Which are the best online bachelor’s in forensic psychology degree programs in the US? The top ranked colleges prepare graduates for this exciting field.
The field of forensic psychology is flourishing. Forensic psychologists handle a wide range of duties, from partaking in courtroom activities like jury selection and witness evaluation to working within the criminal justice system as a mental health counselor or consultant.
While an online bachelor’s degree in forensic psychology can lead to a job in law, criminal justice, or the psychology field, you will likely need a doctorate degree to become a certified forensic psychologist.
Given society’s fixation with learning what goes on in a criminal’s mind, it makes sense that forensic psychology is so fascinating.
Forensic psychology combines clinical psychology and law within the justice system. Forensic psychologists investigate the interplay between crime and human psychology.
Forensic psychologists help determine trial capacity, witnesses’ reliability, a person’s mental state during a crime, and other factors.
A bachelor’s degree in forensic psychology is a great way to jumpstart a career. However, colleges and universities offering an online bachelor’s in forensic psychology are limited.
As a result, some students interested in becoming forensic psychologists may instead find online bachelor’s degree programs that are related to forensic psychology. For example, a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice with a concentration in forensic psychology or a bachelor’s degree in psychology with a concentration in criminal justice can both lead to a career in forensic psychology.
While the psychological evaluation of a person currently participating in a legal process is a narrow focus of the field of forensic psychology, an online bachelor’s in forensic psychology can also give the broader opportunity for research and academic study within psychology and law.
An online bachelor’s in forensic psychology program typically combines psychology and criminal justice topics, and includes research methods in psychology, criminal profiling, cognitive psychology, psychology and the law, and criminal law.
Students seeking a forensic psychology degree can choose between a bachelor of arts (BA) or a bachelor of science (BS) degree. The bachelor of science in forensic psychology provides a stronger foundation in the legal system combined with human behavior within the realm of abnormal psychology. The majority of Forensic Psychology bachelor’s degree programs includes an internship.
Students in online forensic psychology degree programs and other related degrees gain a wide range of skills used in criminal investigations, including:
Bottom Line: While the number of online bachelor’s degree programs in forensic psychology are limited, students have alternate degree paths they can take to get into the field. With careful planning, the skills that they gain in any of the related degrees can easily transfer into a career in forensic psychology.
The median annual wage for psychologists was $81,040 in 2021, and the demand for psychologists was expected to grow by 6% between 2021 and 2031, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
However, several variables, including experience, affect the potential salary for forensic psychology jobs.
According to PayScale, forensic psychologists with less than a year of experience make $60,951 a year on average, while the average salary for forensic psychologists with over 20 years of experience is $93,886.
Salary is also affected by geography and the employers you work for. Private practice forensic psychologists in coastal locations may make significantly more than their contemporaries in rural Midwest communities or other places with a lower cost of living.
A psychologist who is employed by the government may also have a more consistent salary than psychologists who work within a private practice, which could also lead to a higher wage.
Key Point: While the median annual salary for psychologists is higher than average across all careers, there are many factors that can affect salary including experience, geographical location, and type of employment.
Criminal profiling, which is simply identifying perpetrators behind crimes, is one of the most common career paths for forensic psychology graduates, but there are many other forensic psychology jobs.
Forensic psychology degrees instruct students in how to conduct research using scientific techniques, such as empirical research, so graduates also pursue careers that utilize strategies to reduce crime and recidivism.
In addition to conducting research, forensic psychologists can work for homeland security, treat juvenile and adult offenders, represent victims, screen police recruits, or work in academia, instructing others seeking an undergraduate or graduate degree in forensic psychology.
Forensic psychologists can also become a consultant to the court, but this position typically requires a doctorate degree. Court consultants can participate in the judicial process at any point, whether pretrial, trial, or post-trial.
However, becoming a forensic psychology consultant requires the knowledge, experience, and judgment to provide an unbiased evaluation, which is why many professionals in the area view this as one of the most difficult positions.
Your testimony, for instance, may be used to decide who should be granted custody of a child in a family court case. In other cases, you will determine whether a person with a mental illness needs treatment or whether an insanity defense can succeed.
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Arizona State University’s faculty and alumni have been influential in:
Arizona State University, one of the leading public universities in the United States, offers over 800 degree programs, 300 of which are partially or fully online. The online programs at ASU provide students with the same on-campus renowned faculty and academic rigor.
One of the school’s most sought-after online degrees is the online Bachelor of Science in Psychology in Forensic Psychology, with two lab requirements and a statistical training component.
