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Online forensic psychology master's programs examine the intersection between human behavior and the criminal justice system.

Learners study topics like social psychology, personality disorders, behavioral issues, and psychopathology. They also learn how to apply psychological theories and concepts to legal and criminal justice contexts.

Graduates can pursue roles as correctional treatment specialists, crime scene investigators, and lab analysts. The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that correctional treatment specialists earned a median annual salary of $53,020 in 2018.

Top Ten Online Master's in Forensic Psychology Programs

Table of Contents

This guide ranks the best online forensic psychology master's programs to help prospective students find the right programs for their needs. Online master's in forensic psychology programs give students the flexibility to balance their studies with personal and professional obligations. Distance learners can also attend the top programs in the country without relocating.

The Best Online Master's in Forensic Psychology Programs

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University of California, Irvine
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Southern New Hampshire University 

Manchester, NH

About this school

Southern New Hampshire University is a private, nonprofit institution that provides affordable, accessible higher education to more than 90,000 students each year. The school hosts students both on its 300-acre suburban campus and online. Learners interested in criminal justice and related fields can pursue an online master of science in forensic psychology.

The 36-credit program prepares students to work as forensic psychology professionals, crime analysts, and law enforcement officials. The curriculum covers research methods, cognitive and social psychology, ethical applications, and learning theory. Courses include intersection of law and psychology, psychology in the courtroom, assessment for forensic psychology, and theories of personality.

The online forensic psychology master's degree concludes with a capstone course that synthesizes degree knowledge and skills. Courses span 10 weeks and follow a flexible, asynchronous format. Students can graduate in as few as 15 months.

Admission requirements include an accredited bachelor's degree in psychology or a closely related field. Applicants without a background in psychology must complete prerequisite coursework in psychology, statistics, and research methods. SNHU accepts applications on a rolling basis throughout the year.

Graduation Rate
54%
5

Liberty University 

Lynchburg, VA

About this school

Established in 1971, Liberty University is a private, evangelical Christian institution that offers undergraduate and graduate programs in areas like aeronautics, business, health sciences, law, and engineering. The university's Helms School of Government grants a fully online master of science in criminal justice and forensic psychology.

Most learners complete the 36-credit program in 18 months or less, gaining knowledge and skills in criminal justice legal practices, psychological theory, and public policy. Courses include crisis intervention in law enforcement, forensic psychology fundamentals, psychology and the legal system, and rehabilitation and reintegration of offenders. Courses span eight weeks and feature an asynchronous format.

This online forensic psychology master's program allows students to transfer up to 18 credits toward the degree. Applicants need a relevant bachelor's degree with a minimum 3.0 GPA. They must also provide official academic transcripts, reference letters, and a personal statement. International applicants must demonstrate English language proficiency.

Graduation Rate
50%
6

Saint Leo University 

Saint Leo, FL

About this school

Established in 1899, Saint Leo University is a private, Roman Catholic school that offers a liberal arts education rooted in the Benedictine tradition. Distance learners at Saint Leo can pursue a flexible, fully online master of science in criminal justice with a specialization in forensic psychology.

The 36-credit program develops skills and knowledge in behavioral studies, corrections, critical incident management, and criminal investigations. Learners can choose between traditional and accelerated tracks. Students on the traditional track typically complete all requirements in two years. The accelerated track requires departmental approval and can be completed in less than two years.

The curriculum includes courses in forensic science and criminalistics history, evidence collection and protection, laboratory analysis, crime scene management, medicolegal death investigation, and courtroom technologies. Through practical instruction, degree-seekers learn how to assist in criminal justice situations that require forensic expertise.

Admission requirements include a relevant bachelor's degree from an accredited school with a qualifying GPA. Applicants must also submit transcripts and a statement of professional goals.

Graduation Rate
51%
7

Arizona State University - Skysong 

Scottsdale, AZ

About this school

One of six campuses in the Arizona State University system, Arizona State University - Skysong serves nearly 100,000 online students worldwide. Students can choose from a variety of online undergraduate and graduate programs, including an online master of science in forensic psychology.

