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.
'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, 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 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
|Lynchburg, VA||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 47%||
With over 30 years of distance learning experience, Liberty University, an accredited evangelical liberal arts institution, offers 250 online programs. Its online bachelor of science in psychology with a specialization in criminal psychology covers aspects of law enforcement, the judicial system, and correctional organizations. The curriculum emphasizes the causes of criminal behavior and the impact on society and individuals. In addition to completing general education requirements, students take coursework in areas like substance abuse, psychology of criminal behavior, and abnormal psychology.
Liberty University's 120-credit online criminal psychology program appeals not only to students looking for a convenient path to degree completion, but also to nontraditional students seeking to fulfill graduation requirements while handling work or family responsibilities. The program's asynchronous courses -- which feature no-cost electronic texts that save students money on textbooks and instructional materials -- are delivered in eight-week sessions through Blackboard. Finally, depending on the number of transfer credits accepted, most students complete the degree in fewer than four years.
Liberty accepts up to 75% of previously earned credits from other institutions. Military service members, law enforcement personnel, and first responders receive discounted tuition and academic credit for training and work experience. The university maintains its commitment to affordable education by charging a flat tuition rate to all students, regardless of state of residency, and by freezing tuition increases over the past three years. Liberty University is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, Commission on Colleges.
Southern New Hampshire University
|Manchester, NH||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 49%||
Nationally recognized for its expansive distance learning offerings, SNHU serves over 60,000 online students. The school offers a fully online bachelor of arts in psychology with a concentration in forensic psychology that combines training in psychology, law, and criminal investigation. This 120-credit program combines a foundation of liberal arts and sciences requirements with 33 credits of core psychology classes, 33 credits of electives, and 12 credits in the forensics concentration.
The forensics curriculum addresses contemporary issues such as motives and patterns of criminal behavior, definitions of insanity, and criminal profiling. Students in this concentration take classes in forensic and criminal psychology, counseling process and techniques, and the sociology of crime and violence. The major awards credit for volunteer work through an experiential learning seminar or a career-oriented internship.
This online forensic psychology degree appeals to students looking for a convenient and flexible path to degree completion, including working professionals and nontraditional learners with family commitments. The curriculum features asynchronous courses delivered in eight-week terms with multiple start-dates each year. Online learners may also take advantage of extensive support services including technology assistance, tutoring, and online library and writing help.
SNHU boasts that its online tuition rates rank among the lowest in the nation and it offers generous credit transfer policies, accepting up to 90 credits earned from other institutions. Active duty military personnel and their spouses receive a 30% tuition discount. SNHU is regionally accredited by the New England Association of Schools and Colleges, Commission on Institutions of Higher Education.
Northwest Christian University
|Eugene, OR||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 55%||
Established in 1895, Oregon-based Northwest Christian University is a private, Christian institution providing undergraduate and graduate programs to over 800 students. Its online bachelor of science in psychology features a concentration in forensic psychology that prepares students for entry-level positions in law enforcement, corrections, private security, crime analysis, and victim advocacy. Graduates of this program often continue to graduate work in forensic psychology, criminal justice, and related fields.
This online forensic psychology bachelor's degree requires students to complete 124 credits, including courses accepted in transfer. Coursework in the major provides students with a working knowledge of psychological principles applied to the criminal justice system and a background in forensic psychological evaluations and assessment used in criminal cases. The forensic concentration explores topics such as addictive behavior, psychometrics, criminal investigation, and victimology and trauma.
Designed as part of NCU's adult degree program, this fully online degree may appeal to nontraditional students who wish to finish their undergraduate degree while working in their current positions. The degree incorporates the latest models of adult learning and offers flexible course schedules. Students may begin the program at any of the multiple start dates offered throughout the academic year.
The accelerated online curriculum allows students to complete an entire semester of coursework in eight-week sessions, and the asynchronous course delivery format permits students to proceed at their own pace. NCU provides transfer credit to military and law enforcement personnel for training and work experience. Northwest Christian University is regionally accredited by the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities.
