Master’s in Forensic Psychology | Salary & Requirements 2023

Written by Matt Cates
Published on December 27, 2022 · Updated on March 23, 2023

Master’s in Forensic Psychology | Salary & Requirements 2023

Written by Matt Cates
Published on December 27, 2022 · Updated on March 23, 2023

Introduction to Forensic Psychology

Forensic psychology is a relatively young sub-field of psychology, but there’s not a psychology specialization more prominent on the cultural landscape. From true crime podcasts to blockbuster films and TV shows, the intersection of law and psychology is a convenient location for gripping narratives.

Earning a forensic psychology graduate degree prepares students with the necessary skills for careers in fields such as criminal justice, healthcare, and private practice. Forensic psychologists boast strong analytical and problem-solving skills and utilize their training to objectively analyze various legal proceedings from a psychological angle.

In this ultimate guide to forensic psychology, we’ll explore the field of forensic psychology, its career prospects, and how you can begin your forensic psychology career. Keep reading to learn more about this fascinating and growing career option!

What Does a Forensic Psychologist Do?

Forensic psychology exists at the intersection of law and psychology. Workers in this profession utilize their years of academic work and hands-on experience to lend their expertise to various civil and criminal legal proceedings ranging from murder investigations to custody battles.

Forensic psychologists work in various professional settings, including law enforcement, private practice, and other governmental positions. Other careers for forensic psychologists include detectives, correctional psychologists, and legal consultants. 

The most common duty of a forensic psychologist is performing a psychological assessment of people who find themselves involved in the legal and court setting. 

Clinical and communication skills are extremely important in this job to successfully conduct:

  • Interviews
  • Draft reports
  • Conduct investigations
  • Research studies
  • Consultation
  • Development of treatment programs
  • Witness courtroom testimony


A forensic psychologist may be involved with many types of court cases including:

  • Threat assessments for schools
  • Child custody evaluations
  • Competency evaluations of defendants and the elderly 
  • Counseling services for victims
  • Death notification procedures
  • Screening and selection of law enforcement applicants
  • Assessment of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
  • Forensic psychologists are also involved in court cases involving “mens rea” or insanity cases where they assess the defendant to establish if they knew what they were doing was wrong at the time of the crime.


Students pursuing a Master’s in Forensic Psychology tackle a mix of foundational psychology classes and specialized courses in forensic psychology. Standard forensic psychology major classes include topics such as criminal behavior, forensic assessment, mental health issues in policing, and eyewitness testimony and memory.

The following sections will help you understand if the career is right for you, offer a few career options, and list the steps individuals can take to begin their forensic psychology career. We’ll even give a short list of some of the best colleges for forensic psychology, to help you start your college program search! 


How to Know if You Would Enjoy Being a Forensic Psychologist

Aspiring forensic psychologists need strong communication skills, a sharp eye for detail, and critical thinking skills. And obviously, you should have an interest in mental health issues! You’ll also need compassion, patience, and resilience to deal with many of the complex and sometimes disturbing cases that come across your desk. 

The people you come in contact with may be victims of various forms of abuse, criminals who have inflicted violence on others, or a combination of both. Suffice it to say, this line of work isn’t for the faint of heart, but if you want to be involved in the world of criminal justice, this is certainly a career field where you can make a difference. 

Continue reading as we outline the steps you can take to become a forensic psychologist.


What is a Master’s in Forensic Psychology?

There are many careers in forensic psychology that only require a master’s degree, becoming a licensed forensic psychologist requires a PhD or doctor of psychology degree (PsyD). To be accepted into a PhD or doctorate program, you must first obtain a bachelor’s degree, which doesn’t have to be in psychology (but it often helps!) 

Some PhD or PsyD programs require a master’s degree, and others offer a combined degree program that results in both a master’s and doctorate degree. 

Online Bachelor’s Degree in Forensic Psychology

If you already know that you want to be a forensic psychology major, then obtaining a bachelor’s degree (BA or BS) in psychology or criminal justice is the first step in moving toward your goal. It is also recommended that you take courses in forensics and abnormal psychology. 

Some schools offer bachelor’s degree programs that specifically focus on and prepare you for a career in forensic psychology, while others offer a general psychology degree with forensic psychology classes.


