Best Colleges for Forensic Psychology

Updated August 16, 2022

What are the best colleges for forensic psychology? This guide helps you find the top schools for your career goals.

Are you ready to discover your college program?

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Are you interested in how law and psychology can work together? Forensic psychology is an exciting new discipline, though lawyers and legal experts have used applied psychology since law practice began.

This guide to the best colleges with forensic psychology tracks can help you find the right program for your career goals.

What to Look For in a Forensic Psychology Program

Forensic psychologists need a doctorate in forensic psychology. However, you can work in forensic psychology with a master's as an assistant or a researcher, police officer, probation officer, or correctional administrator. Many of these jobs also only require a bachelor's degree in forensic psychology.

Most graduate programs accept students with any psychology-related major. Factors to consider at any program level include the cost and financial aid for psychology students, the program's quality and reputation, undergraduate admission requirements for psychology students and admission requirements for graduate psychology students, and the logistics of classes and clinical placement.

Practical Experience Requirements

Psychology practicums and internships play a vital part in forensic psychology studies. In addition to learning how classroom studies apply to real situations, you gain skills and confidence. While practicums are brief and generally consist of observing, forensic psychology internships take several months to a year to complete. An internship involves practical work under the supervision of a licensed forensic psychologist.

Students must find their own internships, though schools help by posting opportunities and advising undergraduate and master's students on how to apply.

Many employers hire their former interns when they have openings. Other employers rely heavily on references or referrals from internship supervisors.

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Best Colleges for Forensic Psychology

#1

Washington University in St Louis

School Information
Location Saint Louis, Missouri
Admission Rate 14%
Graduation Rate 95%
Instituation Type Private
Accreditation Yes Higher Learning Commission
Percent Online Enrollment 6% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.

Missouri-based Washington University offers a certificate in forensic psychology from the Department of Psychological and Brain Sciences. Learners study on campus through University College. 

Students complete 15 units that cover the five subfields of forensic psychology. These include police, investigative, criminal, correctional, and legal psychology. Enrollees begin the program with an introduction to criminology and forensic psychology. Students explore advanced concepts such as criminal typologies, juvenile delinquency, and crisis intervention. Learners can pursue an elective course from the department or related disciplines.

Enrollees can use the certificate as a stepping stone for admission to University College's bachelor's program in psychological and brain sciences. Washington University maintains no formal requirements for admission to certificate programs. Students can pursue admission for the fall, spring, or summer terms. 

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#2

CUNY John Jay College of Criminal Justice

School Information
Location New York, New York
Admission Rate 41%
Graduation Rate 52%
Accreditation Yes Middle States Commission on Higher Education
Percent Online Enrollment 35% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.

New York City-based John Jay offers certificate, undergraduate, and graduate programs. The liberal arts college's postgraduate certificate in forensic psychology primarily enrolls mental health professionals with a master's or doctoral degree in psychology or a related field. 

The certificate offers six 18-credit tracks, including psychological assessment and forensic psychology and family violence and victims. Each track requires a class that examines mental health professionals, social science, and the law.

A research in forensic psychology track teaches skills like giving evidence in court and identifying eyewitnesses. The forensic psychological assessment and testimony track only enrolls licensed psychologists. Enrollees receive training in areas like objective personality assessment and criminal psychological assessment.

The certificate program lets students substitute some classes with electives. Options include victimology, cults, and terrorism. Applicants need at least a master's degree.

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#3

George Washington University

School Information
Location Washington, District of Columbia
Admission Rate 41%
Graduation Rate 82%
Instituation Type Private
Accreditation Yes Middle States Commission on Higher Education
Percent Online Enrollment 22% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.

Washington, D.C.-based GW offers a master's in forensic psychology with two tracks. The applied forensics track prepares enrollees for law enforcement and homeland security careers. The applied psychology track trains learners to provide direct services to clients in settings like correctional facilities.

All students complete 37 credits, including core classes that cover topics like psychology and the legal system. Each track includes its own classes. All students complete 250 hours of externship training in their interest area. Enrollees culminate the program with a comprehensive exam.