With an average estimated tuition of $12,429 per year for in-state residents, online students can have a high-quality forensic education exploring subjects in Criminology, Abnormal Behavior, and Psychological Perspectives on the Legal System.
Students can select electives that align with their personal or professional interests and concentrate on specific forensic psychology topics. The BS degree requires students to complete 120 credit hours, 39 of which are forensic psychology-focused courses.
Students who want to focus on concepts related to human behavior and the justice system can opt for the Bachelor of Arts degree. Less emphasis is placed on math and science in favor of more electives and course options that can be used to tailor your undergraduate study.
Although both degrees can be helpful when applying to graduate programs, the BS may be more advantageous for many career options.
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Liberty University’s faculty and alumni have been influential in:
Students who want to prepare for their future careers while impacting others via a life lived for Christ should consider Liberty University. In addition to offering students courses taught from a biblical worldview, Liberty is a pioneer in distance education.
The online Bachelor of Science in Psychology – Criminal Psychology at Liberty University prepares students for a rewarding career in criminal psychology while strengthening their faith and developing moral values.
Students in the criminal psychology concentration develop a solid, fundamental understanding of the behavior of criminals by taking foundational courses in social psychology and behavioral change. Additional program topics include The Court Systems, Law Enforcement, Ethics and Philosophy of Criminal Justice, and Correctional Organizations.
This 120-credit hour degree program aims to help students develop the abilities necessary to analyze and approach the study of crime from a philosophical, psychological, sociological, and biblical viewpoint.
This degree program costs an average of $23,800. Students with previous college credits can transfer up to 75% of the required credit hours, reducing their total tuition costs significantly. And because this online degree offers an accelerated format, students can graduate in three and a half years, faster than the average time it takes to complete a bachelor’s degree.
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Florida Institute of Technology’s faculty and alumni have been influential in:
With its reputation for having a culture of relentless determination, Florida Tech offers various online academic programs designed to meet 21st-century demands. One of its 100% online programs is the Bachelor of Arts in Applied Psychology in Forensic Psychology.
The online BA with a concentration in forensic psychology earned a top spot in the U.S. News & World Report’s Online Bachelor’s of Psychology Programs at private universities ranking. The online forensic psychology program is best for students who want foundational knowledge of the liberal arts. The program costs $61,710 before financial aid.
Students explore various topics, such as overviews of clinical forensic psychology, forensic interrogation and evaluation of children and adults, treatment of offenders and victims, and legal procedures involving clinical psychologists with the court system. Students will develop the ability to analyze human behavior from the angles of interdisciplinary ideas in sociology, psychology, and other fields.
Graduates of the forensic psychology concentration are prepared to pursue various career paths, including those in corporations, law enforcement organizations, and mental health facilities. Students who want to continue to graduate studies in sociology, psychology, and other related fields are well-suited for Florida Tech’s online forensic psychology degree program.
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Southern New Hampshire University’s faculty and alumni have been influential in:
Southern New Hampshire University is undoubtedly one of the most progressive and fastest-growing colleges in the United States, with over 80,000 students attending online degree programs. SNHU’s online Bachelor of Arts in Criminal Psychology, one of the most affordable online forensic psychology degrees costing only $9,600 annually, is designed to help students gain transferable skills applicable to the legal field or justice system.
The degree requires students to complete a series of liberal arts courses, which offer a well-rounded education to support the study of psychology and other fields. Students are required to take courses in forensic psychology and criminal psychology, but they can then tailor their degree with courses in Social Psychology, Sociology of Crime and Violence, and Counseling Process and Techniques courses.
Online students receive full support from the SNHU administration from enrollment to graduation. In addition to receiving the necessary support for success, you can study in an asynchronous learning format with 24/7 access to online coursework. Furthermore, this degree lets you earn transferable and industry-relevant skills and knowledge thanks to its 39 free electives and 12-credit embedded Data Literacy in Psychology certificate.
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Eastern Kentucky University’s faculty and alumni have been influential in:
Eastern Kentucky University is a mid-size institution with popular majors in liberal arts and psychology. EKU offers an affordable online Bachelor of Science in Psychology with eight concentrations, including Forensic Psychology.
The forensic psychology concentration is designed for undergraduate students pursuing careers and graduate studies related to the criminal justice system. EKU offers a flat rate tuition of $421 per credit hour. The average annual tuition cost is $19,724.
The BS in Psychology with a Forensic Psychology concentration requires students to comprehensively study the roles of clinical/forensic psychologists in the legal system. Students focus on expert witnesses, forensic report writing, forensic mental health assessment principles, and the processes for conducting civil and criminal forensic psychological assessments.
