Online Bachelor’s Degree Programs in Forensic Psychology

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An online bachelor’s degree in forensic psychology equips graduates with the psychological methods and forensic techniques needed to enter careers in the criminal justice system, law enforcement, government, and social services. This degree also provides a foundation for graduate studies leading to licensing and clinical practice. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects jobs for psychologists to increase by 14% by 2026, which is much faster than the average growth rate for all U.S. professions.

An online forensic psychology degree provides a flexible pathway for degree attainment. Working professionals, parents with childcare responsibilities, or those with other personal commitments find the flexibility and convenience of distance-learning formats particularly suited to their needs. This guide to the best online bachelor’s degrees in forensic psychology offers useful information about financial assistance, career options, and salary potential. Our rankings cover program features, costs, and requirements for the top-ranked accredited schools.

Top 10 Online Bachelor’s Degree Programs in Forensic Psychology

Rank School Location
1 National Louis University Chicago, IL
2 Faulkner University Montgomery, AL
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Best Online Bachelor’s Programs in Forensic Psychology 2018-2019

  • Methodology

    Best Online Forensic Psychology Programs 2018-2019

    Deciding which college to go to is no easy task, so ACO evaluated more than 3,500 colleges to give you the information you need to make the search more manageable. Our 2018 college rankings are based on statistical data from trusted sources, eligibility criteria and various ranking factors
    Data Sources:

    All rankings: Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS)
    Best Online MBA Programs: Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (GMAT scores)
    Some nursing programs: NCLEX
    Nursing bridge programs: American Association of Colleges of Nursing and DiscoverNursing.com
    Accreditation: ABET and the US Department of Education’s Office of Postsecondary Education

    Eligibility Criteria:

    Each college must be accredited
    Each college must be a not-for-profit institution
    Each college must be located in a state (US territories and Washington DC were excluded)
    Each college must have at least one online program 1
    Each college must have a maximum four-year tuition of $25,000 or a maximum two-year tuition of $5,000

    Ranking Factors:

    Affordability
    Quality
    Flexibility
    Program

    Several individual data points were objectively evaluated to calculate a score for each ranking factor listed above. For affordability, the most impactful data points were tuition2 and grants; for quality, graduation and acceptance rates; for flexibility, part-time enrollment options; and for program, degrees granted in that specific program area. Each score was then weighted, with affordability being the most highly weighted factor for all ACO rankings.

    1 Best Vocational Programs included data for both online and campus programs.

    2 Both in-state and out-of-state tuition rates were used in our methodology; however, our rankings tool currently only displays in-state rates.
    Notes:

    A dash in our Rankings Tool indicates IPEDS data was not available.
    Tuition displayed in in-state and per year unless stated otherwise.

Grounded in psychology, legal studies, criminal justice, and forensic science, the best online bachelor’s degrees in forensic psychology prepare graduates to compete in the workforce or pursue graduate studies. Using data from the Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System, we compiled this ranking of top online forensic psychology degrees based on key indicators, including tuition costs, program requirements, graduation rates, and online delivery formats.

  1. National Louis University
    Location

    Chicago, IL

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    At National Louis University, students interested in forensic psychology can earn a bachelor's degree in criminal justice with a major in forensic social justice. This degree program is offered in a hybrid format, with some online classes and some on-campus at NLU's Chicago-area campus. Students take courses exploring criminal behavior; the effects of crime on society; investigation methods; and the roles of law enforcement agencies, the justice and corrections system, and various social service agencies. Graduation requires 180 quarter hours (the equivalent of 120 semester hours); 60 of those (40 semester hours) are in general education. In addition to doing coureswork, some general education requirements may be met through taking an exam or otherwise demonstrating competency. If they wish, students may use their elective hours to add a 4-course concentration in entrepreneurship. Graduates go on to work in positions such as police officers, security experts, forensic researchers, trial consultants and caseworkers.

  2. Faulkner University
    Location

    Montgomery, AL

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    Students work at their own pace while pursuing a Bachelor of Science in Forensic Psychology at Faulkner University; as a result, this 121-credit fully online degree may accommodate both part-time working students who need more than the traditional 4 years to graduate, as well as those who wish to finish it more quickly. Students take 71 credits in the major and 50 in core classes; the school's Christian underpinnings mean that students will take several theology and Bible courses as part of the core curriculum. The major-specific coursework is designed to integrate the principles of psychology with those of criminal justice, and students explore fundamental psychological principles as well as topics such as criminal behavior and interrogation techniques. Graduates go on to work in a variety of positions with both government agencies and within the private sector, including working as an expert witness, a criminal behavior analyst, a trial consultant or a forensic psychology researcher. For many students, the degree also serves as preparation for graduate studies.

How Much Can You Make in a Forensic Psychology Career?

A forensic psychology bachelor’s degree online does not guarantee a career in this field; some careers require an advanced graduate degree and licensure. However, bachelor’s degree holders acquire knowledge and skills in psychology, counseling, law, and criminal justice to pursue employment possibilities in many settings. This chart describes some common career opportunities and salary expectations for graduates with a bachelor’s in forensic psychology. There is an increasing demand for many of these positions, mainly in the social services and forensic specialties, at rates significantly higher than the national average for all occupations.

  • Psychologists, All Other


    Median Annual Salary: $97,740
    JOB GROWTH 2016-2026: +10.3%
    Job Description

    Psychologists identify psychological, emotional, and behavioral issues and diagnose disorders. They may observe, interview, and provide counseling to individual and conduct scientific research on behavior and brain function. Forensic psychologists work in the legal system with judges, attorneys, and other legal personnel, using psychological principles to interview suspects and defendants in criminal investigations and cases. They often testify in court as expert witnesses.

  • Social and Community Service Managers


    Median Annual Salary: $64,100
    JOB GROWTH 2016-2026: +18%
    Job Description

    These managers oversee social service programs and manage community organizations. They may supervise social workers and other personnel or administer services directly. These managers coordinate outreach activities for clients with specific challenges, such as drug abuse, mental health needs, unemployment, and criminal backgrounds. They also apply for program funding and assess the effectiveness of the programs they administer.

  • Forensic Science Technicians


    Median Annual Salary: $57,850
    JOB GROWTH 2016-2026: +17%
    Job Description

    Forensic science technicians work with law enforcement agencies to analyze evidence for criminal investigations. Their day-to-day activities involve crime-scene fieldwork and lab-based research. Crime scene technicians decide what evidence to collect and how to handle, catalog, and preserve it for transfer to the crime lab. Lab technicians conduct chemical, biological, microscopic, and data analysis on the evidence gathered from crime scenes.

  • Probation Officers and Correctional Treatment Specialists


    Median Annual Salary: $51,410
    JOB GROWTH 2016-2026: +6%
    Job Description

    These professionals assist in the rehabilitation of criminal offenders. Sometimes referred to as community supervision officers, case managers, or correctional counselors, they help clients fulfill the conditions of their release and avoid repeat incarceration. Their duties include connecting clients with services, such as job training or drug counseling.

  • Substance Abuse, Behavioral Disorder and Mental Health Counselors


    Median Annual Salary: $43,300
    JOB GROWTH 2016-2026: +23%
    Job Description

    These counselors provide treatment for people dealing with mental health challenges, addictions, and behavioral disorders. These specialized professionals assess clients’ needs and readiness for treatment; implement recovery plans; and consult with social workers, healthcare practitioners, law enforcement, and other professionals. Depending on training, they may work with specific populations; some may specialize in crisis intervention or clients who exhibit aggressive or violent behavior.

Sources: BLS, Projections Central

The BLS projects a 10% job growth rate through 2026 for specialized psychologists not listed separately in its database, including forensic psychologists. Career opportunities and salary prospects vary depending on the type of employment, geographical area, and education levels. Annual salaries for these psychologists range from $44,210-$126,140, with the highest salaries found in local government, educational support services, and healthcare. The states with the highest employment levels include California, Florida, Massachusetts, Texas, and Maryland.