GW is one of the good colleges for forensic psychology students who want flexibility. The program's day, evening, and weekend classes accommodate both full-time enrollees and working students. Admission requires a bachelor's degree and all school transcripts. GW requires GRE scores and provides waivers to qualified applicants.

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#4

SUNY College at Oswego

School Information
Location Oswego, New York
Admission Rate 54%
Graduation Rate 67%
Accreditation Yes Middle States Commission on Higher Education
Percent Online Enrollment 25% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.

Oswego sits on a 700-acre campus on the shores of Lake Ontario. The Counseling and Psychological Services department offers an advanced certificate in behavioral forensics, post-bachelor's credential. 

Students choose classes to fulfill the certificate's 15 credits. The curriculum covers topics like cognition and forensics, prevention and corrections, and victimization across the lifespan. A notable class takes a multidisciplinary approach to explore how people develop criminal behavior.

A competency, insanity, and mental illness class examines competency standards and assessment techniques. All enrollees complete a professional internship that provides training in a behavioral forensics setting.

Oswego charges among the lowest tuition in the Northeast. Applicants to one of the best colleges for forensic psychology need at least a bachelor's degree, minimum 3.0 GPA, and school transcripts. 

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#5

University of Denver

School Information
Location Denver, Colorado
Admission Rate 59%
Graduation Rate 77%
Instituation Type Private
Accreditation Yes Higher Learning Commission
Percent Online Enrollment 28% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.

DU's Graduate School of Professional Psychology offers a master's in forensic psychology. The program focuses on applied practice, preparing students for careers as master's-level mental health professionals in the criminal and civil legal system. Students can complete the 90-credit program in two years at one of the best colleges for forensic psychology.

The curriculum includes coursework and practicum experiences. Students focus on three competency areas: assessment, individual and group therapy, and consultation in legal and criminal justice settings. Enrollees provide direct service to diverse populations during two field placements. 

Students can access DU's Denver Forensic Institute for Research, Service and Training, a hub for expertise in forensic mental health. Admission requires a bachelor's degree from a regionally accredited college and a minimum 2.5 GPA. Applicants without a major or minor in psychology must also complete prerequisite classes.

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#6

Montclair State University

School Information
Location Montclair, New Jersey
Admission Rate 76%
Graduation Rate 67%
Accreditation Yes Middle States Commission on Higher Education
Percent Online Enrollment 31% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.

Montclair is a public research college located in Little Falls, New Jersey. The school's Department of Graduate Psychology offers the forensic psychology certificate in a hybrid format. The program enrolls mental health professionals like psychologists, social workers, and psychiatric nurses. Students take web-based classes and attend in-residence seminars.

The certificate's 15 credits include core classes in criminal forensic assessment and interventions in forensic psychology. Enrollees supplement required classes with specialized training in an elective area like forensic interviewing of children. 

An elective class explores interpersonal and familial violences from psychological, criminological, and sociobiological perspectives. The class also examines the psychological disorders common in individuals and victims of violence. Forensic psychology students can participate in supervised clinical experiences to meet professional licensure or diplomate status requirements.

Montclair also offers a family/civil forensic psychology certificate. Admission requires a master's degree in a psychology field.

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#7

Maryville University of Saint Louis

School Information
Location Saint Louis, Missouri
Admission Rate 83%
Graduation Rate 71%
Instituation Type Private
Accreditation Yes Higher Learning Commission
Percent Online Enrollment 76% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.

Missouri-based Maryville is a private school with about 10,500 students. Maryville's academic catalog includes the bachelor's in forensic psychology/criminal justice. Students can complete this degree on campus or entirely online. The program's 128 credits include general education classes that some students transfer. 

The major covers topics like abnormal, social, and forensic psychology. Learners take classes exploring various aspects of the criminal justice system. Enrollees receive hands-on training during an internship that lasts 135-150 hours. Students complete this experience locally or in the St. Louis area. Enrollees can also participate in research projects with faculty and peers. 

