Forensic psychology is a specialized field that transcends psychology, law and criminal justice. Forensic psychologists play an important role in criminal investigations by examining evidence, interviewing suspects and pinpointing motives for committing certain crimes. They are also prominent in the justice system, often evaluating defendants or witnesses to determine if they are fit to participate in trial proceedings. They may also make sentencing recommendations for convicted criminals.
What are the best forensic psychology programs of 2020? Here are our top 5:
|1||Maryville University||Saint Louis, MO|
|2||National Louis University||Chicago, IL|
|3||Faulkner University||Montgomery, AL|
|4||Bushnell University||Eugene, OR|
|5||Southern New Hampshire University||Manchester, NH|
'Psychology' and its subfields (such as behavioral psychology) are among the most popular majors for bachelor's degree-seekers. In many cases, students earn a bachelor's in forensic psychology as part of a specialization program; these pathways include course sequences concentrated in niche areas of forensic psychology. However, it should be noted that most careers in forensic psychology require an advanced education; most job candidates enter the workforce with at least a master's degree in forensic psychology, and many have also earned a doctorate. Many of today's students are choosing to earn their bachelor's degree in forensic psychology online, rather than in a classroom. Online students follow the same challenging curricula and rigorous study schedule as their brick-and-mortar counterparts, leading to the same number of post-degree employment opportunities. The asynchronous (or self-paced) format of most online programs is also ideal for students with part-time jobs, childcare duties and other responsibilities that may interfere with campus-based learning.
Learn more about what you can do with an online bachelor's degree in forensic psychology and what kind of career opportunities you can look forward to with this comprehensive guide.
Choosing a Program
WILL AN ONLINE FORENSIC PSYCHOLOGY DEGREE PROGRAM PROVIDE ME WITH THE SKILLS I NEED TO ADVANCE MY CAREER?
For forensic psychology students, the undergraduate curriculum typically involves a mix of general and abnormal psychology, law, criminal justice and anthropology. In addition to standard coursework, these bachelor's programs usually include internships and/or clinical residencies; these onsite courses allow students to receive supervised, hands-on training from experienced professionals. A comprehensive capstone project may also be required. A bachelor's in behavioral psychology program will equip students with foundational knowledge and skills needed for advanced education at the master's and doctoral levels.
WILL AN ONLINE FORENSIC PSYCHOLOGY DEGREE PROGRAM WORK WITH MY SCHEDULE?
Online forensic psychology bachelor's programs offer a flexible alternative to traditional undergraduate education. Students can access course readings and lectures, participate in virtual discussions with fellow students, submit written assignments, take exams and communicate with their professors on their own time. The latest technology also enables them to study away from their home computer using a laptop, tablet, smartphone and other portable Wi-Fi devices. For added convenience, online psychology students can usually coordinate internships, residencies and other onsite courses at locations within a reasonable distance of their current address.
WHAT JOBS CAN I GET WITH MY BACHELOR'S IN FORENSIC PSYCHOLOGY?
A bachelor's degree in forensic psychology will, on its own, be insufficient for most careers in this field. In most cases, an advanced degree will be required. However, an online bachelor's program in forensic psychology with practicum courses will prepare students for the challenges and demands of graduate-level education. Alternatively, employees with a bachelor's in forensic psychology may be qualified for certain job roles, such as forensic scientists, crime analysts or crime scene investigators.
WHAT ARE THE BEST ONLINE BACHELOR'S IN FORENSIC PSYCHOLOGY PROGRAMS?
Choosing a program is an incredibly personal decision, and only you can properly evaluate whether a target school's strengths match your educational needs. The following ranked list of schools should serve as a helpful starting point in your search for the best online bachelor's degree in forensic psychology programs in the United States. Our ranking is based on the courses schools offer, available specializations, student outcomes, career support services, and other criteria used to determine academic excellence. If you are considering an online bachelor's in forensic psychology, be sure to contact admissions specialists at different colleges and universities to learn more their about specific bachelor's degree requirements and offerings.
Accredited Online Bachelor's in Forensic Psychology Programs
|Saint Louis, MO||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 72%||
Maryville University focuses on affordable distance education, serving almost 6,000 remote learners each year. The institution offers a fully online bachelor's in forensic psychology/criminal justice that prepares students for entry-level positions in corrections, behavioral research, and social services. With three start dates each year and no residency requirements, the program provides working professionals with ample flexibility.
The curriculum covers topics like human development through the lifespan, abnormal psychology, and human cognition. Students also take nine criminal justice/criminology classes, including juvenile delinquency and multicultural policing. Participants develop applied skills in research and statistical analysis.
Maryville's forensic psychology program boasts a 97% career placement rate. First-time students need a minimum 2.5 GPA. Applicants also have the option to submit ACT or SAT scores.
