Overall, BLS data indicate that job opportunities in the field of forensic psychology will remain steady for those with formal education and training in the field. Working professionals with master's degrees may stand to benefit the most from this occupational landscape, as graduate study demonstrates expert-level skills and advanced knowledge. Earning a master's in forensic psychology online satisfies this requirement and fully prepares learners for work as intelligence analysts, lab technicians, trial consultants, postsecondary educators, and expert witnesses.

What to Expect in an Online Master's in Forensic Psychology Program

While specific requirements and details vary by school and program, most online forensic psychology master's degree tracks follow a common trajectory with similar objectives and outcomes. Many of the best programs share similar curricular focus, timeframes for completion, and possible internship placements.

Sample Courses for an Online Master's in Forensic Psychology

The typical curriculum for an online forensic psychology master's degree focuses on the fundamentals of the field, including the joining of mental health and human behavior with the law and criminal justice. Most online master's degree programs in forensic psychology offer interactive and collaborative coursework experiences. These programs often culminate with a capstone research project that allows learners to apply their skills and knowledge in practical contexts. Some schools assist with internship or practicum placements.

The breadth of knowledge and core skills gained during a program can equip learners for expert-level work in the field. Enrolled degree seekers can expect to take courses similar to those listed below.

Forensic Psychology

This course provides enrollees with an overview of the field, including its historical roots, modern applications, and current developments. Combining research, theory, and practice, learners explore specialty areas in forensic psychology and read paradigmatic case studies based on practical scenarios. This is a prerequisite for upper-level courses in most programs.

Psychology in the Courtroom

Typically conducted in a seminar style, this course examines the forensic psychologist's potential role as a trial consultant. In collaboration with their peers, learners study, assess, and practice common responsibilities, including jury selection, eyewitness account integrity, and expert witness testimony based on forensic evidence. Students may put together a comprehensive project.

Advanced Research Methods in Psychology

Degree seekers in this course learn and apply common research methods used in psychology and forensics. Learners gather, analyze, and classify data from a variety of contexts and use data to develop practical conclusions applicable in courtrooms, laboratories, and clinical settings.

Critical Issues in the Criminal Justice System

This course provides learners with interactive opportunities to identify, discuss, and analyze pressing issues affecting public safety and the contemporary criminal justice system. Degree seekers study the civic and professional responsibilities of criminal justice officials in addition to prominent theories of law and justice.

Social Psychology

This course focuses on contemporary issues in social psychology related to an individual's interactions with technology and their social and political environments. Degree seekers examine classical theories in the field and analyze the perspectives and efficacy of social psychological methods.

Online Master's in Forensic Psychology Completion Time

Prospective degree seekers should be aware of certain factors that can affect the total length of their course of study. The majority of online forensic psychology master's programs consist of 30-45 credits. Individual paths to graduation vary, but most learners can complete their programs in 16-30 months, depending on their school and enrollment status. Some schools may offer part-time options to provide enhanced flexibility or accelerated pathways to expedite graduation.

Individually paced learning and cohort learning styles also affect the length of an online forensic psychology master's degree. Individual learning refers to a pace of education dictated by the degree seeker based on their preferences, while cohort learning involves moving through coursework with a group of peers at the same pace. Individual learning can be faster, while cohort learning offers more opportunities for collaboration and networking.

Skills Gained in an Online Master's in Forensic Psychology Program

Learners obtain many valuable skills as they earn online master's in forensic psychology degrees. During class, degree seekers acquire technical and soft skills, which they can further refine by completing internships and capstone projects. Most careers in forensic psychology require the following skills, and many employers in adjacent industries also find these abilities desirable.

  • Systems Analysis

    This skill involves determining how certain systems function and interact with one another, as well as the ways changes in conditions may affect potential outcomes.

  • Complex Problem-Solving

    Learners with this skill display the ability to identify complicated problems, gather and review information related to those problems, assess possible options, and implement effective solutions.

