Home > Top 10 Online Master’s in Forensic Psychology for 2018

Top 10 Online Master’s in Forensic Psychology for 2018

An online master’s degree in forensic psychology helps students understand the factors that lead individuals to commit crimes. Students interested in law or who have a psychology background are ideal candidates for a master’s in forensic psychology online program. The Bureau of Labor Statistics projects a 14% employment growth for psychologists within the next decade.

What are the Best Online Master’s in Forensic Psychology Programs?

1

Nova Southeastern UniversityFort Lauderdale, FL

Degree Master of Science in Forensic Psychology
Admissions Rate 59%
Default Rate 4%
Retention Rate 80%
Graduation Rate 44%
Online Enrollment 39%

Between its Ft. Lauderdale, FL campus and distance education classes, NSU enrolls more than 24,000 students. Digital learners can pursue an online master’s degree in forensic psychology. In this 36-credit program, students explore the intersection of law and psychology. NSU’s master’s of science in forensic psychology is a non-clinical degree. It serves as the foundation for a doctoral program or advances a career in criminal justice, child welfare, or law enforcement.

The program includes 24 credits of core courses, including evaluation, methodology, and psychological research, and ethical concerns & multicultural issues in forensic psychology. Students select one of two nine-credit specialization tracks - forensic psychology in the legal system or forensic psychology for mental health workers, first responders, and disaster teams. Students choose between field experience or a thesis to conclude the program.

2

Liberty UniversityLynchburg, VA

Degree MS in Criminal Justice in Forensic Psychology
Admissions Rate 22%
Default Rate 7%
Retention Rate 75%
Graduation Rate 47%
Online Enrollment 82%

Located in Lynchburg, Virginia, Liberty is the nation’s largest non-profit, private university and the world’s largest Christian university. The school offers a master’s of science in criminal justice in forensic psychology completely online. Students learn to apply psychological principles to criminal justice administration in this 36-hour program. Courses include fundamentals of forensic psychology and crisis intervention in law enforcement. The coursework is offered asynchronously and the program concludes with a mandatory 6-credit thesis.

This master’s in forensic psychology online allows digital learners to transfer in a maximum of 50% of their coursework. Public safety professionals may be eligible to receive up to 12 credits through prior learning assessment. Acceptance into the program requires a bachelor’s degree with a minimum GPA of 3.0. Liberty may admit students with less than a 3.0 on a case by case basis. It also offers preliminary acceptance to qualified students who have not yet finished their undergraduate degrees.

3

University of California-IrvineIrvine, CA

Degree Master of Legal and Forensic Psychology
Admissions Rate 39%
Default Rate 3%
Retention Rate 93%
Graduation Rate 88%

Students looking to advance their careers in psychology and law can enroll in UCI’s online master’s of legal and forensic psychology. The school considers applicants with a bachelor’s degree in any field, a minimum 3.0 GPA, and an interest in solving social problems. Cohorts begin in the fall and the spring, and students typically complete the 52-credit graduate degree in two years.

UCI’s forensic psychology online master’s program begins with an on-campus, accelerated 5-day course entitled introduction to legal and forensic psychology. All other coursework is offered online. Topics include forensic assessment, legal reasoning, and eyewitness testimony. Students conclude the program with a capstone project instead of a traditional thesis.

4

University of North DakotaGrand Forks, ND

Degree Master of Arts in Forensic Psychology
Admissions Rate 82%
Default Rate 4%
Retention Rate 81%
Graduation Rate 54%
Online Enrollment 22%

Boasting 15,000 students in more than 200 degree programs, UND offers a 35-credit online master’s degree in forensic psychology. Students in this program take two or more years to earn their degrees. They enroll in semester-long online courses and a one-week on-campus capstone course. For admission, applicants must hold a bachelor’s degree in a social or behavioral science field with a minimum 3.0 GPA or a 3.5 GPA in graduate-level coursework.

