There aren’t very many online forensic psychology master’s degrees on the market just yet. The good news is that there are several high quality, affordable options. All of the programs featured in our ranking are non-profit, regionally accredited colleges and universities. Some of these online forensic psychology master’s degrees can be earned in as little as one year, while others spread out the load a bit more and take 2 years to complete. The tuition costs we use in this ranking are the cost of the full program’s tuition, not including fees. Our methodology was simple for this article. We looked at the cost of all online forensic psychology master’s degrees by non-profit, regionally accredited universities, and ranked them from most affordable to least affordable. But even the least affordable programs on this list are incredibly cheap for a master’s degree. This leaves you with the freedom to choose the program from our ranking that is the best overall fit for your life and needs.
#1. University of North Dakota
Online Master’s in Forensic Psychology
This online master’s in forensic psychology can be completed in two years. The program can be started in either the fall or the spring semester. UND forensic psychology alumni work with the FBI, Department of Veterans Affairs, South Dakota Department of Corrections, serve in the U.S. Military, and work as jury consultants. You will take courses like advanced social psychology, behavior pathology, diversity psychology, and psychology and law.
- Tuition: $13,800
#2. Arizona State University
Online Master’s Forensic Psychology
ASU offers over 100 online degree programs and is one of the biggest online universities in the United States. The master’s in forensic psychology online features 11 courses and a 7.5 week course format. With enrollment periods every couple months, you can start your master’s in forensic psychology online now, and taking two courses at a time, you can be finished in just about one year. You’ll take courses like advanced correctional psychology, advanced legal psychology, and psychopathology.
- Tuition: $17,556
#3. Liberty University
Online Master’s in Criminal Justice
Liberty University is an evangelical Christian university and they offer a 25% tuition discount to first responders. It takes about 18 months to complete this online master of science in criminal justice degree, including the forensic psychology concentration. Courses are offered year-round in 8-week formats, and with enrollment periods every couple months, you’re never too far from starting your degree. Courses offered in this program include fundamentals of forensic psychology, crisis intervention in law enforcement, psychology and the legal system, and rehabilitation and reintegration of an offender.
- Tuition: $20,340
#4. Saint Leo University
Online Master’s in Criminal Justice
Saint Leo University offers an online master’s in criminal justice with a concentration in behavioral studies. The program focuses specifically on studying the way the criminal justice system and the behavioral patterns of people interact. Students will take courses like insights into criminal behavior, human behavior and the judiciary, and analytical understanding of interviews and interrogations.
- Tuition: $21,960
#5. Southern New Hampshire University
Online Master’s in Psychology
This online master of science in psychology with a concentration in forensic psychology can be completed in just 15 months, if you take two classes per 10-week term. You will take courses like social psychology, measurement and assessment, theories of personality, ethical practice in psychology, assessment for forensic psychology, psychology in the courtroom, and intersection of law and psychology.
- Tuition: $22,572
Frequently Asked Questions
What are the differences between an online master’s degree in forensic psychology and a master’s in criminal justice or psychology with a concentration in forensic psychology?
With a master’s degree entirely devoted to forensic psychology, you have the freedom to more specifically specialize through electives. It can give you more flexibility in what you study, which will allow you to tailor the program to better meet your career goals in some cases.
A master’s in criminal justice with a concentration in forensic psychology tends to focus more on how psychology and behavior interact with the justice system. It’s a good program to choose if you want to better understand both the challenges the justice system poses for human beings and the challenges human beings present to the justice system. It’s a good program for people who want to advocate for procedural and policy changes within the justice system.
A master’s in psychology with a concentration in forensic psychology is a great degree for somebody who wants a program in forensic psychology that also advances their understanding of psychology as a whole. These programs can have more clinically-oriented content and can be good for people who want to apply the knowledge in an investigative capacity.
Will my online forensic psychology degree be as respected as an on-campus degree?
The short answer to this question is yes, simply because for the most part, it’s practically impossible for prospective employers to tell you earned your degree online. Colleges and universities tend not to distinguish between online and on campus degrees on transcripts or diplomas because they wouldn’t offer the program online if they thought it was inferior in quality to their on-campus programs.
But even aside from whether or not anyone might know your degree was earned online, you don’t have much to worry about. While there were some negative cultural perceptions to online degrees more than a decade ago, they have become much more common over the past ten years, to the point where most colleges and universities offer some form of online education. Giants in higher education now offer online distance learning courses.
And with everything that has been happening this year, pretty much every college and university in the country is having their students complete their course work online. So everyone graduating with a 4-year degree in the next four years will have done some of their coursework online. So don’t worry about it! Online education has never been more normal than it is right now.
What can I do with my online forensic psychology master’s degree? Do I need a doctorate?
It depends on what sorts of jobs you want to do. In order to reach the top of your field in any psychology discipline, you will likely need a doctorate. However, there are many master’s in forensic psychology jobs across law enforcement, the justice system, and nonprofit and advocacy organizations where you can find work with a master’s. But to conduct research, advise on policy, or work in the highest levels of federal law enforcement, a doctorate can definitely help. There are no guarantees in this field. The best way to get the job you want is to earn your master’s, and start working in an area related to your mid-late career goals. You may be able to work your way into the job you want with a combination of your master’s and experience. If you find you truly need a doctorate for the position you want, then you can decide to earn one and focus your research on an area directly relevant to your career goals.
How much money do forensic psychologists make?
There isn’t a lot of clear data on this, to be honest. The best data available we could find was from Payscale.com; however, the averages are based on relatively few data points. The best way to figure out how much you can expect to earn is likely by looking up specific job listings you imagine you will be interested in once you have the degree, and seeing how much they pay. If you’re just looking for a general idea of what to expect, Payscale does a great job of breaking down the data they do have, including pay averages at the entry level, 1-4 years level, 5-9 years level, 10-19 years level, and 20+ years level.
Normally we would include job growth projections from the Bureau of Labor Statistics in our FAQ, but the BLS lumps all psychologists together into one category. And unfortunately, forensic psychologists are a tiny minority of all psychologists, so the numbers wouldn’t represent a realistic idea of what to expect.
Earning a forensic psychology online master’s might be a great fit for some people. But how do I know if online is the right for me?
People learn in different ways, and not every delivery system is ideal for every person. You are the best judge of whether or not online learning is a good fit for you. But it’s understandable to hesitate when degrees are so costly. What if it’s not a good fit and you wasted your money? Well, the good news is that your credits won’t be totally lost. Any credits you do earn will be transferable into a program that’s a better fit for you, though if you have already determined that the traditional option doesn’t work for you, this might not be much of a comfort. In that case, you can try doing an online course for free as a test!
There are several websites that offer college courses online (not for credit) totally free! Or at incredibly low prices. Some colleges and universities also offer open courses that students can take for free online (not for credit). Try signing up for a course through one of these sites and treating it like it’s a real college course that’s part of a degree program you paid for, and see how it feels. That will put you in a great position to decide whether or not to earn your master’s in forensic psychology online.
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