The 33-credit program comprises 11 courses and examines how human behavior intersects with the criminal justice system. The online forensic psychology master's degree includes courses in research methods and quantitative analysis, courts and sentencing procedures, psychopathology, and legal and correctional psychology. Students culminate the degree with a capstone experience where they apply degree knowledge and skills in professional contexts.

The program delivers all course content entirely online through convenient learning modules facilitated by expert faculty. Graduates can work as corrections officials, clinicians, policy analysts, and law enforcement officers.

Applicants need an accredited bachelor's degree in psychology, social science, criminal justice, or a closely related field. They must also submit official transcripts, letters of recommendation, and proof of English proficiency.

Graduation Rate
48%
8

University of Louisiana Monroe 

Monroe, LA

About this school

A public research institution, the University of Louisiana at Monroe emphasizes teaching, research, and community. Founded in 1931, ULM offers nearly 100 undergraduate, graduate, and certificate programs, including an online master of science in psychology and forensic psychology.

The 36-credit program examines the interactions between psychological science, law, and the criminal justice system. The curriculum provides a strong foundation in social science research methods, neuropsychology, behavioral science, and social psychology. Potential classes include psychopathology, counseling in criminal justice, sociology of law, advanced theories of crime and delinquency, and behavior modification.

This online forensic psychology master's degree combines self-directed study with interactive experiences that allow students to connect with peers. Students learn from the same instructors who teach on campus.

Applicants need a relevant, accredited bachelor's degree with a minimum 3.0 GPA. They must also submit transcripts and recent GRE or GMAT scores. Transcripts should indicate at least nine psychology credits, including three in statistics.

Graduation Rate
44%
9

University of Houston-Victoria 

Victoria, TX

About this school

Established in 1971, the University of Houston - Victoria is a public research institution that enrolls over 5,000 learners annually through its undergraduate and graduate programs. The School of Arts and Sciences offers a fully online master of arts in forensic psychology.

This 63-credit program prepares learners for licensure as mental health workers in forensics. The curriculum includes core foundation classes, specialization courses, and practicum experiences. Core foundation courses develop advanced knowledge in research methods, social psychology, lifespan development, and psychopathology. Specialization courses include vocational psychology, crisis intervention, forensic psychology professional practices, aand abnormal psychology.

Students also complete nine practicum credits that develop professional skill through real-world application. Most learners complete the online forensic psychology master's program in two years.

Applicants need a relevant bachelor's degree from an accredited institution. They must also submit recent GRE scores, a letter of recommendation, and a statement of purpose. Additional materials include transcripts indicating undergraduate instruction in statistics, research, and psychology.

Graduation Rate
19%
10

The Chicago School of Professional Psychology at Los Angeles 

Los Angeles, CA

About this school

Founded in 1979, the Chicago School of Professional Psychology is a private, nonprofit institution that offers over 30 undergraduate and graduate programs in fields like business, counseling, education, and health services. Distance learners at The Chicago School can pursue an online master of arts in forensic psychology.

In this program, students gain knowledge and skills in crime prevention, risk assessment, mental health law, trauma theory, and crisis intervention. Full-time students typically graduate in two years. Graduates can work as corrections officers, victim advocates, and social service agents.

The program includes courses in social psychology and aggression, disaster response, and ethics and professional issues in forensic psychology, all offered synchronously through interactive learning experiences. All degree-seekers also have 24/7 access to an online technology help center.

Applicants to the online forensic psychology master's degree need an accredited bachelor's degree, including prerequisite courses in statistics or social science research methods. They must also submit transcripts, a resume, three letters of recommendation, and a statement of purpose.

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Ranking Methodology

Online Master's in Forensic Psychology Programs Ranking Guidelines

We selected the programs based on the quality of the program, the types of courses offered, the faculty, rankings, awards, and reputation, including the school's reputation for effectively providing online degree programs.

What is a Master's in Forensic Psychology Degree?

The field of forensic psychology covers the connection between mental health, human behavior, and the criminal justice system. Earning a master's in forensic psychology online serves as a good option for professionals interested in the biological nature of crime. With this degree, students can pursue careers in the mental health field as well as many positions with the court system, victim services, juvenile facilities, childcare agencies, and corrections departments.