  • Alabama
    Median Annual Salary: $93,220

    Number Currently Employed: 140

    Projected Job Growth: +1.4 percent


  • Alaska
    Median Annual Salary: N/A

    Number Currently Employed: 270

    Projected Job Growth: +0 percent


  • Arizona
    Median Annual Salary: $89,380

    Number Currently Employed: N/A

    Projected Job Growth: N/A


  • Arkansas
    Median Annual Salary: $82,480

    Number Currently Employed: 110

    Projected Job Growth: +9 percent


  • California
    Median Annual Salary: $109,600

    Number Currently Employed: 2,300

    Projected Job Growth: +13 percent


  • Colorado
    Median Annual Salary: $82,390

    Number Currently Employed: 360

    Projected Job Growth: +15.6 percent


  • District of Columbia (DC)
    Median Annual Salary: N/A

    Number Currently Employed: 270

    Projected Job Growth: +9 percent


  • Connecticut
    Median Annual Salary: $93,120

    Number Currently Employed: 690

    Projected Job Growth: +12.4 percent


  • Delaware
    Median Annual Salary: N/A

    Number Currently Employed: N/A

    Projected Job Growth: N/A


  • Florida
    Median Annual Salary: $97,210

    Number Currently Employed: 1,900

    Projected Job Growth: +21.2 percent


  • Georgia
    Median Annual Salary: $94,660

    Number Currently Employed: 420

    Projected Job Growth: +11 percent


  • Hawaii
    Median Annual Salary: $91,750

    Number Currently Employed: N/A

    Projected Job Growth: N/A


  • Idaho
    Median Annual Salary: $85,250

    Number Currently Employed: 50

    Projected Job Growth: +13.7 percent


  • Illinois
    Median Annual Salary: $75,060

    Number Currently Employed: N/A

    Projected Job Growth: N/A


  • Indiana
    Median Annual Salary: $85,230

    Number Currently Employed: 220

    Projected Job Growth: +12.8 percent


  • Iowa
    Median Annual Salary: N/A

    Number Currently Employed: 80

    Projected Job Growth: +4.9 percent


  • Kansas
    Median Annual Salary: N/A

    Number Currently Employed: 110

    Projected Job Growth: -0.9 percent


  • Kentucky
    Median Annual Salary: $104,200

    Number Currently Employed: 210

    Projected Job Growth: +4.4 percent


  • Lousiana
    Median Annual Salary: $75,460

    Number Currently Employed: 220

    Projected Job Growth: +11.2 percent


  • Maine
    Median Annual Salary: $81,290

    Number Currently Employed: 50

    Projected Job Growth: N/A


  • Maryland
    Median Annual Salary: $113,900

    Number Currently Employed: 590

    Projected Job Growth: +5.8 percent


  • Massachusuetts
    Median Annual Salary: $82,440

    Number Currently Employed: 1,000

    Projected Job Growth: +11.8 percent


  • Michigan
    Median Annual Salary: $83,930

    Number Currently Employed: 450

    Projected Job Growth: +2.2 percent


  • Minnesota
    Median Annual Salary: $86,420

    Number Currently Employed: 280

    Projected Job Growth: +7.8 percent


  • Mississippi
    Median Annual Salary: $80,990

    Number Currently Employed: 70

    Projected Job Growth: +4.2 percent


  • Missouri
    Median Annual Salary: $83,860

    Number Currently Employed: 240

    Projected Job Growth: +5.1 percent


  • Montana
    Median Annual Salary: $65,070

    Number Currently Employed: 60

    Projected Job Growth: +12.1 percent


  • Nebraska
    Median Annual Salary: N/A

    Number Currently Employed: 90

    Projected Job Growth: +13.8 percent


  • Nevada
    Median Annual Salary: $69,830

    Number Currently Employed: N/A

    Projected Job Growth: N/A


  • New Hampsire
    Median Annual Salary: N/A

    Number Currently Employed: N/A

    Projected Job Growth: N/A


  • New Jersey
    Median Annual Salary: N/A

    Number Currently Employed: 210

    Projected Job Growth: +7.9 percent


  • New Mexico
    Median Annual Salary: $80,390

    Number Currently Employed: 90

    Projected Job Growth: +4.3 percent


  • New York
    Median Annual Salary: $97,010

    Number Currently Employed: 880

    Projected Job Growth: +17.9 percent


  • North Carolina
    Median Annual Salary: $90,760

    Number Currently Employed: 420

    Projected Job Growth: +7.1 percent


  • North Dakota
    Median Annual Salary: $93,570

    Number Currently Employed: N/A

    Projected Job Growth: N/A


  • Ohio
    Median Annual Salary: $90,770

    Number Currently Employed: 460