On-campus undergraduate students receive an iPad with access to more than 200 apps. Maryville's transfer-friendly policy makes it a good college for forensic psychology for learners with previous credits. Admission requires a high school or GED diploma, college-prep coursework, and a minimum 2.5 high school GPA. Transfer students need a minimum 2.0 GPA.

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#8

Corban University

School Information
Location Salem, Oregon
Admission Rate 85%
Graduation Rate 66%
Instituation Type Private
Accreditation Yes Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities
Percent Online Enrollment 18% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.

Salem, Oregon-based Corban offers a BA and BS in forensic psychology. Corban is a good college for forensic psychology taught from a Christian worldview. Learners study within a small learning community on campus. Degree-seekers complete 60-61 credits of general education coursework. 

All students complete a biblical education component that includes Bible study methods and an introduction to theology. The major explores various subfields of psychology, including forensic psychology. A class focuses on crisis intervention strategies. Criminal justice classes cover criminology, corrections, and various criminal justice concepts. 

Students use elective credit to develop skills in counseling or trauma therapy. Enrollees get hands-on experience during forensic psychology internships for college students. Applicants need a high school diploma and a minimum 2.7 high school GPA. Corban does not require standardized test scores.

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#9

Arizona State University-Downtown Phoenix

School Information
Location Phoenix, Arizona
Admission Rate 82%
Graduation Rate 58%
Accreditation Yes Higher Learning Commission
Percent Online Enrollment 57% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.

ASU offers a BA and BS in psychology with a concentration in forensic psychology. Degree-seekers can pursue the degrees at ASU's West campus or online. Both 120-credit programs teach students how to apply psychology to the law field. 

All students complete general education classes in various disciplines. Students can accelerate degree completion by transferring prior general education credits. The major explores subjects such as the criminal mind and abnormal psychology. A forensic psychology class explores how psychologists perform clinical duties and work with the court system. 

Students receive an introduction to criminal law, criminology, and criminal investigations. Learners pursuing the BA do not need to complete two additional lab science classes and advanced statistical training. Admission requires a high school or GED diploma. First-year students must complete college-prep classes. ASU requires all transcripts from transfer students.

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#10

Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University-Prescott

School Information
Location Prescott, Arizona
Admission Rate 66%
Graduation Rate 69%
Instituation Type Private
Accreditation Yes Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges
Percent Online Enrollment 4% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.

ERAU specializes in aviation, engineering, and security and intelligence programs. The private school offers a BS in forensic psychology on campus in Prescott, Arizona. Students receive a strong foundation in psychological science and its applications in the courts and criminal justice system.

The program requires 122-123 credits. Learners complete science, math, and research methodology classes. The major explores subjects like criminality, personality and profiling, and psychology of deception detection. Students learn other applications not always explored at many of the best colleges for forensic psychology. For example, two classes teach students basic skills in personnel psychology and forensic accounting and fraud examination.

Students can use six elective classes to explore related subjects such as training and development. Enrollees demonstrate their skills during a two-semester research project or practicum experience. Admission to one of the best colleges for forensic psychology requires a high school or GED diploma. ERAU recommends submission of SAT or ACT scores. 

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Frequently Asked Questions


What is forensic psychology?

Forensic psychology is the psychological assessment of those who come in contact with the legal system as attorneys, defendants, or witnesses. More broadly, forensic psychology is the practice of psychology in any legal context.

How many years of college are needed for forensic psychology?

To become a licensed forensic psychologist, you need a doctorate. This takes at least eight years (including bachelor's and master's work) but can take as long as 10 years to complete.

What do forensic psychology undergraduate programs include?

All forensic psychology programs include the theory and practice of psychology, criminal law, and how the justice system works. Graduate coursework includes more advanced work on psychological assessment, cognition, and perception.

Does the FBI hire forensic psychologists?

The FBI and the justice system in general regularly hire forensic psychologists, as do law firms. However, like with law or medicine, forensic psychology on television is far more dramatic than it is in reality.

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