Top 20 Graduate Degree Programs in Forensic Psychology

//Top 20 Graduate Degree Programs in Forensic Psychology
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Top 20 Graduate Degree Programs in Forensic Psychology 2021-05-01T00:31:51+00:00

Badge - Online Psych Degrees - Top Graduate Degree ProgramsForensic psychology is the branch of psychology that deals with the application of psychological theories and principles in legal situations. Forensic psychologists work closely with legal specialists like attorneys and judges to understand and analyze an individual’s mindset or motives. They may also help gauge what threat, if any, an individual would be to their community if they were released or received a lesser sentence. The following ranking highlights the best Master’s in Forensic Psychology degrees based on specific factors and ranking criteria.

Methodology

This ranking was created to showcase some of the top master’s programs in forensic psychology in the United States. We used the National Center for Educational Statistics to find master’s programs in forensic psychology. We narrowed our focus to programs at regionally accredited universities offering a specific degree in forensic psychology. After researching individual programs, we felt the best forensic psychology master’s programs were those with:

  • courses taught by expert faculty
  • offer a variety of courses in key forensic psychology areas
  • prepare students for master’s level positions in the field of forensic psychology

We then applied our ranking criteria and awarded points based on cost and student/faculty ratio to come up with our ranking of the top 20 forensic psychology master’s degree programs.

Average Cost of Graduate Attendance

  • Less than $10,000/year=7 points
  • $10,001/year to $12,000/year=6 points
  • $12,001/year to $14,000/year=5 points
  • $14,001/year to $18,000/year=4 points
  • $18,001/year to $20,000/year=3 points
  • $20,001/year to $25,000/year=2 points
  • Greater than $25,000=1 point

Student to Faculty Ratio

  • Less than12:1=7 points
  • 12:1-14:1=5 points
  • 15:1-18:1=3 points
  • Greater than 18:1=1 point

Ranking Graduate Programs in Forensic Psychology

20. Nova Southeastern University – Fort Lauderdale, Florida

MS in Forensic Psychology

Program Website
Student to Faculty Ratio: 17:1
Average Graduate Tuition Rate: $20,618/year
Points: 5

Nova Southeastern University is a private research university consisting of 18 schools and colleges that offer more than 150 programs of study. They offer a high-quality master’s taught by global forensic psychology leaders. The program is comprised of 36 credits or 12 courses. Students can choose from two specialization tracks:

  • Forensic Psychology in the legal system
  • Forensic Psychology for mental health workers, first responders, and disaster teams

The program is offered 100% online and there is no GRE required for admission.

19. University of Denver – Denver, Colorado

MA in Forensic Psychology

Program Website
Student to Faculty Ratio: 12:1
Average Graduate Tuition Rate: $52,596/year
Points: 6
University of Denver is the oldest independent private university in the Rocky Mountain region. Their Graduate School of Professional Psychology offers a high-quality Master of Arts in Forensic Psychology with coursework and practicum experiences. Students will gain the skills needed to effectively work in the criminal and civil legal system. Full-time students can complete their degree in two years. Featured courses include:

  • Psychology, Public Policy, and Advocacy
  • Criminal Evaluations

Students benefit from valuable clinical training under the supervision of licensed professionals at the Professional Psychology Clinic. The Clinic has served the Denver community for over 45 years, providing valuable therapy services to adults, children, couples, and families.

18. The George Washington University – Washington, DC

MA in Forensic Psychology


Program Website
Student to Faculty Ratio: 13:1
Average Graduate Tuition Rate: $31,770/year
Points: 6

The Columbian College of Arts and Sciences at George Washington University features a top high-quality forensic psychology master’s degree program with two different concentration tracks. Students can choose to focus their studies in either:

  • Applied Forensics
  • Applied Psychology

The Applied Forensics area is for students planning to work in law enforcement or homeland security. The Applied Psychology concentration prepares students to provide direct services to clients in settings like correctional facilities or community action organizations. All students complete 250 clock hours of externship training that prepares them for success in the workplace. The program also serves as a great launching point for doctoral study.

17. Kean University – Union, New Jersey

Forensic Psychology MA


Program Website
Student to Faculty Ratio: 17:1
Average Graduate Tuition Rate: $15,752/year in-state and $20,714/year out-of-state
Points: 7

The cost-effective forensic psychology master’s program at Kean University is a flexible program that meets the needs of a variety of students. It’s a great choice for:

  • students planning to pursue doctoral study in psychology/law
  • those planning to work in a research or in court clinics
  • those in law enforcement positions

Students will study areas like:

  • psychology of criminal behavior
  • advanced abnormal psychology
  • personality and behavioral assessment

To be considered for admission, students should have a 3.0 cumulative GPA from their undergraduate studies, two letters of recommendation, resume, and submit a professional statement.

16. Grand Canyon University – Phoenix, Arizona

Master of Science in Forensic Psychology

Program Website
Student to Faculty Ratio: 21:1
Average Graduate Tuition Rate: $10,528
Points: 7

Grand Canyon University is Arizona’s premier Christian university with over 100,000 students who attend either online or on-campus. GCU offers a budget friendly online master’s in forensic psychology through the College of Humanities and Social Sciences. The 36-credit program includes courses like:

  • Social and Cultural Psychology
  • Psychology and the Legal System
  • Offender Rehabilitation and Reintegration

All students complete a forensic psychology professional capstone exploring occupational opportunities within forensic psychology, developing original research ideas, and completing a presentation.

15. William James College – Newton, Massachusetts

Master’s in Clinical Mental Health Counseling with an Area of Emphasis in Forensic and Correctional Counseling

Program Website
Student to Faculty Ratio: 7:1
Average Graduate Tuition Rate: $33,900
Points: 8

William James College features a high-quality master’s in clinical mental health counseling with an area of emphasis in forensic and correctional counseling. Students can complete the program in two years of full-time study or three years of part-time work. Courses include:

  • Psychological Assessment for Counselors
  • Mental Health and Counseling in the Legal System
  • Substance Abuse Evaluation and Treatment

The curriculum prepares students for counseling work in a variety of settings including:

  • community agencies
  • forensic hospital units
  • corrections
  • in court

Students gain valuable hands-on training through practicum and internship opportunities. These exciting opportunities allow students to apply their coursework in real-world forensic settings.

14. Marymount University – Arlington, Virginia

Forensic and Legal Psychology MA

Program Website
Student to Faculty Ratio: 12:1
Average Graduate Tuition Rate: $19,620/year
Points: 8

Marymount University is the first school in Washington, D.C. to offer an affordable master’s in forensic and legal psychology. Marymount is close to several key agencies in the field of forensics. Students can complete site visits, observations, field research and even internships at organizations like:

  • the FBI
  • NCIS
  • the U.S. Department of Justice

An optional concentration is available in Intelligence Studies which gives students the knowledge and skills needed to work in the intelligence community. Students can earn a second degree in Clinical Mental Health Counseling and start the supervised experience requirement needed to become a Licensed Professional Counselor. Students can also participate in a study abroad opportunity, exploring psychological and intelligence related issues like child victimization and crimmigation in other countries.

13. California Baptist University – Riverside, California

Master of Arts Forensic Psychology

Program Website
Student to Faculty Ratio: 16:1
Average Graduate Tuition Rate: $13,410/year
Points: 8

The forensic psychology master’s program from California Baptist University gives students a comprehensive understanding of areas like:

  • human development
  • psychopathology
  • law

Students can earn their degree in two years. Courses are scheduled during the evening hours to accommodate working professionals. Courses include:

  • Criminal Profiling
  • Biological Bases of Behavior
  • Criminal Investigations

During the second year of study, students complete an on-site supervision and field experience in a forensic setting like a rape crisis center or a trial consulting firm.

12. Montclair State University – Montclair, New Jersey

MA in Clinical Psychology-Forensic Psychology Concentration

Program Website
Student to Faculty Ratio: 17:1
Average Graduate Tuition Rate: $12,600/year in-state and $18,432/year out-of-state
Points: 8
Montclair State University is the second-largest university in New Jersey. They offer an affordable master’s in clinical psychology with a concentration in forensic psychology. The concentration places an emphasis on family, adolescent, and child issues such as:

  • juvenile offender assessment, treatment, and rehabilitation
  • child abuse and neglect

Students receive the appropriate level training and skills needed to provide services to individuals involved in the legal system in settings that don’t require a professional license. Clinical and research opportunities are available to help students prepare for doctoral study. Students must complete 36 credits of coursework to earn their master’s in forensic psychology.

