Online Forensic Psychology Degree Programs
(found programs from 80 schools)

Introduction to Forensic Psychology Programs

What is a Forensic Psychology Degree?

Many new specialties in psychology have been in the spotlight recently, particularly forensic psychology. This specialty combines law enforcement, criminal justice, and psychology to create specialists who understand the mental states of criminals, the effect of crime on its victims, analysis of criminals, and interpretation of evidence. You may come to this specialty from the field of psychology or criminal justice; previous study in either specialty is extremely valuable.

The importance of forensic psychology is clear when you look at police departments around the country. Profilers and forensic psychologists play a significant role in crime solving. Recent research efforts focus on the connection between substance abuse and crime, as seen in a recent study from Alcoholism Quarterly (2016).

If you are ready to earn a graduate psychology degree, compare forensic psychology programs below and contact programs for more information.

Online Degrees in Forensic Psychology

Studying online is a popular way for students to learn forensic psychology. Most of these programs are designed with the idea that the student will leave academics after obtaining a master's degree in forensic psychology and begin working in some aspect of the criminal justice system.

Forensic Psychology Facts

Facts about Forensic Psychology

Although licensure requirements vary from state to state, most states do not require a forensic psychologist to be certified or licensed.

Getting a master's degree in forensic psychology is a good career move if you are already working in some area of law enforcement and want a chance to advance your career. Many online programs in forensic psychology require minimal, if any, time spent on campus, and some do not even require internships.Admissions criteria vary from school to school, but usually a bachelor's degree in a field related to law or human services is required along with experience in the workforce and at least two reference letters.

Online Programs in Forensic Psychology to Consider

Walden University: Walden University, a school popular for its extensive online programs, offers a Master of Science in forensic psychology. The curriculum focuses on dealing with the intersection of psychology and the legal system. The online forensic psychology program is not a licensure program and those who graduate cannot refer to themselves as "mental health professionals."

University of North Dakota: Located in Grand Forks, the University of North Dakota offers an online Master of Arts in forensic psychology. Students are required to take at least 34 credits to graduate, and the program generally lasts two years. One on-campus visit is required. The rest of the work can be done from home. No matter what state they live in, online students pay in-state tuition.

Eisner Institute for Professional Studies: Eisner offers a graduate certificate in forensic psychology online, but the most popular forensic online learning option is a Master of Arts/Doctor of Psychology program, one of the few online psychology programs to offer a doctorate degree to students specializing in forensic psychology. Classes include research, law, ethics, mediation and principles of psychotherapy.

Introduction to Forensic Psychology Careers

A woman attempts to harm her child in a fit of post-partum depression, and a jury considers her sanity. An elderly man's attorney wonders if her client is capable of understanding the will he is about to sign. A parole officer attempts to assess the risk that a convicted rapist will re-offend. In each of these instances, the parties involved are certain to turn to a forensic psychologist for answers.

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Forensic Psychology Job Description

Forensic psychologists address psychological concerns that arise within legal settings. Typically, these involve diagnosis of mental illness and assessment of competence, understanding, and risk of criminal or offending behavior.


Forensic Psychology Requirements

In order to become a forensic psychologist, one generally must attend an accredited graduate program that grants a doctoral degree in psychology-either a Doctor of Philosophy in psychology (Ph.D.) or a Doctor or Psychology (Psy.D.)-which takes around five years to complete. Ph.D. programs tend to focus more heavily on research, while Psy.D. programs involve greater clinical engagement. Most graduate programs require candidates to have taken the Graduate Record Examination (GRE) and an associated subject test on psychology. Programs vary in their insistence on a particular undergraduate course of study, though many candidates find it beneficial to have majored in psychology regardless of whether it is required. Coursework in law or criminal justice, while not necessary, can also be beneficial. Because forensic psychologists often testify in court and present expert reports, it is important that they are master communicators.

A doctoral degree, though, is not enough to practice. One must also obtain government licensure by passing an examination and demonstrating the completion of state professional experience requirements by participating in supervised clinical internships either (or both) before and after graduation. States typically require one to two years of professional experience as well.


Forensic Psychology Career Trends and Outlook

The forensic psychologist salary you earn is dependent on your degree level and what type of practical experience you get as a student. If you earn a Bachelor's degree, you may work as a forensic science technician. Professionals in forensics psychology earn an average of $56,750 per year, and projected job growth in this field is extremely strong through 2024, with almost 10K new positions expected (O*Net, 2017).

If you earn a PsyD or PhD, you may earn certification as a forensic psychologist. Psychologists earn a median income of $95,710 per year and you may benefit from job growth of anywhere from 9-13% in coming years (O*Net, 2017).

Your career may allow you to work in a variety of settings and put your knowledge to work in different ways. The foundations of forensic psychology have been used in myriad ways, including the early identification of psychopathy in adolescents (American Psychological Association). These findings indicate that early psychopathy markers in adolescents may not be reliable indicators of violent crime and psychopathy in adults (American Psychological Association).

Though this field can be challenging to work in, particularly if you work a lot with crime scenes and victims' families, it can also be very rewarding. The hours you put in can put dangerous criminals behind bars and even help prevent crime through criminal profiling and treatment recommendations. Additionally, studying at top forensic psychology schools may help you identify markers and risk factors for crime and help people find different, more productive paths in life.

Technology in forensic psychology will likely continue to advance for years to come. With an advanced degree in this field, you can properly use these tools to improve the criminal justice process. Reach out to forensic psychology schools to get started on your new career path.

Featured Online Forensic Psychology Programs:

Online programs may not be available in all states

Traditional On Campus Forensic Psychology Programs: