Earn Your MS in Forensic Psychology
- $637/credit (36 credits total)
- No application fee or GRE/GMAT scores required
- Transfer up to 12 graduate credits
- Experiential learning opportunities
- Master the intersection of psychology and law
- Learn from faculty with real-world experience
Master's in Forensic Psychology Online Program Overview
Forensic psychology is a discipline at the intersection of psychology and the criminal justice system. With the Master of Science (MS) in Psychology degree with a concentration in Forensic Psychology from Southern New Hampshire University, you’ll gain the knowledge to work within this dynamic field. A forensic psychology concentration prepares you to work within the criminal justice system, along with a wide range of social service organizations. You’ll learn valuable skills like critical thinking and research while you get an overview of the forensic psychology field and the inner workings of the criminal mind. The forensic psychology concentration also covers critical areas such as ethics and diversity.
Although this program and concentration do not lead to licensure, it opens doors to careers in places such as the court system, legal offices, correctional facilities, police departments and governmental agencies.
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.
What You'll Learn
- Tailored theories and methods specific to forensic psychology settings
- Legal considerations and impacts in the field
- Roles and duties of forensic psychologists
- Intersections between psychology and criminal behavior
- Critical thinking and problem-solving
How You'll Learn
At SNHU, you'll get support from day 1 to graduation and beyond. And with no set class times, 24/7 access to the online classroom and helpful learning resources along the way, you'll have everything you need to reach your goals.
An online Master's in Psychology with a concentration in Forensic Psychology will help prepare you for a multitude of career paths within the justice system. While this degree concentration doesn't result in licensure, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, jobs under the forensic psychology umbrella could include determining a defendant’s mental competency, helping to develop a suspect’s psychological profile or assessing a witness’s credibility.1
The forensic psychology concentration equips you to work anywhere that psychology intersects with criminal behavior and the legal system. It also prepares you to earn a doctoral degree if you wish to pursue further education in the forensic psychology area. Upon graduation, you'll have the skills needed to take your next step.
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics projects that jobs for psychologists will grow by 6% through 2031.¹
As of 2021, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reports a median annual wage of $81,040 per year for psychologists, though this could vary depending on your specific field and the amount of education you've received.¹
Where Could You Work?
Common industries that employ forensic psychologists, according to the BLS1, include:
Act as the go-between for criminal courts and local police departments. Determine the mental capacity of defendants and credibility of witnesses.
Work closely with those who've recently been released from jail by providing aid and resources to help ensure they do not re-offend.
Conduct research and analyze trends in criminal behavior. Develop psychological profiles for suspects.
Specialize your skillset to stand out on police academy applications, in training and for future promotion opportunities.
Help crime victims maneuver the legal system with the least amount of trauma possible. Educate victims on their legal rights, and assist them through questioning and court procedures.
Work directly with juveniles in the criminal justice system, evaluating complaints and managing the overall process, to help put juveniles on the path to success.
Start Your Journey Toward an Online Forensic Psychology Degree Concentration
Why SNHU For Your Master’s in Forensic Psychology
With no set class meeting times, you can learn on your schedule and access online course materials 24/7.
As part of our mission to make higher education more accessible, we’re committed to keeping our tuition rates low. In fact, we offer some of the lowest online tuition rates in the nation.
Prior coursework and work experience could also help you save time and money. SNHU’s transfer policy allows you to transfer up to 12 credits from your previous institution. You could also earn college credit for previous work experience.
Founded in 1932, Southern New Hampshire University is a private, nonprofit institution with over 160,000 graduates across the country. SNHU is accredited by the New England Commission of Higher Education (NECHE), a regional accreditor, 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 300,000 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. Plus, with our growing, nationwide alumni network, you'll have the potential to tap into a number of internship and career opportunities.
93.6% of online students would recommend SNHU (according to a 2022 survey with 17,000+ respondents). Discover why SNHU may be right for you.
Expanding 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 a decision within days of submitting all required materials:
- Completed free application
- Undergraduate transcripts, which we can retrieve for you by submitting a transcript request form
Acceptance decisions are made on a rolling basis throughout the year for our 5 graduate terms.
Get the Skills You Need
Kelcey Kennedy '19 '21G
"I wanted to be able to work with inmates to rehabilitate them back into society. I now have that opportunity."
Courses & Curriculum
With the forensic psychology concentration, you'll learn to apply psychology research and theories to real-world contexts. By earning SNHU's forensic psychology degree, you'll learn how psychological theories apply to criminal behavior and its effects on individuals and society. You'll gain familiarity with the history and use of common assessment techniques in legal settings. You'll think critically, deepen respect for diversity and apply appropriate professional ethics to various situations.
