According to the American Psychological Association (APA), forensic psychology is the application of clinical and psychological specialties and to the legal field and people who come into contact with the law. The field sits at the intersection of psychology and the justice system, which means that experts must have a strong understanding of both legal and jurisdictional principles and training in various branches of psychology such as clinical, social, and organizational, among others.
The psychological assessment is perhaps the most well-known use of forensic psychology in law. This is where forensic psychologists testify in court as an expert witness. However, forensic psychologists have many other duties, such as performing mental competency evaluations of criminal suspects, counseling crime victims, conducting child custody evaluations, screening and selecting applicants for law enforcement positions, assessing post-traumatic stress disorder, evaluating the effectiveness of intervention and treatment programs for offenders, and other duties.
Of course, becoming a licensed forensic psychologist or psychiatrist typically entails advanced education. These professionals may have a bachelor’s degree in forensic psychology or another scientific area (e.g., chemistry, biology, forensic science), as well as a doctoral degree and at least one residency. Schooling typically takes a minimum of eight years, and residencies take an additional two to three years.
Historically, most bachelor’s degrees were offered exclusively in an on-campus format, but that’s changing. There’s a growing number of online bachelor’s degrees in forensic psychology (and related disciplines), which can make the first step toward becoming a forensic psychologist more convenient.
Read on to discover what to expect from an online forensic psychology bachelor’s program, including information about coursework and profiles of three exceptional professors.
Below are profiles of seven colleges that offer accredited online bachelor’s degree programs in psychology with forensics coursework (or a specialization).
ASU was named the “most innovative college in the U.S.” by the U.S. News and World Report and is ranked as one of the nation’s top schools for psychology, research, and advisory support. The school offers an online bachelor of science (BS) degree in psychology with a concentration in forensics, which has slightly higher requirements than the traditional bachelor’s degree in forensic psychology. Specifically, students must take two additional lab courses and advanced statistical training. This degree can provide students with strong knowledge in the biological and neuroscientific aspects of psychology and prepare them for careers and graduate training in psychological research, clinical research, and legal policy research. Additionally, this program is designed as a foundational degree for forensic psychologists. Students complete 39 courses and 120 credit-hours, with each class lasting 7.5 weeks. Sample curriculum includes an introduction to psychology, information technology and computer applications, and precalculus.
Drexel’s online undergraduate degree (BS) in psychology is highly regarded for its forensic psychology focus. The program covers neuropsychology, cognitive neuroscience, clinical psychology, and health. The college accepts up to 90 transfer credits with a C grade or above from an accredited institution. Degree requirements cover several disciplines, including English and composition, mathematics, physical science, economics, history, philosophy, sociology, anthropology, biology, chemistry, physics, and psychology. Students must also complete a senior seminar or take three additional psychology electives. The fully-online program is broken down into four 10-week quarters per year. There is also an on-campus option.
EKU’s online bachelor’s program in psychology with a concentration in forensic psychology is designed to provide graduates with an introduction to the major areas of forensic psychology and prepare them for master’s programs in a similar field. Recent graduates of the program have found positions as victim advocates, court liaisons, forensic psychologists, and social workers. Each course lasts eight weeks with no campus visits required. The U.S. News and World Report recently ranked Eastern Kentucky University as one of the best online programs in the U.S. This 120-credit program includes 34 hours of core curriculum in the biological bases of behavior, cognition and learning developments, social and personality, and skills courses, as well as several concentration courses in forensic psychology. EKU accepts up to 90 transfer credits from other colleges.
This online bachelor of arts (BA) program in applied and forensic psychology introduces students to the fundamental concepts and applications of applied psychology with an emphasis on the interaction between forensic science and law enforcement. Some of the topics students study include courtroom procedures, criminal behavior, family counseling, investigative techniques, legal process, policing, probable cause, and victimology. The 121-credit program is built on a liberal arts foundation and includes core curriculum, restricted and free electives, communication courses, mathematics, concentration electives, humanities, physical and life science, psychology, and social sciences. Graduates of the program can find career opportunities at mental health centers, businesses, and law enforcement agencies, or enroll in graduate degrees in sociology, psychology, and other disciplines.