  • Social Perceptiveness

    Social perceptiveness involves exhibiting a high degree of empathetic awareness regarding the behavior of others and understanding how individuals may react in different situations.

Online vs. On-Campus Programs: What's the Difference?

Learners pursuing online forensic psychology master's degrees often receive instruction by taking advantage of flexible distance learning technologies. Generally taught by the same expert faculty using the same curriculum as on-campus programs, online modules are designed to accommodate the busy lives and schedules of working professionals.

While on-campus learners usually take placements near their schools, online degree seekers can find sites in their local areas.

The main difference between online and on-campus programs often pertains to internships and practica. While on-campus learners usually take placements near their schools, online degree seekers can find sites in their local areas. This makes for a more flexible experience that allows students to juggle academics with job responsibilities and/or family obligations.

Career and Salary Outlook for Online Master's in Forensic Psychology Graduates

Individuals who earn online forensic psychology master's degrees are equipped to assume fulfilling, lucrative roles by following a variety of professional career paths. These include research psychology, education, trial consulting and expert witness preparation, and other related criminal justice endeavors. Typically full-time, office, or lab-based positions, these careers require hard skills in critical and systematic thinking, creative problem-solving, written and oral communication, and investigative analysis.

Forensic Science Technician

Forensic science technicians facilitate criminal investigations by collecting, classifying, and analyzing pertinent evidence. Most professionals in this career specialize in various types of laboratory analysis, such as toxicology, document examination, or pathology. Forensic science technicians work in law enforcement facilities, diagnostic laboratories, and medical hospitals.

Median Annual Salary: $58,230

Postsecondary Teacher

Postsecondary teachers instruct students in their area of expertise, including psychology or forensics. They often conduct research that further advances the field and publish scholarly papers. While some professors at the junior-college level find work with only a master's degree, most higher education institutions require a doctorate.

Median Annual Salary: $78,470

Psychologist

Psychologists explore emotional, cognitive, and social processes by studying human behavior and observing or interpreting how human beings interact with one another and their environments. They gather data, conduct research and experiments, and develop reports or hypotheses based on their findings. While some psychologists work independently, others find employment in government agencies, clinics, and other healthcare facilities.

Median Annual Salary: $79,010

Substance Abuse, Behavioral Disorder, and Mental Health Counselor

These counselors offer advice to clients and assist people struggling with various hardships. They offer diagnoses, perform therapy sessions, and develop treatment plans. Many counselors in this field work in private practice, but some also find employment in community health centers, social work organizations, and criminal justice entities.

Median Annual Salary: $44,630

Sociologist

Sociologists study human behavior from a societal perspective, taking into account the social forces that shape and amplify individual actions. They examine social groups, organizations, and cultures to identify decision-making processes and develop strategies to better understand the world. Sociologists conduct research in higher education settings and often work for nonprofit and social organizations.

Median Annual Salary: $82,050

Education and Training Beyond a Master's in Forensic Psychology

Education and training opportunities in forensic psychology beyond the master's level depend on your career path and field of interest. Some degree seekers may want to pursue further education and earn a doctorate in forensic psychology. This degree prepares learners for full-time work as professors, researchers, and industry experts in higher education settings and other criminal justice institutions.

Working professionals should also periodically consult field-specific continuing education resources to remain apprised of recent developments and current trends that affect their work.

Some forensic psychology careers may also require additional state-level licensure or professional certification. Individual requirements on this front vary by state, entity, and field, but most credentials involve passing a written or oral examination. The American Board of Forensic Psychology (ABFP) and the American Board of Professional Psychology (ABPP) offer industry-standard professional certifications that validate learners' applied knowledge and core skills in the discipline.

Working professionals should also periodically consult field-specific continuing education resources to remain apprised of recent developments and current trends that affect their work. Organizations like ABFP and ABPP offer several tools, publications, and professional development resources that facilitate these efforts, while also encouraging peer networking and colleague collaboration.