Earning a Master's in Forensic Psychology Online

Should I Pursue a Master's in Forensic Psychology Online?

An online master's in forensic psychology prepares a student to work at the intersection of criminal justice and counseling. Candidates interested in both subjects may excel in this specialized field. Many graduates become forensic psychologists, counselors who interview victims and suspects to help legal professionals understand what these people think and feel. They often serve as expert witnesses in trials. As such, students who want to work in this field must feel comfortable working with law enforcement and speaking in front of large crowds.

A forensic psychology master's online can also lead to a career as a forensic technician or manager. These professionals process data and evidence to help law enforcement solve cases. Other graduates become postsecondary teachers who train the next generation of psychologists. Earning an online master's in forensic psychology allows students to bolster their resumes through work experience and school at the same time.

Employment Outlook for Master's in Forensic Psychology Graduates

Master's in Forensic Psychology Salary

The earning potential for a psychologist in any field varies based on factors including the industry and employer. A professional's experience level and location affect their average wages. For example, the mean annual salary for psychologists across the country is $93,440; however, those in Maryland earn an average of $113,900 yearly. Psychologists in California, Kansas, Washington, and Alaska also earn above-average salaries. Psychologists with fewer than five years of experience make $60,684 per year on average. Meanwhile, their colleagues with 20 or more years of experience earn about $118,000 annually.

Top Paying States for Psychologists

State Employment Annual Mean Wage
Maryland 580 $113,900
California 1,760 $109,600
Kansas 120 $104,200
Washington 410 $101,180
Alaska N/A $97,650
United States 12,880 $93,440

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics

Pay by Experience Level for Forensic Psychologists

  • Entry-Level (0-5 Years):
    $60,000
  • Mid-Career (5-10 Years):
    $72,000
  • Experienced (10-20 Years):
    $82,000
  • Late-Career (20+ Years):
    $118,000

Source: PayScale

Master's in Forensic Psychology Careers

Generally, graduates from these programs work as forensic psychologists. These professionals help lawyers, judges, juries, and law enforcement personnel understand important psychological nuances. Graduates with excellent technical skills may find the forensic side of the profession more appealing, and work as forensic technicians. Others become college educators. These candidates should have excellent communication, organization, and time management skills.

Psychologists

Annual Median Salary: $77,030
Projected Growth Rate: 14%

Psychologists must have at least master's degrees, but most areas demand doctorates. Each state has different requirements. Once licensed, these professionals can work in government agencies, hospitals, private offices, and rehabilitation centers. They help heal patients with emotional and mental problems.

Postsecondary Teachers

Annual Median Salary: $76,000
Projected Growth Rate: 15%

While many universities require psychology educators to have doctorates, those with master's degrees can teach at community colleges. These teachers often conduct research outside of their classes. On average, these professionals make slightly less than psychologists, but may experience faster growth.

Forensic Science Technicians

Annual Median Salary: $57,850
Projected Growth Rate: 17%

While many employers require bachelor's degrees for these positions, a master's degree can help applicants stand out. These technicians often work in labs analyzing evidence. This career is a good fit for those with undergraduate degrees in scientific fields, such as chemistry or biology.

What Can I Expect From an Online Master's in Forensic Psychology Program?

While forensic psychology programs are similar, each school structures its curricula differently. Some institutions offer master's degrees in psychology with forensic specialties while others have separate plans just for forensic psychology. Below are some typical courses students may encounter in a forensic psychology online master's programs.

Curriculum for an Online Master's Degree in Forensic Psychology

  1. Social Psychology: Learners in these classes study the ways psychology impacts individuals interactions with one another, their environments, and social structures. Forensic scientists build their careers on these theories. Professors also demonstrate how to apply the findings to real-world situations.
  2. Mental Health Law: Forensic psychologists often encounter situations in which legal and counseling remedies for a problem conflict. These courses help learners navigate difficult situations and give them the tools to make the correct decisions. Students learn to apply these skills in real-world situations, such as when a person with a severe mental illness commits a crime.
  3. Criminal Behavior: Students learn about the maladaptive behaviors that can lead to criminal acts. These courses may overlap with others, including social psychology and human development. Learners research the psychology of victims as well, including the sometimes-complicated relationships between victims and perpetrators.
  4. Threat Assessment: Forensic psychologists must report on whether a person is a threat to others in certain situations, including child custody, parole, and bail decisions. These courses cover the research and theories behind what makes a person dangerous to themselves and others. Students learn the methods professionals use to apply these theories.
  5. Capstone: Many online forensic psychology master's programs require candidates to complete capstone courses. These courses give students the opportunity to use the skills they acquired in previous classes to complete a final project. Learners often take this course right before graduation, giving them the experience they need to enter the workforce.

Certifications and Licenses a Master's in Forensic Psychology Prepares For

  • State Licensing or Certification: Graduates who want to treat patients clinically, rather than evaluate people, must earn state licenses before they can practice. While jurisdictions have different requirements, they typically include at least a master's degree and national certification.
  • Certified Clinical Mental Health Counselor: The National Board for Certified Counselors (NBCC) offers certification for mental health counselors. Candidates must pass the National Clinical Mental Health Counseling Examination. Many state counseling boards accept this exam for licensure applications, but some require another NBCC test. Forensic psychologists who do not need licenses can still benefit from this certification, as it makes them more credible to their law-enforcement colleagues.