Best Ph.D. In Forensic Psychology Degrees

Updated November 17, 2022

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The most common career goal is to become a forensic psychologist. While forensic psychologists have many roles, one of them is to directly interact with the legal

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Forensic Psychology PhD Programs

This hit TV show features a group of FBI criminal profilers who go around the country to solve murder-related crimes. Unlike other shows that focus more on the physical evidence, “Criminal Minds” focuses on the why: Why did the criminal commit the crime? What state of mind did he or she possess to commit such a horrible thing? While the field of Forensic Psychology has some of the same characteristics as seen in the show, these psychologists are not necessarily just working to solve crimes.

Forensic Psychology is the practice of psychology (i.e. behavioral, cognitive, social) within the context of the legal system. Thus, forensic psychologists must also understand both psychological principles and theories along with how our justice system works. These professionals work alongside offenders, law enforcement, and the government. The Ph.D. is the highest degree awarded within the field. Keep reading to see College Choice’s ranking of the best 35 degrees in Forensic Psychology.

What kind of degree in Forensic Psychology should you get?

Two main degree types exist in this field: the Doctor of Philosophy and the Doctor of Psychology. The goal of the Ph.D. is to produce scholars who will contribute something new to the field, and thus this degree is best for future educators and researchers. On the other hand, the goal of the Psy.D. is to produce practicing scholars who will work directly with patients. Generally, Ph.D. programs will take a year or two longer to complete than the Psy.D. In addition, while both degrees contain mandatory research, the Psy.D. will have more emphasis on clinical training.

Though some degrees will be titled “Forensic Psychology,” the majority of degrees listed in this ranking will be a Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology, usually with an emphasis or concentration in Forensic Psychology or Forensics. A few degrees listed are a combination of both Law and Psychology. To figure out which degree is right for you, be sure to look at the course requirements and program outcomes to determine if your career goals align with them.

Not quite ready for a Ph.D. program? College Choice has also ranked the best Master’s Degrees in Forensic Psychology.

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How much money does a Ph.D. in Forensic Psychology make?

Unfortunately, there are not many government data on exact salaries for those who hold a Ph.D. in Forensic Psychology or for those within the field itself. According to Payscale, however, those with a Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology make an average salary of about $85,000. Under this category, forensic psychologists are listed as having an average salary of $80,685. Salary will depend on one’s experience, location, and if he or she is employed by a private company or the government.

As of 2018, the Bureau of Labor Statistics shows the median salary of all psychologists regardless of education level is $79,010. Government psychologists made the most with a median salary of $96,410, compared with hospital and other healthcare service employees who held median salaries of $86,530 and lower. The BLS projects that all psychologists will experience a 14% job growth from 2016 to 2026, which is much faster than the national average.

What can you do with a Ph.D. in Forensic Psychology?

The most common career goal is to become a forensic psychologist. Have you ever watched a crime show that has psychologists speaking at the witness stand in court? While forensic psychologists have many roles, one of them is to directly interact with the legal system and work alongside law enforcement. Forensic psychologists may act as counselors for offenders in correctional facilities, help to profile criminals in cases, or even get called in as expert witnesses in trials.

Of course, due to the high research activity that goes into getting one’s Ph.D., many choose to become professors and/or researchers instead. Professors work at colleges or universities teaching psychology or other related courses. Other people will work in research institutions to produce clinical studies and write papers for academic journals. There are several different jobs to choose from, and the Ph.D. is a versatile enough degree that gives students both research and clinical practice skills.

What are the requirements for a Ph.D. in Forensic Psychology?

Most applicants apply after obtaining their Bachelor’s degree in Psychology, but some may choose to apply with a Master’s degree. Generally, the Ph.D. will take anywhere from four to six years to complete, though Master’s students will be able to complete the program in a quicker time frame. Coursework will take up the first couple of years of the program. Throughout the program, students are required to maintain a very high academic standing. Generally, schools will want to see a GPA of at least a 3.0 in all major classes out of a 4.0 scale.

Some schools will allow students to start their practicum/internship right after the first year, while others will not start until later. All schools differ on how many practicum hours are required. Practicum and internship sites must be accredited by the American Psychological Association for it to be counted toward the degree. The Ph.D. will culminate with a dissertation and then usually a year-long pre-doctoral dissertation.

The Best Doctorate Degrees in Forensic Psychology 2022

#1 Best Ph.D. In Forensic Psychology Degrees

Drexel University

  • Philadelphia, PA
  • 4 years
  • Online + Campus

Students in the Ph.D. in forensic psychology program at Drexel University gain competency in the field through specialized, flexible study. The private college features competitive doctoral programs in 48 subject areas. Many of the school's doctoral programs include online course options to maximize flexibility.

Candidates take doctoral classes, conduct research, and pass comprehensive examinations. At the conclusion of the program, learners pass a dissertation defense to demonstrate their mastery of forensic psychology. Doctoral students also participate in faculty-led and independent research, and many present at academic conferences. Graduates prepare for research and academic roles through these opportunities.

During the program, degree-seekers make progress in a flexible environment. Online study lets candidates pursue additional career, research, and professional opportunities. The degree also offers flexibility to in-person enrollees, allowing for customization so students can prepare for careers outside of academia. Contact the program for more information about the curriculum and application process.

Average Tuition
In-state
$52,146
Out-of-state
$52,146
Retention Rate
89%
Admission Rate
75%
Students Enrolled
24,205
Institution Type
Private
Percent Online Enrollment
38% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes Middle States Commission on Higher Education

#2 Best Ph.D. In Forensic Psychology Degrees

Montclair State University

  • Montclair, NJ
  • 4 years
  • Online + Campus

Montclair State University offers a Ph.D. in forensic psychology that builds advanced knowledge in the field. At the public university, graduate learners can enroll in nine doctoral programs. Many of these programs offer both in-person and online enrollment options.

Candidates take doctoral classes, conduct research, and pass comprehensive examinations. Throughout the program, learners work with faculty advisors to propose, write, and defend a dissertation contributing original research to the field. Degree candidates can also pursue faculty-led and independent research, present at conferences, and teach. Graduates train for academic and research careers through these opportunities.

During the program, degree-seekers select courses and research options that fit their schedule. Students gain professional and research experience independently. The program's experiential learning components prepare enrollees for careers outside of academia. Prospective applicants can contact the school for more information about the program.

Average Tuition
In-state
$12,082
Out-of-state
$20,042
Retention Rate
80%
Admission Rate
76%
Students Enrolled
21,007
Institution Type
Public
Percent Online Enrollment
31% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes Middle States Commission on Higher Education

#3 Best Ph.D. In Forensic Psychology Degrees

Fordham University

  • Bronx, NY
  • 4 years
  • Online + Campus

Students seeking a doctorate can enroll in the Ph.D. in forensic psychology program at Fordham University. The private college features competitive doctoral programs in 27 subject areas. Many of the doctoral programs promote flexibility by offering online classes.

Candidates take doctoral courses and pass comprehensive exams to complete their degree. As a culminating project, learners conduct original research and defend a dissertation to demonstrate mastery in the field. Doctoral students also participate in faculty-led and independent research, and many present at academic conferences. These opportunities train graduates for careers in research and academia.

While academically rigorous, the program provides flexible options for learners. Students can take on independent careers, research, and professional opportunities. Students also prepare for careers outside of academia through experiential learning components. Contact the program to learn more about the doctoral curriculum and career placements.

Average Tuition
In-state
$52,980
Out-of-state
$52,980
Retention Rate
91%
Admission Rate
46%
Students Enrolled
16,972
Institution Type
Private
Percent Online Enrollment
12% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes Middle States Commission on Higher Education

#4 Best Ph.D. In Forensic Psychology Degrees

Sam Houston State University

  • Huntsville, TX
  • 4 years
  • Online + Campus

The Ph.D. in forensic psychology program at Sam Houston State University provides specialized, advanced training in the field. With eight doctoral programs, the public university stands out for its graduate options. Many of the institution's doctoral programs enable both in-person and online study.

Degree candidates meet coursework requirements that strengthen research skills. As a culminating project, learners write and defend a dissertation that contributes to the field. Many doctoral students participate in faculty-led and independent research to hone their academic skills. Graduates pursue academic and research careers after completing the program.

While academically rigorous, the program also promotes flexibility for degree-seekers. Candidates benefit from a great deal of autonomy in pursuing research and professional opportunities. The program's hands-on components train students for careers outside of academia. For more information about the application process and start dates, reach out to the program.

Average Tuition
In-state
$5,856
Out-of-state
$15,984
Retention Rate
75%
Admission Rate
83%
Students Enrolled
21,558
Institution Type
Public
Percent Online Enrollment
53% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges

#5 Best Ph.D. In Forensic Psychology Degrees

Pacific University

  • Forest Grove, OR
  • 4 years
  • Online + Campus

Pacific University offers a specialized, flexible route to a doctorate in its Ph.D. in forensic psychology program. At the private university, doctoral learners choose from seven subject areas. Many of the doctoral programs welcome students to on-campus and online classes.

The program includes doctoral classes, comprehensive exams, and research components. At the conclusion of the program, learners pass a dissertation defense to demonstrate their mastery of forensic psychology. Outside of the classroom, doctoral students pursue research projects and present at academic conferences. Graduates train for academic and research careers through these opportunities.

While academically rigorous, learners benefit from flexible enrollment options. Doctoral candidates can access professional and research support. In addition to academic and research roles, the program's customization options lead to a variety of other career opportunities. Contact the program to learn more about the doctoral curriculum and career placements.

Average Tuition
In-state
$45,344
Out-of-state
$45,344
Retention Rate
81%
Admission Rate
87%
Students Enrolled
3,832
Institution Type
Private
Percent Online Enrollment
18% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities

#6 Best Ph.D. In Forensic Psychology Degrees

Nova Southeastern University

  • Fort Lauderdale, FL
  • 4 years
  • Online + Campus

Nova Southeastern University offers a Ph.D. in forensic psychology that builds advanced knowledge in the field. The private university enrolls degree-seekers in 37 doctoral programs. Many of the doctoral programs enable both in-person and online study.

Students complete coursework, take comprehensive exams, and gain research experience. Throughout the program, learners meet with faculty advisors to work on an original research project that contributes to the field. Doctoral students conduct independent research, present at conferences, and gain teaching experience. These opportunities provide the foundation for academic and research careers.

While academically rigorous, the program also promotes flexibility for degree-seekers. Enrollees receive professional and research support. Students also prepare for careers outside of academia by taking on industry-focused projects. For more information about the application process and start dates, reach out to the program.

Average Tuition
In-state
$31,150
Out-of-state
$31,150
Retention Rate
81%
Admission Rate
80%
Students Enrolled
20,576
Institution Type
Private
Percent Online Enrollment
45% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges

#7 Best Ph.D. In Forensic Psychology Degrees

Spalding University

  • Louisville, KY
  • 4 years
  • Campus

Students in the Psy.D. in clinical psychology program at Spalding University gain competency in forensic psychology through a specialized, flexible emphasis. The private university offers three doctoral programs for graduate learners. Many of the doctoral programs promote flexibility by offering online classes.

Candidates take doctoral classes, conduct research, and pass comprehensive examinations. Learners demonstrate their mastery of the field by writing and defending a dissertation that makes original contributions. Outside of the classroom, doctoral students pursue research projects and present at academic conferences. These opportunities train graduates for careers in research and academia.

During the program, degree-seekers benefit from the program's academic rigor and flexibility. The program encourages candidates to strengthen their research and professional training. Career workshops and experiential learning opportunities also prepare students for careers outside of academia. Prospective applicants can contact the program to learn more about doctoral admission requirements.

Average Tuition
In-state
$25,200
Out-of-state
$25,200
Retention Rate
70%
Admission Rate
79%
Students Enrolled
1,629
Institution Type
Private
Percent Online Enrollment
37% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges

#8 Best Ph.D. In Forensic Psychology Degrees

Carlos Albizu University-Miami

  • Miami, FL
  • 4 years
  • Online + Campus

Students can earn a Psy.D. in clinical psychology at Carlos Albizu University-Miami. The private university offers competitive doctoral programs in two subject areas. Many of the doctoral programs provide on-campus and online enrollment options.

Candidates in the program can focus their studies on forensic psychology. They complete coursework, research, and examination requirements. As a culminating project, learners conduct original research and defend a dissertation to demonstrate mastery in forensic psychology. Outside of the classroom, doctoral students conduct independent research and present at conferences. Graduates train for academic and research careers through these opportunities.

While academically rigorous, the program also encourages flexibility. Enrollees can pursue career and professional opportunities. The program's experiential learning components prepare students for careers outside of academia. For more information about admission requirements and start dates, contact the program.

Average Tuition
In-state
$11,628
Out-of-state
$11,628
Retention Rate
60%
Admission Rate
56%
Students Enrolled
720
Institution Type
Private
Percent Online Enrollment
16% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes Middle States Commission on Higher Education

#9 Best Ph.D. In Forensic Psychology Degrees

Palo Alto University

  • Palo Alto, CA
  • 4 years
  • Online + Campus

Palo Alto University offers a Ph.D. with an emphasis in forensic psychology for students seeking advanced, specialized training in the field. Many of the private university's doctoral programs promote flexibility by offering online classes.

Candidates in the program take doctoral courses and pass comprehensive exams to complete their degree. At the conclusion of the program, learners defend their dissertation to demonstrate expertise in the field. Many doctoral students participate in faculty-led and independent research to hone their academic skills. These opportunities provide the foundation for academic and research careers.

While rigorous, the program provides unparalleled flexibility through its dual modality. Candidates benefit from autonomy in pursuing research and professional opportunities. Career workshops and experiential learning opportunities also prepare students for careers outside of academia. For more information about financial aid opportunities and career training, contact the program.

Average Tuition
In-state
$17,454
Out-of-state
$17,454
Retention Rate
Not provided
Admission Rate
Not provided
Students Enrolled
1,075
Institution Type
Private
Percent Online Enrollment
32% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes Western Association of Schools and Colleges Senior Colleges and University Commission

#10 Best Ph.D. In Forensic Psychology Degrees

Walden University

  • Minneapolis, MN
  • 4 years
  • Online

Students seeking a flexible doctoral program can enroll in the Ph.D. in forensic psychology program at Walden University. Doctoral learners can earn degrees in 20 subject areas at the private institution. Many of the school's doctoral programs include online course options to maximize flexibility.

The forensic psychology program includes doctoral classes, comprehensive exams, and research components. Learners demonstrate their expertise in forensic psychology by writing a dissertation that contributes original research to the field. Doctoral students pursue independent research and present their findings at academic conferences. Graduates pursue careers in academia and research with their degree.

While academically rigorous, the program also encourages flexibility. Candidates take on independent career, research, and professional opportunities. The program's flexibility encourages students to customize the course of study to prepare for a variety of career paths. For more information about the application process and start dates, reach out to the program.

Average Tuition
In-state
$10,428
Out-of-state
$10,428
Retention Rate
Not provided
Admission Rate
Not provided
Students Enrolled
48,420
Institution Type
Private
Percent Online Enrollment
Not provided
Accreditation
Yes Higher Learning Commission

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