National Louis University
|Chicago, IL||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 22%||
Based in Chicago, Illinois, National Louis University enrolls roughly 9,000 students across its four colleges. Its undergraduate catalog includes an online bachelor's in criminal justice with a forensic social science major. Students in this program can also pursue an optional entrepreneurship concentration.
Coursework covers topics like criminal justice agencies, applied behavioral analysis, and mental health diagnosis and intervention. Students also examine how current and emerging policy trends impact the justice system in the U.S. Graduates are prepared to work in law enforcement, corrections, the court system, and relevant private industries.
Unlike many other bachelor's in forensic psychology programs, NLU does not require a GPA minimum or standardized test scores. Applicants need only complete an online form and submit official school transcripts. The university offers a variety of financial aid, including scholarships for transfer students.
|Montgomery, AL||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 28%||
Faulkner University delivers its online coursework asynchronously through Blackboard. Students can enroll in an online bachelor's in forensic psychology program that combines conventional psychology topics with specialized criminal justice theories and practices. Learners can complete the degree fully online or opt for hybrid learning, taking some classes at the university's campus in Montgomery, Alabama.
Required courses include behavioral statistics, psychology of religion and spirituality, and industrial-organizational psychology. Students personalize their curriculum by choosing from electives like theories of personality and constitutional law. They can also develop skills related to crime scene investigation, preparing for careers as forensic scientists.
To enroll in this bachelor's in forensic psychology program, applicants with fewer than 24 transferable credits must submit standardized test scores. Students should have scored at least 18 on the ACT or 970 on the SAT.
|Eugene, OR||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 46%||
Bushnell University is located in Eugene, Oregon, and serves about 800 students each year. In addition to on-campus programs, the school offers distance-based degrees, including an online bachelor's in psychology with a forensic psychology concentration. Online learners choose from six annual start dates and take eight-week classes that allow them to move through material quickly.
Major coursework includes classes in statistical applications, social psychology, and research methods. Distance learners also take advanced classes in forensic psychology, which cover topics like psychometrics and counseling techniques. Participants round out their undergraduate training by presenting a capstone research paper.
Bushnell recommends that first-time students have a minimum 2.5 GPA, while transfer applicants should have a minimum 2.0 GPA. The university grants credit for academic work and certain life experiences through prior learning assessments.
Southern New Hampshire University
|Manchester, NH||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 54%||
Southern New Hampshire University is a leader in distance learning, offering more than 200 career-relevant academic programs. Students can enroll in an entirely online bachelor's in psychology program and pursue a forensic psychology concentration. After completing this flexible program, graduates are -prepared to work in police departments, law firms, and community-based nonprofits.
SNHU accepts up to 90 transfer credits toward this forensic psychology degree. Students take eight-week classes that cover topics like lifespan development, scientific investigations, and cognitive psychology. They finish the program by completing a capstone seminar on the cross-cultural aspects of ethics, psychology, and recent developments in the field.
SNHU does not require ACT or SAT scores or a minimum GPA. Students can also access valuable networking opportunities by engaging with SNHU's online psychology club.
What Else Can I Expect from an Online Forensic Psychology Program?
|Timeline||4 to 5 years|
|Program Costs (when available)||$10,000 to $25,000 in annual tuition|
|Concentrations||General Psychology, Behavioral Psychology, Developmental Psychology, Cognitive Psychology, Social Psychology, Organizational Psychology, Experimental Psychology, Child Psychology, Educational/School Psychology, Counseling, Social Work|
|Accreditation||There is no programmatic accreditation for this major field of study at the undergraduate level. Students should defer to the regional/national accreditation of their four-year college or university.|
Learn More About Other Psychology Degree Programs
Psychology is a complicated field that lends itself to concentrated areas of study. If you want to consider your options beyond a general online psychology degree, click through the following list for information about schools that offer specializations within their psychology degree programs.
Employment Outlook for Bachelor's in Forensic Psychology Graduates
Graduates with a bachelor's degree in forensic psychology should expect a relatively poor job outlook. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) notes that the median unemployment rate for a bachelor's degree-holder in the U.S. is 2.8%; by comparison, the median unemployment rate for associate degree-holders is 3.8%. However, unemployment rates are somewhat high for forensic psychology bachelor's degree recipients due to the specialized nature of this field and the demand for employees with advanced degrees.
Using data from the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES), the following table below compares unemployment rates of college graduates between the age of 25 and 29, based on their undergraduate major.
|Bachelor's Degree Field of Study||Unemployment Rate for 25- to 29-Year-Old Degree Recipients|
|Computer and Information Systems||4.5%|
|English Language and Literature||6.1%|
|Criminal Justice and Fire Protection||6.2%|
|Political Science and Government||8.2%|
As the table indicates, the unemployment rate for psychology degree-holders is fairly middle of the road compared to other undergraduate major fields of study. This figure is also higher than the unemployment rate for all occupations, which is currently set at 4.8%.
