Forensic psychologists play a vital role in determining whether a defendant can stand trial. In court, they give testimony and help lawyers select impartial juries. To perform these tasks successfully, they must possess both a master's and a doctorate in forensic psychology. States require the latter for licensure, which all forensic psychologists need to practice as an independent consultant or court employee.
Best Online Master of Forensic Psychology Programs:
- Nova Southeastern University - Fort Lauderdale, FL
- University of California, Irvine - Irvine, CA
- Oklahoma State University - Stillwater, OK
- Liberty University - Lynchburg, VA
- University of Houston - Victoria - Victoria, TX
On average, forensic psychologists earn $66,610 per year and salaries for experienced professionals can exceed $80,000 per year. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects that the need for psychologists will grow 14% between 2018 and 2028, double the projected average growth rate for all professions during that time period.
2019’s Best Accredited Online Master of Forensic Psychology Programs
The ranking below highlights the best accredited online master's in forensic psychology programs for 2019. Each program features a rigorous curriculum that prepares students for doctoral studies. Even if graduates do not enter a doctoral program, they possess in-demand knowledge and skills they can apply to related psychology careers.
Students' academic needs differ, and as a result, the best program for you may not be listed on this ranking. However, reviewing these programs can still provide you with an excellent introduction to what great forensic psychology programs have in common. As you learn more about these degrees, consider making a list of qualities that match your academic and personal needs.
Nova Southeastern University
|Fort Lauderdale, FL||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 52%||
Established in 1964 in Miami, FL, Nova Southeastern University is a private school that boasts nearly 200,000 alumni. The school enrolls more than 20,000 on-campus and online learners each academic year.
Students pursuing NSU's MS in forensic psychology can complete the program without ever setting foot on campus. The 36-credit online forensic psychology master's takes two years of full-time study, with students completing an interdisciplinary curriculum that combines the study of law, health services, forensics, and mental health. In addition to coursework, the department frequently hosts free webinars by faculty that focus on emerging areas of the field.
The program is designed for professionals who reside in rural areas and those who work nontraditional schedules. Students complete 24 core credits, nine credits in a specialization, while a capstone project requires three credits. Specializations are also available in forensic psychology in the legal system, or forensic psychology for mental health workers, first responders, and disaster teams. Learners can decide if they want to complete a thesis or a field experience; however, those planning to continue their education should choose the research option.
Common coursework includes methods and tools of psychological and violence risk assessment, gender violence, communication skills in expert witness testimony, and behavioral criminology.
NSU maintains regional accreditation through the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools.
University of California, Irvine
|Irvine, CA||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 85%||
As a member of the University of California system, the Irvine campus is considered one of the premier public research institutions in the nation. The school offers numerous undergraduate and graduate degrees to its 35,000 students, including the master of legal and forensic psychology. This online master's in forensic psychology is a multidisciplinary degree offered jointly by the Department of Psychological Science and the Department of Criminology, Law, and Society.
Learners complete 52 credits over the course of two years, and while most coursework is online, all new students must visit the Irvine campus at the start of the program to complete an introduction to legal and forensic psychology. Distance learners usually take this five-day class in September. The curriculum also covers topics such as legal and social responses to domestic violence, clinical interviewing and treatment, mental health and the law, and compliance and enforcement within law and behavior.
Rather than completing a thesis, online students complete a capstone course and write an independent term paper that demonstrates the growth of their knowledge. To apply, applicants must demonstrate a 3.0 minimum GPA and supply a personal history statement, resume, statement of purpose, and three letters of recommendation. UC Irvine does not require GRE scores at this time. Regardless of residency, distance learners pay $13,974 per academic year.
Oklahoma State University
|Stillwater, OK||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 62%||
With its main campus in Stillwater, OK, Oklahoma State University operates six extension campuses throughout the Sooner State, as well as a thriving distance learning program. The School of Forensic Sciences offers an MS in forensic science online to accommodate working professionals looking to advance their careers.
In addition to core studies, the department provides concentrations in areas of arson and explosives investigation, forensic document examination, and forensic science administration. Students complete 39 credits on either a part-time or full-time basis. Full-time learners can graduate in 2-3 years, while part-time students may need up to four years.
The curriculum of this online master's in forensic psychology program includes coursework in criminalistics and evidence analysis, ethical research and scientific writing, quality assurance in forensic science, and the law and expert evidence. Distance learners can complete either a research project or sit for a comprehensive examination. While enrolled, online students must maintain a minimum GPA of 3.0. While not required, virtual degree seekers can visit campus and take advantage of a human identity testing lab, a 320-acre explosive range facility, and a forensic toxicology lab.
Applicants must submit transcripts, GRE scores, evidence of a 3.0 GPA or higher, three letters of recommendation, a statement of purpose, and a completed applicant. Enrollment occurs every fall and spring semester.
OSU maintains accreditation through the Higher Learning Commission.
|Lynchburg, VA||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 47%||
Situated in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains, Liberty University is a Christian liberal arts institution that serves over 95,000 students online and on-campus. The school's 36 credit MS in criminal justice with a concentration in forensic psychology can be completed in just 18 months. All courses in this accredited online master's degree in forensic psychology are delivered fully online and last eight weeks.
The school accepts up to 18 transfer credits. Those who work in law enforcement or first response receive a 25% tuition discount and possible credit for life experience and previous training. Students are introduced to topics such as criminal justice program evaluation, crisis intervention in law enforcement, rehabilitation and reintegration of offenders, and administration of justice organizations. Upon graduation, learners pursue careers in victim support, community corrections, law enforcement, and state prison systems.
Online students at Liberty must complete a thesis, which makes this a great program for learners considering doctoral programs. To gain admission, prospective students must complete the admissions application, pay a fee, request transcripts, and show English proficiency. Liberty does not require GRE scores.
The school receives accreditation from the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools.
University of Houston - Victoria
|Victoria, TX||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 18%||
Although the University of Houston at Victoria is a public institution, the small student body of approximately 4,500 creates intimate class sizes. An MA in forensic psychology is offered by the School of Arts and Sciences, and can be completed fully online.
This 63 credit master's in forensic psychology online takes approximately two years of full-time study — including three courses during each summer term. Students explore topics such as assessment for forensic psychology, theories and issues in psychotherapy, theory and techniques of family therapy, and life-span developmental psychology. To gain admission, learners must demonstrate that they completed coursework in areas of statistics, abnormal psychology, and research methods. They must also provide transcripts, letters of recommendation, a personal statement, and GRE scores.
Students can begin UHV's program only in the fall, and they should submit their applications by February 15. As part of the degree requirements, online degree seekers must complete a practicum at an approved facility near their place of residence. This requirement operates in lieu of a thesis or culminating capstone project, but virtual learners must sit for and pass a comprehensive examination to qualify for graduation. They must also maintain a 3.0 GPA while enrolled.
UHV maintains accreditation through the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.
Review the master's in forensic psychology degree page to learn more about the forensic psychology field and the steps necessary to enter this profession.
As you explore different programs, you should also research careers for forensic psychology majors. This resource describes how bachelor's, master's, and doctoral degrees affect psychologists' career prospects.