Get Matched With Forensic Psychology Programs

Why Earn a Master’s in Forensic Psychology?


The links between forensic psychology and law are tight. Some master’s degrees in forensic psychology may be housed within a Psychology Department, a Criminal Justice Department, or a Law Department.

This major gives you, as a professional forensic psychologist, a closer and more detailed understanding of mental illness and crime than a bachelor's degree in psychology can offer. For programs in the forensic psychology field, you will complete your core courses on crime, human behavior, clinical psychology, mental conditions, diagnoses and treatments, theories of criminal behavior, as well as the decisions law enforcement agencies and the legal system make.

You’ll learn about every role a forensic psychologist may play in the legal system so you can determine which career paths you are interested in within psychology and the legal system. For example, when a defendant who has mental health problems comes before a criminal court, the lawyers and judge may request your help to begin understanding the defendant’s probable mental state at the time of the crime.

PROS

At the level of a master's in forensic science or forensic psychology program, you’ll be presented with a wide range of forensic psychology specializations you can choose. These include terrorism, sex offender behavior, police psychology, and cyber-crimes. You’ll also learn how you can apply new skills and insights to non-clinical roles including criminal investigative analysis, cyber-crime, victim advocacy, and terrorism.

Prospective students can expect to gain a deeper understanding of criminal behavior in graduate programs and use their new expertise to make a difference in the cases they encounter within the legal system working as forensic psychologists.

You’ll become familiar with mental health issues, criminal behavior, and the ethics required in professional psychology positions.

In the core courses of your master's degree in forensic psychology, you’ll develop a stronger understanding of threat assessment and violence and translate that into the skills you’ll use every day.

You’ll gain more focused expertise via a forensic psychology concentration, enabling you to pinpoint your studies with your interests, both professional and personal, including if you choose to earn a doctoral degree in the future.

Forensic psychology students will compare and consider the different psychological approaches while you decide on their effectiveness in dealing with criminal offenders. You’ll also understand threat assessments as they relate to criminal behavior.

CONS

If you are returning to school with reluctance to earn a master’s degree in any discipline, rethink your decision. If you have already begun to work, you may have a good reason to go back to school. If you have just finished your bachelor’s degree and you choose to return to school rather than look for a job or commit to a new career, you may want to take a step back.

If you do go ahead and return to school for a master’s in forensic science or a forensic psychology degree, you may decrease your professional alternatives. It’s better to spend a few years working in your profession and then return to school. This way, you know what your professional alternatives may be in the field of forensic psychology.

You may choose to go back to school because you felt comfortable in an academic environment. At the undergraduate level, you tend to receive more support than at the graduate level where this may not be the case.

Compare Popular Online Forensic Psychology Programs

Top 15 Best Online Masters in Forensic Psychology


1

University of Florida-Online

Score: 89.02

  • Graduate Tuition
    • In-State: N/A
    • Out-of-State: $0
  • Net Price: $10,791
  • Acceptance Rate: 65%
  • Retention Rate: 92%
  • Graduation Rate: 79%
  • Total Enrollment: 5,356
  • Undergrad Students: 5,356
  • Graduate Students: N/A
  • Grads Salary: $76,000
  • Student-to-faculty: 54:1
  • University of Florida-Online
2

University of Central Florida

Score: 88.3

  • Graduate Tuition
    • In-State: $6,916
    • Out-of-State: $25,759
  • Net Price: $13,108
  • Acceptance Rate: 41%
  • Retention Rate: 93%
  • Graduation Rate: 76%
  • Total Enrollment: 68,346
  • Undergrad Students: 58,662
  • Graduate Students: 9,684
  • Grads Salary: $69,000
  • Student-to-faculty: 29:1
  • University of Central Florida
3

University of Arizona

Score: 85.07

  • Graduate Tuition
    • In-State: $12,348
    • Out-of-State: $32,290
  • Net Price: $17,075
  • Acceptance Rate: 87%
  • Retention Rate: 86%
  • Graduation Rate: 68%
  • Total Enrollment: 49,403
  • Undergrad Students: 38,751
  • Graduate Students: 10,652
  • Grads Salary: $78,000
  • Student-to-faculty: 17:1
  • University of Arizona
4

