The best online colleges in forensic psychology could allow you to gain both your bachelor’s and master’s degrees in just four years.
Forensic psychology is becoming increasingly popular thanks to its emphasis on big-name movies and TV shows. While Hollywood might embellish things a little, it’s still a highly popular and exciting field in which to specialize. You could be interviewing criminals and their victims while supporting criminal investigations, or preparing threat assessments for a high school. No two days are the same.
What will you learn with a Forensic Psychology Degree?
Typically, a bachelor’s degree in forensic psychology will introduce you to the knowledge and skills required to secure a position in a master’s program and succeed in the industry. In a forensic psychology concentration, you’ll usually take courses in:
- abnormal psychology
- forensic psychology
- criminal investigations
- U.S. legal system and its processes
Do I need a PhD to become a forensic psychologist?
While the position of forensic psychologist is not the only career available to a forensic psychology major, this career is growing in popularity. In most cases, you will need a PhD to secure a role after graduation. However, some employers hiring for research positions are satisfied with a master’s degree. You won’t be able to become a forensic psychologist if your highest level of education is a bachelor’s degree.
What are the Best Forensic Psychology Degrees?
Accredited Online College uses the most recent data from the Department of Education’s National Center for Education Statistics. Each program is scored individually. It’s then compared to all other universities offering that degree to determine the final score you see by each ranking. Accredited Online College considers:
- student-to-faculty ratio
- number of programs offered on-campus and online
To learn more, visit our methodology page.
Liberty University offers accredited online programs via distance learning through LU Online. This includes a Bachelor of Science in Psychology – Criminal Psychology. Comprising 120 credit hours and offered fully online, this program can be completed in around 3.5 years on average. You’ll be able to continue to work while earning your degree thanks to flexible class scheduling.
At LU Online, you’ll be studying at a university that has ranked well for its teaching quality. Best Online Colleges ranked LU among the top Virginia colleges in 2020, while more recently, OnlineColleges.com and Niche have also ranked the institution among the best in the state.
In this program, you’ll study courses such as:
- Social Psychology
- Crisis Intervention
- Abnormal Psychology
- Psychology of Criminal Behavior
The typical cost of tuition for a full-time, online undergraduate degree is around $390 per credit hour. For part-time students, this cost rises to $455 per credit hour. Active duty law enforcement and other first responders could receive a 25% discount too.
At Arizona State University (ASU Online), you can earn an Online Bachelor of Science in Psychology (Forensic Psychology) by completing 120 credit hours. Classes last 7.5 weeks on average, and you’ll complete a total of around 39 classes as part of the degree program. There’s also an alternative Bachelor of Arts program that focuses more on math and science as opposed to biological and neuroscientific understanding.
In this program, you will examine where law and mental health intersect, and you’ll gain a strong foundation in key psychological theories and concepts, in addition to statistics and research. Courses include those such as:
- Forensic Psychology
- Correctional Psychology
- Abnormal Psychology
- Statistical Methods
Tuition at ASU Online varies depending on factors such as your chosen program, any transfer credits, and your course load. Typically, the cost-per-credit ranges from $561-$1,343. Undergraduates will usually pay between $561-$661 per credit hour. For more specific estimates, check out the ASU Online tuition calculator.
Via EKU Online (Eastern Kentucky University Online), you can earn a Bachelor of Science in Psychology. Up to 90 transfer credits could be accepted toward the overall 120-credit degree program, and your classes will be fully online, enabling you to continue working. There are no campus visits required in this program.
Concentrations are broad, allowing you to specialize in an area that interests you or benefits your career most. These include:
- General Psychology
- Autism Spectrum Disorders
- Forensic Psychology
- Child and Family Psychology
- Workplace Psychology
- Psychiatric Rehabilitation
- Brain and Cognitive Science
- Substance Abuse
Additional minors include Criminal Justice, Social Welfare, and Child and Family Studies.
Unlike many traditional programs, EKU Online’s distance learning programs are billed at a single rate regardless of residency. Wherever you’re based in the U.S., you’ll pay around $417 per credit hour for bachelor’s degree programs, with a total of 120 credit hours.
Purdue University’s Global Campus offers a Bachelor of Science in Criminal Justice. The program is broken down into 10-week terms, with an estimated minimum of 15-18 hours of effort needed per week to successfully complete the program. In total, you’ll need to complete 180 credit hours to graduate.