What to Expect from a Master’s in Forensic Psychology Program

A Master’s in Forensic Psychology will feature a rigorous curriculum designed to empower graduates to move on to a PhD or PsyD program. Some graduates can start working with a master's degree. This degree can take 2-3 years if attending full-time, and up to twice as long for part-time students. 

Common post-graduation employment settings include:

  • Addiction service centers
  • Child care and child advocacy agencies
  • Community mental health centers
  • Family, civil and criminal courts
  • Clinics and hospitals
  • Military agencies
  • Juvenile facilities
  • Law enforcement/police departments
  • Prisons/jails
  • Probation and parole services
  • Protective services
  • Research/risk-assessment agencies
  • State forensic units
  • Social service agencies
  • Trial consulting services


Potential Classes for a Master’s in Forensic Psychology Degree

There are a vast array of psychology courses offered in a graduate-level forensic psychology degree program that include both core curriculum classes and specialty courses you can tailor to your goals and interests. If you plan to focus on forensic psychology, expect the following types of classes:

  • Advanced Correctional Psychology
  • Advanced Legal Psychology
  • Advanced Social Psychology
  • Behavior Pathology
  • Diversity Psychology
  • Eyewitness Testimony & Memory
  • Psychopathology
  • Qualitative Analysis


Master’s Degree in Forensic Psychology Programs Prerequisites

Every school is different, but here are a few of the standard prerequisites you’ll need to meet. 

You will need a bachelor’s, preferably in a related subject like psychology or criminal justice, though that isn’t a strict requirement in all cases. At worst, you might need to take some prerequisite classes to get caught up so you’ll be ready for graduate-level coursework.
Schools will post their “minimum” GPA requirement, which may be 2.5 or 3.0. Keep in mind, meeting the minimum is no guarantee you’ll be competitive against other applicants that year. 

Graduate Record Examination (GRE) scores are a common requirement but can often be waived. Many programs temporarily did away with their GRE requirements due to Covid. Some online schools don’t need them but will accept them if you think they’ll help your package. Double check with the school or program’s website for current requirements. 

Remember, a college may have different requirements for acceptance into their grad school versus another program! A program’s requirements could be much stricter than the grad school’s general requirements, and you must qualify for both. Check your potential school’s admissions websites very carefully to make sure you meet ALL requirements.


Salary and Career Info for Forensic Psychologists

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), psychologists in general earn a median salary of about $81,000 per year, with the top 10% earning more than $133,890—experience and additional certifications can significantly enhance earning potential.

BLS also projects that the psychologist field will grow by as much as 8% between 2020 and 2030—this translates to the addition of a projected 13,500 jobs (but keep in mind that is only a projection and not a guarantee). 


What You Can Do with a Forensic Psychology Master’s Degree

Let’s examine a few career paths, median salaries, and projected job growth rates. Remember, average salary ranges can vary considerably based on many factors, including: 

  • Geographical region
  • Years of experience
  • Education
  • Type of institution (private, public)
  • Job market
  • Median Salary: $61,930
  • Career Outlook: +16% (2020-2030)

Forensic science technicians help collect and analyze data evidence and data related to a crime scene.


  • Median Salary: $81,041
  • Career Outlook: +8% (2020-2030)

Forensic psychologists seek to understand people’s thoughts, emotions, and behavior that pertain to a legal case.


  • Median Salary: $60,250
  • Career Outlook: +4% (2020-2030)

Probation officers provide social services and rehabilitation to people who have been in trouble with the law.


  • Median Salary: $66,020
  • Career Outlook: +7% (2020-2030)

Police officers protect lives and property, while detectives focus on gathering facts, data, and evidence to help solve crimes.


Forensic Psychology By State 

BLS doesn’t list state breakdowns for employment levels of forensic psychologists. However, the states with the highest employment levels for Forensic Science Techs are California, Florida, Texas, Arizona, and New York. Meanwhile, for clinical and counseling psychologists, the highest employment states are California, New York, Illinois, Texas, and Massachusetts. 

