An online forensic psychology degree may be the right path for students interested in both psychology and forensics. Forensic psychology combines psychology with crime scene investigation to determine how crimes may have transpired. Forensic psychology professionals are essential assets to the criminal justice system. The highest level of employment available to criminal investigators is found at the local government level; the highest paying jobs in the industry, however, are found at the federal level.
Choosing a Program
The best online forensic psychology degree programs teach students to combine law and criminal investigation in order to solve crimes and understand the motives of criminals. Graduates who pursue a master's in forensic psychology serve as expert advisers and witnesses. Common courses in these programs include anatomy and physiology, psychology, statistics for psychology, scientific investigations, and criminal psychology. Programs equip graduates with the knowledge and skills to pursue careers as forensic psychologists, criminal profilers, counselors, and correctional treatment specialists, among others.
Students choose electives that tailor their degree to their interests. Elective options include social psychology, psychology of personality, cognitive psychology, counseling process and techniques, and sociology of crime and violence, gender, social problems, the family, deviant behavior, or aging. Upon completion of the program, graduates collect, organize, and analyze evidence using their psychological knowledge, evaluate the necessary and appropriate research methods, and describe their conclusions with research designs and statistical analyses.
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Online Bachelor's in Forensic Psychology Degree Program Ranking Guidelines
We selected the degree programs based on the quality of program and range of courses provided, as well as school awards, rankings, and reputation.
The Best Online Bachelor's in Forensic Psychology Programs
1 Arizona State University–ASU Online
With the sixth-largest undergraduate enrollment in the country, Arizona State University has recently expanded its distance learning offerings. Program coursework utilizes asynchronous learning, and each online course lasts seven and a half weeks. The school's bachelor of science degree in psychology includes a concentration in forensic psychology. The 120-credit curriculum in the online forensic psychology degree consists of 39 courses, including forensic-specific coursework in sex crimes, abnormal psychology, correctional psychology, and forensic mental health. The curriculum does not include a capstone, but students can intern to receive major credit.
ASU's transfer-friendly forensic psychology degree online enables students to complete 30 of their 120 undergraduate credits prior to transfer. Students must complete 24 credits of college coursework with a minimum GPA of 2.5 to transfer coursework. Freshman applicants must meet one of four requirements: top 25% placement in their high school class, a minimum high school GPA of 3.0, an ACT score of 24 (22 for AZ residents), or an SAT non-writing cumulative score of 1110 (1040 for AZ residents). In addition, online students who live outside of Arizona can pay in-state tuition rates.
Arizona State University is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC).
2 Eastern Kentucky University
A regional university based in Richmond, Eastern Kentucky University harbors some of the best online programs in the country, including a bachelor of science degree in psychology with a concentration in forensic psychology. The program's 120-credit curriculum has no in-person requirements, and all students pay the same tuition rate. In addition to 34 credits of standard psychology coursework, the curriculum includes a 12-credit concentration in forensic psychology that consists of four courses: forensic psychology, social psychology, psychology of personality, and adolescent and adult development. The curriculum does not include any capstone requirements.
Although students must complete at least 30 credits via EKU courses, transfer students may apply up to 90 credits toward their forensic psychology online degree. Transfer applicants must complete at least 24 college credits with a GPA of at least 2.0, and freshman applicants must earn a 2.5 high school GPA, a 20 on the ACT, or a combined score of 950 on the SAT math and verbal sections. The program generally delivers coursework asynchronously, and EKU offers an individualized and subject-specific Psychology Academic Support Services (PASS) virtual tutoring program through Blackboard.
Eastern Kentucky University is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools' Commission on Colleges (SASC).
3 Southern New Hampshire University
Manchester, New Hampshire
A regional university with experience in the distance education field, Southern New Hampshire University offers one of the best online forensic psychology degree programs in the nation. SNHU's bachelor of arts degree in psychology--which includes a concentration in forensic psychology--requires students to complete a total of 120 credits in classes like forensic psychology, criminal psychology, and research. Students must complete a senior capstone experience in psychology. Most students earn their online bachelor's in forensic psychology at SNHU within four years in curriculum that excludes in-person requirements.
