Best Master’s in Forensic Psychology Degrees

Best Master’s in Forensic Psychology Degrees

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Forensic Psychology Masters Programs

Forensic psychologists analyze criminals' and survivors' mental states. Licensed forensic psychologists need a doctorate. Forensic psychology master's programs prepare learners to enter a doctoral program. Applicants to master's programs need a bachelor's in psychology or a related field. Some programs require recommendation letters and standardized test scores.

Graduates can enter a doctoral program or the workforce. Degree holders may work as correctional counselors, jail supervisors, or jury consultants. Some careers require a forensic psychology degree and professional experience.View Our Rankings List Here

Frequently Asked Questions About Forensic Psychology

What is the best major for forensic psychology?

Students interested in forensic psychology master's programs should earn a bachelor's in psychology. Some programs accept applicants with other undergraduate degrees.

What can I do with a master's in forensic psychology?

A master's in forensic psychology prepares learners for doctoral programs. Graduates can also work as police consultants, counselors, or crime analysts.

Can I become a forensic psychologist with a psychology degree?

Licensed forensic psychologists need a doctorate to practice. Earning a doctorate can take up to eight years. Other licensure requirements include relevant work experience under a licensed psychologist's supervision.

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Why Get a Degree in Forensic Psychology?

Forensic psychologists contribute research and findings that impact the criminal justice field. These professionals can specialize in civil, criminal, or family casework. Psychologists earn a median annual salary of $82,180, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). This exceeds the median annual salary of $41,950 for all occupations.

The BLS projects jobs for psychologists to grow 8% from 2020-2030. Earning an online forensic psychology degree provides flexibility. Learners can complete coursework from anywhere. Many online programs run asynchronously and include access to various student resources.

How Much Does a Forensic Psychology Degree Cost?

As of October 2021, the cost of a master's degree averages more than $66,000. In-state public schools offer the most affordable programs. Learners with a bachelor's in forensic psychology can potentially save money since some online master's programs excuse them from introductory courses. Full-time enrollees can complete a master's program in two years.

In addition to tuition and fees, online learners should budget for other expenses. They may need to buy a new computer or pay a graduation fee. Some online programs include on-campus components. Learners should plan for commuting or travel expenses.

How Much Do Forensic Psychology Majors Make?

Students planning their forensic psychology career path should consider different careers' salary potential. Top-earning psychologists earn a median annual salary of nearly $138,000. Positions in California, Alaska, and Illinois feature salaries much higher than the median. However, workers in these states may face a higher cost of living.

Master's degree holders who do not pursue a doctorate may work as marriage and family therapists. These professionals make a median annual salary of $51,340. Graduates may also work as school and career counselors, who earn a median annual salary of $58,120. Both of these careers require a master's degree and licensure.

Professionals can increase their salary potential by gaining experience and completing continuing education (CE) courses.

Courses in Forensic Psychology

Learners hone their analytical and research skills during forensic psychology master's programs. Core curriculum emphasizes ethics and diversity. Coursework trains students to work with people from many backgrounds. Programs usually include a final-semester capstone course or master's thesis.

See below for common courses in a master's in forensic psychology program. Keep in mind that courses, academic experiences, and graduation requirements vary by program. Prospective students can review a program's website or contact a school's admissions advisors to learn more about the degree.

  • Forensic Psychology

    This introductory course covers the field's purpose and history. Students learn the latest trends and challenges forensic psychologists face. Enrollees explore the field's specialization areas and career paths. They also review ethical considerations. Typical prerequisites include the degree's core curriculum.
  • Assessment for Forensic Psychology

    Forensic psychologists assess survivors' and criminals' mental states. They must understand proper procedures, techniques, and tools. Forensic psychologists need a solid understanding of the criminal justice system. Course assignments include analyzing family and criminal law. Learners consider how these laws affect different groups.
  • Intersection of Law and Psychology

    Forensic psychologists work within the criminal justice system. This course prepares students for this work. Assignments emphasize the challenges and dilemmas professionals face on the job. Other coursework covers how the law and recent court cases define forensic psychologists' responsibilities. Students explore how forensic psychologists' findings impact jurors' decisions.

How to Become a Forensic Psychologist

Becoming a forensic psychologist requires education and experience. These professionals need a doctorate from an accredited university. Top doctoral programs feature a one-year internship. Learners complete a final project rather than write a dissertation. A doctorate and postgraduate experience qualify individuals to sit for their state's licensure exam.

Licensed forensic psychologists perform many roles, such as interviewing survivors and suspects. The conclusions they draw from these meetings influence court proceedings and trials' outcomes. They also give tests and publish research. Forensic psychologists with extensive experience may mentor less-experienced professionals or teach in college.

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Licensure for Forensic Psychology

The requirements for earning a forensic psychology license vary by state. Psychologists in California need a doctorate from a state-approved university and 3,000 hours of professional experience. They may meet half of this requirement while in graduate school. Individuals who satisfy these two requirements may sit for licensing exams.

California requires the Examination for Professional Practice in Psychology (EPPP) exam. The EPPP's two sections assess test-takers' competencies with psychology knowledge and skills. All questions use a multiple-choice format. Aspiring California psychologists also take the California Psychology Laws and Ethics Examination. Every state uses a version of this exam that covers relevant laws.

California forensic psychologists earn CE credits to maintain their license. The state requires 36 CE credits every two years. How contact hours translate into CE credits varies depending on when someone earned a license. Other state-specific requirements include CE courses in spousal abuse and prevention.

Best Master's in Forensic Psychology Degrees

Our guide ranks the best forensic psychology master's programs in the country. The schools on this list offer academic rigor, professional preparation, and student support services. Each school also holds regional accreditation.

  1. George Washington University

    Washington, DC

    Based in Washington, D.C., GW offers an MA in forensic psychology. The program includes a 250-hour externship training at law enforcement agencies, correctional institutions, and private psychology practices. With day, evening, and weekend options to choose from, students find classes to fit their schedules.

    The 37-credit forensic psychology degree includes 25 core credits, 12 elective credits, and a final exam. Required classes include psychology and the legal system, theories of criminal behavior, and psychopathology.

    Degree-seekers choose between two tracks: applied forensics and applied psychology. Elective classes in the applied forensics track include police psychology and counterintelligence. Electives in applied psychology include victimology and children and adolescents in the legal system.

    Applicants with a JD, MD, or Ph.D. do not need to submit GRE scores. GW is regionally accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education.

  2. University of North Dakota

    Grand Forks, ND



    Based in Grand Forks, UND offers an MS degree in forensic psychology. The 30-credit program offers on-campus and online classes. Students do research, a fieldwork experience, and a required final thesis. Full-time learners typically complete the forensic psychology program in two years. Online students benefit from live chats with professors.

    Required classes include forensic assessment, psychology and law, and behavior pathology. Electives include cognitive psychology, human nature and crime, and victimology.

    Admission criteria includes a 2.75 undergraduate GPA, or a 3.0 GPA in the last two years. Applicants need GRE scores in the 30th percentile or higher. All online learners pay the same per-credit tuition no matter their residency. All veterans and active-duty military pay in-state tuition rates for on-campus programs.

    UND is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.

  3. California Baptist University

    Riverside, CA

    A private Christian college based in Riverside, CBU offers an MA forensic psychology degree. Evening classes let students pursue their degree while advancing their career.

    Core classes include biological bases of behavior and criminal profiling. Students also learn advanced psychopathy and criminality. In the second year of the two-year forensic psychology program, learners gain hands-on experience through a nine-month practicum. Options include an FBI internship or working in a rape crisis center or trial consultant firm. In their final semester, students complete either a thesis or a seven-hour written exam.

    Prerequisite courses to enter the program include general psychology, abnormal psychology, and research methods. Applicants need a minimum 2.75 GPA.

    CBU is regionally accredited by the WASC Senior College and University Commission.

  4. University of Denver

    Denver, CO

    Based in Denver, Colorado, DU offers a master of arts degree in forensic psychology. The university runs on a quarter system, requiring classes in the fall, spring, and winter. Full-time degree-seekers complete the forensic psychology program in two years.

    Featured classes include criminal evaluations and psychology, public policy, and advocacy. Elective coursework and specialized training offer students flexibility. The Denver Forensic Institute for Research, Service, and Training offers opportunities that connect students with local Colorado communities.

    Applicants need a minimum 2.5 GPA. Candidates without a psychology undergraduate major or minor must meet the psychology prerequisite before beginning the program. They do this by taking a psychology class or scoring at least 660 on the psychology GRE.

