Earn Your Forensic Psychology Degree
- Accredited by NECHE
- Transfer up to 90 credits
- Study the intersection of psychology and law
- Earn a data literacy certificate
- No application fee or SAT/ACT scores required
Forensic Psychology Degree Concentration Overview
Pursue a career that combines psychology with fascinating aspects of criminal investigation and law by earning your Bachelor of Arts (BA) in Psychology with a concentration in Forensic Psychology.
Enjoy working with others and want to use your skills in a job that intersects with the legal field or justice system? Our online forensic psychology degree was created to help you go further. First, you'll work on building transferable skills. Then, you'll tailor your degree with in-depth forensic psychology courses, giving you a specialty that you can use to your advantage in your job search.
The forensic psychology concentration instills critical thinking and research skills while providing an overview of the field and the workings of the criminal mind. You’ll gain an understanding of anti-social behavior and what influences it, the ways in which crime impacts individuals and society and the interplay between psychology and the justice system.
And, with 39 free electives, and the added bonus of a 12-credit embedded certificate in Data Literacy in Psychology, this program is both beneficial and transfer-friendly.
In this program, you'll learn how to:
- Understand the interaction of abnormal psychology and criminal behavior
- Assess crime’s impact on individuals, groups and society
- Analyze psychosocial factors and motivations behind anti-social and criminal acts
- Validate social psychology's application in the courtroom
- Explain witness testimony and its role within the courtroom
- Apply psychological concepts to understanding criminal behavior
Upon graduating, you'll be prepared to either pursue careers spanning a broad range of fields or continue your studies by enrolling in a graduate psychology program.
8 Types of Psychology with Real-World Perspective
The study of psychology can be personally and professionally rewarding. Among the many concentrations in the field you can find diverse opportunities to learn about how people interact with one another in relationships, in the workplace and more.
With a bachelor's in forensic psychology, you'll have a thorough understanding of psychological principles and how to apply them to issues in the real world. While you might have your sights set on a job that involves investigating crimes or profiling criminals, it's important to know that earning your online forensic psychology degree can lead you down any number of career paths.
“It teaches us more than how psychology and the law work together," said Erica Durbin, a psychology instructor at SNHU. "It teaches us to think critically about our decisions and opinions.”
The research, statistical analysis and communication skills gained in forensic psychology courses can be applied to many different careers in government, criminal justice and the private sector. This concentration could help prepare you for a wide range of job opportunities, including:
- Crime analyst. Conduct surveys and research interviews to compile statistical data that informs legal decisions or policy recommendations. You'll work with law enforcement to devise crime reduction strategies.
- Victim advocate. Assist crime victims by providing emotional support, helping them through legal processes, connecting them to resources and helping them fill out paperwork. You will likely accompany victims and their families during court proceedings.
- Jury consultant. While being called for jury duty is a chance happening, being selected to serve on a trial is not. As a jury consultant, you'll research candidates' backgrounds, create profiles and assist in interviewing prospective jurors to determine those best fit for the jury.
- Police officer. Your understanding of criminal minds could be perfectly suited for a career in the police force. While you'll likely be in a patrol position for a few years before being recommended for promotion, your background in forensic psychology will be helpful in making your way to becoming a detective.
Note: Additional training, certification or experience may be required for certain jobs. A concentration in forensic psychology does not lead to any type of licensure or certification and does not qualify you for positions that require additional education and licensure, like a forensic psychologist.
You'll graduate with a broad set of skills you can apply in a variety of careers, particularly positions requiring an understanding of the ways in which psychology intersects with criminal behavior and the legal system. You’ll be able to use these skills immediately in a career or continue on to a graduate program.
Start Your Journey Toward an Online Forensic Psychology Degree Concentration
Why SNHU for Your Forensic Psychology Degree Concentration
With no set class meeting times, you can learn on your schedule and access online course materials 24/7.
Take advantage of some of the lowest online tuition rates in the nation, plus financial aid for those who qualify. We also make it easy to transfer to SNHU by accepting up to 90 credits from your previous institution.
Founded in 1932, Southern New Hampshire University is a private, nonprofit institution with over 100,000 graduates across the country. SNHU is regionally accredited by the New England Commission of Higher Education (NECHE), which advocates for institutional improvement and public assurance of quality.
Recently, SNHU has been nationally recognized for leading the way toward more innovative, affordable and achievable education:
- “Most Innovative” regional university honors from U.S. News & World Report each year since 2015
- A $1 million grant from Google.org to explore soft skills assessments for high-need youth
- Recognition as a 2017 Digital Learning Innovator by the Online Learning Consortium
At Southern New Hampshire University, you'll have access to a powerful network of more than 200,000 students, alumni and staff that can help support you long after graduation. Our instructors offer relevant, real-world expertise to help you understand and navigate the field. All students are invited to join the online SNHU Psychology Club and to tap into our growing nationwide network of alumni for internship and career opportunities.
