An online forensic psychology degree prepares students for jobs in the legal sector. Forensic psychology is the intersection of psychology and criminal justice and students need a solid grounding in both backgrounds. Most forensic psychologists assess people in the legal system to learn information used during court proceedings. This might include assessing whether a person is competent to stand trial, whether they are legally sane, and whether they are likely to commit more crimes.
Students take courses in subjects ranging from behavioral psychology to psychology and the law. They may also take courses such as psycho-pharmacology, which allows them to understand how drugs affect the brain. This is an important factor in many legal proceedings involving drug users. Practical courses such as conflict management may also be part of the degree program and those who wish to specialize in children or the elderly may take pediatric or geriatric psychology courses.
How to Find the Top Online Forensic Psychology Degree Programs
The best online forensic psychology degree programs are those that are accredited and taught according to strict standards by competent universities. Often, but not always, this means that these programs are attached to universities that also have brick and mortar facilities and on-campus classes. Because of increased demand and access to high-speed Internet, there are many high ranking universities that offer online programs these days.
An example of a program that fits the above definition of the best Online Forensic Psychology Degree programs is the Masters of Arts in forensic psychology offered online from the University of North Dakota. It is a regionally-accredited school that has an on-campus sister program which is identical to the online one. A bachelor’s degree in a related field such as psychology, social work, sociology, counseling or criminal justice is required. Tuition for the program is approximately $421 per credit and two weeks during the last summer of the program must be spent on campus, but no other physical residency is required.
For students without the required bachelor’s degree or who have a degree in another area, the B.A. in forensic psychology at Southern New Hampshire University as an option. This is also a regionally-accredited university, though SNHU is a private school where UND is a public university. Tuition for the B.A. in forensic psychology is $320 per credit hour.
Walden University offers a PhD program in forensic psychology that requires four 4-day residencies during completion of the program but is otherwise fully online. Walden is regionally accredited and charges $515 per credit hour in tuition for this Online Forensic Psychology Degree program. Each residency costs approximately $1100.
All three programs are eligible for federal financial aid, including loans and grants. Private scholarships and grants from the schools themselves are also available. UND offers the Ben and Ruth Gustafson Continuing Education Endowment for distance students. Walden U offers seven scholarships for their doctoral program students. SNHU offers at least six scholarships that online psychology students could potentially be eligible for.
Careers and Salaries for an Individual with an Online Forensic Psychology Degree
For many forensic psychology careers, licensing is required. Each state maintains their own licensing requirements and determines how much and what type of training is required. In order to become a practicing psychologist most states require a doctoral degree; however, not all individuals in online forensic psychology degree careers work as licensed psychologists. They may also be employed as assistants under licensed psychologists or in industrial settings.
Online forensic psychology degree salaries cover a wide range. The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that all psychologists (of which forensic psychologists are a part) earned a median income of $89,900 in 2010. This figure may be less for people with online forensic psychology degrees who are not licensed psychologists, however.