    DU is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.

  5. University of Central Oklahoma

    Edmond, OK



    Based in Edmond, UCO offers an MS in forensic psychology. The nonclinical forensic psychology degree trains students in quantitative methods of scientific inquiry. The program prepares graduates for law enforcement careers at the local, state, and federal levels. Graduates also pursue careers in fields such as counseling, case management, and applied behavior analysis.

    The 37-credit forensic psychology program requires students to complete and defend a master's thesis. Core psychology classes include theories of personality, cognitive psychology, and behavioral neuroscience. Other classes cover psychology and law and forensic interview techniques.

    Applicants need a minimum 2.75 GPA overall, and minimum 3.0 GPA in their major. Program prerequisites include 21 undergraduate hours in psychology.

    The UCO is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.

  6. Roger Williams University

    Bristol, RI

    Based in Bristol, Rhode Island, RWU offers an on-campus MA in forensic and legal psychology. Learners receive training in clinical assessment, psychological testing, and individual and group interventions. Full-time students typically complete the program in two years and continue on to research-focused doctoral studies.

    Required classes include research design, adult psychopathology, and forensic psychology. Degree-seekers must participate in research practicums or directed research. They also complete a thesis.

    Applicants must submit GRE scores and a 10-page research writing sample. Students enrolled in the forensic psychology program can benefit from graduate assistantships and need-based grants. Assistantships combine scholarships with a paid teaching, research, or work component.

    RWU is regionally accredited by the New England Commission of Higher Education.

  7. Kean University

    Union, NJ



    A public university in Union, New Jersey, Kean offers a master's degree in forensic psychology. The program prepares graduates for doctoral studies in law or psychology. It also prepares professionals for career advancement in law enforcement. It also prepares degree holders for master's-level forensic jobs in correctional settings or forensic psychiatric settings. Working students benefit from evening and weekend classes. Full-time learners typically complete the on-campus program in two years.

    Applicants need a minimum 3.0 GPA. Prerequisite classes include general psychology, statistics, and experimental psychology or research methods.

    Kean is regionally accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education.

  8. CUNY John Jay College of Criminal Justice

    New York, NY



    Part of the CUNY system in New York City, John Jay offers an MA in forensic psychology. The program focuses on how social identities affect research design and testing and our understanding of psychopathology. The degree prepares graduates to work in prisons, family courts, social service agencies, and mental health centers.

    The 42-credit forensic psychology degree includes a three-credit externship in counseling or a prospectus/thesis. The thesis option requires permission from the program director. Required classes include research design and methods and psychopathology. Electives include victimology, terrorism, and mental health in policing.

    Applicants need a minimum 3.0 GPA and 24 undergraduate credit hours in social sciences, including 12 in psychology. Prerequisites include experimental psychology and statistical methods.

    John Jay is regionally accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education.

  9. Holy Names University

    Oakland, CA

    A Catholic university in Oakland, California, HNU offers an on-campus MA forensic psychology degree. HNU's forensic psychology program commits to social justice. The curriculum examines how the criminal justice system impacts different groups based on race, gender, class, and sexual orientation. The degree prepares graduates for positions in law enforcement. Graduates can also work in community-based advocacy and correctional facilities.

    Students benefit from a flexible course schedule, including evening and weekend classes and a hybrid format. Workshops and lectures take place regularly on campus. Field placement opportunities give students hands-on forensic experience. Courses include substance misuse assessment and treatment and forensic psychology and the law.

    Applicants do not need to submit GRE scores. HNU is regionally accredited by the WASC Senior College and University Commission.

  10. Fairleigh Dickinson University-Metropolitan Campus

    Teaneck, NJ

    A private university based in Teaneck, New Jersey, FDU offers an MA in forensic psychology.The program's accelerated curriculum lets students complete the degree in only 1.5 years, including one summer. The degree prepares graduates for master's-level forensic jobs, or for more advanced forensic psychology graduate programs.

    Degree-seekers complete a 300-hour externship and write a thesis or participate in forensic research. During their externship semester, students take only one course, ethics. Students can study British Common Law abroad for one week.

    Competitive applicants need a minimum 3.4 GPA. Applicants do not need to submit GRE scores. Students must earn a grade of "B-" or higher to pass their courses while in the graduate program.

    FDU is regionally accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education.

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