Students enrolling in this program can choose from six concentrations, which include:
- Crime Scene Investigation
- Forensic Psychology
- Homeland Security
- Juvenile Justice
- Law Enforcement
- Socially Responsible Leadership
There’s at least one start date in each calendar month, offering maximum flexibility to start your program at any time.
Purdue University’s website has resources for calculating the approximate tuition you’ll pay for your program. This includes a tuition comparison worksheet and a net price calculator. Typically, undergraduate students enrolled in a bachelor’s degree program will pay tuition and fees of around $4,996.00 as a state resident or around $14,397.00 as a non-resident.
At Faulkner University, you can enroll in an Online Bachelor of Science in Forensic Psychology that involves coursework in a broad range of subjects. In addition to your major requirements, you’ll cover subjects such as:
- psychology and behavior
- criminal investigations
All courses are offered online with no mandatory campus visits.
For admission into the program, you’ll need to be a high school graduate and be able to evidence an advanced diploma or GED certificate. If you graduated from high school less than five years prior, you’ll also need to evidence ACT (at least 18 composite) or SAT (minimum 970) scores.
As an undergraduate student, you’ll pay between $310-325 per credit hour for the program. The exception is for military qualified students taking 60 hours or less, which attracts a discounted rate of $250 per credit hour. Fees include a $70 per credit hour online course fee.
At New England College, you can enroll in the Bachelor of Arts in Psychology with a Forensic Concentration. This program specifically leads to credentials that will help you to pursue further study in this discipline too. Concentration requirements include the completion of courses in Forensic Psychology, Criminal Investigations, and Victimology.
The program will impart valuable skills that are necessary for the field of forensic psychology. These include:
- the ability to identify the various psychological characteristics
- motivations, and purposes behind criminal behavior
- an understanding of the impact that crime has on its victims
- the processes used in criminal investigations and evidence analysis
The average cost of an online undergraduate degree program at New England College is around $10,500 annually. With the exception of Nursing, most degree programs are charged at a rate of around $375 per credit hour. There are very few fees, and books and supplies cost just $900 per year.
At Louisiana State University’s distance learning campus, LSU Online, students can earn an Online Bachelor of Science in Criminal Justice. This program includes a Criminal Psychology Concentration. It’s a fully online program that will allow you to explore the inner workings of the U.S. criminal justice system from a psychological perspective.
Admission into the program requires you to have a minimum high school GPA of at least 2.0, in addition to an ACT composite of at least 20 OR a high school Core GPA of at least 2.0. If enrolled, your studies will cover course subjects such as:
- Police Process
- The Judicial Process
- Corrections Process
- Juvenile Delinquency
The program comprises 120 credit hours in total, and undergraduate tuition for this degree costs around $291 per credit hour with fees included. The estimated total cost of the program is around $34,920 before financial aid is applied, and assuming that you transfer no credits.
At Saint Leo University, there’s an Online Psychology degree program that offers a great deal of customization. Courses span topics include forensics, organizational and industrial psychology, counseling, and more. Courses span topics like:
- cognitive psychology
- abnormal psychology
- biology and behavior
- child and adolescent development
What’s more, you’ll also have the opportunity to participate in internships and other community service projects. These placements give you the chance to work in various fields, such as:
- social work
- substance abuse outreach
- human resources
With this program, you truly do have a great deal of flexibility to tailor your studies toward your preferred or existing career.
Tuition for associate and bachelor’s degrees at Saint Leo University is charged at a single rate of around $380 per credit hour. For certificate programs, the cost is around $270 per credit hour. Fees include around $528 for books and supplies. Online programs attract other fees too, and a full list of fees can be found on this page.
At Colorado State University Global (CSU Global), you can pair a major specialization in Criminal Forensics with a number of degree programs. Students commonly pair this specialization with a:
- B.S. in Criminal Justice
- B.S. in Information Technology
- B.S. in Organizational Leadership
This program itself comprises a total of 15 credit hours, and it includes the completion of five lower-division courses in criminal forensics.
The specialization program emphasizes hands-on, practical instruction to help you understand the processes behind crime scene investigation and evidence analysis. You’ll also learn how to treat suspects, witnesses, and victims. Overall, it’s an ideal course for students hoping to work as crime scene analysts, criminal examiners, and more.