Earning a master's in forensic psychology online serves as a good option for professionals interested in the biological nature of crime.

Coursework provides students with a deep understanding of psychological development, psychotherapeutic techniques, and personality assessment. Core classes in forensic psychology online master's programs include maladaptive behavior, psychology of the victim, social psychology and aggression, crisis intervention, and ethical issues in forensic psychology. Popular concentrations include criminalistics, investigation, assessment and treatment, homeland security, and law enforcement.

Students typically take coursework in research methods to gain an understanding of data analysis and research design. To graduate, participants may need to complete a final written exam, research project, and/or thesis. Some programs also require a minimum number of internship hours in a psychological setting under the supervision of a licensed mental health professional.

Online Master's in Forensic Psychology Programs

Students looking to attend forensic psychology masters programs online can choose from two main learning formats. Some schools administer online programs in a synchronous format, while others deliver courses asynchronously. Synchronous programs require students to log on at specific times throughout the week for live lectures, discussions, and/or presentations. Synchronous programs often feature an instructor–paced curriculum, which means that students must progress through coursework and assignments at the same rate as their classmates.

Students who are self–motivated and possess great time–management skills often find success in online programs.

Asynchronous programs, on the other hand, do not require any specific meeting times. Instead, students complete assignments and watch lectures on their own time. Asynchronous courses often incorporate discussion boards, where students can leave comments and chat with classmates. Students working toward their degree asynchronously still need to meet regular deadlines for homework assignments and readings.

Regardless of the learning format, online programs in forensic psychology feature the same course materials as their on–campus counterparts. Additionally, online students still need to take exams; participants may take timed exams online or they may need to report to a nearby testing center. Students who are self–motivated and possess great time–management skills often find success in online programs.

Related Master's Degree Programs

Students interested in forensic psychology can also consider several related programs. Other master's tracks include similar coursework to a master's in forensic psychology, and prospective students should thoroughly research all their options before deciding. For instance, students might prefer to pursue a master's in psychology or a master's in organizational psychology.

The Advantages of a Master's Degree in Forensic Psychology

Earning a bachelor's degree in forensic psychology can lead to entry–level roles in the field. For example, bachelor's degree holders can find jobs related to social and community services and correctional counseling and treatment. However, earning a master's degree can greatly expand your job options.

A master's in psychology opens the door to specialized and advanced roles, and most state certification boards require licensed mental health counselors to earn a master's degree. A graduate degree also expands your overall knowledge of forensic psychology, leading to more respect in the field. With your advanced skill set, organizations may be more willing to hire you as a consultant or expert witness. Additionally, a master's degree can serve as a steppingstone toward a Ph.D.—a required credential for clinical psychologists. The next section covers common career options and salaries for master's in forensic psychology graduates.

What Can You Do With a Master's Degree in Forensic Psychology?

Graduates who earn a forensic psychology degree online can pursue a variety of career opportunities. These professionals primarily help individuals during the rehabilitation process, but they may also work at crime scenes aiding in investigations and analysis.

Mental Health Counselor

These counseling professionals treat individuals, families, couples, and groups suffering from a variety of mental conditions, including depression and anxiety. They may work with a specific group, such as the elderly, veterans, or the prison population.

Salary based on experience

Entry Level

$38,000

Mid-Career

$45,000

Experienced

$48,000

Late Career

$50,000

Forensic Psychologist

These licensed psychologists apply their skills in courts, prisons, mental health facilities, and law offices. Forensic psychologists usually need a doctorate, so a master's degree typically serves as a step on the journey toward this career.

Salary based on experience

Entry Level

$57,000

Mid-Career

$75,000

Experienced

$85,000

Late Career

$92,000

Correctional Treatment Specialist

Correctional treatment specialists advise probationers and parolees. They assess inmates through psychological exams, suggest treatment, and develop rehabilitation plans. Correctional treatment specialists may need a master's degree to advance in the field.

Salary based on experience

Entry Level

$32,000

Mid-Career

$53,000

Experienced

$85,200

Late Career

$63,000

Choosing an Online Forensic Psychology Graduate Degree Program

As you begin your search for the right forensic psychology program, take your time to thoroughly research each school. If you dedicate enough time to your search, you will likely find an online institution that perfectly fits your needs and interests. Consider the fact that each program offers different classes, specializations, capstone projects, and in–person requirements. Tuition rates also vary between schools—public, in–state programs tend to be the most affordable option.

