Forensic psychologists often appear as characters on crime television dramas like Law & Order and Criminal Minds. However, these psychologists do much more than simply sit on witness stands. Forensic psychologists use psychological practices to understand the motivations behind people who commit crimes. Interest in psychology has always been relatively high; in 2014-2015, nearly 120,000 bachelor’s degrees in psychology were conferred by colleges and universities in the US. Many online colleges offer a concentration in forensics that students can add to their bachelor’s in psychology.
Accreditation guarantees that schools meet specific standards of education, including academic review and qualified faculty. Accreditation is very important when it comes to picking a reputable school. Unaccredited schools are often non-reciprocal, meaning that degrees and credits may not be recognized by employers and other academic institutions.
A school might be accredited regionally or nationally, but regional accreditation is generally more desirable. Regional accrediting agencies are highly standardized; degrees and earned credits from regionally accredited schools are more easily transferrable to other institutions. In addition to regional accreditation, some majors may also have field-specific accreditation. For example, psychology degree programs may also be accredited by the American Psychological Association, a well-known field-specific accrediting agency and organization.
The Department of Education and the Council for Higher Education Accreditation offer comprehensive databases of all regionally and nationally accredited institutions. Choosing a school from one of these lists is very important, as students enrolled in unaccredited schools are also ineligible to receive federal aid.
Eastern Kentucky University
|Value Score 7.42||
EKU offers an affordable online bachelor’s in forensic psychology that is ideal for students who want to continue their studies in forensics at the graduate level. Graduates are prepared to pursue careers as clinical psychologists, forensic psychologists, social workers, and more. They may also choose to continue their studies in graduate school. The 120-credit curriculum includes courses on a variety of topics, such as infant and child development, child psychopathology, and forensic psychology.
All courses are offered asynchronously online in eight-week terms, allowing students to complete coursework at their own pace. This online bachelor's in forensic psychology boasts a generous transfer credit policy, only requiring students to complete a minimum of 30 credits at EKU to graduate. Applicants must have a high school diploma or GED with a minimum GPA of 2.5 and submit valid ACT or SAT scores to be considered. EKU is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.
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Northwest Christian University
|Value Score 6.96||
NCU is a private college that is affiliated with the Disciples of Christ. The school offers a bachelor of science in psychology with a concentration in forensic psychology program that can be completed either on-campus or entirely online. This online bachelor's in forensic psychology program delivers programs asynchronously in eight-week sessions, allowing students to complete coursework at their own pace. Students also benefit from being able to begin the program at any of the school's six start dates throughout the year.
Core coursework within the forensic psychology concentration covers a variety of topics, including theories of personality, addictive behaviors, counseling skills, and trauma. Students must also enroll in two electives, which can cover topics like victimology, criminology, or the juvenile justice system. NCU is accredited by the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities.
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Arizona State University-Tempe
|Value Score 6.58||
ASU is one of the nation's largest universities and offers a variety of different specialization and pre-professional programs, including an online bachelor of science in psychology with a concentration in forensic psychology. This 120-credit program includes 39 courses on topics like abnormal psychology, substantive criminal law, and forensic psychology. Coursework also includes forensic labs and optional internship opportunities. ASU's forensic psychology online bachelor's program delivers courses asynchronously, allowing students to complete coursework at their own pace.
Students must earn at least 30 credits of coursework from ASU to graduate from this Online bachelor’s degree in forensic psychology. Graduates are prepared to pursue careers as addictions counselors, crime scene investigators, and clinical psychologists. Applicants must meet at least one of the following three requirements to be considered: be in the top 25% of their high school graduating class, have a minimum GPA of 3.0, or an ACT score of 24 (22 for Arizona residents) or an SAT score of 1110 (1040 for Arizona residents). ASU is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.
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Union Institute & University
|Value Score 5.98||
UI&U specializes in distance education, but also operates a central campus in Cincinnati, Ohio, and satellite campuses in California, Florida, and Vermont. One of the school’s most popular programs is its BA in psychology that includes an optional concentration in forensic psychology. This 120-credit program is clinically-focused and prepares graduates to continue their path toward becoming a clinical psychologist or counselor in graduate school. Students may begin an MA in clinical mental health counseling during their final semester, applying all previous undergraduate coursework towards their graduate degree. Graduates are also prepared to pursue careers as forensic psychologists in a variety of criminal justice-related work environments, including police departments or federal agencies. The curriculum emphasizes the intersection of psychology and law and is taught by professional psychologists who have considerable experience in the field. UI&U is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.
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|Value Score 5.26||
Faulkner is a private liberal arts school affiliated with the Churches of Christ that is located in Montgomery, Alabama. The school offers a variety of distance learning programs, including a bachelor’s in forensic psychology online program. This 121-credit program includes 71 credits of major coursework that covers topics like conflict management, criminology, and criminal behavior psychology.
The core curriculum also includes 18 credits in Christian literacy, including studies in Christian ethics, understanding the Bible, and biblical worldview. As such, all applicants should be aware that their Faulkner education will be grounded in a Christian worldview. Applicants must have a high school diploma or GED and submit valid ACT or SAT scores to be considered. Faulkner is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.
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What Can I Do With a Bachelor’s in Forensic Psychology Degree?
Students in forensic psychology go on to pursue a number of interesting and exciting career paths. While some may enter the job field with only a bachelor’s degree, most jobs in psychology require graduate education and additional licensing. The list below outlines a few potential careers in forensic psychology.