At CSU Global, the cost per credit for undergraduate students is around $350, with each 3-credit course costing around $1,050. This makes for an annual tuition of approximately $8,400 on average. What’s more, there are no fees associated with this program, nor any bachelor’s and master’s degrees at CSU Global.
Southern New Hampshire University (SNHU) offers a Bachelor of Arts (BA) in Psychology with a concentration in Forensic Psychology. Accredited by the NECHE, you’ll complete a total of 120 credits and may transfer up to 90 of those from prior college-level studies. You’ll also earn a data literacy certificate alongside your degree.
In this program, you’ll build an understanding of anti-social behavior and its causes, in addition to how crime impacts its victims and the wider society. You’ll also develop essential ‘soft skills’, including:
- critical thinking
- research methods
There are a total of 39 free electives, which makes this a highly customizable program.
SNHU remains an affordable institution thanks to not raising its tuition costs in around a decade. For online undergraduate degree programs, you’ll pay around $960 per course, which is around $320 per credit hour. There are also discounts available for U.S. service members and their spouses.
You can enroll in an Online Bachelor’s in Forensic Psychology at Maryville University, which has been ranked one of America’s Top Colleges by Forbes and a Kiplinger Best College Values institution. The Bachelor of Arts degree focuses coursework on three key areas:
- criminal justice
- social science
The coursework in this program is offered entirely online, and there are no mandatory residencies or campus visits. Classes are also asynchronous, which gives you maximum flexibility around your work schedule. What’s more, the curriculum has been designed alongside the American Psychological Association standards, ensuring that it is relevant and up to date.
Tuition costs at Maryville University depend on the type of degree program that you’re interested in. For this degree program, tuition is charged at a rate of around $500 per credit hour, with 128 credits required for graduation. The alternative BA in Psychology is charged at the same rate.
At Union Institute & University, you can enroll in a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology. Concentrations are also available in a range of subjects, including:
- Holistic Studies
- Forensic Psychology
- Addiction Studies
- Industrial and Organizational Psychology
Classes are taught entirely online by experienced mental health professionals, and class sizes are small too.
With both part-time and full-time options available, you’ll complete a total of 120 credit hours, with classes starting every eight weeks. You could also opt to begin your master’s degree at the same time in a range of areas; see this page of the university’s website for more information.
Undergraduate tuition at Union Institute & University depends on the program you choose. For example, while the B.S. in Criminal Justice Management attracts a rate of $350 per credit hour, you’ll pay around $545 per credit hour for this psychology degree. See this page for more information on tuition and fees.
Touro University Worldwide offers an Online Bachelor of Arts in Psychology with a concentration in Forensic Psychology. With this concentration, you can also progress to the university’s Master’s in Psychology with a concentration in the same discipline. It is a fully online program that features 8-week courses, including a capstone project.
Class sizes are kept small, and your professors have real-world experience in the industry. You’ll be able to choose from 6 annual start dates, and you can transfer up to 90 semester credits toward the degree total of 120 credits.
Tuition at Touro University costs $400 per credit hour for associate and bachelor’s degrees and $500 per credit hour for master’s programs. Many of the usual fees have been eliminated by Touro, which means you won’t pay a technology fee, student service fee, and more.
Florida Tech’s Bachelor of Arts in Applied Psychology with a Concentration in Forensic Psychology is offered fully online. Including a foundation in the liberal arts, the program focuses on how the field of forensic psychology is linked to the U.S. legal system and law enforcement. The institution has been ranked within the top 10 Online Bachelor’s Psychology Programs by U.S. News & World Report.
The curriculum covers key subject areas that include counseling, criminal behavior, legal processes, criminal investigations, policing, and victimology. You’ll take courses such as:
- Integrated Theories of Crime
- Victim Studies and Advocacy
- Forensic Clinical Psychology
- Psychology of Leadership
- Experiment and Abnormal Psychology
In total, you will complete 109 credits of core courses and 12 credits of electives, for a total of 121 credits. Undergraduate tuition typically costs around $510 per credit hour, which makes the total cost of tuition around $61,710 for this program.
#15. Bushnell University
Bushnell University offers an Online Bachelor of Science in Psychology that could see you awarded credits toward your degree from past work experience in law enforcement or the military. In this program, you’ll gain a solid understanding of how psychology influences the criminal justice arena. Courses begin every 8 weeks, and all teaching is delivered online, though you may participate in face-to-face courses once per week.
