2021 Guide to Online Master’s Degrees in Forensic Psychology

Learn all about flexible and affordable online forensic psychology master’s programs, including top accredited schools, curriculum details, and career opportunities after graduation.

Last Updated: 12/28/2020

What is the relationship between certain types of crime and mental illness? What are the emotional effects of being the victim of a crime? If you want to address these critical questions—and more—about the links between human behavior and the criminal justice system, then a career and degree in forensic psychology may be the right choice for you. And an online forensic psychology master’s degree is a great way to develop the skills required to work in this evolving field or pursue doctoral study in a way that fits your busy schedule.

These advanced degree programs teach you how psychology applies to the legal system and prepare them for numerous rewarding careers, including jury consultant, victim advocate, and court liaison jobs. Keep reading this for more information on forensic psychology master’s programs currently available online, including core curriculum, tuition, and the vast array of career paths available for graduates.

Best Online Forensic Psychology Master’s Degrees in 2021

Delving into the human mind is complicated, especially when this exploration pertains to criminal behavior. To train for a career in this subsection of psychology, you want to go to a school that will give you the tools you need to tackle the complex issues you’ll encounter every day on the job. We curated a best-in-class list of accredited schools based on the quality, affordability, and flexibility of online forensic psychology master’s programs. It will help you find the top-rated programs in the country so you can enter or advance in the field well-prepared for challenging and rewarding jobs. Take a look at our 2021 school picks.

1

Arizona State University

ASU-Logo

The online M.S. program in forensic psychology at Arizona State University designed for mental health, corrections, law enforcement, and investigations professionals who want to advance in their careers, as well as those who want to enter the field or use the degree as a stepping stone for educational advancement. The program, which offers classes that are about seven-weeks long, requires students to complete 33 credit hours in coursework such as psychopathology, advanced legal and correctional psychology, sentencing, and quantitative research methods. Students are also expected to complete a capstone course to demonstrate their knowledge of everything they’ve learned throughout the program.

To enroll, prospective students must have a bachelor’s degree and at least a 3.0 grade point average (GPA); if it’s lower than 3.30, the school recommends that they take the Graduate Record Examination (GRE). Applicants have to submit their transcripts, letters of recommendation, a statement of purpose, and proof of English proficiency.

2

University of North Dakota

North Dakota

The University of North Dakota’s online M.A. program in forensic science prepares students to apply advanced psychology theories and concepts to criminal and civil legal matters. It takes roughly two years to finish this 30-credit program. Upon completion, graduates can provide psychological insights to attorneys during the jury selection process, evaluate legal programs based on seminal forensic psychology research, and choose the right psychological tools to evaluate people involved in legal cases.

The school requires applicants to have a bachelor’s degree in psychology, criminal justice, counseling, sociology, or social work. They should also have at least a 3.0 GPA, prove English proficiency, and provide three letters of recommendation, a resume, and a statement of purpose.

3

Southern New Hampshire University

Southern New Hampshire University

Admission into Southern New Hampshire University’s online forensic science M.S. program requires at least a 2.75 GPA from a bachelor’s degree program at an accredited school for full acceptance and a 2.0 for provisional acceptance. Applicants must submit their transcripts.

When students are admitted, they take advanced coursework to deepen their psychology and legal knowledge while sharpening the skills—like assessment and critical thinking—they’ll need to become successful forensic psychology professionals. Required classes cover research methods, statistics, personality, cognitive processes, and ethics. Students demonstrate their understanding of the topics they learned throughout the program and their ability to apply that knowledge to real-world situations in a required capstone course. It takes roughly two years to complete the program.

What You’ll Learn in an Online Forensic Psychology Master’s Degree Program

When students enroll in a forensic psychology master’s degree online, they build on their previous knowledge to apply psychological concepts to legal matters. Although the curriculum may differ from one school to the next, students generally leave the program with strong writing, presentation, assessment, conflict resolution, and research skills. In addition, they may be able to choose an area of specialization in the program, such as corrections, military, interpersonal violence, cybercrime, victimology, and terrorism.

Common Courses in Online Forensic Psychology Master’s Programs

From delving inside the criminal mind to learning about courtroom procedure, a forensic psychology curriculum covers a number of fascinating topics that give students a deep understanding of how the field merges the legal and psychological perspectives to address the complicated issues they will face in their careers. The following are specific examples of courses students may take.

Criminal Psychological Assessment

This course showcases different types of criminal forensic assessment, including those that measure malingering, competency, and an offender’s mental state as a crime was committed. Students learn how to administer and score these tests and interpret the results to decide how a legal matter should be handled.

Expert Witness Testimony

A big part of a forensic psychologist’s work is providing testimony during a case to help judges and juries understand the psychological complexities that may be involved. This course teaches students how to act as an expert witness in trials and depositions to provide information effectively during direct and cross-examinations.

Criminal Behavior

Criminals do not always think like the rest of us. It’s up to forensic psychologists to understand and explain why criminals think the way they do and how these thoughts compel them to commit various crimes. In addition to the psychological, this course covers the biological, sociological, and environmental factors that may be involved in criminal behavior.