11. California State University – Los Angeles, California

Master of Science in Forensic Psychology

Program Website
Student to Faculty Ratio: 24:1
Average Graduate Tuition Rate: $7,176/year in-state and $16,680/year out-of-state
Points: 8

California State University Los Angeles is part of the public university system in California, the largest four-year public university system in the US. The program is comprised of 33-34 credit hours of coursework including a nine-month practicum. During the practicum, students receive hands-on training related to their specific career goals and interests. Required courses include:

  • Psychology and the Law
  • Courtroom and Legal Issues in Criminalistics
  • Theories and Perspectives in Criminal Justice

Students work closely with a faculty member to achieve their research goals. All students must complete a thesis to complete their degree.

10. Arizona State University – Scottsdale, Arizona

Online Master of Science in Forensic Psychology

Program Website
Student to Faculty Ratio: 25:1
Average Graduate Tuition Rate: $6,516/year
Points: 8

Arizona State University features a best-value online master’s in forensic psychology for students interested in career advancement or advancing to doctoral study. This 11-course program covers areas like:

  • psychopathology
  • advanced correctional psychology
  • advanced legal psychology

Courses are taught by the same award-winning faculty who teach on campus. Courses are about seven-and-a-half weeks long and students can earn their degree in about two years. There are no residency requirements making this a great option for working students.

9. Roger Williams University – Bristol, Rhode Island

Master of Arts in Forensic and Legal Psychology

Program Website
Student to Faculty Ratio: 14:1
Average Graduate Tuition Rate: $17,016/year
Points: 9

Roger Williams University is a private university located in Rhode Island. They offer a cost-effective master’s in forensic and legal psychology for students planning to pursue a research-based PhD. This full-time, two-year program includes research practicums or directed research. All students compete a comprehensive thesis. Courses include:

  • Psychology and the Law
  • Adult Psychopathology
  • Forensic Psychology

New students are admitted during the fall semester and most students can complete their degree in two years.

8. Tiffin University – Tiffin, Ohio

Master’s in Criminal Justice with a concentration in Forensic Psychology

Program Website
Student to Faculty Ratio: 16:1
Average Graduate Tuition Rate: $12,600
Points: 9

Tiffin University is a private coeducational university located in northwestern Ohio. They offer a low-cost forensic psychology master’s degree heavily focused on research. Students will develop and refine the skills needed to work in the criminal justice system and in mental health service agencies. Courses include:

  • Mental Health Law in Forensic Psychology
  • Substance Abuse
  • Statistical Applications in Forensic Psychology

The program is delivered in four semesters, although students can add on an intercession course or thesis option. Courses are offered on-campus and new students are admitted to the program in January and August.

7. University of California-Irvine – Irvine, California

Master of Legal and Forensic Psychology

Program Website
Student to Faculty Ratio: 18:1
Average Graduate Tuition Rate: $11,442/year in-state and $26,544/year out-of-state
Points: 9

The University of California-Irvine offers a top master’s in legal and forensic psychology through a collaboration between the Department of Psychological Science and the Department of Criminology, Law and Society. Courses are offered online making this a great choice for working professionals. There is a one-week mandatory in-residence course prior to the beginning of the fall quarter. Elective course offerings include:

  • Violence and Psychopathology
  • Clinical Interviewing and Treatment
  • Law and Behavior: Compliance and Enforcement

This two-year program concludes with a capstone course. Students complete an independent term paper on the conception and systematic treatment of a topic related to legal and forensic psychology.

6. John Jay College of Criminal Justice – New York, New York

Master of Arts in Forensic Psychology

Program Website
Student to Faculty Ratio: 18:1
Average Graduate Tuition Rate: $11,090/year in-state and $20,520/year out-of-state
Points: 9

John Jay College of Criminal Justice was founded in 1964 as the only liberal arts college focused on criminal justice and forensics. They offer a high-value master’s in forensic psychology that prepares students for work in the criminal or civil justice systems or for doctoral study. This 42-credit hour program includes 39 credits of coursework and 3 credits for an externship or prospectus/thesis. Students can choose from a wide variety of elective course offerings including:

  • Crisis Intervention and Short-term Counseling
  • Terrorism
  • Criminal Psychological Assessment

Most students can complete their degree in about two years.