When you graduate from SNHU's forensic psychology master's program, you'll leave with the knowledge you need to begin or continue a career in the field.
Focus on Forensics
In this concentration, you'll learn from knowledgeable instructors in courses such as:
- Forensic Psychology - This course provides you with foundational knowledge of the forensic psychology field, including its historical roots and current trends. You'll focus on the evolution of practical and research-based approaches in clinical settings.
- Assessment for Forensic Psychology - This course introduces you to topics in forensic assessment, including historical context, relevant theories, techniques, tools and procedures. Here, you'll use contemporary assessment approaches to gain practical insights on issues such as criminal justice and family and child custodial law. You will also be required to consider ethical, multicultural and age-based variables while interpreting case-based results.
- Intersection of Law and Psychology - This course focuses on where the legal system and psychology meet. It covers the forensic psychologist's role, and their challenges and dilemmas within the legal system. In this course, you'll explore how psychologists can impact court proceedings by providing expert testimony and by determining the mental states of the witnesses or the accused. You'll also review current legal rulings that impact incarcerated persons.
- Psychology in the Courtroom - In this seminar, you'll apply your learnings from the three previous concentration courses to gain a full understanding of the forensic psychologist's role in the courtroom. You will also demonstrate detailed mastery of the concentration content through a comprehensive project.
If you don't have a background in psychology or a related field, you may need to take up to 3 foundation courses. For those who do not meet the minimum requirements, the following courses may be required:
- Foundations of Psychology
- Foundations in Statistics
- Foundations in Research Methods
Note: This program does not prepare you for state licensure.
Learn from Experts in the Field
It's important to note that the courses in this concentration are taught by instructors with professional credentials and relevant, real-world experience.
Dr. Vanessa Holtgrave, an adjunct faculty member who teaches courses in this concentration, says, “I teach PSY-626-Psychology in the Courtroom, which is a complex and exceptionally interesting course about expert witness testimony and admissibility of evidence. Students from various backgrounds (law enforcement, public defenders and victim advocates) have found this class to be both thought-provoking and essential to the program.”
After deep-diving in this concentration, it's safe to say you'll be prepared for whichever path you choose, be it furthering your education even more, or pursuing one of the many available career options in the forensic psychology field.
Dr. Holtgrave adds, “As a forensic psychologist, I believe it is important that our students be given a comprehensive educational experience by competent professionals during their time in the program. This ensures that students are knowledgeable about the breadth and depth of forensic psychology and the careers that are available.”
"Assessment for Forensic Psychology really stood out to me," said Kimberly Custodio '18 '21G. "We got to evaluate cases that varied from drug abuse to child abuse and write recommendation reports. It felt like I was receiving hands-on training without sitting in a classroom. This class was highly enjoyable, and I learned a lot while going through it."
Custodio, who balanced her degree program with her career as a sailor in the U.S. Navy, also noted how impactful her instructors were in helping her find success.
"I don't think I can praise the instructors enough," she said. "The knowledge and experience [they] brought to the virtual environment was beyond amazing."
|View Full Curriculum in the Catalog|
|MS in Psychology - Forensic Psychology|
|Courses May Include|
|MS in Psychology Forensic Psychology|
|PSY 510||Research Methods in Psychology I||In this course, students will learn methods commonly used in psychological research. As part of these methods, students learn how to gather and analyze data across a variety of settings. These newly acquired skills and techniques will be reinforced by application to a contemporary issue in psychology.|
|PSY 520||Research Methods in Psychology II||In this course, students will develop a deeper understanding of the research process and data analysis by applying skills learned in Research Methods in Psychology I and building on them with new skills and techniques including advanced research design and use/interpretation of higher-level statistical tests (ANOVA, regression, etc.). These newly acquired skills and techniques will be reinforced by application to a contemporary issue in psychology.|
|PSY 530||Social Psychology||The focus of this course is on contemporary social psychology issues and research related to people's interactions with the environment, technology, and society, as well as classic studies and theories in the field-including those related to conformity, obedience, identity, and attitudes that remain relevant. Students will evaluate the perspectives, relevancy, and usefulness of social psychology to real world issues and problems.|
|PSY 540||Cognitive Processes||Students will investigate topics in cognitive psychology, including memory, language, attention, learning, and decision-making. Students will evaluate the perspectives, relevancy, and usefulness of cognitive psychology to real world issues and problems.|
