Inside Look at Online Forensic Psychology Degrees

From a list of top schools to info about accreditation and career paths, learn everything you need to know about earning your forensic psychology degree online.  

Last Updated: 12/28/2020

An online forensic psychology degree combines aspects of the legal system with a deep understanding of human behavior. Online forensic psychology degree programs are available at the undergraduate and graduate levels, including certificate programs. Earning an online degree in forensic psychology can lead to many rewarding career opportunities, whether you plan to become a fully-licensed psychologist with a doctorate or pursue another route. Let’s dive into the world of forensic psychology and explore how earning an online degree can offer affordable and flexible options for pursuing this exciting career field.

Which Universities Have the Best Online Forensic Psychology Degrees?

If you are curious about a career in forensic psychology and thinking about pursuing a degree, there are many schools and programs out there. However, finding the perfect school may not be as simple as it sounds, depending on your professional and academic goals. To help with your search, we’ve highlighted three potential schools and programs that stand out regarding affordability and diversity of learning options.

1

Arizona State University

ASU-Logo

Arizona State University (ASU) has a unique program with two bachelor’s degrees in forensic psychology. First, there’s the bachelor of arts in psychology with a concentration in forensic psychology. This curriculum covers general knowledge in psychology with specialty courses in criminal justice, legal decision making, and the diagnosis and treatment of mental disorders.

This program requires additional laboratory and statistical coursework to grasp the scientific characteristics of forensic psychology better. In-state students with a full-time course load of 15 credits per semester can expect to pay $12,618, while out-of-state students pay $18,138. Graduates of either program will be ready to take on additional forensic psychology training at the graduate level.

2

Faulkner University

Faulkner University

Faulkner University is perfect for students interested in forensic psychology within a faith-based setting and online learning flexibility. Specifically, students choosing to enroll in the forensic psychology bachelor’s degree program will need to complete 121 total credits. Eighteen of these credits will be in electives, while 50 credits will come from general education classes, including several religious courses. The remaining 53 credits relate directly to general psychology and forensic psychology.

To apply, students must complete an official application online and provide official transcripts for consideration. Those who have earned their high school diploma within the last five years or have at least 24 transfer credits from an accredited college or university do not need to take the ACT or SAT. Tuition is very affordable and depending on which campus the student attends, they can expect to spend anywhere from $155 to $325 per credit hour. This program is perfect for students who intend to earn a master’s degree or doctorate in forensic psychology in the future.

3

Eastern Kentucky University

EKU

Eastern Kentucky University (EKU) offers a host of online learning options. The program most popular among students is the bachelor’s degree in psychology with a concentration in forensic psychology; this program is taught entirely online. Additionally, students can apply up to 90 transfer credits to their degree, and students can earn their bachelor’s degree after completing as few as 30 credits, making this a very affordable option.

Currently, tuition is $409 per credit for traditional students and $250 per credit for active-duty military. Each class lasts approximately eight weeks and is available for students to take six times each year. Upon completing the bachelor’s degree in psychology, individuals will be fully prepared to start entry-level positions in the forensic psychology field or become full-fledged forensic psychologists after enrolling in a graduate psychology program.

Getting Familiar with Online Forensic Psychology Degrees

Whether you are a student interested in additional coursework or a working professional, online forensic psychology programs can differ in curricular offerings and in-person class requirements. Students seeking a bachelor’s degree in forensic psychology will not only obtain foundational knowledge in forensic psychology, but also receive high quality, general education instruction as they complete their degree.

An online master’s degree in forensic psychology is similar to a bachelor’s degree in online learning options. However, the coursework is often more specific and covers complex subjects such as research methods and advanced forensic practice techniques.

If you are pursuing an online doctorate in forensic psychology, not all programs will be 100% online and may include some in-person requirements such as seminars, research requirements, or a clinical practicum. The major topics covered may also focus more on preparing students to conduct assessments and research design and data analysis.

Types of Forensic Psychology Online Degrees

Given the popularity of the psychology field, many schools with online programs offer a forensic psychology concentration, degree, or certificate option. Here’s a quick rundown of some common forensic psychology degrees available online to help you decide which choice is right for you.

Online Bachelor’s Degrees in Forensic Psychology

The bachelor’s degree pathway is excellent for learning foundational psychological principles and theories while also gaining exposure to the forensic psychology field. Earning a bachelor’s degree is ideal for students seeking a career in law enforcement or anyone taking the first step to become a licensed forensic psychologist. Depending on the pace of learning, students can complete their online forensic psychology degree at the bachelor’s level in about four years. Here are a few online bachelor’s programs to give you a sense of what’s out there.

Online Master’s Degrees in Forensic Psychology

A master’s degree allows professionals to take on more advanced roles and responsibilities in the criminal justice system, especially those working in law enforcement. An online forensic psychology degree at the master’s level is ideal for someone who knows they want to earn a doctoral degree in psychology but isn’t quite ready to spend the time or money to acquire one just yet. Most master’s programs in forensic psychology will take approximately two years to finish. Here are some examples of quality accredited schools offering master’s in forensics programs online. You can also learn more about this degree in our dedicated guide to online master’s degrees in forensic psychology.

Online PhD Programs in Forensic Psychology

Online forensic psychology degrees aren’t very common at the doctoral level. However, a few programs exist for those wishing to advance their career into an area with greater emphasis on teaching and research. Forensic psychology online students should expect to spend a minimum of five years earning their degree; this includes the time it takes to complete the dissertation. In some cases, depending on the flexibility in pacing, students may take up to eight years to earn their Ph.D. Here are a few schools offering an online Ph.D. in forensic psychology.

