settings that apply psychology to criminal justice. These professionals can consult with lawyers on jury selection, work with people on probation, advocate for victims, conduct criminal profiling, and determine a person's competency to stand criminal trial.

Are forensic psychology majors in high demand? true

Although relatively new, the forensic psychology field continues to grow due to the increasing need for mental health expertise in criminal justice. For example, the BLS projects that employment for probation officers and correctional treatment specialists could grow by 4% between 2019 and 2029, a rate comparable to projected job growth among all occupations.

How much money can I make with a master's in forensic psychology?

According to PayScale, forensic psychologists earn a mean annual salary of $72,060. Professionals who acquire work experience might see their salary increase up to 30% over the course of their career.

What are the highest-paying jobs with a master's in forensic psychology?

Graduates might look to large metropolitan areas like Los Angeles, Boston, and the District of Columbia for higher-paying jobs. According to the BLS, detectives and criminal investigators make a mean annual salary of $89,100. Forensic psychology professionals working for the FBI and other federal agencies can earn even higher wages.

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