Note, the above states may have the most jobs, but competition may be higher, too. Check out the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ geographic profiles in the links above to find out which states have the highest concentration of jobs (in other words, states with the highest employment per thousand jobs). 


Forensic Psychology Degrees

It probably goes without saying, the more advanced a degree you hold, the more income potential you’ll have as well as the more job opportunities. Graduates holding a Master’s in Forensic Psychology can certainly find ample work options, but to be a full-fledged psychologist you’ll need to keep going to earn a PhD or PsyD. This can add a few years to your graduation time frame, but many people take jobs after earning their master’s then work on their PhD/PsyD part-time, via night or online classes. In the end, the decision to pursue an advanced degree beyond your Master’s in Forensic Psychology depends entirely on your long-term goals. 


Best Colleges for Forensic Psychology

There’s no shortage of universities offering high-quality online and traditional Master’s Degrees in Forensic Psychology. The trick is finding the best one for your unique background, needs, and goals.

For instance, if you’re currently working full- or part-time, the flexibility of an accredited online degree might be beneficial. Alternatively, if you have plenty of free time, a solid GPA, strong application materials, and can afford (or get a scholarship for) a private institution, you could consider traditional attendance at any of the best colleges for forensic psychology in the nation. There are options for anyone and everyone who wants to go to college! 

Individuals must evaluate their career goals, personal circumstances, and finances to choose an institution that best suits their needs. However, many great options exist, including these undergraduate programs identified by

1. University of Denver

The University of Denver’s forensic psychology program prepares students that would like to apply the principles of psychology to interviews and mental assessments in the criminal justice sector. This program includes courses that teach students how to assess, communicate with, and structure sessions with eyewitnesses, police officers, and defendants. Classes are available both in-person and remotely, though some required courses may include in-person instruction at police precincts in the Denver metro. Students at the University of Denver are also encouraged to observe practicing forensic psychologists to further their professional experience before graduation.

2. CUNY John Jay College of Criminal Justice

For students interested in pursuing a forensic psychology degree in New York City, CUNY’s John Jay College of Criminal Justice offers a competitive track with ample professional observation opportunities at local precincts and jails in the New York metro area. Undergraduates are advised to apply to internships during their degree program and in summer breaks to gain hands-on experience that will be invaluable when they apply for professional roles post-graduation.

3. Washington University in St Louis

Washington University St. Louis has a forensic psychology program that emphasizes courses in psychology and mental health disorders and is structured to prepare students for professional roles upon completion of their bachelor’s. This program is to be completed in four years and provides students with a range of local internship opportunities in the St. Louis metro, along with seminars to provide professional observation and guidance before entering the workforce.

4. University of North Dakota

The forensic psychology program at the University of North Dakota offers classes geared toward students preparing to enter into the field as a psychologist, therapist, or parole officer. In the classroom, students have opportunities to study mental illness, complete observational labs with local law enforcement, and attend off-campus internships at private practices.

5. Kean University

Kean University offers a Bachelor’s Degree in Forensic Psychology program for students in New York City that have an interest in working with law enforcement to psychologically assess suspects, victims, and police officers at a crime scene. Courses that contribute to this program include mental development, psychological analysis, and ethics. Graduates should be aware Kean has a large network locally to assist recent graduates in post-graduation job placement.

6. Florida Institute of Technology

The Florida Institute of Technology offers undergraduates the opportunity to enroll in their forensic psychology program, which is the first step for students interested in working with police departments and investigators to interview and assess suspects, victims, and fellow officers. It is common for students to take classes in psychology and mental disorders as an introduction to the broader field, along with hands-on labs to familiarize themselves with the rules for interaction and communication in a legal capacity. FIT offers a four-year path with opportunities to apply to internships at schools locally in the Orlando metro area to gain real-world experience.

7. Northcentral University

Northcentral University’s Forensic Psychology program is structured to prepare students interested in pursuing a career in psychology working with law enforcement and crime scene investigation. Applicants should note that practicum and internship experience is critical to this major and that graduates typically enter the workforce immediately after graduation. Students in this program can expect to find job opportunities in the Phoenix metro and will have access to their alumni network that will help when pursuing full-time employment.