96.5% of students would recommend SNHU.1 Discover why SNHU may be right for you.
Part of SNHU's mission statement is to expand access to quality higher education means removing the barriers that may stand between you and your degree. That’s why you can apply at any time and get an acceptance decision within days of submitting all of your required materials.
Decisions are made on a rolling basis throughout the year for our 6 (8-week) undergraduate terms.
How to Apply
Simply contact an admission counselor, who can help you explore financial options, answer all your questions and walk you through the application process. Start by:
- Completing a free undergraduate application
- Providing previous institutions attended – so we can retrieve transcripts for you at no cost
Test scores are not required as part of your application.
Courses & Curriculum
The online forensic psychology degree is based in a solid liberal arts foundation that provides a well-rounded education to support your study of psychology and beyond. This online psychology degree concentration will challenge you to apply your research skills, technical knowledge and critical thinking abilities to a variety of issues in the legal system.
“The forensic psychology concentration provides students with grounding in the foundations of forensic psychology with opportunities to practice and apply their learning,” said Dr. Michelle Hill, executive director of social sciences.
Throughout the forensic psychology program, you'll strengthen your skills in research and assessment, criminal psychology, social psychology and theories of personality. As part of the concentration, you'll be required to take the following forensic psychology courses:
- Forensic Psychology: Learn how to apply psychology to issues within the criminal justice system. Emphasizing the social psychology of the courtroom, course topics cover adolescent violence, witness interviews, recovered memories, expert testimony and factors affecting the credibility of witnesses, victims and offenders.
- Criminal Psychology: Understand crime from a psychological perspective. Focusing on the psychosocial environment's influence on offenders, this course gives you insight to analyze the motives behind criminal behavior.
To finish your concentration, you'll also be able to choose from classes like:
- Social Psychology: Learn how people's thoughts, feelings and actions are influenced by their interactions with others. You'll discuss the effects prejudice, conformity, attraction and violence have on society.
- Sociology of Crime & Violence: Applying both legal and sociological lenses, you'll study law and the criminal justice system, the nature and causation of criminal acts and the different kinds of crime.
- Counseling Process and Techniques: Study the history and philosophy of specific occupations in psychology, sociology and human services. Using different theoretical perspectives, you'll apply your newly gained knowledge to role-play situations.
You'll also have the option to explore your career goals and put your skills to use through experiential learning and internship opportunities. Providing real-world knowledge, these experiences can help better prepare you for the competitive job market.
Your forensic psychology courses are taught by professionals with first-hand experience. Whether they've offered expert testimony during trial, performed forensic evaluations for court systems or committed their careers to statistical research, your instructors will share real-world experience drawn from their work in forensic psychology.
Curriculum Requirements & Resources
- General education courses: All online bachelor's students are required to take general education classes, if not obtained in prior coursework. Through these foundation, exploration and integration courses, students learn to think critically, creatively and collaboratively, giving you the edge employers are looking for.
- Technology resources: We provide cloud-based virtual environments in some courses to give you access to the technology you need for your online degree – and your career. Learn more about our virtual environments.
- Earn math credits for what you already know: Save time and tuition with our Pathways to Math Success assessments. Show your knowledge of the materials in your program's math courses, and you could earn up to 9 math credits – at less than $50 for each course assessment.