In addition to concentration options, students in the BS in Psychology online program can pursue additional undergraduate certificates, such as Veteran Studies and Social Intelligence. Students with a prior college education, such as an associate degree or certificate, can transfer up to 90 credit hours of coursework. Students can also complete the program in less than four years with accelerated courses.
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New England College is a well-known private institution that provides education on a global scale and continuously succeeds in educating future generations using efficient techniques.
One of its successful online programs is the Bachelor of Arts in Psychology, designed for students who want to focus on the psychological side of the field rather than the criminal justice side. While the program doesn’t offer a concentration in psychology, it provides similar courses found in forensic psychology concentrations. Online students should expect to pay $10,500 per year in tuition.
The online degree program offers students the same on-campus curriculum and rigor, which entails exploring courses in Social Psychology, Perspectives on Mental Health and Disorders, Neuropsychology, and Issues in Professional Practices. These courses, among others, help students develop the skill set required to obtain positions in psychology. Graduates can immediately pursue a career in forensic psychology careers or continue their education with a master’s degree.
Thanks to its multiple start dates, students can submit applications any time of the year. Students can also expect to have a pool of financial aid opportunities upon completing the FAFSA application.
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National Louis University offers an online Bachelor of Arts in Criminal Justice degree with an affordable online tuition fee of $11,325. Students in the program can concentrate on Criminal Justice Administration or Forensic Social Justice and can take various free elective courses to customize the program further.
The online degree program’s curriculum was created with the help of leaders in the law enforcement, security, and prison professions, allowing graduates to become highly competitive in the job market. While coursework can be completed online, students can take advantage of hands-on learning opportunities like class trips and case studies.
Students explore courses in Investigation and Analysis, Sociology and Psychology, Punishment and Corrections, Ethics and Diversity, and Law and the Justice System. These courses develop an expertise in psychology and the criminal justice system.
It is important to note that this curriculum emphasizes criminal justice. If you want to focus your studies on forensic psychology courses alone, consider applying to other degree programs on this list.
On top of being affordable, NLU offers numerous financial aid opportunities, such as grants, scholarships, and loans. Online students can access similar financial aid opportunities to their on-campus peers.
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Purdue University Global is one of the most preferred institutions for working adult students, thanks to its flexible and affordable degree programs. One of the online programs offered at Purdue Global is the online Bachelor of Science in Criminal Justice, where students can concentrate on Forensic Psychology. The standard total tuition at Purdue Global is $7,075.00–$11,560.
Students gain a thorough understanding of the criminal justice profession and a comprehensive liberal arts education through the BS in Criminal Justice in Forensic Psychology. The program’s curriculum aims to teach students about criminological theory, law, research techniques, and technology.
Students will study Organized Crime, Management of Criminal Justice Organizations, and Criminal Justice Ethics. Moreover, the concentration offers aberrant psychology, crisis intervention, and law enforcement psychology training.
Unlike other degree programs that only require 120-127 credit hours, Purdue Global’s online BS in Criminal Justice degree requires students to complete 180 credit hours. Students pursuing a master’s degree in human services, legal studies, psychology, or public administration can pursue an accelerated master’s program option.
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Maryville University offers a Bachelor of Arts in Forensic Psychology designed for students who want to blend psychology with criminal justice education. Maryville’s online forensic psychology bachelor’s degree program includes electives and courses in general education, psychology, criminal justice, social science research sequence, and internships. Students with transfer credits can complete the program in two to three years.
This online forensic psychology bachelor’s degree, which costs an average of $12,383 per semester, is one of the most comprehensive programs online. Students will complete fundamental social sciences courses, such as sociology, human development, different branches of psychology, criminal theory and investigation, psychological testing, and professional skills courses. You’ll develop keen research and critical thinking skills after completing a 135-hour internship in your preferred location.
Maryville’s online forensic psychology degree will help you learn about the field of forensic psychology firsthand while gaining relevant experience for your resume. You’ll also have the chance to collaborate with a faculty member and other students on a research project as part of the capstone program.
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Union Institute & University’s faculty and alumni have been influential in:
Union Institute and University is a private university specializing in online/remote learning and limited residency programs. One of its online programs is the Bachelor of Arts in Psychology with various concentration options, including a Forensic Psychology concentration. The program requires students to complete a minimum of 120 credit hours to complete the program. The entire program costs $72,550.
Students in the forensic psychology concentration focus on the connection between psychology and law. In addition to forensic psychology courses, students can enroll in specialized elective courses in forensic psychology, gangs and gang subculture, and criminal behavior. Graduates can pursue careers in areas such as correctional psychology and victim advocacy.
