Are you a Sherlock Holmes when it comes to studying human behavior? Are you obsessed with shows like Criminal Mind and Psych – and do you usually solve the case before the show ends? Put your analytical mind to the test and become a forensic psychologist. You’ll work with the whole spectrum of a case: the victims, the criminals, the court system, and beyond. You will be the expert in assessing and investigating criminal intent.
What kind of Online Master’s in Forensic Psychology should you get?
Forensic psychology is the place in which psychology meets criminal justice. You may not be putting people in handcuffs, but you will be working behind the scenes in sometimes high-profile cases. Ultimately, to be a forensic psychologist, you’ll need a PhD in Forensic Psychology. But you’re moving in the right direction by getting your master’s degree because your credits will count toward the total requirement once you get certified.
It’s probably obvious by now, all of these programs are delivered online. Distance learning is increasingly the way to go for working adults. They are flexible, affordable, and just as rigorous as any traditional program. If you’re working your way up to a doctorate in forensic psychology, earning your master’s degree online is a smart way to go.
Although these are online programs, some schools give you the option of coming on-campus for residencies or hands-on learning. If that’s important to you, check out the University of North Dakota or the University of California Irvine.
Truly, all of these programs will give you a great start in a career of forensic psychology. The most important factors for you are what works for your budget and your schedule. If value and return on investment is your top priority, check out our rankings of the Most Affordable Online Master’s in Forensic Psychology.
How much money do people make with an Online Master’s in Forensic Psychology?
Loving your job and feeling purpose in it is the most important thing, of course. But getting compensated for a job well done is a close second. You’ll be happy to hear that you can earn a comfortable income working as a forensic psychologist.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, psychologists make on average $75,230 per year – but that’s just the average. That figure increases to $95,710 for psychologists in a specialized field. That means you!
Forensic psychology is a relatively new field. Court systems and law enforcement are realizing the need for people who know how to communicate and accurately assess victims. In general, psychologists are expected to see an employment increase by 14 percent by 2026. Working on your master’s degree now will get you that much closer to securing a job as a forensic psychologist in a few years.
What can you do with an Online Master’s in Forensic Psychology?
Since forensic psychology is still finding its legs as a new field, there’s a lot of space for you to create the job description that you want. However, as of now, your job will look something like this:
You’ll work one-on-one with a client – this could be law enforcement, adults, children, judges, or lawyers – and interview them about a related case. Often forensic psychologists are asked to step in on child or elder abuse scenarios to determine the details of a case. Alternatively, you could be called on to interview jury members or defendants to see if they are credible to stand trial.
Basically, beyond your duties as a psychologist, you’ll be everything from an advocate to a witness and everything in between. Forensic psychologists will work in a variety of settings. In the legal system, you’ll cycle through criminal court, civil court, and family court. But you could also work in a private practice setting or as a consultant for government agencies, schools, police departments, and more.
What are the requirements for an Online Master’s in Forensic Psychology?
In order to qualify for a number of these programs, you’ll need to have at least some background in psychology or law enforcement. Essentially, schools will want to see that you have a basic understanding of the core concepts. Since you’ll ultimately go on to get a PhD, keep your grades up and start preparing for the required entry exams, whether that’s the GRE or GMAT.
All of the programs last between one and two years. Most require around 30 to 60 credit hours to complete. The great thing about online programs is that you can make school fit with your schedule in whatever way it works for you.
As you start digging into the curriculum, you’ll find that most of these schools only require ten to twelve classes total. So make the most of your education! Set some future goals and see what you need to do to make those happen.
Do you want to go to get a PhD in Forensic Psychology? Do you want to diverge and get a counseling degree? Do you want to add a speciality? Keeping these goals in mind will help you make the most of your education and make you a better forensic psychologist in the long run.
What are the best Online Master’s in Forensic Psychology degrees?
Below you’ll find the 10 Best Online Master’s in Forensic Psychology degrees. We took a number of steps to find our list. First, we gathered the academic quality of each online program. Then we looked at affordability and the return on investment—a big factor in how you decide on a school. Last but not least, we factored in student happiness using retention rates and graduation rates of each program.
Our methodology draws from our data team at College Choice, the quality resources at U.S. News & World Report, and the number smarts at Payscale.com. Use your psychology skills to uphold the law. Your education is right around the corner!
See our rankings methodology page.