5. University of North Dakota – Grand Forks, North Dakota

MA Forensic Psychology

Program Website
Student to Faculty Ratio: 17:1
Average Graduate Tuition Rate: $11,060/year in-state and $16,590/year out-of-state
Points: 9

The University of North Dakota is the oldest institution of higher learning in the state. UND offers a part-time, online affordable master’s in forensic psychology that takes two years to complete. Students gain an in-depth understanding of the legal system, develop effective communication skills needed in forensic settings, and take a deep dive into advanced psychological theories and concepts. The program is tailored to meet the needs of working students. There are no on-campus residency requirements. Online students receive online support like:

  • tutoring
  • library
  • tech support
  • academic advisement services.

4. Holy Names University – Oakland, California

Master of Arts in Forensic Psychology

Program Website
Student to Faculty Ratio: 8:1
Average Graduate Tuition Rate: $18,054/year
Points: 10

The top value master’s in forensic psychology at Holy Names University is focused on the intersection of psychology, law, and social justice. This 39-unit degree is based on a philosophy of restorative, therapeutic justice. Sample courses include:

  • Foundations of Counseling: Models and Skills
  • Forensic Psychology and the Law
  • Psychology of Criminal Behavior

Courses are offered in late afternoons, weekends, and evenings or may be completed in a hybrid format. Faculty are experienced clinicians and researchers who share their knowledge with their students. All students complete a field placement experience to develop their professional skills.

3. Liberty University – Lynchburg, Virginia

MS in Criminal Justice-Forensic Psychology

Program Website
Student to Faculty Ratio: 17:1
Average Graduate Tuition Rate: $7,935
Points: 10

Liberty University is one of the largest Christian universities in the world with over 100,000 students and 700+ programs of study. Liberty offers an online master’s in forensic psychology that takes 18 months to complete. Forensic psychology courses teach students methods and theories in psychology as they relate to:

  • law enforcement
  • corrections
  • the judicial process

Featured courses include:

  • Crisis Intervention in Law Enforcement
  • Psychology and the Legal System
  • Rehabilitation and Reintegration of Offenders

Liberty offers generous discounts to active-duty law enforcement and first responders.

2. University of Houston-Victoria – Victoria, Texas

MA in Forensic Psychology

Program Website
Student to Faculty Ratio: 18:1
Average Graduate Tuition Rate: $6,476/year in-state and $13,838/year out-of-state
Points: 10

The University of Houston-Victoria, a member of the University of Houston System, is a public university with over 4,500 students. They offer a budget friendly master’s in forensic psychology that prepares students to work in the field of forensics. Students gain hands-on professional experience through a practicum. Required courses include:

  • Group Psychotherapy
  • Theories and Issues in Psychotherapy
  • Techniques in Psychotherapy

Applicants should have undergraduate or graduate coursework in forensic related areas like:

  • research
  • abnormal psych
  • statistics

New students are accepted for the fall semester.

1. Fairleigh Dickinson University – Teaneck, New Jersey

Forensic Psychology MA

Program Website
Student to Faculty Ratio: 14:1
Average Graduate Tuition Rate: $9,732/year
Points: 12

Our top choice for a high-quality master’s in forensic psychology is offered by Fairleigh Dickinson University. Fairleigh Dickinson University is the largest private university in New Jersey. Their forensic psychology master’s is an 18-month program offers a streamlined curriculum that gives students broad exposure to the field. Students gain the knowledge and skills needed to be competitive in master’s levels forensic jobs or pursue advanced doctoral study in forensic psychology. All students complete a 300-hour externship placement to gain hands-on experience. Students can choose to participate in forensic research or complete a thesis.

Frequently Asked Questions

What are My Career Options for a Master’s in Forensic Psychology Degree?

A Master’s in Forensic Psychology degree combines principles of law and psychology for a comprehensive approach to criminal behavior. Graduates become:

  • case managers
  • expert witnesses
  • victim advocates

They are responsible for helping law enforcement officials capture and prosecute criminals through their work within the criminal justice system. Although jobs in this field are demanding, they do have high earning potentials. Many experienced forensic psychologists appear on television or write books. There are a number of career options within this field.

