Best Colleges for Forensic Psychology

Updated December 20, 2022

check mark Reviewed by

Our Integrity Network

Psychology.org is committed to delivering content that is objective and actionable. To that end, we have built a network of industry professionals across higher education to review our content and ensure we are providing the most helpful information to our readers.

Drawing on their firsthand industry expertise, our Integrity Network members serve as an additional step in our editing process, helping us confirm our content is accurate and up to date. These contributors:

  • Suggest changes to inaccurate or misleading information.
  • Provide specific, corrective feedback.
  • Identify critical information that writers may have missed.

Integrity Network members typically work full time in their industry profession and review content for Psychology.org as a side project. All Integrity Network members are paid members of the Red Ventures Education Integrity Network.

Explore our full list of Integrity Network members.

Forensic psychology combines law and psychology. Learn about this career and the top forensic psychology programs.

Psychology.org 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.

Are you ready to discover your college program?

Credit: Thana Prasongsin / Moment / Getty Images
%}

While it isn’t all serial killers, private FBI jets, and shootouts the way that television dramas like "Criminal Minds" portray it, forensic psychologists work at the intersection of psychology practice and the legal field. Find out more about forensic psychology degrees, what forensic psychologists do, and how to work in this field.

What to Look For in a Forensic Psychology Program

There are relatively few bachelor's programs in forensic psychology, though some offer specializations or minors.

Most forensic psychology graduate programs accept students with any major that includes courses relevant to forensic psychology. These usually include psychological assessment methods; conducting psychology research; abnormal and criminal psychology; social psychology; counseling; and courses in crime and criminology.

Aside from the curriculum, look for general indicators of course quality such as accreditation, graduation rate, graduate school acceptance rate, and employment rate. All forensic psychology programs in this guide are accredited, which means they meet third-party educational standards.

Practical Experience Requirements

Forensic psychology careers require different degree levels and field experience. For example, if you are interested in becoming a licensed forensic psychologist, you must attend graduate school and earn a doctorate. For a career in the correctional system, such as a police or parole officer, most entry level positions require a bachelor's degree, depending on state regulations.

Graduate programs require fieldwork, including practicums and internships. The practicum typically occurs during your first year and includes mostly observation, with some hands-on work. During an internship, you will work with real-world cases, though under close supervision.

Featured Online Forensic Psychology Programs

Best Online Forensic Psychology Programs

#1 Best Colleges for Forensic Psychology

Washington University in St Louis

  • Saint Louis, MO
  • 4 years
  • Online + Campus

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. 

Average Tuition
In-state
$54,250
Out-of-state
$54,250
Retention Rate
97%
Admission Rate
14%
Students Enrolled
16,191
Institution Type
Private
Percent Online Enrollment
6% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes Higher Learning Commission

#2 Best Colleges for Forensic Psychology

CUNY John Jay College of Criminal Justice

  • New York, NY
  • 4 years
  • Online + Campus

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.

Average Tuition
In-state
$6,930
Out-of-state
$14,880
Retention Rate
80%
Admission Rate
41%
Students Enrolled
15,880
Institution Type
Public
Percent Online Enrollment
35% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes Middle States Commission on Higher Education

#3 Best Colleges for Forensic Psychology

George Washington University

  • Washington, DC
  • 4 years
  • Online + Campus

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.

Average Tuition
In-state
$54,453
Out-of-state
$54,453
Retention Rate
92%
Admission Rate
41%
Students Enrolled
27,814
Institution Type
Private
Percent Online Enrollment
22% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes Middle States Commission on Higher Education

#4 Best Colleges for Forensic Psychology

SUNY College at Oswego

  • Oswego, NY
  • 4 years
  • Online + Campus

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. 

Average Tuition
In-state
$7,070
Out-of-state
$16,980
Retention Rate
77%
Admission Rate
54%
Students Enrolled
7,830
Institution Type
Public
Percent Online Enrollment
25% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes Middle States Commission on Higher Education

#5 Best Colleges for Forensic Psychology

University of Denver

  • Denver, CO
  • 4 years
  • Online + Campus

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.

Average Tuition
In-state
$51,336
Out-of-state
$51,336
Retention Rate
85%
Admission Rate
59%
Students Enrolled
12,931
Institution Type
Private
Percent Online Enrollment
28% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes Higher Learning Commission

#6 Best Colleges for Forensic Psychology

Montclair State University

  • Montclair, NJ
  • 4 years
  • Online + Campus

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.

Average Tuition
In-state
$12,082
Out-of-state
$20,042
Retention Rate
80%
Admission Rate
76%
Students Enrolled
21,007
Institution Type
Public
Percent Online Enrollment
31% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes Middle States Commission on Higher Education

#7 Best Colleges for Forensic Psychology

Maryville University of Saint Louis

  • Saint Louis, MO
  • 4 years
  • Online + Campus

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.

Average Tuition
In-state
$26,070
Out-of-state
$26,070
Retention Rate
83%
Admission Rate
83%
Students Enrolled
10,013
Institution Type
Private
Percent Online Enrollment
76% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes Higher Learning Commission

#8 Best Colleges for Forensic Psychology

Corban University

  • Salem, OR
  • 4 years
  • Online + Campus

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.

Average Tuition
In-state
$32,380
Out-of-state
$32,380
Retention Rate
81%
Admission Rate
85%
Students Enrolled
1,146
Institution Type
Private
Percent Online Enrollment
18% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities

#9 Best Colleges for Forensic Psychology

Arizona State University-Downtown Phoenix

  • Phoenix, AZ
  • 4 years
  • Online + Campus

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.

Average Tuition
In-state
$10,710
Out-of-state
$28,800
Retention Rate
85%
Admission Rate
82%
Students Enrolled
11,420
Institution Type
Public
Percent Online Enrollment
57% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes Higher Learning Commission

#10 Best Colleges for Forensic Psychology

Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University-Prescott

  • Prescott, AZ
  • 4 years
  • Campus

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. 

Average Tuition
In-state
$35,424
Out-of-state
$35,424
Retention Rate
83%
Admission Rate
66%
Students Enrolled
2,946
Institution Type
Private
Percent Online Enrollment
4% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges

Frequently Asked Questions

What is forensic psychology?

Forensic psychology is the field of psychology that specializes in law and criminality. Forensic psychologists work in the criminal justice system, government, legal system, and programs to prevent crime, support victims, or help prevent previous offenders from returning to crime. Unlike criminal psychologists, their work focuses on understanding the legal nature of crime and its prevention, rather than specific crimes or criminals.

How many years of college are needed for forensic psychology?

To become a licensed psychologist, you must earn a doctorate, which can take 4-7 years, in addition to an undergraduate and master's degree. However, some forensic psychology roles, such as police or parole officers or counselors specializing in criminal rehabilitation, require a bachelor's or master's degree.

What do forensic psychology undergraduate programs include?

Forensic psychology undergraduate programs include the basic psychology curriculum of theory, human development, and abnormal psychology. Students learn how to perform assessments, provide counseling, and conduct research. They also complete coursework in criminal psychology, law, and the justice and corrections systems.

Does the FBI hire forensic psychologists?

The FBI hires forensic psychologists, though the work is not as glamorous as it appears on television. FBI forensic psychologists analyze crimes, conduct research on preventing crime and recidivism, and may assist in cases.


Page last reviewed on November 11, 2022

Latest Posts