You’ll take courses that include:
- Biological Psychology
- Abnormal Psychology
- Forensic Psychology
You’ll also study other courses that develop your skills and experience in research methods, human development, and statistics, in addition to a senior capstone project and oral presentation.
Bushnell University is among the most affordable institutions in the state; it has been ranked No. 1 for the lowest average annual cost among four-year, private universities in the state. For undergraduate online programs, tuition costs around $495 per credit hour, with the average annual financial aid package being approximately $11,700.
#16. Bay Path University
At Bay Path University, you’ll have the opportunity to study human behavior, mental health, and criminal justice in the BA in Psychology: Forensic Psychology program. You’ll look at:
- motivations behind criminal behavior
- role played by mental illness in crime
- ethical considerations that exist in the legal and criminal justice systems
While a four-year, accelerated program is available, which allows you to obtain your Master’s degree simultaneously, it is not available online. This online program is offered through The American Women’s College, and students can opt to take two graduate-level courses too. These provide a good stepping stone into the institution’s Clinical Mental Health Counseling program.
Bay Path University offers a single rate of tuition for online programs, which is around $410 per credit. With a military tuition discount, this rate drops to $350 per credit. According to the institution’s website, there are “no surprises”; there are very few fees outside of typical books or supplies costs.
Frequently Asked Questions
What does forensic psychology mean?
The American Psychological Association (APA) defines forensic psychology as being the application of clinical expertise in psychology to the legal arena. Most other definitions are similar, involving the practice of psychology in the context of law or those who come into contact with the law.
The term is in fact fairly new. It was only in 2001 that the APA officially recognized forensic psychology as a specialty area of psychology. This is despite the fact that the roots of this field go back much further. Today, the field is becoming increasingly popular with students, likely due to the growth of popular TV programs and movies that depict crime-solving main characters.
What can I do with a degree in forensic psychology?
Though forensic psychologists require a master’s degree or PhD, there are many entry-level positions in criminal justice and law enforcement that are accessible with a bachelor’s degree. For example, you could become a juvenile offender counselor, a police officer, a probation officer, or even a jury consultant.
Graduates who wish to become police officers will ordinarily join a police academy training scheme. Other careers involve entrance examinations, such as probation officer. Counseling roles may also involve licensure in the state in which you want to practice. You should always check the entrance requirements for a job that you’re considering.
What do forensic psychologists do?
One of the most important and routine duties of a forensic psychologist is to psychologically assess those who have been involved in crime. This doesn’t always mean that you’ll be interviewing those guilty of a crime either; you may be working with their victims or witnesses to the event.
Because of these duties, it’s important that forensic psychologists have had training in law, the legal system and criminal processes, and the many areas of psychology, such as criminal psychology, abnormal psychology, and so on. Clinical skills involving assessment, interview techniques, and report writing are also very important to the forensic psychologist.
According to the APA, you may take part in threat assessment for schools, evaluation of those involved in child custody cases, counseling for victims, and more. Strong verbal communication skills are essential, though your written communication skills matter too, as you’ll conduct research and write reports.
What do forensic psychologists make?
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the median annual salary for all psychologists in the U.S. was around $82,000 in May 2020. Those earning the highest wages were employed by government organizations, which includes many forensic psychologists. The highest 10 percent of earners were making more than $137,590.
Another lesser-known career is that of forensic science technician. For this role, a bachelor’s degree is sufficient, and you’ll aid criminal investigations by gathering and analyzing evidence used in criminal proceedings. In May 2020, the annual median wage for a forensic science technician was around $60,590.
In terms of other, entry-level roles, probation officers made around $55,690 annually according to the BLS, in May 2020. Police officers and detectives earned slightly more, at around $67,290. Earning your master’s degree or PhD is one of the best ways to improve your earning potential in the field of forensic psychology, as it’ll open up more advanced roles, including clinical psychology and counseling.
Does forensic psychology need biology?
Where possible, you should aim to take any psychology courses offered at the high school level, and you should aim to excel in both chemistry and biology if you want the strongest chances of succeeding at the college admissions stage. This is particularly important for the most well-regarded degree programs and universities.
Most psychology degrees will feature courses that link to biology, and having a solid understanding of the natural sciences will benefit you. That said, not every undergraduate psychology degree program will require you to have excelled in biology. It will certainly help set you up for success, but you may be accepted into a program without strong grades in this subject.