SNHU's forensic psychology online program delivers coursework asynchronously, allowing busy students to access course material at any time. In addition, the school allows all online students to pay the same tuition rate as New Hampshire residents. SNHU automatically retrieves transcripts and conducts a credit review for students who fill out an online application. As such, there are no official undergraduate admissions requirements except for completing an application. Transfer students may apply up to 90 credits toward their SNHU forensic psychology degree.
Southern New Hampshire University is regionally accredited by the New England Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Institutions of Higher Education (NEASC-CIHE).
4 Northwest Christian University
Affiliated with the Disciples of Christ, Northwest Christian University focuses on the liberal arts and providing a Christian education to its students. NCU offers several excellent distance learning programs, including a bachelor of science in psychology program with a concentration in forensic psychology. Students choose between asynchronous online course delivery or a blended learning option that requires once-a-week campus visits. Students generally complete the degree within four years.
Lasting eight weeks each, courses in the program include studies in theories of personality, psychometrics, psychology of trauma, and forensic psychology. Students complete a senior capstone seminar at the end of their studies. Upon graduating, students work in victim advocacy, the court system, or any number of law enforcement positions. Students with work experience in law enforcement or the military often receive credits for that experience.
While NCU does not list minimum GPA requirements, applicants must submit standardized test scores. Transfer students participate in case-by-case credit evaluations. All students must complete at least 30 credits of coursework via NCU, which allows transfer students to apply up to 90 credits toward standard 120-credit degree programs at NCU.
NCU is regionally accredited by the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities (NWCCU).
5 Union Institute and University
As a product of a 1960 educational cooperative to improve higher education, Union Institute and University is a modern leader in distance education. Union's bachelor of arts degree in psychology -- which includes a concentration in forensic psychology -- counts itself among the nation's best forensic psychology programs online.
The program requires students to complete a total of 120 credits, with at least 48 of those deriving from major courses in the psychology department. Coursework in the forensic psychology concentration includes studies in social psychology, counseling, and criminal behavior. For the capstone project, students create a portfolio and write a “process paper” about that portfolio and learning goals. The program delivers coursework asynchronously via the CampusWeb platform.
The school allows transfer students to apply up to 90 previously earned credits toward their degree. As such, while most Union students earn their forensic psychology degree in four years, transfer students can complete the program in as little as one year. Union also allows students pay the same per-credit tuition rate regardless of their place of residence.
Union is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC).
6 Florida Institute of Technology
Though Florida Institute of Technology's focuses primarily on STEM, the school also offers excellent social science and liberal arts programs online. FIT's 121-credit bachelor of arts degree in applied psychology with a concentration in forensic psychology deserves a place among the nation's best forensic psychology schools online. The online program does not require its students to set foot on FIT's Melbourne, Florida campus and includes studies in forensic clinical psychology, law and psychology, and integrated theories of crime. Each course lasts eight weeks, and the curriculum excludes a capstone requirement. Most students complete the 41-course curriculum in four years.
All of FIT's online programs utilize asynchronous learning, allowing students maximum flexibility. FIT's online programs do not list minimum GPA or standardized test admissions requirements. In-state and out-of-state online students pay the same per-credit tuition rate, and the school automatically reviews transfer credits and transcripts on a case-by-case basis for students who submit online applications. Upon graduating from the forensic psychology program, students can opt for additional graduate study in a relevant field (i.e. psychology, sociology) or they can begin careers as criminologists or case managers.
Florida Institute of Technology is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACS).
7 National Louis University
A small, private university operating campuses in and around Chicago, National Louis University boasts a storied history in educational innovation. The school helped found Kindergarten classes throughout the U.S. and played a role in founding the Parent Teacher Association (PTA). The school also participates in innovation in higher education, offering numerous distance learning programs including the university's bachelor of arts degree in criminal justice with a major in forensic social justice.