Arizona State University

Score: 83.72

  • Graduate Tuition
    • In-State: $12,014
    • Out-of-State: $24,498
  • Net Price: $14,808
  • Acceptance Rate: 90%
  • Retention Rate: 85%
  • Graduation Rate: 67%
  • Total Enrollment: 80,065
  • Undergrad Students: 65,492
  • Graduate Students: 14,573
  • Grads Salary: $75,000
  • Student-to-faculty: 19:1
  • Arizona State University
5

Oklahoma State University

Score: 81.71

  • Graduate Tuition
    • In-State: $5,611
    • Out-of-State: $21,114
  • Net Price: $16,718
  • Acceptance Rate: 71%
  • Retention Rate: 83%
  • Graduation Rate: 65%
  • Total Enrollment: 25,372
  • Undergrad Students: 20,786
  • Graduate Students: 4,586
  • Grads Salary: $71,000
  • Student-to-faculty: 18:1
  • Oklahoma State University
6

University of North Dakota

Score: 79.45

  • Graduate Tuition
    • In-State: $11,963
    • Out-of-State: $17,944
  • Net Price: $17,359
  • Acceptance Rate: 83%
  • Retention Rate: 79%
  • Graduation Rate: 63%
  • Total Enrollment: 13,876
  • Undergrad Students: 9,928
  • Graduate Students: 3,948
  • Grads Salary: $71,000
  • Student-to-faculty: 17:1
  • University of North Dakota
7

Nova Southeastern University

Score: 76.49

  • Graduate Tuition
    • In-State: $22,062
    • Out-of-State: $22,062
  • Net Price: $29,589
  • Acceptance Rate: 76%
  • Retention Rate: 78%
  • Graduation Rate: 62%
  • Total Enrollment: 20,948
  • Undergrad Students: 6,971
  • Graduate Students: 13,977
  • Grads Salary: $76,000
  • Student-to-faculty: 17:1
  • Nova Southeastern University
8

University of Louisiana at Monroe

Score: 74.37

  • Graduate Tuition
    • In-State: $6,490
    • Out-of-State: $18,590
  • Net Price: $11,353
  • Acceptance Rate: 70%
  • Retention Rate: 73%
  • Graduation Rate: 51%
  • Total Enrollment: 8,398
  • Undergrad Students: 6,552
  • Graduate Students: 1,846
  • Grads Salary: $62,000
  • Student-to-faculty: 17:1
  • University of Louisiana at Monroe
9

Touro University Worldwide

Score: 74.06

  • Graduate Tuition
    • In-State: $9,000
    • Out-of-State: $9,000
  • Net Price: $17,068
  • Acceptance Rate: 100%
  • Retention Rate: 90%
  • Graduation Rate: 56%
  • Total Enrollment: 2,249
  • Undergrad Students: 413
  • Graduate Students: 1,836
  • Grads Salary: $63,000
  • Student-to-faculty: 8:1
  • Touro University Worldwide
10

Saint Leo University

Score: 72.58

  • Graduate Tuition
    • In-State: $18,436
    • Out-of-State: $18,436
  • Net Price: $20,390
  • Acceptance Rate: 80%
  • Retention Rate: 54%
  • Graduation Rate: 49%
  • Total Enrollment: 10,242
  • Undergrad Students: 7,320
  • Graduate Students: 2,922
  • Grads Salary: $74,000
  • Student-to-faculty: 18:1
  • Saint Leo University
11

North Central University

Score: 72.05

  • Graduate Tuition
    • In-State: $10,260
    • Out-of-State: $10,260
  • Net Price: $23,374
  • Acceptance Rate: 91%
  • Retention Rate: 76%
  • Graduation Rate: 59%
  • Total Enrollment: 992
  • Undergrad Students: 893
  • Graduate Students: 99
  • Grads Salary: $65,000
  • Student-to-faculty: 11:1
  • North Central University
12