Most psychologists focus in a specific area of the field, such as forensics or working with young children. To become a licensed psychologist, you must earn a doctorate degree and pass a licensing exam.
Projected Growth Rate 19%
Detectives are responsible for investigating crimes, collecting evidence, and interrogating suspects. Detectives may work locally or for the federal government as special agents in the FBI and other investigative agencies.
Projected Growth Rate 4%
Probation Officer/Correctional Treatment Specialist
Probation officers and correctional treatment specialists help people convicted of crimes to reintegrate back into society. People in these professions provide the necessary support and structure offenders need after being released from jail. Probation officers work to prevent criminal offenders from committing more crimes.
Projected Growth Rate 4%
Social workers help the most vulnerable people in society, including abused children, homeless people, military families, and the elderly. Clinical social workers provide therapy and counseling to those in need. Clinical social workers generally hold a professional license and a master’s degree, while traditional social workers need only a bachelor’s degree.
Projected Growth Rate 12%
Substance Abuse and Behavioral Disorder Counselor
Addiction counselors work in rehabilitation centers, prisons, private practices, and mental health facilities. They help those dealing with addiction to modify their behaviors and discontinue drug use.
Projected Growth Rate 22%
Educational Paths for Graduates of Forensic Psychology Programs
Even though there are job options for those who earn an online bachelor’s in forensic psychology, it is more common for graduates with this degree to go on and pursue further education. To work as a psychologist in any capacity, you must hold a professional license. Licensing generally requires at least a master’s degree, as well as postgrad internships and experience. Those with an online bachelor’s in forensic psychology can go on to earn their master’s and Ph.D in psychology, forensic psychology, or criminology.
What Will I Learn in My Bachelor’s in Forensic Psychology Program?
- Introduction to Forensic Psychology This course covers fundamental forensic psychology principles such as criminal insanity, lie detection, and threat assessment. Students learn about evaluation and treatment of criminal offenders and their victims.
- Psychology of Trauma The study of trauma is an important part of any psychology-based program. Trauma plays an important role in how a person’s mind develops; understanding its effects is essential to any psychological practice. This course covers fundamentals of trauma theory, as well as the physical and biological effects of trauma.
- Criminology This course covers criminological theory, as well as the legal, social, and ethical implications of criminal behavior. The class looks at criminology through a historical lens, offering a look at how ideas about crime and punishment have changed over time.
- Criminal Law and Procedure Most online bachelor’s in forensic psychology will cover the basics of criminal law. Students will learn about the US legal system and the investigative process.
- Personality Theory Students will learn about cognitive, humanistic, trait, and psychoanalytic personality theories. Theories of personality explain how a person’s habits, attitudes, environment, and intelligence influence their behavior.
Employment Outlook for Bachelor’s in Forensic Psychology Graduates
Bachelor’s in Forensic Psychology Salary
There are a number of career options for those with degrees in forensic psychology; however, many of these career paths require graduate education. That’s not to say that those with a bachelor’s degree won’t find interesting and rewarding jobs in the field, as well as competitive salaries. Professionals with an online bachelor’s degree in forensic psychology can pursue a job as a social worker, guidance counselor, detective, victim advocate, affirmative action officer, or parole officer. The table below describes potential earnings for professionals with an online bachelor’s in forensic psychology.
|Job Title||Overall Median Salary||Median Salary for Entry-Level Employees (0-5 years)||Median Salary for Mid-Career Employees (5-10 years)||Median Salary for Late-Career Employees (20+ years)|
|Clinical Social Worker||$53,102||$48,691||$55,454||$63,845|
|Detective or Criminal Investigator||$57,398||$49,947||$54,975||$66,504|
Forensic Psychology Licensure and Certification
Not all careers in the field of forensic psychology require special certifications or licensure, but often times these certifications and licenses can lead to more job opportunities and higher salaries. The list below details a few of the certifications you might obtain while on the path to becoming a practicing psychologist.
- American Board of Professional Psychology: Although not necessarily required, being board certified will help your career. This organization certifies that practicing psychologists are providing quality care to patients, and offers a searchable database for users to find certified therapists near them.
- Association of State and Provincial Psychology Boards: Most states have their own requirements for obtaining professional licensure in psychology. This association connects those seeking licensure with the correct agencies in their area.
Financing Your Online Bachelor’s in Forensic Psychology Program
Financial aid makes pursuing an online bachelor’s in forensic psychology even more affordable. The first and most important step is to complete the Free Application for Student Aid, or FAFSA, each year you are enrolled. This application connects you with any available federal funding, including grants and scholarships (which do not have to be paid back) and loans (which do). Students should also apply for scholarships from professional agencies and nonprofits. Below is a list of some of the scholarships that forensic psychology students can apply to.
Scholarships for Online Forensic Psychology Bachelor’s Programs
CIA Undergraduate Scholarship Program ~$18,000
Scholarship Deadline: August 31
Eligibility Requirements: Must be a current high school senior or college freshman/sophomore. Must demonstrate financial need and academic excellence.
Minority Student Scholarship $500
Scholarship Deadline: December 24
Eligibility Requirements: Must be a current college student. Must be a minority and a US citizen.
1000 Dreams Fund $1,000
Scholarship Deadline: November 3
Eligibility Requirements: Must identify as a woman and must be attending high school or college.
Niche “No Essay” Scholarship $2,000
Scholarship Deadline: October 31
Eligibility Requirements: Must be a legal resident of US and must attend a school listed on the Niche website.