|PSY 545||Forensic Psychology||This course provides candidates with foundational knowledge of the forensic psychology field, including its historical roots and current trends with a focus on the evolution of practical and research based approaches in clinical settings. Candidates will also explore specific forensic psychology specialty areas and how the roles and responsibilities unfold related to legal, ethical, and diversity issues. Students must have completed 18 credits in their program to enroll in this course.|
|PSY 550||Measurement and Assessment||Learn and apply psychometric techniques commonly used in psychology. Explore measurement techniques and strategies used in the development and administration of psychological tests and assessments. Analyze and assess test and assessment results. Examine the ethical issues related to test and assessment administration and interpretation.|
|PSY 560||Theories of Personality||This course will emphasize contemporary theories, research, and approaches in personality psychology, connecting these to classic theorists such as Freud as well as other historical traditions and perspectives. The past and present impact of these theories within the ever-changing field of psychology will be explored, as well as the impact they have on culturally diverse clients and special populations.|
|PSY 570||Ethical Practice in Psychology||This course provides a comprehensive overview of the principles of ethical practice within the field of psychology. Topics include experimentation, confidentiality, respect, resolving ethical dilemmas, professional standards of conduct, and the psychology of ethical behavior.|
|PSY 622||Assessment for Forensic Psychology||This course introduces candidates to topics in forensic assessment, including historical context, relevant theories, techniques, tools, and procedures. Candidates will analyze criminal justice, family and child custodial law, and pathology-based case study based data sets using contemporary assessment approaches to gain practical insights. Candidates will be required to consider ethical, multicultural, and age-based variables while interpreting case-based results.|
|PSY 624||Intersection of Law and Psychology||This course focuses on the crossroads at which the legal system and psychology meet. The forensic psychologist's roles and challenges within the legal system will be covered as well as ethical dilemmas. Candidates will explore how psychologists can impact court proceedings with respect to providing expert testimony and determining mental states of the witnesses or the accused. Candidates will also review U.S. Supreme Court cases that influence current policies that impact the mental and physical well-being of incarcerated persons.|
|PSY 626||Psychology in the Courtroom||This course is a seminar in which candidates will synthesize their learning from the three previous concentration courses to gain a full understanding of the forensic psychologist's roles as trial consultant, jury selection, and assessing eyewitness account integrity in the courtroom. Students will demonstrate mastery of concentration content through a comprehensive project.|
|PSY 790||Capstone in Psychology||This capstone course is the culminating experience for the M.S. in Psychology program. The aim of the capstone is to assess students' ability to synthesize and integrate the knowledge and skills they have developed throughout their coursework, rather than introducing new concepts. This course is structured to support student success in fulfilling program requirements.|
|Total Credits: 36|
Minimum Hardware Requirements
PC (Windows OS)
Apple (Mac OS)
Currently supported operating system from Microsoft.
Currently supported operating system from Apple.
8GB or higher
8GB or higher
100GB or higher
100GB or higher
Required for campus students. Strongly recommended for online students.
Required for campus students. Strongly recommended for online students.
SNHU Purchase Programs
5 Mbps Download, 1 Mbps Upload and less than 100 ms Latency
5 Mbps Download, 1 Mbps Upload and less than 100 ms Latency
- Laptop or desktop? Whichever you choose depends on your personal preference and work style, though laptops tend to offer more flexibility.
- Note: Chromebooks (Chrome OS) and iPads (iOS) do not meet the minimum requirements for coursework at SNHU. These offer limited functionality and do not work with some course technologies. They are not acceptable as the only device you use for coursework. While these devices are convenient and may be used for some course functions, they cannot be your primary device. SNHU does, however, have an affordable laptop option that it recommends: Dell Latitude 3301 with Windows 10.
- Office 365 Pro Plus is available free of charge to all SNHU students and faculty. The Office suite will remain free while you are a student at SNHU. Upon graduation you may convert to a paid subscription if you wish. Terms subject to change at Microsoft's discretion. Review system requirements for Microsoft 365 plans for business, education and government.
- Antivirus software: Check with your ISP as they may offer antivirus software free of charge to subscribers.
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.
Tuition & Fees
Tuition rates for SNHU's online degree programs are among the lowest in the nation. We offer a 25% tuition discount for U.S. service members, both full and part time, and the spouses of those on active duty.
|Online Graduate Programs||Per Course||Per Credit Hour||Annual Cost for 15 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.
*Note: students receiving this rate are not eligible for additional discounts.
Course Materials ($ varies by course)
Frequently Asked Questions
What can I do with master's in forensic psychology?
