Students interested in earning a forensic psychology degree need a high school or GED diploma. Some schools accept other high school equivalency exams. Degree-seekers complete major and general education courses. Some programs allow learners to double major or minor.
Bachelor’s degree holders can apply to master’s programs. They can also pursue careers as caseworkers, claims supervisors, or psychological stress evaluators. This page highlights the best forensic psychology degrees, including common courses and licensure requirements.View Our Rankings List Here
Frequently Asked Questions About Forensic Psychology Degrees
Q. What’s the difference between forensic psychology and forensic science?
Forensic psychologists work with criminals and survivors to understand why crime occurs. Forensic scientists collect and analyze physical crime scene evidence.
Q. How many years does it take to become a forensic psychologist?
A licensed forensic psychologist may need up to 10 years of higher education. This figure includes four years in an undergraduate program, two years in a master’s program, and four years in a doctoral program. Students must also gain professional experience to qualify for licensure. Required hours vary by state.
Q. What can I do with a bachelor’s degree in forensic psychology?
Graduates can work as disability case managers, financial aid counselors, or human resource advisors. Some positions require additional education or training.
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Why Get a Degree in Forensic Psychology?
Bachelor’s degree holders can explore many forensic psychology degree jobs. They can also pursue a master’s or doctorate in forensic psychology. States require the latter for licensure.
Online forensic psychology courses offer many benefits. Students attending an accredited school receive the same education as on-campus learners. Many online forensic psychology programs also run asynchronously. Learners can complete coursework around job and family responsibilities.
How Much Does a Forensic Psychology Degree Cost?
The cost of a forensic psychology degree varies by school. In-state, public schools charge the most affordable tuition. Students pursuing bachelor’s degrees at in-state, public colleges spent an average of $26,820 in 2020-21. Learners at private colleges spent an average of $54,880. Students can lower their out-of-pocket costs by applying for financial aid such as scholarships and grants.
Online learning may require extra expenses, such as a new computer and commuting to internship or practicum sites. Some courses may include lab fees. Prospective students can check school websites for information on extra costs.
How Much Do Forensic Psychology Majors Make?
Salary depends on forensic psychologists’ degree level, employer, and geographic location. Bachelor’s graduates working as market research analysts or training and development specialists earn median annual salaries above $60,000. These salaries exceed what the typical U.S. worker earns by more than $20,000.
Professionals can increase their salary by earning an advanced degree. Licensed forensic psychologists earn a median annual salary of $82,180. All workers with a psychology background can boost their earning potential through continuing education (CE).
Courses in Forensic Psychology
Forensic psychology programs include general education and forensic psychology courses. Coursework helps learners hone communication, analytical, and research skills. Students can apply these skills in their graduate education and career. Enrollees can customize their education through electives to prepare for graduate school or a specific career path.
See below for three undergraduate forensic psychology courses. Course topics and requirements vary by program. Prospective students can learn more by visiting a school’s online student handbook or contacting an admissions representative.
Psychological DisordersForensic psychologists must understand why people commit crimes. The answer may involve a psychological disorder. Coursework covers different conditions, symptoms, and the latest treatment methods. This course helps students reinforce the skills they developed in introductory psychology courses. Assessments require learners to analyze case studies.
Forensic EvaluationLicensed forensic psychologists interview criminals and survivors. These professionals must follow basic procedures and the law. Coursework covers different interview strategies and best practices. Master’s and doctoral programs build upon these topics and prepare learners for licensure. Students take this course after completing prerequisites.
Courts and Judicial ProcessEnrollees study how forensic psychologists work within the criminal justice system. The course emphasizes the justice system’s structure and functions. Degree-seekers analyze how psychologists, lawyers, and other officials work together to prosecute criminals. Learners also research the latest trends impacting the legal system.
How to Become a Forensic Psychologist
After earning a bachelor’s degree, aspiring forensic psychologists should enroll in career-aligned master’s and doctoral programs. Enrollees complete extended projects and lengthy internships. Many top universities offer online graduate psychology degrees. Licensure candidates must meet other experience and exam requirements.
Forensic psychologists may testify in court, give tests, and maintain records. Other tasks vary depending on specialization and years of experience. Some forensic psychologists work exclusively with children, families, or criminals. Most psychologists work for themselves or a government agency.
Licensure for Forensic Psychology
Forensic psychologists need a license to practice. Licensure requirements vary by state. Candidates in New York need a doctorate in psychology from a state-approved program. This program should include coursework in child abuse identification reporting. The state board of licensure reviews out-of-state degrees on a case-by-case basis.