Below, you can explore some of the top factors to consider when choosing between online forensic psychology master's programs.

Program Cost

Programs vary significantly in terms of cost, and it is crucial to pick a school you can afford. Look up each school's tuition to find out which institutions fall within your budget. Fortunately, many schools offer scholarships to incoming students, which can considerably reduce your out-of-pocket costs.

Transfer Policies

Prospective students should consider that each school uses its own requirements and policies regarding transfer students. Some universities allow students to transfer in most of their credits, while others impose stricter rules. If there's a good chance you might switch schools, look out for universities that maintain transfer agreements with other institutions.

School Size and Type

Universities also differ in terms of size and type. Do you prefer a large, public institution or a smaller university? Larger schools may provide more extensive resources, while less populous institutions often boast smaller class sizes.

Program Length

Forensic psychology students looking to earn their degrees quickly can look for accelerated, full-time programs. Alternatively, learners interested in earning a degree while working full time might consider a program with a part-time option. Some programs let students study at their own pace, while others enforce a stricter class schedule.

On–Campus Requirements

Many programs incorporate in-person components, such as mandatory lectures or group projects. While on-campus requirements may come with benefits, they may prove challenging for students who live far away. You can find nearby institutions by browsing this list of the top 50 online colleges and universities.

Thesis, Fellowship, and Work Requirements

Online master's degree programs in forensic psychology typically include a capstone component. Research–focused programs may incorporate an extensive thesis project, while other programs might require students to complete several hours of supervised experience in the field. When choosing a program, think about what type of capstone requirement you prefer.

Accreditation for Online Forensic Psychology Master's Degrees

As you search for online forensic psychology master's programs, be sure to only consider degree tracks offered by accredited institutions. Accredited schools offer the best programs, and attending an accredited university makes it easier to find a job, transfer between schools, and/or apply to a doctoral program. Employers and graduate schools usually only recognize accredited on–campus or online master's degrees in forensic psychology. In addition, state licensing boards typically require licensed counselors to have graduated from an accredited university.

Accredited schools offer the best programs, and attending an accredited university makes it easier to find a job, transfer between schools, and/or apply to a doctoral program.

Schools can hold regional or national accreditation at the institutional level. Regional accrediting bodies typically deal with traditional universities, while national accrediting organizations evaluate vocational and technical schools. Both types of accreditation may be acceptable, but regional accreditation generally functions as the more prestigious, preferred designation. The U.S. Department of Education and the Council for Higher Education Accreditation oversee accreditation agencies, ensuring that they maintain reasonable standards. You can find a list of all accredited institutions on either organization's website.

How Long Does It Take to Complete an Online Master's in Forensic Psychology Degree Program?

While students can finish most programs in two years, several factors may affect the time it takes to earn a master's in forensic psychology online. For example, program characteristics and a student's own learning preferences can alter the length of a program.

While students can finish most programs in two years, several factors may affect the time it takes to earn a master's in forensic psychology online.

Forensic psychology master's curricula generally incorporate 33–36 credits from 10–12 courses, and the total time it takes to earn a degree depends on the number of credits a student takes each term. Learners with a full–time job or other responsibilities may enroll part time and finish their degree in more than two years. Alternatively, some learners double up on credits to complete the program at an accelerated pace. Some master's programs also use a cohort format, requiring students to move through classes at the same rate with a group of their peers.

Forensic Psychology Concentrations

Many schools offer forensic psychology as a concentration within a master's in psychology program. In addition, some forensic psychology programs feature specialization areas that let students focus on topics they care about the most. Learners looking to pursue a career after graduation might consider opting for a concentration.

Police Psychology

Police psychology—a field closely related to forensic psychology — deals with psychological applications as they apply to law enforcement. Police psychology programs teach students about police organizations and common psychological issues among police personnel. Students learn about topics like operational policing, tactical and field psychology, and police administration.