Forensic Psychology Research

This class examines how forensic psychologists conduct research ethically, from hypothesis to the final published product. Students learn the research methods that can be used in educational, clinical, correctional, and public policy contexts.

Police Psychology

Police psychology courses are for those interested in providing therapy to law enforcement officers. Students learn about common challenges the police face, such as critical incident debriefings, hostage negotiations, domestic violence, and overall workplace stress.

Accreditation Standards for Online Master’s Degrees in Forensic Psychology

Although students all have individual needs and wants when looking for an online master’s degree program in forensic psychology, the most important criterion is accreditation status. In addition to institutional accreditation awarded to an entire school from an accrediting body, some programs call for specialized accreditation. For forensic psychology master’s programs, the Forensic Science Education Programs Accreditation Commission (FEPAC) accredits these advanced degree programs. Accreditation indicates that a program has been thoroughly vetted for its quality, and is done by evaluating the school’s curriculum, research history, student outcomes after graduation, and faculty qualifications. So it’s no surprise that many graduate schools and employers require degrees from accredited schools. To verify a program’s accreditation status, you can look for that information on the school’s website, speak to someone in the admissions department, or check the APA or FEPAC websites.

FAQs About Online Master’s Degrees in Forensic Psychology

How long does it take to finish a master’s degree in forensic psychology online?

Full-time students can finish an online forensic psychology master’s degree in about two years. Part-time students can finish the program in about three to four years, depending on how many courses they take each semester.

Can I earn my forensic psychology master’s completely online?

Yes, the subject matter is suitable for distance learning, so schools may offer programs that are conducted entirely online. In other cases, students may be able to take the majority of their coursework online, but be expected to come to campus for specific classes, such as capstone courses.

Do online forensic psychology programs teach the same things as an on-campus programs?

Yes, since forensic psychology does not require laboratory instruction, students who enroll in an online master’s program are offered the same coursework as students enrolled in on-campus programs. As long as online students, who are often busy working professionals, commit to keeping up with their coursework, they can be confident that they will receive the same quality education as campus-based students.

How much do online master’s degrees in forensic psychology cost?

In addition to a time commitment, graduate degrees require a significant financial commitment that students should consider carefully when weighing their options. To give you an idea of what you can expect to pay for your online forensic psychology master’s degree, we compiled the cost of three schools in the table below.

School NameNo. of CreditsCost/CreditTotal Tuition Cost
Walden University48 quarter credits$535/quarter hour$25,680.00
University of North Dakota30 credits$544.24/credit$16,327.20
Southern New Hampshire University36 credits$627/credit$22,572.00

What are the admissions requirements for online master’s forensic psychology degrees?

When looking for schools, it’s important to keep in mind that each school has specific criteria for evaluating potential students. However, generally, those who apply to online forensic psychology master’s programs are expected to:

  • Have an undergraduate degree from an accredited college or university, possibly in psychology or a similar discipline
  • Earn at least a 3.0 grade point average
  • Earn a certain score on the GRE
  • Prove proficiency in English

During the application process, prospective students may be asked to submit letters of recommendation, a resume, and a personal essay explaining why they want to enroll in a forensic psychology program.

Do I have to take the GRE to get into an online forensic psychology master’s program?

It depends on the program. Some psychology departments do require that prospective students earn a certain score on the Graduate Record Examination. However, other schools, like Arizona State University, don’t require it, but strongly suggest that students take the GRE if their grade point average is lower than 3.30. In contrast, schools like the University of California Irvine and Southern New Hampshire University do not require that applicants complete the GRE at all.

Can I become a forensic psychologist with a master’s degree?

Although a master’s degree can lead to many career opportunities, you need a doctoral degree—either a Psy.D. or Ph.D.—to become a forensic psychologist. But continue reading for information on several careers you can pursue with an online master’s in forensic psychology.

What Can You Do with a Master’s in Forensic Psychology?

Forensic psychology covers a broad range of industries, so the field offers multiple career options where graduates can apply the skills and knowledge they gained during their studies. From courtrooms to correctional facilities, professionals can choose diverse positions in mental health, government, and private settings. See below for examples of careers that online forensic psychology master’s graduates can pursue.

Crime Analyst

Crime analysts examine data related to crimes in a specific location in order to help law enforcement catch criminals. Some of the information these professionals may consider includes the frequency of crimes, economic factors, and resident demographics of a particular area.

Jury Consultant

A jury consultant uses psychological principles in order to make recommendations on who should and should not be seated on a jury panel for a trial. They may also conduct focus groups and help attorneys fine-tune their arguments to ensure they will be persuasive enough to win their cases.

Victim Advocate

When someone is the victim of a crime like domestic violence or rape, victim advocates provide the support they need. Their responsibilities can include advising victims on how the legal process works, accompanying them to court proceedings, and helping them access resources to cope with the aftermath of the trauma.

Criminal Justice Evaluator

A criminal justice evaluator works directly with offenders to make recommendations about their case, including their competency to stand trial or fitness to participate in rehabilitation programs.

Police Consultant

Police consultants help police forces understand the minds of criminals and create policing strategies that will be effective in their communities. Consultants may also, educate officers on suicide prevention, anger management, and working with mentally ill people.