Online PhD In Forensic Psychology

Updated August 24, 2023

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Forensic Psych PhD Online

Forensic psychology entails the study of psychological dynamics relevant to legal cases. Forensic psychologists collaborate with legal professionals in assessing criminal motivation, behavior, and mental health. Forensic psychologists often examine evidence, conduct interviews, and analyze situations. This field features various specializations, including family, civil, and criminal cases.

A degree in forensic psychology supports various careers, including crime scene consultant, criminal researcher, criminal profiler, or forensic psychologist. Some forensic psychology Ph.D. graduates pursue academic careers as postsecondary teachers and researchers. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects an average job growth rate of 3% for forensic psychologists during 2019-2029. is an advertising-supported site. Featured or trusted partner programs and all school search, finder, or match results are for schools that compensate us. This compensation does not influence our school rankings, resource guides, or other editorially-independent information published on this site.

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Forensic Psychology Doctorate Questions

Q. What do you major in to become a forensic psychologist?

Some schools offer a bachelor's degree in forensic psychology. If not, aspiring forensic psychologists can earn a bachelor's degree in psychology with a concentration in criminal justice. Other common options include a bachelor's in criminal justice with a concentration in psychology.

Q. What can I do with a degree in forensic psychology?

Forensic psychology Ph.D. degrees can support lucrative and specialized careers, often in the criminal justice system. Graduates may serve as forensic psychologists, crime researchers, or crime scene consultants.

Q. Is it hard to become a forensic psychologist?

Licensed psychologists need doctoral degrees, which require years of advanced coursework, research, and clinical experience. Graduates also need state licensure as psychologists and American Board of Forensic Psychology certification.

Q. How many years does it take to be a forensic psychologist?

Psychologists usually spend 5-7 years earning their Ph.D. Graduates also need 1,000 hours of postdoctoral professional experience to qualify for board certification as forensic psychologists.

Why Get a Degree in Forensic Psychology?

Forensic psychology programs bring many potential benefits, including meaningful work, salary advancement, and promotion. Forensic psychologists contribute to the justice system, informing major decisions about mental competency, sentencing, and treatment.

Psychology doctoral degrees can lead to promotions and boost salaries considerably. March 2021 PayScale data reports that psychology Ph.D. graduates earn an average $89,820 annually. Doctoral degree-holders garner almost $30,000 more than those with just a psychology degree. This data suggests that a forensic psychology Ph.D. can pay for itself within a few years.

In exchange for teaching or research work, many Ph.D. programs offer graduate student assistantships covering tuition and some additional costs. Online programs constitute another affordable way to earn this degree. See below for more information on the costs of forensic psychology programs.

How Much Does a Forensic Psychology Degree Cost?

Pricing for forensic psychology Ph.D. programs varies widely. Talented Ph.D. students sometimes receive tuition remission and a living stipend in exchange for teaching or research. Degree-seekers not eligible for this competitive funding often save money by attending online programs. Distance learners save money on commuting and residency costs, and many enrollees maintain their jobs and income while studying.

According to a 2020 report, tuition at public, in-state, four-year schools averages $10,560 annually. Many Ph.D. candidates require at least five years to finish, but many programs do not charge full-time tuition for dissertation work. In-state students at public universities typically pay significantly less than learners at private universities or out-of-state public universities.

Some schools allow online students to pay in-state tuition rates. Online learners in high-tuition states like Vermont can save money by attending online programs based in inexpensive states like California. Tuition in California averages nearly 75% less than in Vermont.

Break down your current financial situation, and receive a college tuition estimate you can afford to pay.

How Much Do Forensic Psychology Majors Make?

March 2021 PayScale data indicates that psychology Ph.D. graduates average about $89,820 annually. This degree can lead to various forensics careers. Lower- and middle-tier positions may include criminologists, who average $44,990 annually, according to September 2020 PayScale data. Forensic psychology graduates with a criminal justice background may become criminal investigators, who average around $61,790 as of March 2021. Other positions include criminal profiler, criminal researcher, and crime scene consultant.

Many doctorate-holders pursue advanced careers such as forensic psychologist, researcher, or professor. Forensic psychology salaries vary by position, employer, sector, and experience, but the BLS cites a $80,370 median annual salary for psychologists. Postsecondary teachers earn a similar median annual salary of $79,540. Some graduates may hold law degrees and work as criminal prosecutors or defense lawyers, who often earn over $80,000.

Courses in Forensic Psychology

Forensic psychology Ph.D. curricula include core courses in criminal justice, clinical psychology, and forensic psychology. Enrollees learn about mental health law, assessment, diagnosis, and treatment. Ph.D. candidates gain practical experience through multiple supervised internships. Doctoral programs usually include a dissertation involving advanced, original research and writing.

Common forensic psychology subfields and electives may include correctional psychology, police psychology, victimology, and criminology. The core courses below appear in many, but not all, forensic psychology Ph.D. programs.

Certification for Forensic Psychology PhDs

A forensic psychology Ph.D. usually meets degree requirements for careers in this field. However, some jobs require additional licensure or certification from state boards or professional organizations. See below for some popular forensic psychology credentials available to graduates of forensic psychology programs.

The NAFC offers several certification programs in specialties including addictions, corrections, mental health, and criminal justice. Licensed mental health and social work professionals usually qualify. Various criminal justice professionals, domestic violence and sexual offender counselors, and abuse counselors may also pursue this certification. ABPP offers the certification to candidates with accredited doctorates, 100 hours of specialized forensic psychology training, and 1,000 direct experience hours over at least five years. Certificate candidates complete a written and oral examination, plus an ethical conduct review. Another NAFC certification, the CCJS supports various criminal justice and forensic psychology careers. The NAFC awards this certification by examination and candidates do not need or receive clinical licensure for this certification.

Scholarships for Forensic Psychology

Graduate students may qualify for fellowships or scholarships based on identity, field of study, financial profile, or academic achievement. Ph.D. students in forensic psychology programs may qualify for the following three financial awards.

Scholarships for Forensic Psychology
Scholarship Amount Who Can Apply

American Psychology Association Charles J. Gelso, Ph.D. Psychotherapy Research Grants

$5,000 These grants support predoctoral interns, doctoral researchers, and postdoctoral fellows with good publication records. Eligible candidates demonstrate competence through prior work and current IRB approval for projects involving human subjects. Applicants must hold membership in APA's Division 29, the Society for the Advancement of Psychotherapy.

Lizette Peterson-Homer Injury Prevention Grant

$5,000 APA Division 54 awards this grant to students or faculty researching child and adolescent physical injury prevention, including psychological and behavioral causes and effects. Candidates must demonstrate competency, commitment, and IRB approval for research with human subjects.

F.J. McGuigan Dissertation Award

$2,000 This American Psychological Foundation award supports original dissertation research on mental functioning, including motivation, affect, and cognition. Research should integrate behavioral and neural perspectives. Candidates demonstrate competency and capability to complete their research projects, plus a good plan for allocating this award.

Ph.D. in Forensic Psychology Programs

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