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.
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.
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 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.
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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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, 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.
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.
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.
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.