New York forensic psychologists must also meet a 1,750-hour experience requirement. Candidates may begin work on this requirement while completing their doctoral program. The state uses strict guidelines on what qualifies as relevant experience. Candidates spend most of their time working directly with patients. Those meeting the education and experience requirement take the Examination for Professional Practice in Psychology exam.
New York requires forensic psychologists to renew their license every three years. Psychologists earn 36 CE credits for license renewal. The state maintains a list of approved CE providers. Typical CE activities include presenting at a conference, publishing a research paper, and taking a course.
Best Forensic Psychology Degrees
The following ranking highlights the best forensic psychology bachelor’s programs. These programs offer rigorous curricula, helpful support services, and institutional financial aid opportunities. Prospective students should research each school to learn about curriculum and admission requirements. Information may have changed since this article’s publication.
Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University-Prescott
Embry-Riddle, a private aerospace and aviation-focused university, offers a campus-based bachelor of science in forensic psychology at its Prescott, Arizona campus. The program blends applied psychology, forensics, security, and social and behavioral research. All students gain extensive hands-on experience in the university's cybersecurity, intelligence, and forensics labs.
The 122-credit program provides a thorough grounding in science, math, and research. Specialized training follows through topics like criminality, global security, and both United States and international affairs. Courses include psychology of deception detection, investigative methodology and forensic science, and forensic accounting and fraud examination. All students must complete a two-semester capstone experience consisting of a practicum or research project.
Applicants must submit official transcripts. Though not required, the university recommends including ACT or SAT scores, a personal essay, a resume, and two recommendation letters. The average successful applicant shows a GPA of 3.73 and SAT combined scores of 1213 or an ACT score of 26. Embry-Riddle is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.
John Jay College of Criminal Justice
A member of the public City University of New York (CUNY) system, John Jay offers a liberal arts curriculum that prepares students for ethical leadership and global citizenship in the public, private, and nonprofit sectors. Its on-campus bachelor of arts in forensic psychology focuses on the intersection between psychology and criminal justice.
The 120-credit program includes 43-52 major credits in courses such as psychology and the law, theories of personality, and psychology of oppression. All students must choose two capstone experiences. Options range from a specialized seminar to an advanced research experience. Optionally, students may complete an honors thesis. The program also offers an accelerated BA/MA program for qualified students.
Applicants must submit official transcripts and SAT or ACT scores (waived through Spring 2022). John Jay is regionally accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education.
Walla Walla University
College Place, WA
The private Adventist WWU, located in College Place, Washington, offers a campus-based bachelor of science in forensic psychology. Designed for those interested in careers in probation, parole, or law enforcement, the program requires students to take 63 major credits along with their general education requirements.
Courses include introduction to criminal Justice, advanced forensic psychology, and research methods. All students must also complete a three-credit volunteer practicum experience.
Admission requirements include official transcripts reflecting a minimum GPA of 2.5, ACT or SAT scores, and a personal reference. Students without a high school diploma may qualify for admission by examination with a GED total score of 640. Homeschool students need not take the GED. Applicants under age 18 with at least two completed years of high school and a passing score on the California High School Proficiency Examination may apply with parental permission and a letter explaining the reasons for acceleration. WWU is regionally accredited by the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities.
Maryville, a private university in St. Louis, Missouri, offers an online or campus-based bachelor of arts in forensic psychology. Students prepare for careers in victim assistance, corrections, or similar fields, or for graduate school.
In addition to traditional general liberal arts courses, all students take psychology courses such as human development through the lifespan, psychological testing, and multicultural psychology. Students also take criminal justice classes, including an introduction to criminal investigations, criminal law and procedure, and police psychology. On-campus students participate in a senior seminar, while online students complete a senior project. All students must also complete a 150-contact-hour internship.
Applicants must submit official transcripts showing a minimum GPA of 2.5 or a GED score of at least 660 with no section score below 145. Maryville is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.
Florida Institute of Technology
Florida Tech, a private research university in Melbourne, offers a campus-based bachelor of arts in forensic psychology. The 120-credit program requires two semesters of a foreign language.
Beyond general education requirements, all students take basic social science courses such as cross-cultural and ethnic psychology, psychology of personality, and introduction to child advocacy. They also take one natural science class, such as human cognition: theory and application, sensation and perception, or animal learning and behavior. They then choose five forensic psychology courses such as forensic behavior investigation and identification, critical Issues in forensic psychology, or introduction to child advocacy. All students must also complete an internship and research project.
Admission requirements include official transcripts and ACT or SAT scores (students may request a case-by-case waiver due to COVID-19). The university recommends (though does not require) an essay and a letter of recommendation. Florida Tech is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.