8. The College of Saint Rose

The College of Saint Rose offers 1 Forensic Psychology degree program. It's a small, private not-for-profit, four-year university in a small city. In 2020, 13 forensic psychology students graduated with students earning 13 Bachelor's degrees.

9. University of Houston-Victoria

For Houston residents with aspirations of pursuing a degree in forensic psychology, the University of Houston - Victoria offers a four-year program designed to prepare students for jobs working directly with law enforcement and criminal suspects immediately after graduation. Students are advised to take classes in psychology and mental health disorders, as well as in-person internships at law enforcement agencies to gain experience working in a legal setting with suspects and practicing forensic psychologists.

10. George Washington University

The forensic psychology program at George Washington University provides a foundation for undergraduate students who want to become involved in assessing perpetrators and victims of crimes from a psychological perspective. Students interested in exploring this major learn how to observe suspects and structure interview sessions, and it is common for undergraduates to complete an on or off-campus internship at a police department or private investigator locally in the Washington D.C. metro, which helps many students develop professional relationships and references for when they graduate.


Check out our full list of the Best Colleges for Forensic Psychology in the U.S.

If you’re looking for other schools that offer Master’s in Forensic Psychology degree programs, check out the Find Your Perfect “U” tool. You can search over 6,000 colleges and universities with 11 different filters to find the perfect school for you!


How Long Does It Take to Become a Forensic Psychologist?

On average, a Master’s Degree in Psychology program usually takes about two years to complete, though this timeline depends on:

  • Whether you study online
  • Full-time or part-time learning
  • Previous education
  • Your specialization
  • How long it takes to complete your thesis project 
  • Master’s programs in psychology typically require about 40-semester credits depending on the area of concentration and program modality.


The total time it takes to become a forensic psychologist can vary dramatically between students, but most take about ten years following graduation from high school. Future forensic psychologists follow this timeline:

  • Four years for a bachelor’s degree
  • Two years for a master’s degree
  • Four-to-five years for their doctoral degree 


Enrolling as a full-time or part-time student can impact a professional timeline. Some individuals can accelerate the process by gaining admission into a doctoral program after completing a bachelor’s degree. 

Adult students and working professionals can seek out online programs. These flexible academic options allow students the freedom to meet academic requirements while keeping up with personal and professional obligations. Additionally, programs with asynchronous delivery allow students to complete class requirements at their own pace.

Online programs can also be cheaper than in-person options. Online students avoid various on-campus fees and extraneous costs incurred by travel and campus housing.

Graduate programs in forensic psychology require the completion of 48-60 credit hours. In terms of time, this translates to 2-3 years of full-time study. Going part-time can double your estimated completion time, turning two years into four. In fact, if you’re only able to take one class per term, it might take up to five or more. But don’t let that discourage you. Slow and steady wins the race!

Programs are all slightly different, and a few schools offer accelerated learning options to help you finish faster. Online school counseling programs are especially keen on ensuring students can complete requirements in as little time as possible, however, most still require at least 24 months. 

Many online students are super busy with other obligations such as work or family, but they work around those to pursue their advanced degrees. Online programs expedite the process by delivering lessons at your fingertips and eliminating the need to commute. Not having to radically alter your schedule allows you to take more courses per term! 

Another factor that impacts the length of time it takes to graduate is previous education. Many students hold transferable grad credits, which, if accepted, can cut the timeline down by up to a few months. Check with the school and program if you have credits that could potentially be transferred. 

Note: Transfer credits usually need to be relatively current to qualify, and there’s a cap to how many can be transferred. There’s no guarantee a program will accept transfer credits, so if you have a lot of them, shop around for programs that’ll take as many as possible. 

Upon completion of graduate studies, factor in some time to pass a licensing or certification exam.


Online vs. On-Campus Forensic Psychology Degrees

Some majors are far more conducive to online learning than others. STEM majors, for example, require ample hands-on learning in labs and workshops, making on-campus attendance more logical. By contrast, certain liberal arts degrees are taught via distance learning just as well as through traditional methods. 

A Master’s in Forensic Psychology is a great major to study online! Many schools offer hybrid or online programs, with only brief residencies and practicums required. Note, forensic psychology programs may also require an internship or work experience that will have to be completed in person.