Careers this concentration prepares for:

Forensic psychologist, police psychologist

Legal Issues in Forensic Psycholog

This concentration prepares forensic psychology graduates to participate in the legal process. Students take courses that cover parole services and corrections. They also explore how psychology applies to jury selection, expert testimony, and eyewitness testimony. Students may learn to testify in court or to conduct cross examinations.

Careers this concentration prepares for:

Jury consultant, forensic psychologist, expert witness

Forensic Psychology for Mental Health Workers

Students who focus their studies on mental health learn to counsel criminal defendants and victims of crimes. They study psychological issues that commonly affect criminals, including suicidal ideations and substance abuse. Master's students also learn to assess and treat victims of sexual and physical abuse.

Careers this concentration prepares for:

Licensed mental health counselor, correctional treatment specialist

Family Violence

Learners pursuing a concentration in family violence discuss criminal acts, such as child abuse, filicide, and elderly abuse. Students examine how intrafamilial crimes differ from other transgressions. In addition, learners consider the juvenile justice system and childhood development theory. They explore ways to prevent juvenile delinquency in a community.

Careers this concentration prepares for:

Forensic psychologist, mental health counselor, family therapist

Sex Offender Behavior

This concentration outlines psychological concepts relating to sex offenders. Students explore the characteristics, symptoms, and behaviors of deviant and criminal sex offenders. They also study legal issues pertaining to both criminal and civil sex offense cases. Forensic psychology students examine proven assessment methods and treatment plans for sex offenders.

Careers this concentration prepares for:

Forensic psychologist, mental health counselor, corrections counselor

Courses in an Online Master's in Forensic Psychology Program

Rehabilitation and Reintegration of Offenders

This course covers the historical, philosophical, legislative, and societal aspects of rehabilitation and reintegration. Students learn about the challenges that convicted offenders face when reentering society. They also study current research and empirical studies related to the reintegration of inmates. Coursework in rehabilitation can prove useful for students going into counseling or correctional case management.

Psychology and the Legal System

In this course, students explore the relationship between psychology and the U.S. legal system. They study how psychological research applies to the judicial process, the corrections process, and law enforcement. The course discusses topics including eyewitness testimony, psychological evaluation, inmate counseling, and jury selection.

Social Psychology

Online forensic psychology master's degrees often include advanced coursework in social psychology, which is the area of psychology that deals with social interactions and behavior. In social psychology classes, master's students analyze research on topics including stereotyping, prejudice, attitudes, group behavior, and interpersonal relationships.

Psychopathology

Psychopathology courses teach students about various psychological disorders, their causes, and their effects on a person's behavior. In addition, students learn about psychological approaches that can lessen the impact of certain illnesses. Forensic psychology students examine criminal and civil cases involving mental illness, along with psychological interventions commonly used in correctional settings.

Methods and Tools of Psychological and Violence Risk Assessment

This course provides an overview of techniques that psychologists use in a criminal justice environment. Learners study standardized psychological assessments, including neuropsychological exams, Wechsler scales, and personality tests. They figure out why and when psychologists choose certain assessments and how to interpret the results.

Forensic Psychology Membership Associations

American Psychological Association

APA represents over 118,000 psychology researchers, teachers, clinicians, consultants, and students. The association aims to advance psychological science in ways that benefit the public. Members receive many benefits, including access to journals, APA books, networking opportunities, and continuing education programs.

American Academy of Forensic Psychology

Founded in 1978, AAFP helps psychologists obtain board certification from the American Board of Forensic Psychology. Members include practitioners, researchers, and educators working in hospitals, medical schools, and correctional facilities. The organization offers online and in-person workshops, mentorship opportunities, and grants.

International Association for Correctional and Forensic Psychology

IACFP advances policies and practices that support correctional psychologists, forensic psychologists, and related professionals. Not all members practice psychology or counseling, but most hold advanced degrees in the field. Members receive a newsletter, a journal, and discounts on IACFP events.

American Mental Health Counselors Association

AMHCA advances the licensed mental health counseling profession through advocacy, education, and collaboration. The association's members work in settings like private practices, hospitals, substance abuse treatment centers, and community agencies. AMHCA provides a job board, industry research, and continuing education resources.

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