If you plan to pursue a master’s degree, you can opt for Accelerated Bridge/Dual Enrollment Opportunities. Accelerated master’s degree programs, however, are only offered to students doing well in their undergraduate studies.
Obtaining a bachelor’s degree in psychology with a focus on criminology or criminal justice, or in criminal justice or psychology with an emphasis on forensic psychology, is the first step in becoming a forensic psychologist.
The American Psychological Association (APA) names the following undergraduate degrees as key starters for a career in forensic psychology:
Some four-year forensic psychology bachelor’s degree programs conclude in an internship that will immerse you in the field, allowing students to obtain real-world experience.
Career-focused courses and internships will prepare students for graduate and professional programs in forensic psychology. The graduate educational path entails one of the following programs:
While the law does not require state licensure for you to become a forensic psychologist, obtaining state licensure is still advised. Unlicensed psychologists may not be deemed competent to provide reports by some courts. Additionally, having a state license can improve your marketability for psychology positions.
In addition to a doctorate, several years of relevant experience, and passing the Examination for Professional Practice of Psychology, each state will have its own specific licensing criteria for forensic psychologists.
Although certification is not a prerequisite for forensic psychologists, it is crucial to increase marketability, demonstrate experience, and increase credibility in court. Certifications change depending on the forensic psychologist’s level of expertise.Back to Top
Professional associations assist practitioners and students in staying educated in the rapidly evolving area of forensic psychology. Most of these organizations have a membership fee, but they offer their members a variety of advantages, like networking opportunities, continuing education opportunities, and scholarships. Professional organizations for forensic psychology include:
The APA is the most popular professional organization for psychologists of various specializations. Psychology students who obtain an APA membership get access to updated articles about their fields.
Additionally, to advance the study and practice of psychology, the American Psychological Association offers outstanding financial aid opportunities for psychology students.
The AAFS unites specialists from many fields and has a dedicated branch for forensic psychologists. Members can submit articles and research papers for inclusion in the academy’s scholarly publication.
The IACFP links forensic psychologists worldwide. The organization offers members discounts on books, seminars, and activities in addition to a monthly subscription to its academic publication.
The AAFS is a multidisciplinary organization with eleven sections, including forensic science in toxicology, odontology, engineering, and law. AAFS is committed to the professional growth of its students and professional members and the use of precise methods in addition to advancing forensic psychology. The AAFS offers job postings, expert witness referrals, webinars, and mailings that are meant to be instructive.
This society is open to professionals who desire to work in criminal investigations. Four print editions of the organization’s journal are included with regular membership each year. Students on a budget can choose an inexpensive membership that includes digital access to these journals.
Bottom Line: It is important for a forensic psychologist to join an organization dedicated to the field. These organizations can help to increase networking opportunities and help students and graduates stay abreast of the latest developments in the field of forensic psychology.
All degrees are worth it, depending on your personal and professional goals. If you seek a physically and mentally stimulating career, you might be a perfect fit for an online bachelor’s in forensic psychology degree.
Forensic psychology offers freedom from managed care and insurance issues practically. There is not much paperwork, and there are no insurance firms involved.
Psychology occupations are expected to grow 6% between 2021 and 2031, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
To survive in this field, you need to have a thick skin. Some practitioners become quickly disappointed or frustrated when opposing attorneys vigorously contest them. Others become emotionally attached to cases and find it difficult to move on when the justice system doesn’t follow their beliefs.
The logistics of performing forensic investigations can be taxing. Courts don’t operate according to your schedule; thus, traveling at the last minute is expected.Back to Top
As previously mentioned, a doctorate degree is likely required to become a fully certified forensic psychologist. Because of this requirement, prospective students should plan for 10-15 years of education and training.
While laws vary by state, you need to obtain a bachelor’s degree, then often a master’s degree, and finally a PhD. Additionally, the completion of an internship under the supervision of a certified psychologist is another typical requirement.
A license isn’t usually required, but a state license and special certification can help new forensic psychologists build credibility and stand apart from the competition.
With an online bachelor’s in forensic psychology alone, graduates still have a number of career options, including:
Bottom Line: While a doctorate is required to become a fully certified forensic psychologist, there are still numerous career options for those graduates with a bachelor’s degree alone.
Forensic psychology and criminology are essential to solve and stop crime. While forensic psychology uses psychological testing and counseling to prevent recurrent offenses, criminology focuses on understanding crime.
Forensic psychologists can work in various fields in the criminal justice system. Forensic psychologists can work as investigators, consultants, or managers. They can also work in government, nonprofit groups, and correctional institutions.