University of North Dakota
Average Net Price: $14,693
The University of North Dakota (UND) ranks #1 on our list of the best online Master’s in Forensic Psychology. A leader in higher education in the upper Midwest region, UND is based in Grand Forks, North Dakota. Its Division of Continuing Education offers online programs at the undergraduate and graduate level.
The online Master’s in Forensic Psychology at UND doesn’t hold back in educational opportunities. You’ll take 35 credits in online courses. This includes a wide selection of electives in which you can hone in on a special topic. Otherwise, you’ll be selecting from the engaging core curriculum with classes like:
- Behavior Pathology
- Advanced Univariate Statistics
- Psychology & Law
- Psychological Profiling and Criminal Behavior
The capstone requirement takes the form of a one-week residency on the Grand Forks campus. You’ll spend this week engaging with faculty and peers alike, and present a final research paper to them. In addition, you’ll meet with local professionals in the field like the county judge, a violence intervention center director, and a forensic psychologist.
Nova Southeastern University
Average Net Price: $25,344
Located just north of Miami, Nova Southeastern University (NSU) is a private university in Florida. When NSU began in 1964, it focused on physical and social science degrees at the graduate level. Over time, it expanded into offering over 175 programs of study.
Nova Southeastern University jumps right in with a job-specific online M.S. in Forensic Psychology. After taking eight core courses in the foundations of forensic psychology, you’ll dive into one of two career tracks: Forensic Psychology in the Legal System or Forensic Psychology for Mental Health Workers, First Responders, and Disaster Teams. Some classes include:
- Ethical Concerns & Multicultural Issues in Forensic Psychology
- Communication Skills, Tools, and Expert Witness Testimony
- Trauma Informed Assessment and Intervention
- Psychological Issues in Dependency & Family Law Cases
When it comes to the final requirements of this degree, students have the option to either complete a thesis project or a field experience in their area of specialty. Some students have shadowed forensic psychologists or legal consultants. Others have prepared thesis projects for journal publications.
University of California Irvine
Average Net Price: $13,780
A public research university in Orange County, the University of California Irvine (or UC Irvine) is one of ten campuses within the larger state system. UC Irvine is highly regarded for its research activity and academic rigor, despite its relatively recent history—it was founded in 1965. It ranks in the top 40 schools for its programs in psychology, according to U.S. News & World Report.
To kick off this M.S. in Legal and Forensic Psychology at UC Irvine, you’ll need to attend an in-person residency for an introductory course. After that, though, the program is completely offered online. You’ll spend the next two years taking classes like:
- Forensic Assessment
- Eyewitness Testimony
- Children and the Law
- Legal and Social Responses to Domestic Violence
Beyond UC Irvine’s offerings in forensic psychology, it pulls impressive ranks among other top schools for things like return on investment. According to a study done by Forbes last year, it ranked 8th in the nation for “Best Value Colleges.”
Southern New Hampshire University
Average Net Price: $34,984
One of the fastest growing universities in the nation—largely due to its online programs—Southern New Hampshire University is a private institution based in Hooksett, New Hampshire. The College of Online & Continuing Education houses over 90,000 students.
At SNHU, you’ll earn an online M.S. in Psychology with the option of adding on a specialization in Forensic Psychology. This curriculum leans heavily on industry-relevant topics within both law and psychology. You’ll take classes like:
- Social Psychology
- Assessment for Forensic Psychology
- Intersection of Law and Psychology
- Psychology in the Courtroom
Southern New Hampshire may take an untraditional approach to learning through its online programing, but it receives high praise for its methods. U.S. News & World Report named it the 2017 “Most Innovative University in the North.” It also was given an award for its “Excellence in Online Technology” by the United States Distance Learning Association.
Average Net Price: $24,794
Founded by conservative Christian leader Jerry Falwell, Liberty University is the largest Christian higher education institution in the world. It is known for its conservative values. Liberty University Online (or LU Online) enrolls around 100,000 online students annually (compared to its roughly 15,000 students on-campus.
Liberty University takes a slightly different approach by offering a Master of Science in Criminal Justice with a concentration in Forensic Psychology. This degree is completed 100 percent online. This 36-credit-hour program culminates in master’s thesis. Before that, however, you’ll take classes like:
- Crisis Intervention in Law Enforcement
- Psychology and the Legal System
- Rehabilitation and Reintegration of Offenders
One huge perk of attending Liberty University is the possibility of getting a substantial discount if you’re an active duty law enforcement or a first responder. You’ll get a 25 percent tuition discount right off the bat, and then the chance to apply for other tuition benefits like the Corporate Advantage Program or Military Benefits Package.