Digital learners complete required classes on their own schedule since the program is asynchronous. Students complete fieldwork in the local community, and credits earned at other institutions may transfer in. Online students in the master’s in forensic psychology program pay in-state tuition no matter their state of residence.

5

Southern New Hampshire UniversityManchester, NH

Degree Masters of Science in Psychology with concentration in Forensic Psychology
Admissions Rate 92%
Default Rate 8%
Retention Rate 61%
Graduation Rate 58%
Online Enrollment 88%

Students pursuing a career in criminal justice and psychology can enroll in SNHU’s master’s of science in psychology with concentration in forensic psychology. This 36-credit program invites applications from students with a bachelor’s degree in psychology or a related field. The school requires students who do not have a background in psychology to complete courses in basic psychology, statistics, and research prior to beginning the program.

SNHU’s program requires a two-course sequence in research methods as well as a capstone project. Taking two courses per 10-week term, digital learners complete the entire master's in forensic psychology online in about 15 months. SNHU offers tuition discounts to U.S. service members and the spouses of those on active duty.

6

Oklahoma State University-Main CampusStillwater, OK

Degree Master of Science in Forensic Sciences with Specialization in Forensic Psychology
Admissions Rate 75%
Default Rate 7%
Retention Rate 81%
Graduation Rate 61%
Online Enrollment 5%

OSU equips students for careers in investigative agencies, crime labs, and teaching positions in criminal justice psychology through an online master’s of science in forensic sciences with specialization in forensic psychology. This 39-credit hour degree includes a research project, comprehensive exam, and several seminars. Students select a thesis or non-thesis track. Thesis track specializations include death scene investigation, forensic biology/DNA, forensic chemistry, and forensic psychology. Non-thesis track options include arson and explosives investigation, forensic document examination, and forensic science administration.

OSU’s forensic psychology online master's programs require applicants to hold a bachelor’s degree, have a related professional or academic background, and submit GRE scores (thesis) or GRE or MAT scores (non-thesis). The school accepts applications year-round.

7

Arizona State University-TempeTempe, AZ

Degree Master of Science in Forensic Psychology
Admissions Rate 83%
Default Rate 7%
Retention Rate 86%
Graduation Rate 66%
Online Enrollment 2%

Located in Tempe, ASU offers a 33-credit master’s of science in forensic psychology. Students earning this degree take 11 courses, including advanced legal psychology, psychopathology, and a seminar in courts and sentencing. Each class lasts for 7.5 weeks, and students can enroll in the program at the beginning of each 7.5-week session.

ASU’s forensic psychology degree stands out among online master's programs since it requires no on-site coursework. It prepares students for careers in law enforcement, legal psychology, and criminal analysis. Successful applicants have a bachelor’s or a master’s degree in a related field from a regionally accredited institution. The school requires a minimum 3.0 GPA in the last 60 hours of an applicant’s undergraduate or graduate degree.

8

University of Louisiana at MonroeMonroe, LA

Degree Master of Science in Psychology, Forensic Concentration
Admissions Rate 88%
Default Rate 13%
Retention Rate 76%
Graduation Rate 41%
Online Enrollment 13%

ULM in Monroe offers a fully online master’s of science in psychology with a forensic concentration for future forensic psychologists. To enter the program, students must have a bachelor’s degree with a minimum 2.75 GPA, a combined score of at least 290 on the GRE, and nine undergraduate credits in psychology, including three hours in statistics. Students can opt to include a thesis in their program, and the school encourages those interested in pursuing Ph.D. studies to do so.

This online master's degree in forensic psychology includes courses in psychopathology, sociology of law, and advanced theories of crime and delinquency. Students can take advantage of ULM’s prior learning assessment and generous transfer policy to reduce the program’s required 36 credits.

9

University of Houston-VictoriaVictoria, TX

Degree Master of Arts in Forensic Psychology
Admissions Rate 53%
Default Rate 7%
Retention Rate 61%
Online Enrollment 44%

UHV offers a 63-credit hybrid online and on-site master’s degree in forensic psychology. This program equips students with the academic background to become licensed forensic mental health professionals. Successful applicants have earned a C or better in statistics, research methods, and abnormal psychology at the bachelor’s level. UHV also requires a Graduate Admissions Index of 980 and an interview with the faculty.

