10 Most Affordable Master’s in Forensic Psychology Degree Programs

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Whether earned online or on-campus, a Master’s in Forensic Psychology degree prepares students for careers in the field of criminal justice. Graduates use psychological methods to analyze the behavior of criminals, and students develop the skills and knowledge necessary to work in higher education, social services, the government, private consulting firms, and corrections. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the demand for psychologists is projected to increase 14 percent from 2016 to 2026, which is faster than the average for all occupations over the same timeframe. However, employment growth will vary by occupation. By earning a Master’s in Forensic Psychology, you will stand out in the criminal justice and psychology fields. Many graduates of on-campus and online graduate programs in forensic psychology continue their education by pursuing doctoral studies, becoming licensed forensic psychologists in clinical practices.

If you are considering pursuing a Master’s in Forensic Psychology, the following list may help. People come up with many reasons to not go back to school, believing graduate degrees are too time-consuming or expensive, or there are simply are not any high-quality schools in their area. Those who are balancing work and family obligations may benefit from an online program rather than a traditional on-campus degree as the former tend to offer greater flexibility for working adults. Regardless of the delivery method you choose, if you are thinking about a graduate forensic psychology degree, the list of schools listed below is a great place to start your search.


When researching potential schools for master’s degrees in forensic psychology, one of the first things many students look at is the cost of the program. When comparing schools, it is important to realize that not all expensive programs are high-quality, and sometimes, the most affordable programs provide the best education. To determine the top affordable Master’s in Forensic Psychology programs, we consulted data from the National Center for Education Statistics. Using the site’s College Navigator tool, we searched for the term “Master’s in Forensic Psychology degree.” We were provided with an initial pool of 40 colleges and universities, and we narrowed down the results to find the top 10 programs, ranked below in order from most expensive to least expensive.

Ranking Low-Cost Master’s in Forensic Psychology

10. Liberty University

Lynchburg, Virginia

M.S. in Criminal Justice – Forensic Psychology


Tuition: $20,340

Located in Lynchburg, Virginia, the Helms School of Government at Liberty University offers a Master of Science in Criminal Justice with a concentration in forensic psychology. This fully online program is designed for prospective and current criminal justice professionals and aims to help students understand how psychological factors impact rehabilitation, criminal behavior, and the reintegration of those in the criminal justice system. The program consists of 36 credits of coursework, including a mandatory thesis, which involves three credits of thesis research and three credits of the thesis defense. Courses are available in areas such as rehabilitation and reintegration of offenders, human resource management in criminal justice organizations, and crisis intervention in law enforcement.

9. University of Louisiana Monroe

Monroe, Louisiana

Master of Science in Psychology


Tuition: $20,033

Located in Monroe, Louisiana, the University of Louisiana at Monroe is a coeducational university that is a member of the University of Louisiana System. Students may pursue a Master of Science in Psychology with a forensic track. In addition to completing the standard course requirements for the master’s degree, students must also take classes in areas like the sociology of law, counseling in criminal justice, advanced theories of delinquency and crime, psychological assessment, and intelligence testing. The program is available entirely online, and while graduates are not eligible to become licensed counselors, they do develop the skills and knowledge they need to work in the criminal justice system.

8. John Jay College of Criminal Justice

New York, New York

Master of Arts in Forensic Psychology


Tuition: $19,110

The John Jay College of Criminal Justice was founded as the only liberal arts college with a forensic and criminal justice focus in the country. The school offers a Master of Arts in Forensic Psychology which is designed to not only prepare students for doctoral study in psychology but also train practitioners to provide psychology services within the civil and criminal justice systems. The curriculum focuses on treating, evaluating, and understanding both victims and offenders. The program consists of 42 credits, including 39 credits of coursework as well as a three-credit externship with 300 hours of fieldwork or a thesis.

7. Grand Canyon University

Phoenix, Arizona

Master of Science in Psychology With an Emphasis in Forensic Psychology


Tuition: $18,540

Grand Canyon University is a private, non-profit university located in Phoenix, Arizona. Established in 1949, it is currently the largest Christian university in the world. Grand Canyon offers a Master of Science in Psychology with an emphasis in forensic psychology that takes a comprehensive look at human psychology and how society responds to criminal behavior. The curriculum consists of self-directed research, collaboration, and discussion, and students must complete 36 credits in order to graduate. A few areas of study include the psychopathology of crime, research methods, statistics, theories of criminal behavior, contemporary and legal issues, and psychology and the legal system. The program culminates with a professional capstone course.

6. Missouri State University

Springfield, Missouri

M.A. in Psychology With Forensic Certification


Tuition: $18,457

Founded in 1905 as the Fourth District Normal School, Missouri State University is a public university located in Springfield, Missouri. Missouri State offers an affordable Master’s in Forensic Psychology with a certificate in child psychology. Courses include specialized topics in core psychology areas as well as forensic child psychology, cognitive development, and child abuse and the law. The program is the first of its kind, providing training specifically for professionals who wish to work with children. The certificate consists of 12 credits of coursework in addition to the required curriculum for the master’s degree.

5. Concordia University St. Paul

Saint Paul, Minnesota

Master of Arts in Human Services – Forensic Behavioral Health


Tuition: $17,100

Concordia University is a liberal arts university located in Saint Paul, Minnesota and a member of the Concordia University System. Affiliated with the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod, Concordia was founded in 1893 and currently enrolls more than 5,000 students. The school offers a master’s degree in human services with a focus on forensic behavioral health, a 36-credit-hour program that is available entirely online. This degree focuses on the direct relationship between legal systems, criminal justice, and behavioral health. It is not a counseling/clinical licensed program, but it is offered in partnership with the American Institute for Advancement of Forensic Studies (AIAFS).

4. University of Central Oklahoma

Edmond, Oklahoma

Master of Arts in Psychology – Forensic Psychology


Tuition: $15,182

Located in Edmond, Oklahoma, the University of Central Oklahoma is a coeducational public university that enrolls more than 17,000 students, making it the third largest postsecondary institution in the state. The 49-credit-hour Master of Arts in Psychology with a concentration in forensic psychology prepares students for careers in criminal investigation and intelligence analysis at the federal, state, and local levels of law enforcement. Students are required to complete core coursework for both the psychology major and the forensics concentration in areas such as psychological science, behavioral neuroscience, and cognitive psychology, and a thesis is required for graduation.

3. California State University Los Angeles

Los Angeles, California

Master of Science in Forensic Psychology


Tuition: $14,990

The 33- to 34-unit Master of Science in Forensic Psychology includes a nine-month practicum, where students receive on-site supervision and hands-on training in a forensic setting related to their individual career goals and interests. The program is designed for those whose primary interest is studying or working in areas of psychology that intersect with the criminal justice system. Required areas of study include theories and perspectives in criminal justice, individual testing and case study techniques, psychology and the law, and courtroom and legal issues in criminalistics. Students round out the program with a three-credit thesis.

2. University of North Dakota

Grand Forks, North Dakota

Forensic Psychology (M.A.)


Tuition: $12,122

Established in 1883, the University of North Dakota in Grand Forks, North Dakota is the oldest university in the state. Ranked as one of the top forensic psychology programs in the country, the Master of Arts in Forensic Psychology at the University of North Dakota prepares students to apply psychological competencies, skills, knowledge, and theory to the criminal justice and civil systems. The program is available online and can be completed within two years of part-time study. Students are required to complete 30 credits of coursework in areas such as psychology and the law, diversity psychology, behavior psychology, advanced social psychology, human factors in cybersecurity, and insider threat analysis. Students must also complete an independent study such as a research project or practicum experience.

1. Oklahoma State University

Stillwater, Oklahoma

M.S. in Forensic Sciences – Forensic Psychology


Tuition: $11,599

Located in Stillwater, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State University was founded in 1890 and enrolls more than 35,000 students in bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral degrees. The school offers a Master of Science in Forensic Science with a concentration in forensic psychology that is designed for students seeking a career as a forensic psychologist. Students must complete 39 credits of coursework, and classes can be taken on a full- or part-time basis. During the first year, students have the option of taking courses online or on-campus, but during the second year, all research and laboratory courses must be taken on-campus. The program does not lead to licensure.

Related Reading: Can I Work With Inmates With a Psychology Degree? 

Frequently Asked Questions

What are the Career Options for an Online Master’s in Forensic Psychology Degree?