As a forensic psychologist, you'll be able to apply psychology to the criminal justice system in a variety of ways. You can apply your knowledge of the legal aspects relating to psychological behavior to specialize in family, civil or criminal law. You can also use your skills to help solve crimes, testify in criminal cases or serve as an advocate for victims of crime. Plus, with a predicted 6% increase in job prospects for psychologists through 2031, the opportunities in this field are growing.1
Some career options for forensic psychologists are:
- Investigative forensic psychologist, where you may work for a government agency such as the Federal Bureau of Investigation or the United States Department of Justice as a criminal profiler, or as an investigator working to solve crimes.
- Jury consultant, where you may specialize in assisting lawyers in selecting members of a jury for criminal cases.
- Psychologist in a private practice, where you may serve as an expert witness in criminal court cases by applying your expertise in forensic psychology. You may work with attorneys to recommend legal strategies for questioning witnesses. You may also assess criminal defendants to provide the court system with official psychological evaluations.
- Teacher, where you may provide instruction at the community college level, or use your master's in forensic psychology as preparation for a research and teaching career at the university level. You could also teach forensic psychology to legal professionals.
Additional training, certification or experience may be required for certain jobs. SNHU's MS in Psychology degree with a concentration in Forensic Psychology does not lead to licensure.
Dr. Joel Fick, for example, is an adjunct psychology instructor and also provides individual and group therapy for inmates dealing with mental health and medical issues.
“I started my work in forensics by working with adolescents in the juvenile justice system and it eventually led to developing expertise in forensic psychology,” he said. “I recommend that students be open to trying a variety of experiences: I never planned on working in a prison but it has been an amazing experience with continual learning opportunities.”
By earning your online MS in Psychology with a concentration in Forensic Psychology, you'll be able to explore different avenues and experiences within the criminal justice system that interest you. Stay open minded and curious and you could end up right where you're supposed to, even if it's not where you initially planned.
Can you get a master's in forensic psychology online?
Not only are online forensic psychology master's programs available, they're highly regarded.
Studying online has many benefits in today’s increasingly digital world. You can learn the foundational theory of forensic psychology, including current trends and research, from anywhere you have access to the internet. An online program allows you to complete your degree at your own pace, day or night, while learning from leading specialists working in the field. Courses like Assessment for Forensic Psychology, Intersection of Law and Psychology, and Psychology in the Courtroom can all be taken successfully online.
For some, like Selma Zein '21, learning online isn't just a luxury – it's the only practical way to reach her goals.
"I chose SNHU for several reasons, and with my degree almost in hand, I’m so glad I did," she said. "It’s such a well-run, smooth online program that allows you to study wherever you are in the world. For someone like me – who was working in Dubai – I was able to still get a great education from an accredited, wonderful university. The classes intrigued me with their titles alone, and I’ve genuinely enjoyed every class."
The format of the program gave Zein unprecedented confidence to pursue her passion.
"As someone in her 30s who thought I was done studying, I honestly did not feel like I was studying, rather just enjoying my days like I usually would," she said. "Watching true crime and interrogations, and instead of thinking about them to myself, I get to share my thoughts through professional writing with such a great diverse class and excellent professors for great feedback that helped me excel. My first phone call with SNHU was only a glimpse of how helpful, supportive and encouraging the staff and advisors are."
At Southern New Hampshire University, you can get started if you have a bachelor’s degree in psychology already, or if you have a bachelor’s degree in any other field and have completed coursework in several foundational courses. If you have not yet completed coursework or aren’t sure if the courses you have completed will count toward your MS in forensic psychology, we can help. We can pair you with an admission counselor, who can help you receive the maximum number of transfer credits possible. We also offer foundational courses for students who don't have a background in psychology or the social sciences.
How long does it take to get a master’s in forensic psychology?
While everyone’s pace is different, most people allow 2 years to complete an online master’s degree, as do the majority of campus graduate students. Many programs can be completed in less time, depending on the program and any transfer credits you may have.
At Southern New Hampshire University, you can complete your master's in forensic psychology in as few as 15 months. One of the many benefits of online learning is that you decide when you can do the work, right down to what time of day you submit your assignments. The entire degree can be completed on your schedule.
In addition, our admission team will work with you so you can receive the maximum number of transfer credits possible from other degree programs to get you on your way.
That's exactly what happened with Kelcey Kennedy '19 '21G. "I transferred credits when beginning my SNHU journey. I attended college for a year and a half prior to going active duty in the military," she said. "I started up classes with SNHU for my bachelor’s degree in January 2018 and completed my degree August 2019. I couldn’t believe how quickly I flew through my classes but it was worth it in the end."
With the option to waste no time earning her bachelor's, Kennedy quickly earned the credentials she needed to advance to a master's degree.
What careers are there for psychology majors?
