Forensic Psychology Master's Program Guide

Updated February 27, 2024 · 3 Min Read

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Considering a career in the growing field of forensic psych? This guide to getting a master's in forensic psychology can help you plan. is an advertising-supported site. Featured or trusted partner programs and all school search, finder, or match results are for schools that compensate us. This compensation does not influence our school rankings, resource guides, or other editorially-independent information published on this site.

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Earning a master's in forensic psychology creates pathways to well-paying and potentially exciting careers in the field.

Forensic psychologists work within the criminal justice and legal systems, providing psychological services to people in contact with those systems, including legal professionals, law enforcement agents, and suspected criminals.

If you want to become a licensed forensic psychologist, earning a master's in forensic psychology will prepare you for the doctorate you need. For other forensic psychology careers, a master's degree in forensic psychology may be your final degree.

This page explains more about how to earn a master's degree in forensic psychology and what you can do with it.

Typical Admission Requirements

Bachelor's in psychology or a related field, letters of recommendation, 3.0 GPA

2-3 years
Time to Completion

Average Salary*

More information on forensic psychology degrees

*Source: Payscale

Why Get a Master's Degree in Forensic Psychology?

A master's in forensic psychology can prepare you for a career in law, corrections, criminal investigation, and nonprofit organizations that address crime prevention or returning citizen rehabilitation.

A forensic psychology master's can also be a step toward a doctorate. A master's program goes into more topics in more depth than a bachelor's degree, and includes fieldwork that helps you develop references and a network.

  • A master's degree in forensic psychology can lead to a salary increase; those with master's degrees tend to earn more than those with bachelor's.
  • A master's in forensic psychology prepares students to earn a doctorate, the minimum degree required for licensure as a psychologist.
  • Students can tailor their master's degrees to suit a variety of career areas, including some careers outside of forensic science.
  • Graduate students often enjoy access to special research grant opportunities, which can bolster their resumes before entering the job field.
  • A forensic psychology degree prepares students for careers in a variety of fields, providing marketable skills in several subject areas.

Online Psychology Master's Programs

Figuring out where to apply? These top, accredited schools offer a variety of online degrees. Consider one of these accredited programs, and discover their value today.

Example Courses


This course explores various psychological disorders, building off introductory studies in abnormal psychology. Students gain a working understanding of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, the key text for diagnosing and treating psychological disorders.

Advanced Legal Psychology

Advanced legal psychology classes investigate the role of psychology in the legal system. It often covers topics such as psychological drivers and how they affect judges, juries, and jury selection.

Legal psychology also covers elements of cognitive psychology as they affect how police, attorneys, judges, and juries view evidence.

Qualitative Analysis

Qualitative data refers to data about the characteristics of something, rather than the quantity. Often, qualitative data comes from interviews, focus groups, text analytics, or surveys.

This class teaches students to collect and analyze this data effectively. Topics include identifying how to best collect data, data quality issues, theme identification, and the best analytics approaches for different types of data and research.

Advanced Correctional Psychology

This course examines the role of psychologists and other mental health professionals within corrections systems, which include jails, prisons, and juvenile facilities. Students explore the various ethical issues related to working with these populations, and how to navigate appropriate relationships with corrections staff and inmates.

What Can You Do With a Master's Degree in Forensic Psychology?

A master's in forensic psychology prepares students for careers in a variety of areas. The clinical practice of psychology requires a doctoral degree, so some graduates with master's degrees in forensic psychology opt to pursue jobs as corrections counselors, victim advocates, or jail supervisors.

Where Do Forensic Psychologists Work?

Forensic psychologists often work in organizations related to law, crime, crime prevention, and returning citizen treatment and rehabilitation.

Graduates of a master's in forensic psychology program may work for police investigators, as expert witnesses, for law firms as jury consultants, or in organizations seeking to reduce crime and help the formerly incarcerated re-enter society.

Career Advancement

Doctoral Programs

Many graduates of master's in forensic psychology programs go on to pursue doctoral degrees, which are required for clinical psychologist licensure. Doctoral programs in forensic psychology expand upon the knowledge and skills gained in a master's program, further emphasizing research and clinical field experience.

Doctoral students often pursue internships and fellowships in specialized areas, working alongside licensed professionals.

Upon earning a doctorate in psychology, graduates can pursue careers in a variety of professional psychology and counseling roles depending on their interests, career goals, and licensure. The doctorate also prepares graduates to teach postsecondary psychology courses.


If you want to become a forensic psychologist, you must earn a doctoral degree, either Psy.D. or a Ph.D., and work under the supervision of a licensed psychologist for a period. To become licensed, you must also pass the EPPP (Examination for Professional Practice in Psychology) examination and, in some states, a local jurisprudence examination.

However, you can work in the field of forensic psychology without becoming a forensic psychologist. For example, you can work in corrections as an investigator or parole officer, work with incarcerated people as a therapist or counselor (depending on state regulations), or work in a nonprofit that focuses on crime prevention or on rehabilitation.

Professional Organizations

  • American Psychology-Law Society: This organization aims to further education for legal and psychology professionals, emphasizing scholarship and public service. Members enjoy access to conferences, leadership opportunities, and awards.
  • American Psychological Association: The foremost organization for psychologists and students in psychology, APA provides a wide variety of member resources, including special publications, career boards, and conferences.
  • Society for Police and Criminal Psychology: Membership with this organization offers access to scholarly publications, an annual conference, and opportunities for networking with other criminal psychology professionals.

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