Online undergraduate programs in forensic psychology are rare, but students interested in the role of psychology in the criminal justice system can earn a master's degree in the field. Alternatively, undergraduate students can enroll in an online bachelor's program in general psychology, which can provide a foundation for future graduate studies in the field.
Online forensic psychology master's degree programs are usually around 36 credits and take two years to complete. Many programs are totally online, although some may require short campus-based residencies or activities. In order to apply, prospective students need to have a bachelor's degree in a social science field. Some programs also require applicants to have previous work experience and submit a resume.
Master's Degree in Forensic Psychology
Students pursuing a master's degree in forensic psychology online learn via technology such as live Web courses, which are often held on evenings and weekends to accommodate working adults. Programs sometimes offer the opportunity to pursue a specialization in an area like corrections or sex offenders. Research projects are also often required as culminating experiences.
Coursework prepares students to work as forensic psychologists in the criminal justice system. They learn how to assist lawyers, conduct focus groups, perform forensic assessments, testify in court and provide various agencies with research-based evaluations. Distance learning courses include the following:
- Introduction to Forensic Psychology
- Legal Aspects of Forensic Psychology
- Advanced Social Psychology
- Behavior Pathology
- Psychological Assessment
- Psychological Profiling and Criminal Behavior
- Research and Evaluation
- Crisis Counseling
- Community Psychology
Some online programs require that students spend a brief amount of time on campus, giving students the opportunity to work in a team environment and meet with faculty and peers. Beyond these possible requirements, distance learners have the freedom to view lectures and work on assignments at a convenient time by logging on to a virtual classroom environment.
Since forensic psychology is, by definition, the application of psychology to legal issues, employment in this field is often related to law enforcement, the courts or to social service agencies. Online forensic psychology degree programs prepare graduates to perform treatment planning, consultation, interventions, risk assessments and psychological services in a host of social welfare and criminal justice systems. Graduates of forensic psychology degree programs may work in the following settings:
- Child welfare agencies
- Law enforcement agencies
- Court systems
- State mental health facilities
- Community mental health centers
- Government agencies
Online master's degree programs in forensic psychology build on undergraduate coursework in general psychology, focusing specifically on advanced psychology topics that are related to law and criminal justice. Earning a graduate degree prepares individuals for advanced careers in law enforcement and public service.