Best Forensic Psychology Degrees 2021

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Forensic psychology is a psychology subfield focusing on the law and criminal procedures. Professionals who specialize in forensic psychology work with other psychology experts and law enforcement professionals to interview witnesses, select juries, and analyze testimonies. Unlike forensic psychologists, forensic scientists examine crime scenes and physical evidence.

In addition to technical knowledge, forensic psychologists need an analytical mindset, the ability to communicate with people from different backgrounds, patience, and problem-solving skills. Undergraduate coursework in the field helps students develop and hone these and other crucial skills.

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Aspiring forensic scientists begin by earning a bachelor’s in forensic psychology. Undergraduate programs in the field prepare learners to succeed in master’s and doctoral programs. Many advanced psychology positions require a terminal degree and a state-issued license.

Top 5 Forensic Psychology Degrees

Rank School Location
1 CUNY John Jay College of Criminal Justice New York, NY
2 Purdue University Global West Lafayette, IN
3 Florida Institute of Technology Melbourne, FL
4 University of New Haven West Haven, CT
5 California Baptist University Riverside, CA


  • What is forensic psychology?

    Forensic psychology is a psychology subfield that involves analyzing the mental states of criminals, victims, witnesses, and potential jurors.

  • How long does it take to earn a bachelor's in forensic psychology?

    Full-time learners typically complete forensic psychology bachelor’s programs in about four years. Part-time students generally require more time to earn the degree.

  • Can I study forensic psychology online?

    Many top universities offer online bachelor’s in forensic psychology programs. Online learning often benefits busy students who need flexible scheduling options.

  • What is the difference between forensic psychology and forensic science?

    Forensic psychologists and scientists work with law enforcement to solve crimes. However, forensic scientists collect and analyze physical evidence.

Best Forensic Psychology Degrees 2021

The following ranking highlights the best forensic psychology bachelor’s programs for 2021. 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.

  1. CUNY John Jay College of Criminal Justice

    New York, NY




    The City University of New York John Jay College of Criminal Justice offers a liberal arts education for students who wish to work as leaders in public policy. The school had its roots in the mid-1950s, when issues between the community and police began to be more apparent. Before its founding in 1964, a police science program was formed, setting the foundation for what would be John Jay’s strong liberal arts education. Today the college is known nationwide as a reputable criminal justice school, that works with the city to promote ethical change.

    Program Features

    John Jay’s BA in Forensic Psychology studies the relationship between psychology and the criminal justice system, using the empirical approach to understand human behavior.

    • Sample Courses: Multicultural Psychology, Psychology and the Law, Correctional Psychology
    • Eligible students may submit an honors thesis
    • Internship program in hospitals, prisons, or other related agencies


    This program is one of the most popular undergraduate majors, with 17 percent of its undergraduates enrolled in this degree.

  2. Purdue University Global

    West Lafayette, IN




    Purdue University Global is an online university that is part of the Purdue University system, offering 180 degrees at the undergraduate, graduate, and doctorate level. Although its flagship campus is located in West Lafayette, students can access their coursework at anytime anywhere. Professors and counselors work with students one-on-one to create a schedule and career path that best fits each person’s individual needs. Purdue Global’s online system also comes with live technical support so students can feel comfortable 24/7.

    Program Features

    Purdue Global’s BS in Criminal Justice degree with a concentration in Forensic Psychology is ideal for those who wish to enter into law enforcement or private security.

    • Purdue Global Tuition Cap to ensure that students only pay a fixed amount
    • Accelerated master’s degree option available
    • Three start dates


    Some possible career placements upon graduation include but are not limited to prisons, homeland security, cybercrime, or parole and probation. Students should talk with a career counselor about all the options available.

  3. Florida Institute of Technology

    Melbourne, FL




    The Florida Institute of Technology began as the Brevard Engineering College in 1958, the same year that NASA was founded. Its founder, Jerome P. Keuper, Ph.D., was a physicist who wanted to create a scientific and technological university. Today Florida Tech has five colleges, with its Bachelor’s in Forensic Psychology located in College of Psychology & Liberal Arts. According to the\ U.S. News & World Report, Florida Tech is a tier 1 best national university. It was also named one of the best by the\ Wall Street Journal.

    Program Features

    Florida Tech’s BA in Forensic Psychology program puts in practice psychological theory in the criminal justice system. Students will learn about human behavior and how it relates to policy enforcement.

    • Eligibility to receive a Child Advocacy Certificate
    • Opportunities to support research projects with the FBI
    • Low student-to-faculty ratio


    All students must complete an internship in their senior year. Some previous internships were at the local jail, state attorney’s office, or NCIS.

  4. University of New Haven

    West Haven, CT




    The University of New Haven was founded in 1920 with the mission of providing a student-centered, liberal arts education. All students are encouraged to take initiative through various on-campus and community events, with the hope that they will be prepared to be the next global leaders. Currently there are about 7,000 students that are enrolled in New Haven. The university has also received a number of awards and accolades, with a prominent one being among\ The Princeton Reviews’ 2018 list of the best 382 colleges.

    Program Features

    New Haven’s BA in Psychology with a concentration in Forensic Psychology degree prepares students to understand human behavior in conjunction with the nation’s legal systems.

    • Sample Courses: Abnormal Psychology, Child Development, Criminology
    • Part-time and full-time options
    • Courses taken in both the psychology and criminal justice & forensic sciences colleges


    According to research by\ Encoura, students who graduate with this major have opportunities to enter into positions with high level growth. For instance, a border patrol agent’s median salary is $59,000 and will experience a seven percent growth until 2027.