While traditional attendance is still quite popular, online higher ed options are just as well-recognized as their in-person counterparts. Meanwhile, there are unbeatable advantages to going online, such as being able to participate in a program that’s not in your state, having zero commute, and learning at your own pace. 

The biggest benefits of online learning include:

  • Flexibility and self-paced learning
  • Better time management
  • Improved virtual and communication and collaboration
  • No commute
  • Faster graduation times
  • Ability to work from anywhere


Naturally, online students miss some of the live social components of in-person attendance, but at the end of the day, most adult learners just want to focus on getting their education so they can pursue the job they want. 


How Long do Online Courses Take to Complete?

When it comes to online learning, there’s no one-size-fits-all approach. Some programs offer synchronous courses that allow distance learners to attend lectures simultaneously with on-campus peers. More common are asynchronous courses, taught through pre-recorded lectures that can be viewed anytime. 

While online education is more convenient, some programs are taught via a hybrid method. Hybrid programs and courses integrate an online portion of the material into a traditional class. 

Some schools offer compressed 7.5-week asynchronous courses online. Synchronous courses follow the same schedule as live classes, which are not usually compressed, so classes may run for 15-16 weeks. Summer classes may only be 10- to 12-weeks long.


Applying to Master’s in Forensic Psychology Programs

Every school is different, but here are a few of the basic, most common admission requirements.

Admission Requirements for Master’s in Forensic Psychology Programs

You will need a bachelor’s, of course, but there’s no hard admittance requirement to possess an undergraduate degree in any specific major. 

Students may find it easier to excel in a graduate program if they’ve established a solid foundation in the fundamentals. Ideally, a degree in either psychology or criminal justice would obviously be perfect for paving the way to your Master’s in Forensic Psychology! Holding such a degree will also make you more competitive to the graduate admissions committee. Even though a school might theoretically take applicants holding “any” undergraduate degree, they may prefer those with a degree in psychology. 

Another common prerequisite is a minimum GPA, but you’ll usually need something higher than the minimum in order to be competitive. 

If a program lists a minimum of a 2.5 GPA to qualify, that simply means they won’t consider anything less than 2.5. It doesn’t mean they’ll take every applicant with a 2.5 or higher.  

The more applicants they receive, the higher they can raise the bar that year. In other words, their internal GPA cutoff to qualify could be 2.8, 3.0, 3.5…you never know! 

So, as you review a program’s website, don’t just look at the minimum GPA requirements. Look for average cutoffs from previous cycles to see the “real” GPA minimums for those who got accepted. 

Most programs want your Graduate Record Examination (GRE) scores, though some may waive these or not request them at all. Many schools suspended GRE requirements because of Covid. 
A common requirement is to submit at least one recommendation letter. Most programs require more than one, and these letters should ideally come from someone able to speak about your capacity to finish and succeed in a graduate-level program. No school wants to accept a student who might not finish or who cannot bring something to the table. 
Many schools request a statement outlining an applicant’s background and goals. There may be particular requirements or even questions or an essay prompt to consider. If you apply to more than one school, don’t turn in the same statement to each school! You have to review their guidelines and tailor your work accordingly. 
It’s not uncommon for some programs to request additional information related to your professional background. If you have to submit a resume or CV, make sure it is compelling, factual, and polished. Consider hiring an editor or resume writer to review for errors or ways to make it as engaging as possible! 

Yes, some grad schools conduct brief personal interviews! If this is starting to sound like a job, in a way, it is! Your academic success at their institution translates into their success as a school or program. That’s why so many schools publish their graduation rates and stats about how quickly graduates are placed in jobs. 

Colleges don’t just want your money; they are genuinely invested in your future success. Bear in mind many programs have limited slots available, meaning faculty and students will have to work closely together. It makes sense those smaller programs want to enroll students who will be active contributors! 