|View Full Curriculum in the Catalog|
|BA in Psychology - Forensic Psychology|
|Courses May Include|
|BA in Psychology Forensic Psychology|
|BIO 210||Introduction to Anatomy and Physiology||Discussion/comparison of the principles of mammalian form and function. Includes molecular and cellular mechanisms of major processes (such as muscle contraction, neural transmission, and signal transduction) and examines the structure and function of the 11 organ systems of the human body. Laboratory exercises (BIO-210L) to follow lecture topics.|
|PSY 108||Introduction to Psychology||This course provides students an introduction to the scientific study of behavior and mental processes. Students prepare for more advanced concepts in upper-level Psychology courses by learning the basics of how to evaluate research and exploring various areas of specialization within the discipline.|
|PSY 205||Forensic Psychology||Students will learn how psychology, as a science and a practice, applies to questions and issues relating to law and the legal system. Emphasis will be placed on witness testimony and the social psychology of the courtroom. Topics will include recovered memories, adolescent violence and murder, strategies for interviewing witnesses, expert testimony, and factors influencing the credibility of witnesses, victims and offenders.|
|PSY 223||Research I: Statistics for Psychology||How do psychologists organize, summarize, and interpret information? Students in this course study applications of statistical methods in psychological research and practice. The emphasis of the course is on the conceptual understanding of statistics so that students can read and conduct psychological research; those skills will be applied to students' original projects in Research II: Scientific Investigations. Computation of tests will be conducted on the computer. Students will build upon statistical knowledge and develop an in-depth conceptual and practical understanding of hypothesis testing, tests of significance, standardization, correlation, and analysis of variance in a wide variety of psychological uses. Students will learn the theory of statistical decisions, practical application of statistical software, and how to analyze journal articles. This course typically should be completed during the first semester of the sophomore year.|
|PSY 224||Research II: Scientific Investigations||Students in this course will develop an understanding a variety of research methods, including experimental, survey, correlation and case-history techniques. They will become aware of the strengths and weaknesses of each method and understand when each method is best used. Writing intensive course.|
|PSY 310||Criminal Psychology||This course will provide the student with insights about crime from a psychological perspective. Specifically, the course will focus on how a criminal offender is influenced by multiple systems within the psychosocial environment. This course examines and evaluates the role of psychological factors in understanding the motives behind antisocial acts. Throughout the course, students will acquire knowledge and practice in the application of psychological methods to understanding criminal behavior.|
|PSY 444||Senior Seminar in Psychology (Capstone)||This capstone course integrates previous classroom and practical experience with a focus on current issues in psychology. This course likely will include cross-cultural aspects of psychology, ethics, recent career trends in psychology and other topics dictated by current events in psychology. Coverage may change over time, but the basic focus on integrating the past and anticipating the future for psychology seniors will be the major concern. Writing Intensive Course.|
|Total Credits: 120|
Tuition & Fees
Tuition rates for SNHU's online degree programs are among the lowest in the nation. We offer financial aid packages to those who qualify, plus a 30% tuition discount for U.S. service members, both full and part time, and the spouses of those on active duty.
|Online Undergraduate Programs||Per Course||Per Credit Hour||Annual Cost for 30 credits|
(U.S. service members, both full and part time, and the spouses of those on active duty)
Tuition Rates are subject to change and are reviewed annually.
No Application Fee, $150 Graduation Fee, Course Materials ($ varies by course)
Frequently Asked Questions
What university is best for forensic psychology?
The short answer? The university that's best for a forensic psychology degree is the one that’s best for you.
How to narrow it down? First consider 3 factors: cost, the time it takes to complete and convenience. Make sure the school is accredited. Then start drilling down into the extras.
Time, cost and convenience are just 3 reasons to keep SNHU’s online forensic psychology degree in your consideration set. The school’s tuition rates are among the nation’s most affordable. And because the program is online, you can squeeze in coursework around your schedule – a big plus for good work/life balance.
Rooted in the university's on campus program, our accredited online forensic degree comes with other key benefits, including:
- Faculty with real-world expertise
- Constant support from an online writing center and tutors for subjects like statistics
- Experiential learning and internship opportunities
Sandra Nieves '17 had been interested in this field for many years when she finally decided to return to school. She said it took some digging just to find schools that offered the forensic psychology concentration. “SNHU had great reviews and the staff I spoke to was extremely helpful and friendly,” she said.
What can I do with a BA in Forensic Psychology?
Bachelor's degrees open doors – and few open as many as a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology.
“It's a very broad-based degree,” said Barbara Lesniak, SNHU’s associate dean of social sciences.
A bachelor's in forensic psychology prepares you for entry-level positions in law enforcement and criminal justice, such as:
- Juvenile offender counselor
- Probation officer
- Jury consultant
With more training and qualifications, you could become a police officer.
Your forensic psychology courses will also help you check off the first step toward becoming a licensed clinical psychologist. While this concentration does not lead to licensure or certification, it will prepare you to pursue a master's in forensic psychology – the next step to earning your doctorate and becoming licensed as a psychologist.
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, “forensic psychologists use psychological principles in the legal and criminal justice system to help judges, attorneys and other legal specialists understand the psychological aspects of a particular case. They often testify in court as expert witnesses. They typically specialize in family, civil or criminal casework.”2
The prison system offers a lot of opportunities. Sandra Nieves '17 worked at a North Carolina state prison while pursuing her forensic psychology degree online. Her long-term goal is to work as a forensic psychologist conducting insanity evaluations and competency to stand trial assessments.
As an undergraduate student, Nieves applied what she learned in her courses every day at work. “Learning about different personalities has helped me to communicate better with not only the offenders, but also my co-workers,” she said.
How do I become a forensic psychologist?