Earning a Living
The earning potential for employees with a bachelor's in forensic psychology will largely depend on their specific job title. Other factors to consider include experience level and city/state of employment. The next table looks at career salary growth rates for four of the most popular professions in forensic psychology; each occupation listed is attainable with a bachelor's degree or less.
|Occupation||Median Salary for Entry-Level||Median Salary for Mid-Career||Median Salary for Experienced||Median Salary for Late-Career|
|Crime Scene Investigator||$40,000||$49,000||$56,000||$54,000|
|Forensic Computer Analyst||$58,640||$89,174||$99,770||$110,000|
All four occupations reported a career salary growth rate of at least 35%. Forensic computer analysts experience the highest growth: an impressive 87.6% increase between the entry-level and late-career phases. Crime analysts ranked second with 67.7% growth after 20 years in the workforce, followed by forensic scientists with 46.8% growth.
Career and Further Education Opportunities
Students who earn an online bachelor's in forensic psychology will be well-positioned for the demands of a master's and/or doctoral degree program. However, these graduates may also be able to enter the workforce and compete for entry-level jobs. Four common career paths for individuals with a bachelor's in forensic psychology are outlined below.
Forensic Science Technicians: Forensic science technicians collect, analyze, record and store evidence used in criminal investigations. Their findings are often used to solve crimes, apprehend suspects and charge guilty criminals. Their day-to-day duties often involve a mix of crime-scene fieldwork and lab-based research.
Detectives and Criminal Investigators: These individuals are responsible for investigating crimes, interviewing witnesses and bringing guilty parties to justice. In the U.S., detectives and investigators may work at the federal, state or local level. Many begin their careers as police officers, and advance through on-the-job experience and professional training.
Private Detectives and Investigators: Private detectives and investigators provide services to clients seeking information about legal, financial and/or personal concerns. They often research people they are investigating through criminal background checks, financial histories and other personal information. Most states require private detectives and investigators to be licensed. Unlike police detectives and investigators, these individuals are usually self-employed and are not affiliated with government law enforcement agencies.
Accountants and Auditors: Accountants keep track of organizational or personal financial records to ensure their clients are complying with all applicable laws and regulations, while auditors are specialized accountants trained to spot discrepancies and omissions in financial statements. Many of these professionals work in the field of forensic accounting, which involves investigations of individuals or organizations suspected of committed fraud and other financial crimes.
|Occupation||Median Annual Salary|
|Forensic Science Technicians||$56,320|
|Detectives and Criminal Investigators||$79,620|
|Private Detectives and Investigators||$45,610|
|Accountants and Auditors||$67,190|
Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics
For more information about opportunities for grad students and more advanced careers in this field, please visit our Guide to Online Master's in Psychology Programs.
Making professional connections and learning about different approaches to forensic psychology is crucial to your success. Professional organizations offer a great entry point for students who want to learn more about their chosen career path. Below you'll find three of the country's most prominent organizations established for behavioral psychology professionals. These organizations host networking events, provide online trainings, maintain active job boards, and offer other services for career-ready college graduates.
- American Psychological Association: The nation's leading organization for professional psychologists, the APA today boasts more than 117,000 members. The website features a vast online library, a job board, continuing education opportunities, and a Psychology Help Center with links to blogs and articles about various psych-related topics. The APA also serves as the official accreditation agency for collegiate psychology programs.
- American Board of Forensic Psychology: The ABFP oversees board certification for certified forensic psychologists. The website features information about forensic psychology bylaws, a comprehensive calendar of examination dates nationwide and other helpful resources for people seeking certification in this field.
- International Association for Correctional and Forensic Psychology: Founded in 1954, the IACFP today serves a global community of behavioral scientists, practitioners and psychologists. Members receive discounts on dozens of online academic journals, invitations to association events and access to restricted areas of the website, among other benefits.
Financing Your Online Bachelor's in Forensic Psychology Program
Despite the relative affordability of online programs, most students still need financial assistance. Students should complete a Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) form to learn more about loans, grants, and other opportunities offered through the U.S. government. Additionally, private grants and scholarships are widely available through nonprofit organizations, companies, and other sources. Check out our collection of resources below to learn more about financial aid options.
Approximately two-thirds of today's college students rely on loans to fund their education, but there are plenty of overlooked financing options you can use to reduce your overall student debt.
Completing the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) is a crucial first step for any student with financial needs. Our FAFSA guide features a step-by-step rundown on the process and answers to several frequently asked questions.
Financial aid for online learning is equivalent to what you'll find for campus-based learning, but that hasn't always been the case. Learn about the changes that have taken place, as well as the different funding opportunities available to online students.
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