Liberty University offers a fully online program in forensic psychology for those interested in obtaining foundational knowledge of mental health and the behavior of criminals, as well as the criminal justice system. Students are encouraged to participate in an internship during their schooling. The school offers two specific internships: the Washington Fellowship and a criminal justice internship, where students the opportunity to spend a semester interning with an approved criminal justice organization. Notably, the school offers course credit for other internships students may find. Transfer students must complete at least 30 of the 120 required credits at Liberty, and relevant life experiences may be accepted for credit. Additionally, the school offers a 25 percent tuition discount for men and women who work in public service. Graduates of the program typically pursue careers in criminal psychology and criminology, as well as positions as case managers, corrections officers, police detectives, and parole officers.
Forbes named Maryville University as one of the nation’s top schools in 2017. The school’s online forensic psychology and criminal justice program is entirely online and does not require any campus visits, although it does require a 150-hour internship. Students also have the opportunity to take part in a research project with their peers and a renowned faculty member to get a firsthand look at innovative techniques in psychology and criminal justice. Core courses of the program include abnormal psychology, forensic psychology, criminal behavior and police psychology. Students also take methodological core courses that include the internship and a senior seminar, as well as several electives. Former students have completed internships in behavioral research, rehabilitation, corrections, psychotherapy, and criminology fields.
At Southern New Hampshire University, students can graduate with a bachelor’s degree in psychology with a concentration in forensics. The 120-credit program combines a solid background in liberal arts with a practical specialty that allows students to pursue immediate employment. They build skills in criminal profiling, abnormal psychology, criminal trends and behavior, as well as treatment methods for criminals and the impact of crime on individuals and society. The core curriculum involves an introduction to anatomy and physiology, introduction to psychology, psychological statistics, and scientific investigation, while elective courses include counseling process and techniques, the psychology of personality, and the American legal tradition.
With the convenience of online learning, there is no reason aspiring forensic psychologists cannot earn their bachelor’s degrees—the first step in a long process—even with a full-time job or family responsibilities. Prospective students are encouraged to request information directly from the schools they are considering before enrolling in a program.
Dr. Nia Amazeen is an associate professor of psychology at Arizona State University. She earned her doctorate from the University of Connecticut and has published a lot of research in the dynamics of psychology. Her most recent published study is called “Monitoring, Extracting, and Decoding Indicators of Cognitive Load.” At ASU, Dr. Amazeen currently teaches courses in learning and motivation, dynamics in psychology, and dynamics of perception, action, and cognition specialized research. She is also the science outreach committee chair at C.I. Waggoner Elementary School and on the board of the International Society for Ecological Psychology.
Dr. Ann Nordmeyer is an assistant professor of psychology at Southern New Hampshire University. She earned her doctorate in developmental psychology from Stanford University and her bachelor’s degree in psychology from Smith College. Before joining SNHU, Dr. Nordmeyer taught developmental psychology at Stanford University. She is currently working on several manuscripts related to various psychology subjects. Dr. Nordmeyer has published several peer-review articles and contributed one chapter to the Thematic Approaches for Teaching Introductory Psychology textbook.
Dr. Ebony White is an assistant clinical professor of behavioral health counseling at Drexel. She earned a bachelor’s degree in psychology from Michigan State University, a master’s in mental health counseling, and a doctorate in counselor education from Montclair State University. She has worked with incarcerated women and men, homeless adults, clients with severe and persistent mental illness, clients with dual diagnoses, and adolescents with cognitive and behavioral concerns. Her current work is centered on mental health in urban communities. At Drexel, she teaches classes in cognitive behavioral counseling, group counseling, substance use counseling, and case management. Outside of class, Dr. White’s research covers advocacy and social justice within the African American community, focusing on the experiences of African American women and girls raised by women. She also studies multicultural issues in transracial adoption.