    Projected Job Growth: +10.3 percent


  • Oklahoma
    Median Annual Salary: N/A

    Number Currently Employed: 130

    Projected Job Growth: +5.5 percent


  • Oregon
    Median Annual Salary: $96,150

    Number Currently Employed: 200

    Projected Job Growth: -0.5 percent


  • Pennsylvania
    Median Annual Salary: $91,830

    Number Currently Employed: 530

    Projected Job Growth: +8.7 percent


  • Rhode Island
    Median Annual Salary: N/A

    Number Currently Employed: 90

    Projected Job Growth: +8.9 percent


  • South Carolina
    Median Annual Salary: $90,400

    Number Currently Employed: 190

    Projected Job Growth: +5.3 percent


  • South Dakota
    Median Annual Salary: $86,640

    Number Currently Employed: 50

    Projected Job Growth: +4.3 percent


  • Tennessee
    Median Annual Salary: $89,090

    Number Currently Employed: 230

    Projected Job Growth: +3.9 percent


  • Texas
    Median Annual Salary: $91,350

    Number Currently Employed: N/A

    Projected Job Growth: N/A


  • Utah
    Median Annual Salary: N/A

    Number Currently Employed: N/A

    Projected Job Growth: N/A


  • Vermont
    Median Annual Salary: N/A

    Number Currently Employed: N/A

    Projected Job Growth: N/A


  • Virginia
    Median Annual Salary: $94,570

    Number Currently Employed: 440

    Projected Job Growth: +13 percent


  • Washington
    Median Annual Salary: $101,180

    Number Currently Employed: 600

    Projected Job Growth: +10.3 percent


  • West Virginia
    Median Annual Salary: $84,770

    Number Currently Employed: 150

    Projected Job Growth: +11.4 percent


  • Wisconsin
    Median Annual Salary: $80,780

    Number Currently Employed: 180

    Projected Job Growth: +7.4 percent


  • Wyoming
    Median Annual Salary: N/A

    Number Currently Employed: 30

    Projected Job Growth: +8.8 percent


What Courses Can be Taken for an Online Forensic Psychology Degree?

This list presents courses commonly offered in an undergraduate forensic psychology program. While each school offers a unique curriculum, students should expect courses that introduce the theories and practices of forensic psychology, causes and diagnosis of criminal and abnormal behavior, and the legal system. Many bachelor’s in forensic psychology programs require a capstone course or another culminating experience. Students should contact schools directly to learn about specific requirements.

Introduction to Forensic Psychology

This course addresses the applications of psychological principles to issues relating to the the legal system and criminal investigations. Topics include strategies for interviewing witnesses, expert testimony, and factors influencing the credibility of offenders, witnesses, and victims.

Psychology and the Law

Students examine the applications of psychological theories and methods to civil, criminal, and family law, using case studies from legal cases and criminal investigations. The course emphasizes risk assessment screening and standards of legal competency.

Psychology and Criminal Behavior

This course provides an overview of delinquent and criminal behavior from a developmental and cognitive behavioral perspective with applications to real or hypothetical criminal scenarios. Students analyze various personality theories and learning styles in the context of criminal and violent behaviors.

Psychopathology and Abnormal Behavior

This examination of the major forms of abnormal behavior focuses on adult psychopathology. Students study etiologies and definitions of disorders using the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders.

Criminal Investigations

Using simulations and case studies, students study the components of a successful investigation, including how to evaluate evidence, summarize findings, and present evidentiary procedure in criminal and legal cases.

How to Choose the Best Online Forensic Psychology Program

Before enrolling in an online bachelor’s degree in forensic psychology, students should research program requirements, tuition costs, graduation rates, and other key features. Students should also choose an accredited school. Accreditation increases federal aid, employment, and academic opportunities. This section answers commonly asked questions about online forensic psychology degrees.

