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7 Top Online Forensic Psychology Programs

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Most online programs in forensic psychology are available at the graduate level, since graduate students have typically already gained the rudimentary knowledge in the field through face-to-face learning at the bachelor’s level. That said, there are many bachelor’s degree in psychology available online at the undergraduate level that offer a concentration in forensic psychology. However, the programs in this list have forensic psychology as the focus of their learning, not just as a concentration area, so that students are specifically enabled to learn more about how psychology applies to the fields of law and criminal justice.

Some of these online forensic psychology programs may require students to be on-campus occasionally to meet particular requirements. Many schools, such as Argosy University, list their technical requirements online, and others use a specific platform for instruction. Students may need to have access to specific types of software, such as Adobe Acrobat Reader, but will definitely benefit from an Internet connection that is at least 56K, and preferably broadband.

Southern New Hampshire University, located in Manchester, New Hampshire, offers students the option to complete a bachelor of arts (BA) degree in forensic psychology entirely online or to attend school at any of the university’s five regional campuses, or to combine learning through both formats. Students learn about psychology, critical thinking and issues important to the criminal justice system. The program allows students to explore areas like criminal profiling, eyewitness memory and patterns in criminal behavior. One unique characteristic of this program is that students have the opportunity to join the Psych Club. High-achieving students can also join Psi Chi, the Psychology International Honor Society.

The Chicago School of Professional Psychology, based out of Chicago but with campuses across the country, has a non-licensure track for students enabling them to complete a master of arts (MA) degree in forensic psychology. The program can be completed in as little as 24 months (when students attend full-time) and offers students the skills to better understand mental illness and its application and tie-in with the law, criminal justice and social services fields. Two unique components of this degree program include a requirement to complete an Applied Research Project (ARP), allowing for research to be done into a specific area for forensic psychology, and the availability of selecting a forensic psychology concentration from the fields of corrections, law enforcement and sex offender.

Argosy University, which also has campuses across the U.S., offers an MA in forensic psychology. This 36-credit online program teaches students to understand the application of clinical, counseling and neuropsychology to the criminal justice and legal fields. Profiling and patterning and the epidemiology of behavioral and mental disorders will be among the areas studied. Students in this program also specialize among areas including general forensic psychology, assessment and treatment, Homeland Security and law enforcement, completing 12 credit hours in their selected area. Students also complete a Special Topics paper, focusing on a forensic psychology issue, which will used for participation in a Student Seminar.

Walden University, an all-online university, lets students complete a master of science degree in forensic psychology. In this program, students study psychology theories and applications to a broad range of settings including community organizations and correctional facilities. This program gives students the option to specialize in five areas including the general program, forensic psychology in the community, mental health applications, program planning and evaluation in forensic settings, and psychology and legal settings. In addition, students must complete a practicum, which is a real-world introduction into direct practice in the field.

University of North Dakota, located in Grand Forks, North Dakota, makes a 34-credit master of arts online forensic psychology program available to students. Classes such as diversity psychology, psychology & the law, and behavior pathology are required. Unique aspects of this program include completion of a capstone project, which requires a one-week visit to campus, and a two-credit independent study project that requires a student to complete an empirical study based on research or scholarly reviews in a chose area of interest. Nine elective credits are available in areas such as supervised field study, special topics and specific coursework.

Montclair State University, located in Montclair, New Jersey, offers students the option to complete a graduate-level certificate in forensic psychology, as opposed to an entire master’s degree. This distance learning program provides training to forensic nurses, forensic psychologists, forensic social workers and others working within the criminal justice or legal system and is offered through a 15-credit program based on five learning modules. In-residence seminars may be required as part of each 10-week session course to help students through critical junctures in learning.

Arizona State University, based out of Tempe, Arizona offers an online master of science degree in forensic psychology. Although the ASU program does not make graduates eligible for professional licensure, it will teach those who enroll about criminal law, criminal behavior, and the applications of psychology to the law. Designed for working professionals, this MS program requires 33 credit hours including a 3 credit capstone project.

Methodology

This list is not meant to be comprehensive, but rather representative of some of the distance programming available to students in the forensic psychology field. Most programs were selected for this list because they went above and beyond in offerings or in requiring students to complete learning beyond mere classwork. Some programs on this list, for example, require students to complete a research project, capstone project special paper, or even in the case of Argosy University, to participate in a Student Seminar. In addition, most of these programs give students the option to select a concentration within a specific area of forensic psychology. This can be important to students who already know what area they want to work on in the field or who are interested in advancing their knowledge in a specific topic or subject.