Correctional Officer

Correctional officers monitor inmates in federal and state prisons. Most correctional officers attend a training academy, and some federal agencies require a graduate degree for employment. They work specific shifts for holidays, weekends, and evenings so that inmates are supervised 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

Forensic Psychologist

Forensic psychologists are licensed psychologists who help law enforcement officers evaluate criminals. They may be mediators or expert witnesses. They may conduct mental health examinations to determine one’s competency. Psychologists may be employed independently or directly with a law enforcement agency.

Expert Witness

Expert witnesses testify on behalf of the defense or prosecution in criminal cases. They have expert knowledge in specialized fields such as sexual violence or terrorism. They are typically paid for their testimony, which is not a conflict of interest as far as the legal system is concerned.

Victim Advocate

Victim advocates provide counseling to victims of crimes. During court proceedings, they help clients fill out paperwork and testify on behalf of victims. Those who have earned a graduate degree in forensic psychology may also choose to lead staff hotlines and support groups to further help those who have been directly affected by a serious crime.

Forensic Science Technician

Forensic science technicians help criminal investigators analyze and collect evidence. Some technicians work in laboratories, while others work directly at crime scenes. Forensic science technicians may have a regular 40-hour workweek or they may have the option to work on-call hours to help cover crime scenes that occur overnight.

What Are the Various Disciplines of Forensic Psychology?

In 2001, the American Psychological Association (APA) named the professional practice of forensic psychology as a recognized specialty within the larger areas of:

  • school psychology
  • counseling psychology
  • clinical psychology

Forensic psychologists are often called upon by the judicial system to prevent future crimes, help to evaluate and convict criminals, and to provide their professional psychological expertise. There are three main areas of focused practice within the forensic psychology specialty:

  • Legal, including specific knowledge of the legal system and law
  • Forensic, including forensic ethics and the assessment of symptoms in a legal context
  • Clinical, including the ethics, testing, treatment, and diagnosis of mental disorders

What Kinds of Classes Do Forensic Psychology Students Take?

Students can expect to take courses in both psychology and criminal justice. Psychology courses may include:

  • grief counseling
  • victimology
  • drug and addiction psychology
  • the psychology of violence
  • social psychology
  • sexual psychology

Criminal justice courses may include:

  • criminal evaluation
  • forensic evidence
  • criminology
  • an overview of the legal system
  • legal terminology

Students will also take classes in developmental and child psychology since they may be required to work with young victims or even young offenders. Since part of their role is to determine whether a patient is mentally competent and should be held responsible for his or her actions, mental health is an important topic for forensic psychologists. Other courses that could be part of a forensic psychology degree program include:

  • Social Psychology: Students learn how groups and communities affect the psychology of individuals as well as how to manage issues that could potentially arise among groups.
  • Psychology and the Law: Because forensic psychologists often work with families and individuals involved in the criminal justice and legal system, they must be familiar with all of the regulations and laws that govern their professional role.
  • Diversity and Communities: Forensic psychologists must be comfortable working with people from all walks of life and backgrounds as they are likely to come into contact with diverse client populations.
  • Criminal Behavior: Forensic psychologists routinely come into contact with individuals within the criminal justice system. A course in criminal psychology and behavior provides students with knowledge and techniques for interacting with these potential clients.
  • Conflict Management: A fundamental course in conflict management helps students develop useful skills for managing social conflicts, and it gives insight into the nature of conflict and how it affects the parties involved.

How Can You Choose an Online Master’s in Forensic Psychology Program?

Online master’s programs in forensic psychology have different course requirements and curricula, but learning outcomes are generally the same. Students learn the basic tenets of criminal behavior and psychology, complete core course requirements, and specialize in a concentration area such as terrorism. Graduate students are also often required to work with patients and forensic psychologists via field research or a capstone project. The duration of an online graduate program in forensic psychology depends on the number of required credits as well as whether the student was able to transfer previously earned credits into the graduate program.

Are you obsessed with television shows such as “Psych” or “Criminal Mind,” and do you typically solve the case before the show is over? Are you a Sherlock Holmes when it comes to studying human behavior? Put your analytical mind to the test and seek a career as a forensic psychologist by earning an online graduate degree in forensic psychology.

This concludes our ranking of the Top 20 Graduate Degree Programs in Forensic Psychology.