This master of arts in forensic psychology requires courses in psychopathology, addictions counseling, and personality assessment. Students also complete a 9-credit practicum in forensic psychology. The program concludes with a comprehensive exam. A faculty advisor helps students organize their curriculum to meet all course prerequisites. Most students take two years of full-time study to earn their degrees.

10

Adler UniversityChicago, IL

Degree Master's in Counseling: Specialization in Forensic Psychology Default Rate 2% Online Enrollment 15%

Located in Chicago, Adler offers a hybrid online/on-campus master's in counseling: specialization in forensic psychology to help students become socially responsible mental-health practitioners in the criminal justice field. Graduates of Adler’s forensic psychology online master's programs are eligible to take the Licensed Professional Counselor (LPC) exam in Illinois, the National Counselor Exam (NCE), or pursue licensure to become a Forensic Mental Health Evaluator.

Adler’s program requires two years of full-time study. Each student is part of a cohort that learns together throughout the program. Courses include Adlerian theory and counseling, addictions counseling, and forensic mental health. Students complete a nonclinical social justice practicum, a 100-hour supervised practicum, and a 600-hour internship. Admission requires a bachelor’s degree with a 3.0 GPA or higher.

How to Choose an Online Master’s in Forensic Psychology Program

Forensic psychology online master’s programs have different curricula and course requirements, but learning outcomes are usually the same. Students learn the basic tenets of psychology and criminal behavior, complete core courses, and specialize in a concentration area, such as terrorism. Students are often required to work with forensic psychologists and patients during a capstone project or field research. The duration of an online master’s degree in forensic psychology program depends on the number of required credits and whether the student transfers previous credits.

Careers for Graduates of Master’s in Forensic Psychology Programs

A master’s in forensic psychology online program combines principles of psychology and law for a comprehensive approach to criminal behavior. Graduates become victim advocates, expert witnesses, and case managers. They work within the criminal justice system to help law enforcement officials capture and prosecute criminals. Jobs in this field are demanding, but they have high earning potentials. Many experienced forensic psychologists write books or appear on television.

Job Outlook and Salary for Graduates of Forensic Psychology Master’s Degrees

Graduates of online master’s degree in forensic psychology programs pursue careers in psychology and law. Both industries are experiencing rising job growth and demand. The Bureau of Labor Statistics projects a 10% growth in legal occupations within the next decade.

Forensic psychologists and technicians work in high-risk areas, such as prisons and crime scenes. Employment for forensic technicians is projected to increase 17% by 2024.

Employment Growth for Forensic Psychology
Employment, 2014 Projected Employment, 2024
15,400 18,000

Salary Growth by Experience for Graduates of Forensic Psychology Master’s Programs

Students in master’s in forensic psychology online programs are prepared for careers through rigorous courses and intensive field research requirements, during which students work with trained forensic technicians and psychologists. In this field, professionals with more experience obtain prominent positions working with specialized forces and departments. A master’s in forensic psychology online degree combined with professional experience leads to higher earning potential.


To determine the best online master’s in forensic psychology programs, we looked at the most important factors prospective students, mainly common predictors of future success and a school’s commitment to online programs. This boils down to admissions rate, student loan default rate, retention rate, graduation rate, and the percent of students enrolled in online classes. All data points are taken from information provided by colleges and universities to the National Center for Education Statistics.

Each factor is weighted evenly in order to give an objective view and determine the best online master’s in forensic psychology programs. To calculate our rankings, we looked at a school’s ranking when organized by a single factor, and then averaged each category’s ranking to find an overall score: Admissions Rate (20%) + Default Rate (20%) + Retention Rate (20%) + Graduation Rate (20%) + Percent of Students Enrolled in Online Classes (20%) = Final score.

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