How long does it take to get an online forensic psychology degree?

While the duration of a bachelor’s in forensic psychology depends on school requirements and how many courses are taken each term, most students take four years of full-time study and 120 credits to finish. Some accelerated programs may be completed in less than three years. An internship or research project may lengthen the time to completion.

What are concentrations and why should I choose one?

Some schools offer forensic psychology as a concentration within a psychology or criminal justice major. Other schools offer forensic psychology as a standalone major with or without concentrations. Concentrations provide students with the opportunity to connect their coursework to career interests. Sample concentrations include child and family specializations, sex crimes and offenders, and intimate partner violence.

Is an online degree regarded the same way as a traditional, campus-based degree?

Online bachelor’s degree in forensic psychology graduates earn the same diploma as campus-based graduates. Distance learning students complete the same courses and adhere to the same graduation requirements and academic standards as campus-based students.

What are the different online-delivery formats?

Several schools offer a fully online bachelor’s in forensic psychology with asynchronous courses that students can access at their convenience. Some programs offer synchronous schedules, requiring that the same cohort of students log in at a specific time for classes conducted in real-time. Other schools feature hybrid programs requiring on-campus attendance for some courses in addition to online work.

How can I complete an internship if I’m getting my degree online?

Online forensic psychology programs that require internships typically assist students in locating onsite or remote internship placements that fit their needs. Students who must remain close to home may be able to arrange internships locally or find virtual placements where they connect with a supervisor through video conferencing.

Scholarships & Financial Aid for Forensic Psychology Programs

Paying for a bachelor’s in forensic psychology is a challenge for many students. Students should investigate all sources of grants and scholarships, which, unlike federal and private loans, do not require repayment. Students apply for federal financial aid through the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). Several privately funded scholarships also require the FAFSA. This chart provides examples of merit-based and need-based scholarships in forensic psychology sponsored by professional organizations and honor societies.

American Correctional Association Martin Luther King, Jr. Scholarship

Minority students committed to a career in criminal justice and related fields may apply for this scholarship. Applicants must supply proof of acceptance or enrollment in an undergraduate program at a four-year accredited postsecondary institution. They must also provide evidence of financial need and academic achievement and submit a 250-word personal statement that demonstrates a commitment to the ideals of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Crimcheck Melissa Linville Criminal Justice Scholarship

Crimcheck, a major professional background screening company, offers this annual $500 scholarship to students pursuing a career in criminal justice. Recent high school graduates planning to attend or students currently enrolled in a criminal justice-related program at the postsecondary level may apply. Applicants must have a 3.0 GPA and submit a 1-2-page essay describing their goals in a criminal justice field and how the scholarship helps meet those goals.

Lambda Alpha Epsilon Richard McGrath Memorial Scholarship

Funded by the Lambda Alpha Epsilon Honor Society within the American Criminal Justice Association (ACJA/LAE), this scholarship provides up to $1,500 to student members majoring in any field related to criminal justice. To be considered, a regional or chapter president of ACJA/LAE must nominate the applicant, and the applicant must have attended at least one regional meeting. Applicants must attend an accredited U.S. institution and demonstrate their commitment to a career in criminal justice.

National Organization of Black Law Enforcement Executives (NOBLE) Scholarships

NOBLE provides three awards: the Irlet Anderson, Charles Fonseca, and Bernard and Sylvia Davis Thompson scholarships. Applicants for these $2,000 awards must be African-American high school seniors committed to a career in law enforcement or criminal justice. They must be planning to enroll in a bachelor’s program in any of the social sciences, including forensic psychology, technology, and other criminal investigative studies. Qualifying students must demonstrate financial need and possess a GPA of 3.8 or higher.

Women in Federal Law Enforcement (WIFLE) Scholarship Program

WIFLE scholarships recognize academic potential, achievement, and commitment to serving communities through law enforcement. Applicants must be U.S. citizens and attending an accredited four-year institution or a community college with the intention to transfer to a four-year degree. Qualifying students must major in criminal justice or a related field of study. A 500-word essay describing involvement in a community project or experience serving in a law enforcement internship must accompany the application.

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