A Master’s in Forensic Psychology looks at where psychology and law come together. Students learn to apply theories and practices in the justice system. Forensic psychology courses focus on advanced concepts in psychology and the legal system. Students in forensic psychology gain a better understanding of criminal behavior. They can use that knowledge in court evaluations, providing therapy, and more. Forensic psychologists and forensic psychology professionals frequently work with industries or offices within or related to the legal system. These include:
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, employment of psychologists is expected to grow 14 percent through 2026. This growth is much faster than average. There will be increased demand for forensic psychology professionals in schools, law enforcement agencies, social service agencies, consulting firms, and mental health centers. This growth will add 32,500 psychologists to the workforce. (source: BLS.gov)
Keep in mind that prospects will be highest for those with a doctoral degree in forensic psychology. But it is possible to begin working in certain entry-level positions in the field with a master’s degree.
What Can You Do with a Masters in Forensic Psychology?
Forensic psychologists and forensic psychology professionals frequently work with industries or offices within or related to the legal system. These include:
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, employment of psychologists is expected to grow 14 percent through 2026. This growth is much faster than average. There will be increased demand for forensic psychology professionals in schools, law enforcement agencies, social service agencies, consulting firms, and mental health centers. This growth will add 32,500 psychologists to the workforce. Keep in mind that prospects will be highest for those with a doctoral degree in forensic psychology. But it is possible to begin working in certain entry-level positions in the field with a master’s degree.
Do You Need a Master’s in Forensic Psychology?
A master’s degree can give you an edge over those with only a bachelor’s degree, but competition is stiff because jobs that require only a master’s degree are fairly limited as well. In addition, people with a bachelor’s degree in forensic psychology will face limits in the careers they can pursue. Someone with a bachelor’s degree might, for instance, be able to find work as an assistant in a rehabilitation center or as a court liaison. A doctoral degree is often preferred or even required for certain jobs within the field. However, admission to many forensic psychology doctoral programs requires having a master’s degree in forensic psychology, so this degree serves as a necessary stepping stone to a career in this field.
What Jobs can you get with a Forensic Psychology Degree?
Have a graduate degree in forensic psychology gives you the opportunity to serve as a consultant or even treat patients in a clinical setting. If you have with a master’s in forensic psychology, you might find employment as a jury consultant, licensed professional counselor, juvenile offender counselor or research assistant. Having a doctoral degree in forensic psychology allows you to pursue opportunities as a private practice forensic psychologist, expert witness, psychology researcher or psychology professor.
Clinical, Counseling, and School Psychologists
Psychologists, All Other
Law, Criminal Justice, and Social Work Teachers, Postsecondary
Legal Support Workers, All Other
Top States for Employment: Psychologists, All Other
Annual Mean Wage
Top Salary Metro Areas in the United States: Psychologists, All Other
The industries with the highest concentration of employment for psychologists are:
Federal Executive Branch
Offices of other health practitioners
Outpatient care centers
General medical and surgical hospitals
Colleges, universities and professional schools
Popular Forensic Psychology Degrees in Indiana
Forensic psychology degrees are reported by the National Center for Education Statistics under the category of Psychology. In fact, in the most recent update of the data (July, 2013), across the U.S, there were 759 Forensic psychology degrees awarded to graduate students. The majority (96%) of these programs were at the master’s degree level.
Master in Forensic Psychology or Criminology, What’s the Difference?
Forensic psychology and criminology have some similarities, but they are more different than they might seem. Degree programs in forensic psychology focus on applying teachings and principles of psychology to the justice system. Students of forensic psychology learn to use judgment and analysis to aid in court proceedings. For example, a forensic psychologist might be asked to determine whether a defendant is competent or mentally fit to stand trial. Forensic psychologists might also try to determine whether the defendant was mentally stable or insane at the time the crime was committed. Criminology is the study of criminal behavior at the micro (individual) and macro (social) levels. Students in criminology degree programs learn to use the scientific method to study a crime. They also study the behavior of the criminal and the victim. The emphasis is on understanding why crimes happen and how to prevent them from happening again in the future. Some universities place both forensic psychology and criminology degree programs within their criminal justice school, while others consider forensic psychology to be a branch of their general psychology program.
The MA prepares students for doctoral training focused on forensic or legal psychology. Focus is on clinical assessment and psychological testing, treatment planning, individual and group interventions, research design, and statistical analysis and program evaluation.
The MS prepares students to research, test and present data related to criminal intelligence information. Focus is on how law enforcement intelligence relates to organizational relationships, planning and decision-making.