Online Certificates in Forensic Psychology

Typically offered at the graduate level, a forensic psychology online certificate is perfect for current law enforcement professionals or psychologists who want to learn how to apply psychological principles to the courtroom setting. The certificate provides the opportunity for advanced education without spending the additional time that a full degree would require. Most students can easily earn their online certificate in forensic psychology in less than a year.

Why Accreditation Matters for Online Forensic Psychology Degrees

Accreditation is the process by which a third party reviews a school and confirms the education it provides meets basic standards to award a degree in a specific field. In other words, it affirms that the academic credentials a school offers are valuable to employers and other post-secondary institutions.

Accreditation can occur at the school and program level. The primary accrediting body for psychology programs is the American Psychological Association (APA). However, the APA only accredits doctoral-level programs. Therefore, prospective students need to check for institutional accreditation when thinking about enrolling in a bachelor’s or master’s program. Students can verify this information with the advisor of the program or the accrediting body.

What Can You Do with a Forensic Psychology Degree?

A forensic psychology degree can open up many doors to new and exciting career options. The type of degree will help determine the positions available. For example, to become a forensic psychologist, conduct research, or teach, a doctoral degree will almost always be needed. But a bachelor’s or master’s degree may be sufficient for those who want to work as members of the criminal justice system, such as consultants, law enforcement officers, and counselors. These five potential careers are available to those who earn an online forensic psychology degree.

Forensic Psychologist

A forensic psychologist applies psychology principles in a legal setting to help different parties, such as a judge or an attorney. A forensic psychologist must earn a PsyD or Ph.D. degree to call themselves a “psychologist.”

Court Liaison

This is a law enforcement agency or department member who serves as a coordinator between the law enforcement organization and the courts. Education requirements may vary, but usually, a bachelor’s degree is sufficient.

Jury Consultant

Jury consultants specialize in helping attorneys choose the juror that will help them win their case. Consultants also help attorneys understand what could motivate a jury to decide a case one way or another. Educational requirements may vary, but the higher the degree, the better your chances are for employment.

Detective

These are police officers that investigate crimes, gather evidence, and interview important witnesses and suspects. Depending on the department, a college degree may not be needed. However, many law enforcement agencies will require their detectives to have at least some college training, in which case an associate or bachelor’s degree is ideal.

Forensic Psychology Professor

Depending on where the professor teaches, they will need a minimum of a master’s degree. However, a Ph.D. or PsyD degree is standard. Forensic psychology professors primarily teach students about the field, usually at a community college or university, although they may also conduct research in the forensic psychology field.

Becoming a Forensic Psychologist After Your Online Degree: Licensing and Certification Requirements

If your ultimate goal is to become a forensic psychologist, you will need a doctorate, such as a Ph.D. or PsyD from an APA-accredited program. There are a few online programs available, though they may contain several in-person requirements. From there, you can obtain state licensure, and depending on your state residence, each has its prerequisites.

In addition to having a Ph.D. or PsyD degree, students will also need to pass the Examination for Professional Practice of Psychology and provide evidence that they possess a minimum level of relevant experience. 

Even after licensure, forensic psychologists will probably want to become board certified. Board certification shows that an individual possesses an advanced level of knowledge about a particular area in forensic psychology. The most well-known organization that offers forensic psychology board certification is the American Board of Professional Psychology (ABPP). To become board certified, you must complete the following four steps:

  • Completing the application and provide evidence that you meet the basic eligibility requirements.
  • Pass a written examination.
  • Submit practice samples. These are examples of an applicant’s professional work.
  • Pass an oral examination, which will focus on the practice samples provided.

Forensic Psychology Online Resources for Students and Professionals

It’s nice to have help as you embark on your career in forensic psychology. The following list provides 10 online resources that can help you achieve your academic and professional goals.

1

@ClinForensicPsy

This is the Twitter account for ClinicalForensicPsychology.org that provides up-to-date information about forensic psychology to online users.

2

@MargaretKovera

Margaret Bull Kovera has years of experience teaching and researching forensic psychology topics, including issues relating to the reliability of witness identification.

3

American Academy of Forensic Psychology (AAFP)

The AAFP serves as a resource for board-certified forensic psychologists who seek opportunities to network, find mentorship opportunities, and obtain grant funding.

4

American Academy of Psychiatry and the Law (AAPL)

While forensic psychology and forensic psychiatry are not the same, there is some overlap in their criminal justice system roles. AAPL advocates for the development of knowledge in forensic psychology.

5

American Board of Forensic Psychology (ABFP)

The ABFP’s role in the forensic psychology field is to evaluate and approve board certification for qualified forensic psychologists.

6

American Board of Professional Psychology (ABPP)

The primary mission of the ABPP is to offer various specialization and certification opportunities to psychologists, including one for forensic psychology.

7

American Psychological Association (APA)

When it comes to the most recognizable professional organization in psychology, it’s the APA. The APA offers a host of information about different psychology topics, including career and professional development resources.

8

American Psychology-Law Society

Also known as APA Division #41, the American Psychology-Law Society works to improve, advance, and promote psychology within the legal field.

9

American Society of Criminology (ASC)

While not directly relating to forensic psychology, the ASC is still a useful resource for understanding how to use science and practical knowledge to prevent and deal with crime.

10

Society for Police and Criminal Psychology (SPCP)

The goal of the SPCP is to promote the study and application of psychological principles in the criminal justice system.