Forensic psychology is a fascinating and versatile field which combines psychology, law and criminal justice. This essentially means that to become a forensic psychologist, you will be required to take courses in criminal behavior, abnormal psychology, legal studies, etc. You can then apply the principles of psychology in courtrooms, interrogation rooms and in other legal places on the basis of the knowledge gained from the above courses. A bachelor’s degree in forensic psychology will enable you to pursue different careers in social work, victim advocacy, law enforcement and corrections.
Role of a Forensic Psychologist
Usually, forensic psychologists work with the legal system and the court and help in its efficient functioning and help to facilitate the legal process by offering their psychological expertise to different individuals working in the legal system. The understanding of some facets of psychological health can help juries, court cases, determine why certain crimes are being committed and also play an important role in the legal system.
Forensic psychologists offer advice to assess petitioning parties, trial counsel and witnesses on behalf of attorneys or judges and conduct research to determine why the testimony of an eyewitness is unreliable or why juries vote in certain ways. A forensic psychologist may act as an expert witness to explain a complicated psychological concept to the jury, offer advice to a lawyer about the state of mind of an individual or assess if a defendant is competent to attend the trial.
Forensic psychologists are also employed in prisons and jails and provide education and rehabilitative treatment to the inmates to prepare them for their return to the world outside. Forensic psychologists are also hired to assist the police departments as profilers or consultants.
Requirements for a Forensic Psychologist
Usually, forensic psychologists begin their education with a general psychology degree at the undergraduate level. Here, you can understand the concepts and principles of psychology, core methodologies and then develop your clinical proficiency and narrow your focus to pursuing a forensic psychology degree at the graduate level.
Since the profession of a forensic psychologist is highly specialized, you should have a doctoral degree in psychology. And, once you have a degree, you must also complete 2,000 hours of an approved postdoctoral training program or have 1,000 hours of professional experience. Apart from this, you will also need to complete 100 hours of further education. Finally, to practice legally, you must pass a licensing exam from the ABPP (American Board of Professional Psychologists) and meet any other licensing requirements of the state.
Online Forensic Psychology Degree
You can earn a degree in forensic psychology by pursuing bachelor’s, master’s or doctoral forensic psychology programs online. The bachelor’s and master’s programs introduce you to the basics of theory, as well as, the practice of forensic psychology, thus paving the way to getting a doctoral degree.
Typically, the forensic psychology programs online are just like any on-campus course as you need to complete all the courses and assignments that are completed by the regular residential students. However, since the online programs don’t prepare you for licensure, they don’t include any clinical experience, which means that you can finish the entire program remotely. You will be required to complete an internship when pursuing your doctoral degree.
The best part of online forensic psychology programs is that they are flexible, convenient and affordable. You can complete your coursework at your own pace and fix your own schedule. The online format allows you to continue your education while taking care of other professional and personal commitments.
Online Forensic Psychology Programs
There are not too many online forensic psychology courses around – even then, the ones that exist are reputable and highly rated by both staff and students.
Let’s take a look at some of the best online programs you can enroll in today!
Colorado State University (Global Campus)
The online program from Colorado State University allows you to earn a Bachelor’s in Applied Social Sciences with a criminal forensics specialization. However, the degree can rival any other forensic psychology program in terms of the comprehensiveness and variety of the curriculum. The program’s core courses include topics such as evaluation of research and theory in the social sciences and human development, etc. while the specialization courses include forensic psychology, forensic interviewing, criminal investigation, etc. The average fees for the program is around $8,400 per annum.
University of South Florida
The Online Criminology Degree from the University of South Florida mainly comprises electives, which means that you will need to take 12 credits from the core courses but 24 credits from the approved electives. USF’s program is so flexible that you can easily convert it into an online criminal psychology degree. You can choose courses such as abnormal behavior, patterns of criminal behavior, criminal investigation, victimology and forensic psychology and get a complete degree in forensic psychology. The average fees for the program is around $11,800 per annum.
Western Kentucky University
The WKU offers a BA degree in criminology and the program’s electives cover all the topics from the forensic psychology curriculum such as victimology, abnormal psychology, drug abuse, family violence, etc. and the program has core courses like Juvenile Delinquency, Social Deviance, etc. The BA in criminology from WKU does not require a capstone project or an internship and you require to complete a 1-credit senior seminar in the final semester. The average fees for the program is around $17,800 per annum.
The Bachelor in Forensic Psychology covers both psychology and criminal topics equally. The main focus initially is on psychology and the major requirements include classes in social and developmental psychology, behavioral research and statistics. Later, the classes focus on the forensics aspect via classes such as criminal behavioral analysis and criminology. Also, you can select 4 forensic psychology electives from options such as criminalistics, constitutional law and interviews and interrogation. The skills that you learn will be put into practice when you complete the capstone project and a 3-credit internship. The fees for the program is around $20,970 per annum (approx.).
The job market for forensic psychologists is growing and according to the BLS (Bureau of Labor Statistics), by the year 2026, the jobs in the forensic psychology field is expected to grow by 11%. And, if you’re planning to get a degree in forensic psychology and are looking for flexibility and convenience to pursue the degree while also taking care of your family and work commitments, then taking up an online forensic psychology program is the best option.