  5. California Baptist University

    Riverside, CA




    California Baptist University is a private Christian university that is located in Southern California. It was established in 1950 by the California Southern Baptist Convention. The 160-acre campus offers beautiful Spanish architecture that is located in the city of Riverside. All programs seek to prepare students for their future careers while maintaining a strong spiritual life.

    Program Features

    CBU’s BA in Psychology with a concentration in Forensic Psychology program integrates a Christian lens with secular psychological research and theory.

    • 47 major units plus 12-15 concentration units
    • Sample Courses: Epistemology & Worldview, Theories of Personality, Psychophysiology
    • Internship and research programs available


    With its liberal arts centered education, CBU aims to grow students in their faith journey while they study an area they are passionate about. Some common careers upon completion of this program include counseling, research, business, or education.

Career and Salary Outlook for Forensic Psychology

The daily experience of forensic psychologists varies based on their position and employer. Typical work settings include police stations, prisons, hospitals, and rehabilitation centers. Job duties include interviewing clients to determine their mental state. Forensic psychologists may use collected information to make treatment recommendations. These professionals may also provide testimony during criminal and civil trials.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects employment for psychologists to increase 3% from 2019 to 2029, a rate about the same as the national average for all occupations. This suggests that graduates of forensic psychology bachelor’s programs should enter a stable job market.

The BLS reports that psychologists earn a median salary of $80,370 per year. This figure includes salary data for all psychology professions, including forensic psychologists. Earning potential depends on factors including geographic location and credentials. Professionals with licensure, certification, and experience typically earn more than their peers. Forensic psychologists in major cities generally earn higher salaries than those in rural areas.

Career Lowest 10% Median Annual Salary Highest 10%
Psychologist Less than $45,380 $80,370 More than $132,070

Source: BLS

Accreditation for Forensic Psychology Degrees

Prospective students should choose schools that possess regional accreditation. The U.S. Department of Education charters six regional accreditation agencies to review postsecondary institutions throughout the United States. Students who graduate with a bachelor’s in forensic psychology from an unaccredited school may not qualify for employment or graduate studies.

Even the most rigorous forensic psychology bachelor’s programs typically do not qualify for field-specific accreditation, since programmatic accreditation agencies such as APA do not accredit undergraduate programs. Only doctoral programs can earn APA accreditation. Students must earn a doctorate from an APA-accredited program to be eligible for a state-issued clinical psychologist license.

Courses in a Forensic Psychology Bachelor’s Program

Forensic psychology bachelor’s programs require approximately 120 credits. General education courses help learners develop transferable communication, writing, and research skills. Major coursework also emphasizes research skills, as well as psychology fundamentals. Advanced courses explore topics including forensic, correctional, and abnormal psychology. Some programs include elective credits, which learners may use to complete a second major or a minor.

Forensic psychology curricula often include the following classes. However, course titles and academic requirements vary by school. Students should contact their prospective school’s admissions department for details regarding its bachelor’s in forensic psychology program.

Forensic psychologists need strong research and analytical skills. This class introduces psychology research fundamentals. Learners analyze research, complete projects, and conduct experiments. Degree-seekers take the course during their first year of studies to prepare for advanced research projects later in their program.

Criminology explores the reasons that people commit crime. Students examine various psychological theories and factors that lead people to break the law. This foundational course requires existing psychology knowledge. Courses such as criminology, correctional psychology, and abnormal psychology generally require one or more psychology prerequisites.

An individual’s physical and intellectual development affects their behavior. This class examines life stages from conception to death. Coursework emphasizes healthy development and helps students understand the biological and societal forces that affect criminal behavior.

Forensic psychologists use statistics knowledge to turn research data into applicable results. This course emphasizes advanced statistical concepts, including chi-square tests, regression, and correlation and regression. Students demonstrate mastery of course topics by creating software projects. The class typically requires prerequisites in introductory statistics.

Many of the best forensic psychology bachelor’s programs require a capstone project. Learners typically conduct original research and collaborate with a faculty member. Seniors usually produce a research paper and give an oral presentation to faculty. Applicants to master’s or doctoral forensic psychology programs often include their senior project in their application portfolio.

Scholarships for Forensic Psychology

Students in even the most affordable forensic psychology bachelor’s programs often need financial aid to avoid debt. Colleges and universities generally offer merit-based and need-based aid for undergraduate students. However, awards may not cover all education expenses, such as fees and textbooks. Students can apply to private scholarships such as those below, many of which renew annually.

AP-LS Award for Best Undergraduate Paper

Who Can Apply: The American Psychology-Law Society accepts applications for the award until June 30. Candidates submit papers in APA format, which must not exceed 25 pages. Applicants must also submit a recommendation letter from a faculty member.
Amount: $150-$500

HSF Scholarship

Who Can Apply: Hispanic high school seniors and undergraduates can apply for the competitive award from the Hispanic Scholarship Fund. Applicants must possess a minimum 3.0 high school or undergraduate GPA and must be enrolled full time.
Amount: $5,000

WIFLE Scholarship Program

Who Can Apply: Women in Federal Law Enforcement administers this scholarship to support women preparing for careers in law enforcement. Candidates must hold a minimum 3.0 GPA, submit an essay, and provide a statement of support from a police officer or community leader.
Amount: Varies

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