With so many areas to specialize in, there are many career paths available. A master’s degree in forensic psychology allows you to build on a broad foundation of psychology and incorporate specialized coursework to learn how to apply psychology to the law and the courtroom.
This opens doors for careers like:
- Forensic psychologist, where you can apply your specialized knowledge of psychology in the criminal justice system while working within the criminal courts, correctional facilities or law enforcement agencies.
- Special agent, where you may work as an investigator for a governmental agency like the Federal Bureau of Investigation or the United States Department of Justice, working to solve crimes with your knowledge of criminal behavior.
- Industrial psychologist, where you may apply psychology principles and research methods to assist companies with workplace productivity and management.
Additional training, certification or experience may be required for certain jobs.
Courses leading to a career in forensic psychology may include instruction on the judicial process, leadership and ethics, negotiation and even global terrorism. Research and theory of psychology and its applications are covered as well. This broad foundation provides the coursework you need to choose a career specialty.
While this degree will not qualify you for licensure, it does provide an excellent foundation for continuing your studies at the doctoral degree level or continuation to other graduate programs.
Our own Dr. Vanessa Holtgrave notes this concentration is also appropriate both for students who haven’t yet gained any professional experience, and for those who currently work in forensic psychology-related positions who wish to continue their education and advance in their chosen careers.
What is it like being a forensic psychologist?
With a master’s in forensic psychology, your role may be to advocate for victims and help balance the scales of justice. You can be on the cutting edge of understanding human behavior and how people act. You may be called upon as an expert witness to evaluate a defendant’s ability to stand trial. You may also help develop psychological profiles for investigative organizations, or serve as a jury consultant.
A thorough understanding of the law, scientific research and psychology theory will help prepare you to excel. Excellent communication skills are important for a career as a forensic psychologist, as are strong critical-thinking skills. You should feel comfortable with maintaining your composure in stressful situations.
Whichever path you choose, you can work toward helping make the world a little safer every day. While a career in any aspect of criminal justice can be stressful at times, the work is rewarding.
What is the difference between forensic psychology and criminal psychology?
This is an excellent question, because the two fields do have a fair amount of overlap. Both are grounded in psychology research and theory, and both examine cognitive processes, ethics and social psychology. The main difference lies with forensic psychology focusing on the aftermath of crimes, whereas criminal psychology’s focus is on predicting what may lead to a crime in the first place.
A criminal psychologist may focus on creating a criminal profile and stopping crimes before they happen, while forensic psychologists are more likely to provide counseling to victims or assist a legal team in prosecution after a crime has occurred.
Both specializations require strong communication, critical thinking and analytical skills, as well as a strong interest in the law and the criminal justice system. Both can lead to long, rewarding careers that help make the world a little safer every day.
Is a master's in forensic psychology worth it?
Only you can decide whether or not a forensic psychology degree is worth it for you. At SNHU, we do everything we can to create a better college experience – from top-notch student support, to expert instructors and the flexibility to complete your program completely online.
"This degree was worth every minute I put into it," said Selma Zein '21. "I was reciprocated with the education and support I needed. I can proceed with full confidence in my future program and career."
Kelcey Kennedy '19 '21G echoes a similar sentiment. "I think the degree program was worth it because I got to focus my free time to finally getting my degree," she said. "It was a convenient way to be able to attend school while being in the military and progressing successfully in both. Plus, I was able to be a positive example to other military members by helping them start their own educational journey, which is such a rewarding feeling."
For Kimberly Custodio '18 '21G, who also balanced military service with earning a degree, it was "absolutely" worth the effort to go back to school. "I now have a field to go into once I retire from the Navy," she said. "This has always been my goal and I feel like with SNHU, I was able to accomplish this goal."
Custodio also added how supported she felt throughout her journey.
"SNHU has been absolutely amazing to work with," she said. "The admissions personnel were so pleasant to work with, the student advisors were supportive and encouraging. Every aspect about working with SNHU and the staff has been nothing but wonderful."
Sources & Citations (1, 2)
1Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, on the internet, at:
- https://www.bls.gov/careeroutlook/2009/spring/art02.pdf (viewed November 3, 2022).
- https://www.bls.gov/ooh/life-physical-and-social-science/psychologists.htm (viewed November 3, 2022).
Cited projections may not reflect local and/or short-term economic or job conditions and do not guarantee actual job growth.
2Forensics Colleges, "What Can I Do With a Degree in Forensic Psychology?" on the internet, at https://www.forensicscolleges.com/blog/resources/what-can-I-do-with-a-forensic-psychology-degree (viewed Jan. 12, 2022).