Why This Matters

  • THE U.S. HAS 2.3 MILLION PEOPLE IN PRISON

    Forensic psychologists primarily work with individuals in the criminal justice system, including evaluating competency for trial, counseling crime victims, and working with juvenile offenders.

  • CHOOSE FROM OVER 15 POSSIBLE CAREER PATHS

    You’ll need an advanced degree to qualify for the best-paying jobs, like director of nursing, oncology coordinator, and chief healthcare technology officer.

  • PREPARE FOR A PSYCHOLOGY DOCTORAL DEGREE

    Most states require psychologists have a PhD or PsyD degree in order to become licensed, and practice as a full-fledged psychologist. A master’s in forensic psychology is a key career stepping stone.

Our Research

For this list, we looked at both Master of Arts (MA) and Master of Science (MS) degrees in forensic psychology. MA degrees typically have a more humanities-focused approach, while MS degrees are rooted in scientific and research principles.

Although there is no specific accreditation for master’s in forensic psychology programs (the American Psychological Association only accredits doctoral programs in psychology), all of the programs on our list are at regionally accredited institutions. This accreditation ensures that the programs meet the highest standards of quality in education.

We reviewed both online and on-campus programs for this list, to get the largest range of top-tier programs. We then evaluated each program on the basis of course strength, cost, flexibility, faculty, and reputation, and gave them an Intelligent Score on a scale of 0 to 100. The top picks for best master’s in forensic psychology are highly regarded, flexible, and affordable. (For a more extensive explanation, check out Our Ranking Methodology.)

  • 83 hours to write this article
  • 131 universities and colleges we assessed
  • 432 education programs we compared

The Top 10 Master’s in Forensic Psychology Programs

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What You Should Know About This Degree

While a master’s degree in forensic psychology will give you valuable skills necessary for a career as a forensic psychologist, it is not considered a terminal degree in the field. In order to obtain a state-issued psychology license and become eligible for most jobs, you will need to earn either a Doctor of Psychology (PsyD) or Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) in psychology. At this stage, it’s important to consider how this additional commitment of time and money will fit into your lifestyle, budget, and career.

You should also think about whether you will pursue a PhD or PsyD, and research the requirements for any programs you may want to attend. This will help ensure that you select a master’s program that meets the requirements for your doctoral program of interest. Otherwise, you may have to take prerequisite coursework before enrolling in the doctoral program of your choice.

While most of the programs on our list are offered online, look carefully at all of their curricula, as some do have in-person requirements for residencies, capstone projects, or internships. If you are selecting an online program that requires occasional in-person attendance, make sure that this fits into your schedule and budget.

What’s Next?

Here are some questions to ask when researching Masters Forensic Psychology programs:

  • Am I eligible for this program? For some programs, you must have an undergraduate degree or undergraduate coursework in psychology, criminal justice, or a related field in order to qualify for admission. Check the admissions requirements for programs before applying to make sure you have the right academic background.
  • Does this school have an accelerated master’s-to-doctorate track? Because a doctorate degree is generally required for psychologists, some schools allow students to apply their master’s-level coursework towards their doctorate program. If you are planning to obtain your doctorate from the same school as your master’s, find out if they offer this option, as it can save you time and money in the future.

Throughout your research process, you should also keep track of schools’ admissions procedures and deadlines, to ensure that your application process is smooth and stress-free. You should also consider your options for financing your graduate education. This can include loans, scholarships, assistantships, and tuition benefits from your employer.