  • Sincerity - Grad school admissions boards are experts at telling when an applicant is being sincere. If you want to work as a Forensic Psychologist, you’ll need to be honest and earnest about yourself and your goals. 
  • Clarity - Be able to speak clearly and confidently during interviews. Study sample interview questions and conduct mock interviews in advance to prepare yourself.
  • Brevity - Many students get nervous going into interviews but stay focused and on topic while answering questions. 
  • Knowledgeable - It’s important to know about the program you’re applying to. Do your homework in advance to learn about the mission and values of the school and program. 
  • Professional - Come on time, be well-prepared and dressed for interview success
All schools require either official or unofficial transcripts of previous college credits. 
Ah, yes, the financial prerequisite of paying your application fees. Whether you get accepted or not, you must pay for the honor of getting to apply to any university program. These fees help cover their academic overhead, but they add up fast.


Next Steps to Become a Forensic Psychologist

One does not become a Forensic Psychologist overnight. The path to becoming a forensic psychology involves a mixture of education, practical experience, and licensure. Naturally, high school students will want to take college prep courses before starting their post-secondary educational journey! Following high school, your next steps are:

Step One: Earn a Bachelor’s Degree

The first step for individuals pursuing a forensic psychology degree and career begins with their undergraduate education. Before enrolling in a master’s program, future forensic psychologists must complete a bachelor’s degree from an accredited college or university.

While undergraduate students don’t necessarily need to complete a psychology degree to gain admission into a psychology master’s/doctoral program, a bachelor’s in a relevant field can prepare students for graduate-level coursework. Some popular undergraduate degrees include psychology, criminal justice, and criminology.

Because an applicant’s GPA plays a significant role in the graduate admission process, undergraduates should work hard to maintain a GPA of 3.0 or higher.

Step Two: Complete a Master’s/Doctoral Degree in Psychology

To secure your psychology licensure, clinicians must complete a Doctoral Degree in Psychology. And while some psychology-related careers only require a master’s degree, those wanting to max out their career options and earning potential should complete a doctorate.

Most Master’s in Psychology programs require students to complete between 30 and 60 credits before graduation. Alongside core requirements, students often have the option to pursue academic concentrations in areas such as:

  • Clinical psychology
  • School psychology
  • Sports psychology
  • Forensic psychology

While the program length can vary between schools, most students spend about five years completing their Doctorate in Psychology. Most programs require that degree-seekers complete between 60 and 90 credits. Standard doctoral-level courses include research methods, professional ethics in psychology, and human development across the lifespan. Before graduation, students gain hands-on experience through an internship and clinical hours.

Doctoral applicants must submit a completed application along with GRE scores, letters of recommendation, a professional resume, and an admission essay outlining academic and career goals.

Step Three: Become Certified/Registered

Upon graduation, students can pursue clinical psychologist licensure. This involves passing the two-part Examination for Professional Practice in Psychology (EPPP), developed by the Association of State and Provincial Psychology Boards. 

Part 1 of the EPPP tests “Knowledge” and contains eight content areas:

  1. Biological bases of behavior
  2. Cognitive-affective bases of behavior
  3. Social and cultural bases of behavior
  4. Growth and lifespan development
  5. Assessment and diagnosis
  6. Treatment, intervention, prevention and supervision
  7. Research methods and statistics
  8. Ethical, legal, and professional issues

Part 2 of the EPPP tests “Skills” and covers six domains:

  1. Scientific orientation
  2. Assessment and intervention
  3. Relational competence
  4. Professionalism
  5. Ethical practice
  6. Collaboration, consultation, and supervision


The Association of State and Provincial Psychology Boards lists more information on state-specific licensure requirements. 

Additionally, the American Board of Professional Psychology (ABPP) offers multiple professional certifications for licensed psychologists. These professional certifications include forensic psychology, neuropsychology, and school psychology.  


Additional Forensic Psychology Education Requirements

If you want to continue your education beyond a master’s degree and become a licensed forensic psychologist, then you will need to do the following:

  1. Complete a PhD or doctorate of psychology degree program (PsyD)
  2. Complete an internship
  3. Take a licensing and board certification exam

Internships in Forensic Psychology

Psychology students usually complete an internship as part of a doctorate program. The internship allows you to gain hands-on, real-world experience in different aspects of criminal justice and legal settings. 

A sample of internship placements for forensic psychology include:

  • Prison internships
  • Medical setting internships
  • Government internships
  • Research internships

Where Can I Learn More About Becoming a Forensic Psychologist?