Capella University

Score: 69.97

  • Graduate Tuition
    • In-State: $14,826
    • Out-of-State: $14,826
  • Net Price: $14,935
  • Acceptance Rate: 100%
  • Retention Rate: 36%
  • Graduation Rate: 50%
  • Total Enrollment: 39,727
  • Undergrad Students: 13,280
  • Graduate Students: 26,447
  • Grads Salary: $74,000
  • Student-to-faculty: 35:1
  • Capella University
13

Grand Canyon University

Score: 69.28

  • Graduate Tuition
    • In-State: $10,655
    • Out-of-State: $10,655
  • Net Price: $21,939
  • Acceptance Rate: 78%
  • Retention Rate: 70%
  • Graduation Rate: 45%
  • Total Enrollment: 101,816
  • Undergrad Students: 66,769
  • Graduate Students: 35,047
  • Grads Salary: $68,000
  • Student-to-faculty: 20:1
  • Grand Canyon University
14

Liberty University

Score: 67.66

  • Graduate Tuition
    • In-State: $7,893
    • Out-of-State: $7,893
  • Net Price: $29,913
  • Acceptance Rate: 99%
  • Retention Rate: 79%
  • Graduation Rate: 66%
  • Total Enrollment: 96,709
  • Undergrad Students: 48,906
  • Graduate Students: 47,803
  • Grads Salary: $60,000
  • Student-to-faculty: 18:1
  • Liberty University
15

Purdue Global

Score: 66.14

  • Graduate Tuition
    • In-State: $9,472
    • Out-of-State: $10,524
  • Net Price: $6,785
  • Acceptance Rate: 100%
  • Retention Rate: 17%
  • Graduation Rate: 20%
  • Total Enrollment: 45,125
  • Undergrad Students: 33,510
  • Graduate Students: 11,615
  • Grads Salary: $80,000
  • Student-to-faculty: 26:1
  • Purdue Global

Overview of an Online Master's in Forensic Psychology


What Forensic Psychology Master’s Degrees are Available Online?


Forensic psychology degrees may go by different names, depending on their focus and even which university offers them.

  • Online Master of Science in Forensic Psychology:
    You’ll learn to apply the science of forensic psychology. You’ll learn the leading-edge methods and theories. What are the responsibilities in this field? How do they relate to legal and ethical issues?
  • Online Master of Arts in Forensic Psychology:
    In this arts-focused major, you’ll learn how to provide psychological services to individuals within the criminal and civil justice systems. You’ll also be prepared for doctoral study, if you are considering this.
  • Online Master of Science in Criminal Justice with a Concentration in Forensic Psychology:
    The approach to this major helps you to understand the defendants who are accused and convicted of crimes. You should be passionate about studying how the criminal justice system and psychology are entwined. Once you graduate, you will be prepared to work in the criminal justice system or mental health agencies.
  • Online Master of Science in Forensic Sciences-Forensic Pathology:
    If you have chosen to pursue a career as a forensic psychologist, this major teaches you everything you’ll need to know as you begin working with law enforcement, the FBI, and even as a university instructor.

    Find Your Online Most Forensic Psychology Program

Admission Requirements


Here are some possible requirements you might encounter when applying for your online master’s degree program:

  • Write a personal statement with a word count of 250 to 300 words, describing your professional background and why you are pursuing a graduate degree in forensic psychology.
  • Show proof of earning a forensic psychology bachelor’s degree within a behavioral or social science major allied with psychology.
  • Prove a cumulative undergraduate GPA of 3.2 or higher or a graduate GPA of 3.5.
  • Curriculum vitae with relevant experiences related to academic course work and research, volunteer, and work activities.
  • Three letters of recommendation from individuals able to comment on your academic abilities. You may be able to use recommendations from employers or coworkers if you’ve been working in the field.
  • Satisfy the Graduate School’s English-speaking proficiency requirements with appropriate testing results. (This will likely only be required if you are an international student.)

How long does it take to earn a Forensic Psychology Master’s Online?


If you are attending graduate school for your forensic psychology degree full-time, you may graduate within two years. If you are attending part-time, then you may graduate in three years. This particular online program also allows you to select an area of emphasis.

If, for instance, you choose the forensic & correctional counseling area, you will focus more on counseling with individuals in the correctional, juvenile justice, court, community agencies, forensic hospital units, or any other forensic settings.