Arizona State University
Average Net Price: $13,007
The largest public university by enrollment, Arizona State University (ASU) has around 72,000 students. Though it is based in Phoenix, Arizona, ASU maintains five campuses in the city, as well as four campuses throughout the state. Even more, ASU Online delivers over 150 programs all through distance learning.
The 33 credit hours required in ASU’s online M.S. in Forensic Psychology includes core classes as well as electives and research classes. Rather than a thesis or capstone project, you’ll take a comprehensive written exam to graduate. This curriculum includes a number of seminar-based classes like:
- Applied Data Analysis in Criminal Justice
- Advanced Legal Psychology
- Courts and Sentencing
Arizona State University is a consistent winner of the “Most Innovative School in America” U.S. News & World Report has granted ASU this designation three years in a row. Even more, it was ranked as having the #4 “Best Online Bachelor’s Programs,” which by extension applies to the caliber of online graduate programs at ASU.
Chicago School of Professional Psychology Online
Average Net Price: $13,524
Specializing specifically in psychology, the Chicago School of Professional Psychology Online caters specifically to graduate students. Other than its home campus in Chicago, the school has six other locations, as well as an online branch. It offers over twenty different degree programs that all find their roots in psychology.
Chicago School of Professional Psychology delivers an online M.A. in Forensic Psychology. This non-licensure track gives you the flexibility to attend full-time or part-time. Depending on which, you can finish your degree anywhere between 2 and 4 years. Some highlight courses have included:
- Social Psychology and Aggression
- Trauma and Crisis Intervention
- Ethics and Professional Issues in Forensic Psychology
At the Chicago School of Professional Psychology Online, you’ll use Canvas as your distance learning platform. One of the features includes synchronous virtual residencies, which allows you to interact with your faculty members and peers as if you were learning in the same classroom. It also includes self-paced online learning.
University of Louisiana at Monroe
Average Net Price: $9,145
The most affordable program on our list with a net price of just $9,145 per year, the University of Louisiana at Monroe (ULM) is a public university with a lot to offer. Its online branch, eULM offers over 30 degree programs, and was recently named the #1 online program in Louisiana.
ULM runs a well-respected and established Department of Psychology. The Forensic Psychology concentration within the Master of Science degree is just one of three other areas of focus. You can complete this concentration online. In addition to your core credits, you’ll take forensic-specific classes like:
- Counseling in Criminal Justice
- Minorities, Crime, and Criminal Law
- Psychological Assessment
This program strives to give students as many options as possible. While a thesis track is not required in this particular curriculum, the program allows you to pursue it alongside a faculty member. A final thesis project is especially important for students hoping to continue on to a doctorate program.
Oklahoma State University
Average Net Price: $13,951
Oklahoma State University (or OSU) has a history that dates all the way back to 1890. It was created as a land-grant university and still maintains that designation—as well as being one of the state’s finest public research universities. It is located in Stillwater, Oklahoma.
This thesis-based online M.S. in Forensic Sciences emphasizes research above all else. Forensic Psychology is offered as one of four advanced studies tracks. Beyond your usual curriculum, you’ll take six credit hours devoted to research, and defend a thesis project. In the meantime, you’ll complete classes like:
- The Law and Expert Evidence
- Forensic Statistics
- Advanced Criminalistics
- Quality Assurance in Forensic Science
Unique to other programs, Oklahoma State University designed this program to be delivered online for the first full year of study. However, for your advanced work and research courses, you’ll attend classes at the Tulsa campus. Most students finish this degree in two to three years.
University of Houston-Victoria
Average Net Price: $10,995
One of the four universities in the larger system, the University of Houston-Victoria is a small state school that enrolls around 4,300 students. This small size lends itself to a student to faculty ratio of 18 to 1 and the benefit of a lower than average tuition rate.
The University of Houston-Victoria hosts an engaging and thorough M.A. in Forensic Psychology that requires 63 credit hours to complete. This may be more hours than most programs, but you’ll cover everything you need to know with classes like:
- Techniques of Psychotherapy
- Assessment for Forensic Psychology
- Crisis Counseling
- Multicultural Psychology
In addition to an end-of-the-program practicum requirement, you’ll culminate your degree with a large comprehensive exam. This online exam will cover the content from all of your coursework and fully prepare you to launch into the working world of forensic psychology.