Graduates who earn a master’s degree in forensic psychology have the skills and knowledge they need to pursue careers in a variety of fields, including the military, higher education, social service agencies, corrections and law enforcement, law offices, treatment facilities and other healthcare settings, and criminal, civil, and family courts. This type of graduate degree also prepares students to become practicing clinical forensic psychologists, a pathway that often requires additional education and training. The career opportunities for graduates are diverse, and a few of the most popular positions include:

  • Police and Detective: Police and detectives gather evidence about crimes and protect people. Some job duties include observing suspects, preparing cases, testifying in court, and writing detailed reports. While educational requirements vary, earning a graduate degree in forensic psychology makes candidates more competitive than their peers.
  • Forensic Science Technician: Forensic science technicians are tasked with helping criminal investigations by analyzing and collecting evidence in laboratories and at crime scenes. To become a forensic science technician, one typically needs to hold a bachelor’s degree in a natural science as well as experience in the field. A candidate with a master’s degree in forensic psychology may garner a higher salary and be more competitive when applying for jobs.
  • Mental Health Counselor and Marriage and Family Therapist: Mental health counselors and marriage and family therapists help individuals and their families to better understand behavioral and emotional problems. They must identify the issue, evaluate the underlying cause, and develop a proper treatment plan to help their clients overcome these obstacles. These types of therapists and counselors generally need a license to practice as well as a master’s degree.
  • Postsecondary Teacher: Postsecondary teachers provide instruction to students beyond the high school level in a wide range of settings. Publication and research is generally required of postsecondary teachers, and while most positions require a doctoral degree, professionals may pursue positions in community colleges with only a master’s degree.
  • Psychologist: Forensic psychologists put their training to use with the goal of helping explain the emotional, cognitive, and behavioral processes of individuals in the criminal justice and legal system. These professionals often work in roles that involve building psychological profiles of suspects, assessing the mental competence of defendants, and establishing witness credibility. Although psychologists typically need to earn a doctoral degree and complete an internship in order to practice, a master’s degree may be acceptable for some related positions in this field.

How Much Can You Earn in This Field?

There are a number of factors that determine the salary of a forensic psychologist. Years of experience, education, and training, and the type of position available all influence the income a forensic psychologist might expect. Although the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) does not yet recognize forensic psychology as its own occupation, according to statistics, psychologists earned an average income of $77,030 per year, or $37.03 per hour, in May 2017. The highest 10 percent earned more than $124,520 per year, while the lowest 10 percent earned less than $42,330 per year. The top industries for the highest-paid psychologists include the government, ambulatory healthcare services, hospitals, and elementary and secondary schools.

What Can You Expect From an Online Master’s in Forensic Psychology Degree Program?

Some forensic psychology master’s degrees focus on legal theory and the criminal justice system, while others spend more time on psychological theory. Program details vary according to the program and school chosen. In most cases, students are required to complete a culminating capstone project in the form of either fieldwork or a research paper.

Master’s degrees in forensic psychology teach students skills that they can apply in real-world situations. Courses cover topics like psychological techniques in prisons and the courtroom, ethics, and research methods in psychology. Below is a sample curriculum for a Master’s in Forensic Psychology degree, but actual courses will vary by institution.

  • Current Issues in Forensic Psychology: Throughout this course, students study current issues in the forensic psychology field. Topics covered may include jury selection, risk assessment, profiling, eyewitness identification, and other issues that are often debated in the psychology and legal fields. Those pursuing careers as postsecondary teachers in forensic psychology may find this course particularly useful.
  • Psychology and the Law: Students taking a course in Psychology and the Law will delve into the criminal justice and legal system using a psychological perspective. This course introduces the main methodologies and theories of the field, providing students with the skills they need to pursue advanced study. Students explore forensic psychology through the context of family, criminal, and civil law.
  • Techniques of Forensic Practice: A course in forensic practice introduces students to the different methods they may use to perform forensic activities such as forensic evaluation in order to determine an insanity defense, to evaluate child custody situations, and whether or not he or she is capable to stand trial. This course often includes training in methodology.

Forensic psychology is a rapidly evolving field of psychology that refers to the study of the application of psychological competencies, research practices, and theory in civil and criminal justice systems. While some programs emphasize criminal behavior and psychology, others focus more on the science behind the field. Students interested in pursuing a master’s in forensic psychology may choose from online or on-campus programs to either enter the field for the first time or seek career advancement in their current roles.

This concludes our ranking of the 10 Most Affordable Master’s in Forensic Psychology degree programs.