Professional organizations are a great way to learn about this exciting career field and stay up-to-date on current trends. They’re also invaluable for networking and exploring educational opportunities. 


Paying for a Master’s in Forensic Psychology

A popular question is “how much will grad school cost?” Specifically, a Master’s in Forensic Psychology? The truth is, costs vary so much that an “average” cost is virtually worthless for planning purposes. 

A very rough average of grad school tuition at traditional public schools is $30,000 a year, though prices could be several thousand more or less. The “average” for a private school might be closer to $40,000 a year, but an Ivy League will set you back far more. 

Most college students receive at least some financial aid via federal school grants or state and private scholarships which can offset costs significantly. However, attending an out-of-state university will drive costs through the roof! 

A modern alternative for those who want to go to a school that’s not in their state is simply applying to an online program. Numerous accredited colleges offer affordable online Master’s in Forensic Psychology degrees for under $15,000 in total costs. 


Master’s in Forensic Psychology Degree Costs

How much you’ll pay for a Master’s Degree in Forensic Psychology depends on a few factors: 

In-state versus out-of-state tuition – The fundamental truth behind this cost differential is that residents get a big tuition break because they or their families paid state taxes, which may have benefited the school. Students coming from outside the state didn’t contribute, so they get billed more. 

Is it worth it? That depends on how badly you want to attend a school outside your state. Keep in mind, you may qualify for larger financial aid awards that can compensate for the difference. Also, some students, such as military dependents, might qualify for waivers. 

Online versus traditional programs – In some cases, online programs offer reduced tuition rates compared to the same class taught in person. This is not always the case, so carefully check out the tuition pages of any school you’re thinking about. 

Application fees – Unless you get a waiver, expect to pay a general application fee to every school you apply to. Don’t discount this cost, because these fees can add up fast! 

Books and materials – Just as with your undergrad degree, expect a hefty price tag to go along with all those textbooks and other mandatory items required to purchase. Luckily, many online programs offer digital books and reference material, which might not have to be purchased. The downside is that you may need to print out some documents for easier note-taking or other purposes. Another cost-effective option is renting books. 

Internet, laptops, cameras, and other technology – Whether you attend classes live or online, you’ll need a good laptop. Online students might also opt to invest in an upgraded camera/mic to plug into their computer versus using the built-in ones. Students may also need to buy or otherwise have access to the Internet (usually via Wi-Fi) as well as a printer and scanner. 

Residency and practicum costs – Master’s in Forensic Psychology students will need to complete brief residencies and practica. These can entail transportation costs, as well as lodging for residencies outside of your local area. 



  • What does a forensic psychologist do?
    • Forensic psychologists have multiple responsibilities and utilize their expertise to conduct research, analyze data, and evaluate various elements of criminal activities. These professionals work closely with law enforcement and often testify in civil and criminal legal proceedings.
  • How long does it take to become a forensic psychologist?
    • The timeline can vary, but future forensic psychologists traditionally complete bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral degrees. This often takes students more than a decade to complete the required academic and licensure requirements.
  • What is the difference between a criminal psychologist and a forensic psychologist?
    • While criminal psychologists primarily focus on criminal behavior, forensic psychologists utilize their expertise in a broader range of legal proceedings and often take part in academic research.
  • What education do you need to be a forensic psychologist?
    • To begin a career as a forensic psychologist, students must complete both undergraduate and graduate-level coursework. The majority of forensic psychologists complete a doctoral degree over multiple years and meet various academic and professional benchmarks to secure licensure.
  • What do you major in to become a forensic psychologist?
    • To become a forensic psychologist, it is best to major in either psychology or criminal justice.
  • What can I do with a bachelor’s degree in forensic psychology?
    • There are many career options for people with a bachelor’s degree in forensic psychology including forensic scientist, probation officer, corrections officer, and crime analyst.
  • Is forensic psychology a good career?
    • Yes, forensic psychology is a great career choice and is expected to grow 8% between 2020-2030, while forensic science careers are expected to grow 16% in the same timeframe.
  • How hard is it to become a forensic psychologist?
    • To become a forensic psychologist you need to complete several years of rigorous schooling, internship programs, thesis projects, and license and board examinations. 


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