breadcrumbs-home Psychology The best masters degrees in forensic psychology

The top masters programs in forensic psychology

Table of Contents

    What is forensic psychology?

    While the word ‘forensic’ is enough to stir the interest of any true crime fan, limiting the scope of forensic psychology to just criminal profiling is a mistake. In fact, understanding the minds of criminals is just a small part of a master’s degree in forensic psychology. As a student of this field of research, you’ll assist law enforcement in many different ways.

    The forensic psychologist may be called upon to treat certain individuals and to provide expert witness testimonies in court. However, one of the most well-known responsibilities of this field involves dealing with an insanity plea, which requires the analysis of a psychologist. You’ll represent families in civil court too, during custody battles, for example. Be aware that to become a licensed forensic psychologist in any state in the U.S. requires a doctoral degree.

    In general, admission requirements include:

    • undergraduate coursework in statistics, research methods, and psychological theories
    • Minimum GPA 3.0
    • GRE scores
    • Personal statement
    • Letters of reference
    • resume

    Check with individual schools for any additional requirement. Note that credit transfers are usually handled the same way by all colleges in the United States. Check each school’s list of course equivalencies on their official website to learn if your coursework is appropriate for credit transfer.

    The courses listed below offer the best master’s in forensic psychology according to the quality of their research, program flexibility, and plenty of other factors.

    Best programs for a master’s in forensic psychology

    • University of Denver

      University of Denver Denver, Colorado
      University of Denver

      Self-described as the “go-to” establishment in its field, Denver specializes in mental health forensics and how abnormal psychology can influence criminal behavior. Its syllabus aims to apply a mix of modern theory and research methods to the pursuit of criminal justice. The undergraduate who chooses this degree course will likely have an interest in cutting-edge testing and experimentation.

      Program nameMA Forensic Psychology
      AccreditationHigher Learning Commission, Colorado Department of Higher Education
      LocationDenver, Colorado 
      Cost $48,594 per quarter. Other fees may apply. Financial Support
      Program format On-campus, full-time
      Program length 2-5 years
      Read more
    • George Washington University

      George Washington University Washington, District Of Columbia
      George Washington University

      Novel in its approach, the forensic psychology program at George Washington University gives students a choice of how they’d like to progress their education from the outset. Graduates can choose to either concentrate on applied psychology or applied forensics. The college notes that its graduates leave with the tools to solve crimes, assess offenders, and use interrogation techniques ethically.

      Program nameM.A. in Forensic Psychology
      AccreditationMiddle States Commission on Higher Education
      LocationWashington, D.C.
      Program format $1,395 per credit hour. Other fees may apply. Financial Support
      Cost On-campus, full-time
      Length 2 years 
      Read more
    • University of North Dakota

      University of North Dakota Grand Forks, North Dakota
      University of North Dakota

      The University of North Dakota claims that its forensic psychology degree program is the best in the United States. It occupies a unique position on our list, as an online program that can only be studied on a part-time basis. This particular program is recommended for undergraduates who have already found their way into a related career. Graduation requires the completion of 30 credits of coursework.

      Program nameM.A. in Forensic Psychology
      AccreditationHigher Learning Commission of the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools
      LocationGrand Forks, North Dakota 
      Cost $544.24 per credit. Other fees may still apply. Financial Support
      Program formatOnline, part-time
      Program length 2 years 
      Read more
    • John Jay University

      John Jay University New York City, New York
      John Jay University

      Forensic Psychology at CUNY John Jay includes a special focus on social identities such as religion and race, a topic growing in importance and relevance in the U.S. Researchers seek to understand the role of these aspects in the diagnosis of mental illness and in other experiences in life. CUNY John Jay is ideal for students who wish to dodge either an externship or a thesis in the pursuit of their master’s degree: a choice is given between these 2 options. Graduates must achieve 42 credits.

      Program nameM.A. in Forensic Psychology
      Accreditation Middle States Commission on Higher Education
      LocationNew York City, New York 
      Cost $11,532 “average over program” for in-state students. $20,962 for out-of-state admissions. Part-time study is charged at $470 per credit hour (in-state) and $855 (out-of-state). Financial Support
      Program format On-campus, full/part-time
      Program length 2 years 
      Read more
    • University of Houston

      University of Houston Houston, Texas
      University of Houston

      Overall, mental health is in decline worldwide. To combat this slump, Houston-Victoria emphasizes the need to produce qualified mental health workers. It introduces its master’s degree in forensic psychology as a way to achieve this goal. Coursework is based around family matters, addiction, ethics, and multicultural psychology. Consequently, themes of criminal justice take a back seat. Graduating students require 63 semester hours of course work and practicum study. 