Remember, you will be required to complete your field placement, which should reflect your emphasis on counseling skills and how these apply in forensic settings.

Potential Careers in Forensic Psychology with an Online Master’s


  • Correctional Counselor:
    You may work directly within a correctional facility, such as a state or federal prison. If this is your chosen professions, you may offer mental health treatment and counseling for both inmates and ex-convicts. You may also conduct psychological evaluations, collaborate with lawyers, case workers, and other professionals within the facility.
    Average annual salary: $41,500
  • Victim Advocate:
    You’ll work directly with crime victims and survivors of traumatic events, such as domestic violence or sexual assault. Your main responsibilities may include helping clients to understand their case and legal rights, offering support throughout the legal process and, if needed, and attending hearings with clients. You are to provide information, support, and resources to your clients.
    Average annual salary: $35,000
  • Jury Consultant:
    You work mainly in the court system in a variety of roles. You may provide consultations, evaluate witness testimony, and assist in jury selection. As a jury consultant, you work closely with lawyers, giving them insights into which jurors they should choose for particular cases. You’ll research potential jurors and you’ll take notes about behavior and body language of each potential jurist.
    Average annual salary: $65,000

    Find Online Most Forensic Psychology Schools

  • Police Consultant:
    You may have chosen to work in the law enforcement side as a police consultant. Police departments rely on you to get into the minds of the criminals they are chasing down. You may also offer ways to use community policing and address interpersonal struggles. You may teach anger management courses; provide suicide prevention training; conduct Critical Incident Stress Debriefing training; and educate detectives and police officers how to best handle situations with the mentally ill and disabled.
    Average annual salary: $65,000
  • Federal Government Employee:
    Your training and knowledge will be attractive to such agencies as VA hospitals, DEA, FBI, CIA, or any other state and local government institutions. You teach other government employees to think critically, apply psychological perspectives to real-world situations, and combine interdisciplinary perspectives. This kind of preparation means you can help individuals to become a VA hospital employee or an FBI special agent.
    Average annual salary: $65,000

Salary by Occupation


Occupations Entry-Level Mid-Career Late-Career
Victim Advocate $33,900 $38,400 $41,400
Licensed Clinical Professional Counselor $40,500 $50,200 $59,000
Forensic Psychologist $50,600 $82,100 $93,900
Psychology Researcher $76,900 $89,800 $100,500

Options to Advance


After earning your online master’s degree in forensic psychology, you may spot a role that interests you. The only problem might be that you have to have a PhD or hold your doctoral degree in forensic psychology. Earning this degree will take about five years. At this level, you’re going to dig even deeper into the meeting ground between criminal justice and psychology. You’ll delve more deeply into mental health issues that lead someone to commit crimes; or you may begin working as a consultant, teacher, or researcher.

Search Programs Offering Most Forensic Psychology Majors

Your second option is to earn your Doctorate in Forensic Psychology (PsyD). Here, you expand your knowledge and training in civil areas of law, such as child custody evaluations, divorce, lawsuits that involve personal injury, employment, discrimination, professional malpractice, and other legal issues. You may also consult on child protection cases and involuntary civil commitment issues. Expect to consult on competence to stand trial.

Frequently Asked Questions


Do I really need a master’s degree to work in forensic psychology?

As with many psychology roles, such as most counseling positions, you will need a master’s to work in forensic psychology. It’s not that you can’t gain promotions without the degree; it’s that you literally cannot hold most positions in forensic psychology unless you already have a master’s degree. In this case, an advanced degree beyond a bachelor’s won’t just help your career, it will be essential.

What are the specific job options for those who have a master’s in forensic psychology?

There are a number of lower-level roles that you can earn with a bachelor’s in this field, though most of these are not really related to psychology, such as the role of police officer or detective. These are law enforcement roles that could benefit from knowledge in the field of psychology. The roles for those who have earned a master’s in forensic psychology include correctional counselor, crime analyst, federal government employee, forensic research psychologist, forensic social worker, investigative consultant, jail supervisor, jury consultant, licensed professional clinical counselor, police consultant, victim advocate, etc. These are complex roles that require a great deal of education, but they will pay well and provide you with an interesting career path to follow.

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