Eastern Kentucky University
|Richmond, KY||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 44%||
Eastern Kentucky University serves a student body of over 16,000 students in undergraduate and graduate programs, including more than 40 online degrees. EKU offers a 120-credit online psychology degree with a concentration in forensic psychology. The concentration includes coursework in social psychology, psychology of the personality, and adolescent and adult development. Graduates of this online forensic psychology degree find entry-level employment in law enforcement, criminal investigation, social services, and victim advocacy. The program also offers a strong foundation for graduate studies and advanced certification in forensic psychology and related fields.
EKU's fully online forensic psychology degree offers all classes in accelerated eight-week terms and uses an asynchronous delivery format through Blackboard. This flexible and convenient structure may appeal to nontraditional students, especially those with work and family commitments, allowing them to move through their classes at their own pace without any required campus visits. Distance learners may access dedicated academic advisers, individualized degree-mapping, and online tutoring through the PASS tutoring program.
Applicants to the program attending college for the first time may be admitted with a cumulative high school GPA of 2.0. Admission for transfer students requires 24 college credits and an overall 2.0 GPA. The university accepts up to 90 hours in transfer credits; a minimum of 30 hours must be completed through EKU. All students pay a flat tuition rate regardless of residency status. Eastern Kentucky University is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, Commission on Colleges.
National Louis University
|Chicago, IL||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 50%||
Located in Chicago, National Louis University offers over 60 undergraduate and graduate programs, including a forensic social justice major within its bachelor of arts in criminal justice program. This major focuses on the psychology of criminality, applications, and interventions. The forensic social justice degree requires 180 quarter hours, including 60 of general education requirements. The major uses a hybrid format delivering courses both online and on campus.
The major's core courses cover law enforcement, the criminal justice system, criminal law and procedure, criminal investigations, and research methods. The forensic social justice option requires 30 hours of specialized coursework in the principles and practices of crisis intervention, and legal issues in human services. Students in this major also have the option to pursue concentrations in entrepreneurship, human resource management, or leadership foundations. The curriculum emphasizes quantitative reasoning; criminal justice research methods; and research, writing and analysis for evidence-based arguments and defenses.
NLU charges a flat tuition rate to all students regardless of their state of residency. Online learners may qualify for financial aid opportunities and academic credit for personal and professional experience through NLU's Prior Learning Assessment office. Transfer students may satisfy core requirements and receive credit for electives taken elsewhere through credit by examination, portfolio, or proficiency.
The university maintains a strong commitment to military service personnel, veterans, and other military-connected students. It offers these students benefits like scholarships, book vouchers, and academic credits for training and experience. National Louis University is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.
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.
Online programs can provide an affordable and flexible option for women trying to balance the demands of work, family, and earning their degree. We've curated a list of valuable scholarships specifically for women.
Online college programs can be a flexible, affordable option for single parents who are interested in earning a degree and securing their family's financial future. We've compiled a list of scholarships, grants, and other financial aid options geared toward single moms and dads.
Millions of dollars in free money is available to U.S. military personnel, but much of it goes unused. Learn more about grants, scholarships, and other financial aid opportunities available to veterans, active-duty service members, and reservists.
- Best Online Bachelor's in Forensic Psychology of 2018
Rank School Location 1 Liberty University Lynchburg, VA 2 Arizona State University - Tempe Scottsdale, AZ 3 Southern New Hampshire University Manchester, NH 4 Northwest Christian University Eugene, OR 5 Eastern Kentucky University Richmond, KY 6 National Louis University Chicago, IL 7 Florida Institute of Technology Melbourne, FL 8 Mary Baldwin College Staunton, VA 9 Faulkner University Montgomery, AL 10 Union Institute & University Cincinnati, OH
- Best Online Bachelor's in Forensic Psychology of 2017
Rank School Location 1 Liberty University Lynchburg, VA 2 Southern New Hampshire University Manchester, NH 3 Eastern Kentucky University Richmond, KY 4 Florida Institute of Technology Melbourne, FL 5 Mary Baldwin College Staunton, Va