Specific accreditations: Middle States Association of Colleges and Schools, Middle States Commission on Higher Education
Most clinical, counseling, and research psychologists need a doctoral degree. In fact, most states require you to have a doctorate and pass a licensure exam before you can go into private practice. If you want a career as a forensic psychologist, a PsyD could be a great choice. If you’re more interested in research, consider a PhD in forensic psychology. You can expect to need a master’s degree in psychology to gain admission to most doctoral programs in forensic psychology. Once you’re accepted into a program, plan on 4 to 5 years of full-time study, as well as a dissertation requirement, internships and a comprehensive exam.
What Classes Are Needed for Forensic Psychology?
Forensic psychology graduate schools typically offer a mix of core and elective classes in both psychology and research practices. Many programs also allow you to select a minor, track or emphasis. This could help focus your studies and may determine how your graduate forensic psychology degree might shape or enhance your career. Concentrations could include cyber-crimes, family violence, military studies, terrorism, victimology and police psychology. You might also be able to delve into a specific application of forensic psychology. These could include psychopathology, forensic assessment, or risk assessment. Coursework within your degree program will somewhat depend on whether you are pursuing a Master of Arts (MA) or a Master of Science (MS) in forensic psychology. In general, an MS emphasizes research, analysis, and consulting—the more scientific aspects of forensic psychology. An MA is more likely to focus on counseling and developing psychological profiles. All forensic psychology schools set their own curriculum, but here are a few common top topics you might expect to find:
Research Methods in Psychology: A study of methods commonly used in psychological research. Students learn how to gather and analyze data.
Law and Psychology: This course focuses on the forensic psychologist’s role within the legal system. Students explore how psychologists can impact court proceedings providing expert testimony and determining mental states of the witnesses or the accused.
Psychology in the Courtroom: This course gives students a full understanding of the forensic psychologist’s roles as trial consultant, jury selection and assessing eyewitness account integrity in the courtroom.
Ethics in Psychology: An overview of the principles of ethical practice within the field of psychology. Topics include experimentation, confidentiality, respect, resolving ethical dilemmas, professional standards of conduct and the psychology of ethical behavior.
You must have a bachelor’s degree to apply for a forensic psychology master’s program. A bachelor’s in forensic psychology is ideal but not always required. You might need to pass prerequisite psychology courses prior to enrollment. You might also be required to submit official transcripts and GRE test scores. Every program is unique, so follow up directly to learn more.
What Should I know About Accreditation in Forensic Psychology?
The American Psychological Association does not accredit master’s-level graduate programs, only doctoral graduate programs. A doctorate-level degree from an APA-accredited program is required to be a qualified forensic psychologist in the U.S. (https://www.apa.org/ed/precollege/psn/2013/09/forensic-psychology)
Forensic Psychology Licensure and Certification
Depending on your desired career in forensic psychology, you may need to pursue certification or licensure after graduation. Most states require licensure for practicing psychologists. All states require psychologists who practice independently to be licensed where they work. (bls.gov/ooh/life-physical-and-social-science/psychologists.htm#tab-4) Specific licensure requirements vary by state. However, most clinical and counseling psychologists need a doctorate in psychology and to complete an internship. They may also need at least 1 to 2 years of supervised professional experience and to pass the Examination for Professional Practice in Psychology. You might also want to apply for professional certification with the American Board of Forensic Psychology (ABFP). This may not be a requirement but will certainly differentiate yourself. As you are looking at graduate programs in forensic psychology, you may want to ensure that the schools offering the programs are accredited and that programs meet the requirements for licensure or certification in your state. Some programs may even be aimed towards specific licensure objectives. Contact an advisor to learn more.
How Long Does it Take to Earn a Masters in Forensic Psychology?
You can earn a master’s degree in forensic psychology in about two years (24 months). The actual amount of time will depend on whether you are able to study full-time or part-time. Also, specific programs or concentrations might take slightly more or less time.
# of Credits Required
Minimum Months to Complete
Southern New Hampshire University
University of North Dakota
How Much Does A Masters in Forensic Psychology Degree Cost?
The average cost of a of a graduate degree from a public institution is $11,617 per year. This means you will be able to find programs both more affordable and more expensive than the average. To give specific examples, this visualization shows graduate tuition costs of 4 institutions with Forensic Psychology Graduate Programs as reported by the NCES. We have then compared those costs to the typically most affordable and most expensive college options, also as reported by NCES.
What are the Costs per Credit for Masters in Forensic Psychology?
Cost per credit of course is different at every College or University. State Universities are also likely to have in state costs vs out of state costs. Below are a few examples of the cost per credit as reported by each one of these institutions.
# of Credits Required
Cost Per Credit
Arizona State University-Tempe (ASU Online)
View the Best Forensic Psychology Graduate Programs in Indiana Below