      Program nameM.A. in Forensic Psychology
      AccreditationYes, by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges
      Location Houston, Texas 
      Cost$8,314 (in-state). $15,437 (out-of-state). Other fees may still apply. Financial Support.
      Program format On-campus, full/part-time options
      Program length 2 years 
      Read more
    • University of Central Oklahoma

      University of Central Oklahoma Edmond, Oklahoma
      University of Central Oklahoma

      Careers in music and art therapy are listed as outcomes of the forensic psychology program at the University of Central Oklahoma. However, students with a passion for law enforcement, research, and experimental applications of psychology may find this master’s program suitable. To graduate, students must maintain a GPA of 3.0. A thesis has to be submitted and defended by the relevant deadlines.

      Program nameM.A. in Psychology – Forensic
      AccreditationNorth Central Association of Colleges and Schools
      LocationEdmond, Oklahoma
      Cost$291.65 general tuition fee plus $37.70 per credit hour for in-state residents. The general tuition fee goes up to $708.65 for out-of-state applications. Other fees may still apply. Financial Support.
      Program format On-campus, full-time
      Program length 2 years 
      Read more
    • Capella University

      Capella University Minneapolis, Minnesota
      Capella University

      While not a true forensic psychology degree in the same mold as the other entries on this list, Capella University does offer a master’s in this discipline. You just have to study it as part of the clinical psychology program. Capella University’s syllabus is maintained by faculty and student peers, which makes it more changeable than many of the other programs on our list. It’s also a short 5-course program studied online. Graduation requires 25 completed credits.

      Program nameM.S. in Forensic Psychology 
      AccreditationHigher Learning Commission 
      LocationMinneapolis, Minnesota 
      Cost$18,430–$26,235 depending on the number of transfer credits used. Other fees may still apply. Financial Support.
      Program format Online
      Program length 2 years 
      Read more
    • Walden University

      Walden University Minneapolis, Minnesota
      Walden University

      Students at Walden University seek to create positive change in the justice system. This M.S. in forensic psychology is filled with modern concepts such as terrorism, military psychology, and cybercrime, all of which can be specialized in. For interested students, Walden’s master’s degree can meet the criteria for up to half of the doctorate in psychology coursework.

      Program nameM.S. in Forensic Psychology
      AccreditationHigher Learning Commission
      LocationMinneapolis, Minnesota 
      Cost $10,716. Other fees may still apply. Financial support
      Program format Online 
      Program length 2 years 
      Read more
    • Alliant University

      Alliant University San Diego, California
      Alliant University

      The production of an interview-ready portfolio is one of the highlights of the forensic behavioral science course at Alliant University. The college prides itself on its accessibility so this degree can be studied online, requiring just 2 in-person visits to the campus. This flexibility makes it an easy choice for international students. Graduates of Alliant University require 36 credits.

      Program nameM.S in Forensic Behavioral Science 
      AccreditationWASC Senior College and University Commission
      LocationSan Diego, California 
      Cost$719 per credit hour. Other fees still may apply. Financial support 
      Program format Online 
      Program length 2 years
      Read more
    • Kean University

      Kean University Union, New Jersey
      Kean University

      Kean University’s master’s program is one of the more affordable colleges on our list. This institution offers a research-driven course that emphasizes the use of psychology in courtrooms, prisons, and juvenile detention centers. Kean’s varied program structure means that it’s an option for both law and psychology undergraduates. Those who haven’t decided on a career yet are welcome too.

      Program nameM.A. in Forensic Psychology 
      AccreditationMiddle States Commission on Higher Education 
      LocationUnion, New Jersey 
      Cost $7,876 (in-state). $8,677 (out-of-state). Other fees may still apply. Financial Support.
      Program format On-campus, full-time
      Program length 2 years
      Read more

    Financial aid opportunities

    The first place to start your research into how to finance your master’s degree should be Federal Student Aid. Their website contains general information on all types of aid available to eligible students and is where you can complete and submit the free application form, FAFSA. Contact the financial office at your selected school to learn about scholarships and grants for psychology students.

    Career options with this degree

    Although licensure as a forensic psychologist requires a doctorate degree there are also various career options available to those with master’s degrees.