Many students opt to enter the workforce right after completing their forensic psychology bachelor’s degree. Others go on to pursue a master's degree online or on campus.
Keep in mind, you’ll have to pursue additional education beyond a bachelor's degree to practice as a psychologist. Advanced degrees often focus on strengthening your research skills, according to Dr. Nickolas Dominello, associate dean for SNHU's undergraduate psychology program.
In most states, practicing psychology or using the title “psychologist” requires licensure. In all states and the District of Columbia, psychologists who practice independently must be licensed where they work.
Psychology graduate Nicole Der Boghossian '16 '18G wanted to finish her education before making a career change. Previously a criminal justice major at a different university, she took some time off when she had her first son to re-evaluate her career choice.
"I saw a commercial around the time I was getting ready to go back to school," Der Boghossian said. "When I found the forensic psychology concentration, I knew I had to apply."
With plans to continue her studies, she was thrilled to learn about the graduate-level forensic psychology concentration.
What is the difference between forensic psychology and criminal psychology?
The American Board of Forensic Psychology defines forensic psychology as “the application of the science and profession of psychology to questions and issues relating to law and the legal system.”3 Those who specialize in the field often work in the court or prison system, in criminal justice, as a victim advocate and in many other roles.
Dr. Bernadette Boozer-Madison, who teaches forensic psychology online at SNHU, says it’s common for students to confuse forensic psychology with criminal justice.
“In most cases, they are drawn to forensic psychology because of how it is depicted on television in shows like ‘Law & Order,’ ‘CSI’ and ‘Criminal Minds,’” said Boozer-Madison. “Forensic psychology is a very exciting field, but it also hinges on and relies on the inter-workings of the judicial system and law enforcement.”
Our forensic psychology degree actually includes a criminal psychology course. Designed to provide insights about crime from a psychological perspective, the course focuses on how various systems influence criminal offenders. Put another way, criminal psychology is about the motives and influences behind antisocial acts.
SNHU adjunct faculty member Kathy Edwards helps put a finer point on the field. “Forensic psychology has been called ‘the intersection of law and psychology,’” she said. “It's a field in which psychologists apply their psychosocial knowledge to civil and criminal law.”
How long is a forensic psychology degree?
A forensic psychology education can take many forms, depending on your needs. To earn your bachelor’s degree, you may need to commit to 4 years of coursework. If you've already studied at another university, SNHU will accept up to 90 transfer credits, which can greatly shorten the time it takes to earn your degree.
Your program will feature a mix of high-level science, liberal arts, communication, social science, and arts and humanities courses as well as a final capstone course.
Although psychologists typically need a doctoral degree in psychology, a master’s degree may be sufficient for school and industrial-organizational positions, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.2 Psychologists in clinical practice need a license.
When working under the supervision of a doctoral psychologist, master’s degree graduates can also work as psychological assistants in clinical, counseling or research settings.
Is forensic psychology a science?
Yes, it is. Psychology is commonly recognized as a social science and is included on the National Science Foundation's roster of recognized STEM disciplines.
Psychology's status as a science is grounded in the use of the scientific method, said Nickolas H. Dominello, PhD, associate dean for SNHU's undergraduate psychology program. Psychologists base their professional practice in knowledge obtained through verifiable evidence of human behavior and mental processes. They design psychological studies in much the same way as studies in other scientific fields.
Learning to design these studies and interpret the findings is a significant part of psychology education. Undergraduate students learn to develop a research question and select a data collection method. At the same time, they have the opportunity to design and refine a hypothetical research investigation.
Why do some people think of psychology as a "soft science"? Dominello offers an explanation: “I feel that in part it’s the fact that psychological science findings often lead to more questions and avenues of future research,” he said. “This contrasts with some of the more traditional sciences that only search for concrete, definitive answers.”
Research methods are either quantitative or qualitative. Quantitative research generates numerical data that can be analyzed. Qualitative research relies on questionnaires, interviews, observations and the like.
“Psychology as a science embraces this broader exploratory perspective in order to better understand human phenomena. When merged, qualitative data can breathe life into quantitative data,” Dominello said.
Southern New Hampshire University is a private, nonprofit institution accredited by the New England Commission of Higher Education (NECHE) as well as several other accrediting bodies.
Sources & Citations (1, 2, 3)
1 According to a survey responses from over 9,200 SNHU online students conducted in the fall of 2019.
2 Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, on the internet, at: https://www.bls.gov/ooh/life-physical-and-social-science/psychologists.htm (viewed May 5, 2020). Cited projections may not reflect local and/or short-term economic or job conditions and do not guarantee actual job growth.
3 American Board of Forensic Psychology, at: https://abfp.com/ (viewed May 5, 2020).