Most forensic psychology online degrees provide a general psychological background with a concentration in forensic psychology. However, NLU's program provides students with a general criminal justice background -- including coursework in law enforcement, the criminal justice system, and criminal investigations -- before delving into the forensic social justice/psychological element of the program. With these prerequisites in place, students adapt better to the curriculum in classes like crisis intervention, abnormal psychology, and theories of personality. NLU runs on the quarter system, and students must earn 180 quarter hours to graduate. The degree takes about four years. The curriculum excludes a capstone experience, and students may complete an optional concentration in entrepreneurship.
Applicants to the program need only complete the online application, send a transcript, and declare a major in either forensic social justice or criminal justice administration. All students in NLU's online programs pay the same tuition rate no matter where they live.
NLU is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC).
8 New England College
Henniker, New Hampshire
A small, private college based in Henniker, New Hampshire, New England College originally served military members returning from World War II. Today, NEC serves a larger population via its distance learning programs. Its 120-credit bachelor of arts in psychology program, which includes a concentration in forensic psychology, focuses on victimology, criminal investigations, and forensic psychology. Courses last seven weeks, and students enrolled in the program never need to set foot in New England to earn their online forensic psychology degree. The program excludes a capstone experience, and instructors deliver coursework asynchronously using tools like chat rooms, podcasts, and recorded lectures.
The school lists no minimum GPA or standardized test requirements for admission and automatically collects previous transcripts for applicants. NEC allows students to transfer up to 90 credits toward their online bachelor's degree and generally accepts transfer credits in which students earned a grade of “C-” or better. The school does occasionally make exceptions for associate degrees. All online students at NEC pay the same per-credit tuition rate whether or not they live in New Hampshire. Upon graduating from the forensic psychology program, students often find work as crime scene investigators, detectives, and substance abuse counselors.
NEC is regionally accredited by the New England Association of Schools and Colleges (NEASC-CIHE).
9 Faulkner University
Originally named Montgomery Bible School, Faulkner University still maintains an affiliation with the Churches of Christ. In addition to providing a Christ-centered education, the school offers online education, including a strong bachelor of science in forensic psychology program. This 121-credit online forensic psychology degree includes 50 core curriculum credits and 71 major credits. Unlike some comparable forensic psychology programs, coursework in the core curriculum incorporates a six-course Christian literacy requirement, including studies in understanding the Bible and marriage and family.
Major courses include studies in conflict management, criminology, and criminal behavior analysis. Students must also complete an internship, a capstone research project, and four one-credit seminars in psychological topics. The curriculum does not include any in-person requirements.
For entrance, applicants to the program must submit proof of high school graduation or a GED and score an 18 on the ACT or a 1290 on the SAT. Online students pay the same per-credit tuition rate regardless of their place of residency.
Faulkner University is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SASC).
Online Bachelor's in Forensic Psychology Careers
Graduates who earn a forensic psychology degree online have a variety of career opportunities available to them. They work primarily with offenders during the rehabilitation process, but they also work at crime scenes aiding in investigations and analysis. The online bachelor's degree in forensic psychology allows graduates to choose a profession with which they are comfortable.
Correctional Treatment Specialist: Correctional treatment specialists create rehabilitation plans for offenders. They analyze an offender's past actions and psychological tendencies to ensure that the process of being reintroduced into society goes smoothly.
- Median Annual Salary: $50,160
- Projected Growth Rate: 6%
Social and Community Service Manager: Social and community service managers supervise and coordinate social service programs by managing workers who provide social services and activities to individuals in the community.
- Median Annual Salary: $64,680
- Projected Growth Rate: 16%
Forensic Science Technician: Forensic science technicians collect and analyze evidence to assist in criminal investigations. They take photographs, make sketches, collect and catalog evidence, reconstruct crime scenes, and record their observations. They also perform biological, chemical, and microscopic analyses of evidence in laboratories.
- Median Annual Salary: $56,750
- Projected Growth Rate: 17%
Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics