Online Master’s Degrees in Forensic Psychology & Counseling

Just as forensic investigation seeks to understand a crime scene by examining each detail after the fact, forensic psychology and counseling seek to assess, evaluate, and treat individuals who have committed crimes or are in the legal system. 

According to the American Psychological Association, forensic psychologists may perform various functions within the criminal and legal system. For instance, they may collect and share data relevant to legal issues. Or they may advise an attorney on how psychology, specifically regarding the individual in question, may relate to the case or various legal issues in general. 

Forensic psychologists may provide professional opinions if they affect a case. For example, if there is any question about whether an individual is fit to be tried for a crime, a forensic psychologist can examine them to make that determination. They can also act as treatment providers for an individual, providing counseling services as needed to either the individual or victims and their families. The first step in obtaining a degree in this rewarding field is to begin studies of psychology and counseling, either at the undergraduate level or by getting a master’s degree in forensic psychology and counseling if the student already has a compatible undergraduate education. 

Students can become counselors after earning online forensic psychology and counseling degrees. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS 2023) projects jobs in substance abuse, behavioral disorder, and mental health counseling to grow 18 percent nationally from 2022 to 2032, much faster than the average job growth rate in the same timeframe (3 percent). 

If you’re ready to join a specialized team of mental health care providers, read on to get a comprehensive look at online master’s degrees in forensic psychology and counseling.

Featured Forensic Counseling & Psychology Programs
Southern New Hampshire University Online BA in Psychology - Forensic PsychologyVisit Site
Grand Canyon University BS - Psychology: Forensic PsychologyVisit Site
Grand Canyon University Graduate Certificate - Forensic PsychologyVisit Site
Walden University BS - Psychology: Forensic PsychologyVisit Site
Walden University MS - Forensic PsychologyVisit Site
Capella University MS - Clinical Psychology: Forensic PsychologyVisit Site
Arizona State University Domestic Violence and Evidence-Based Practice (Grad Cert)Visit Site
Arizona State University Forensic Psychology (MS)Visit Site

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Typical Admissions Requirements for Online Master’s Degrees in Forensic Psychology & Counseling

Achieving employment as a mental health counselor generally requires that students earn a master’s degree and complete an internship. However, some employers may accept only a bachelor’s degree with relevant experience. 

Admissions requirements for online master’s degrees in forensic psychology counseling will vary from school to school but typically include a combination of the following: a bachelor’s degree from a regionally accredited program; a competitive undergraduate GPA (often 2.5 or greater but occasionally, 3.0 or greater); GRE or GMAT scores; letter(s) of recommendation; a phone or in-person interview; and a personal statement.

Some programs may request that applicants have completed specific undergraduate coursework in statistics, research methods, psychology, or criminal justice. Note that some programs that require less credit may not be licensure-track programs. For example, suppose a student seeks to become a national board-certified psychologist, state-licensed counselor, or psychologist. In that case, they should choose a licensure-track program that meets their state’s requirements.

Courses in Online Master’s Degrees in Forensic Psychology & Counseling

Online master’s programs in general counseling education will include core classes and elective options that prepare students to understand and treat the broad spectrum of mental health issues they’ll encounter in the field. Beyond that, specialized courses will specifically relate to how human behavior intersects with the law and criminality. 

Some common courses include:

  • Social Psychology and Aggression
  • Trauma and Crisis Intervention
  • Ethics and Professional Issues in Forensic Psychology
  • Psychology and Law 
  • Research Methods 
  • Forensic Assessment
  • Children and the Law
  • Violence and Psychopathology
  • Human Trafficking
  • Race and the Law
  • Legal and Social Responses to Domestic Violence
  • Law and Behavior: Compliance and Enforcement
  • Memory and the Law
  • Mental Health and the Law
  • Clinical Interviewing and Treatment
  • Family and the Law
  • Forensic Neuropsychology 
  • Advanced Legal Psychology
  • Advanced Correctional Psychology
  • Psychopathology
  • Statistics and methods
  • Seminar in Criminal Justice
  • Seminar in Courts and Sentencing
  • Behavioral Criminology
  • Understanding Psychological Reports and Expert Witness Testimony 
  • Psychological Evaluation of Competencies, Syndromes, & Sanity Issues
  • Psychological Issues in Dependency & Family Law Cases 
  • Therapeutic Jurisprudence & Problem-Solving Courts 
  • Assessment of Psychological Injury for Legal Cases
  • Trauma-Informed Assessment and Intervention 
  • Child Maltreatment and Trauma Assessment and Intervention 
  • Substance Abuse, Mental Illness, and Trauma 
  • Police Psychology
  • Intervening in School & Workplace Violence

Supervised Clinical Hour Requirements & Internships – Online Master’s Degrees in Forensic Psychology & Counseling

In addition to academic coursework, most online master’s degrees in forensic psychology and counseling include supervised hands-on experiences in practicums (100 to 150 hours) and internships (600 to 700 hours).

Program Accreditation for Online Master’s Degrees in Forensic Psychology & Counseling

Accreditation ensures that the content and quality of an educational program have been evaluated and meet specific standards. The accreditation is split between a few agencies for online master’s degrees in forensic psychology and counseling. The Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs (CACREP) and the Masters in Psychology and Counseling Accreditation Council (MPCAC) are the two primary authorities. 

The American Psychological Association (APA) accredits professional education and training in psychology in the United States at the doctoral level. The primary certifying body for general counseling education at the master’s and PhD levels is CACREP. 

However, CACREP considers psychology a separate discipline from counseling and does not accredit any type of psychology or social work programs. MPCAC, on the other hand, believes the fields of psychology and counseling to be very closely linked. 

CACREP-accredited programs require 60 credits, followed by practicums and internships totaling about 850 hours. MPCAC has some slightly different requirements and often accredits programs that require 60 credits, but only requires the completion of 48 credits.

MPCAC also considers the licensure and certification requirements within the state in question. Beyond these recognized accrediting bodies, the master’s level student should select a school that is at a minimum regionally accredited, which will ensure that they are receiving a quality psychology education that future employers will value.

Featured Online Master’s in Forensic Psychology & Counseling Programs

Southern New Hampshire University

Southern New Hampshire’s forensic psychology degree is a concentration within its online master of science in psychology degree program. The program does not lead to licensure, but nonetheless opens doors for career advancement if you already work within the legal or court system. Graduates work in probation, law enforcement, victim advocacy, juvenile offender counselors, and court liaisons. 

Students in the 36-credit online program at SNHU can complete their degree with no set class meeting times and 24/7 access to online course materials. The GRE and GMAT are not required; students can transfer up to 12 credits once admitted. Founded in 1932, Southern New Hampshire University is a private, nonprofit institution.

  • Location: Manchester, NH
  • Duration: 15 to 24 months
  • Accreditation: New England Commission of Higher Education (NECHE)
  • Tuition: $637 per credit

The Chicago School of Professional Psychology 

The Chicago School’s online master of arts program in forensic psychology has both a licensure track program and a non-licensure track program. Students in the non-licensure track program can use this to increase their foundational psychology skills while working in the field. In addition, graduates from this program can “bridge” their non-licensure track courses with licensure-track courses with an online certificate. 

The licensure-track program meets requirements in 41 states, including Washington, D.C. However, it does not meet licensure requirements in seven states (California, Illinois, Kansas, Kentucky, Missouri, North Dakota, and New York). 

Students must complete at least 700 training hours and 280 direct hours of face-to-face client contact. Additionally, students in the online forensic psychology licensure track program attend two mandatory, four-and-a-half-day in-person residencies at the Chicago campus.

  • Location: Chicago, IL
  • Duration: Three years
  • Accreditation: WASC Senior College and University Commission
  • Tuition: $1,368 per credit

University of California Irvine 

UCI’s master of legal and forensic psychology program is offered in collaboration with the Department of Psychological Science and the Department of Criminology, Law, and Society. This 52-credit program utilizes interdisciplinary learning to focus on the intersection of psychology and legal issues. 

Preceding the first fall quarter of instruction, students must attend a one-week, mandatory on-campus residency in the form of an accelerated five-day introductory forensic psychology course. Following that experience, students will complete six online courses during each of the two following academic years. Each quarter consists of two online courses. Instead of a thesis, students take a capstone course in which students write an independent term paper.

  • Location: Irvine, CA
  • Duration: Two years
  • Accreditation: WASC Senior College and University Commission
  • Tuition: $6,598 per semester (residents); $11,632 per semester (non-residents) 

Arizona State University

Arizona State University’s online master of science in forensic psychology provides an overview of forensic psychology to advance their career or personal interest. The 33-credit program prepares students for a career in law enforcement, corrections, mental health administration, crime analysis, policy analysis, and other settings. Still, it is not designed to meet the requirements for licensure as a psychologist. Students take 11 total classes at 7.5 weeks per class. 

  • Location: Phoenix, AZ
  • Duration: Two years
  • Accreditation: Higher Learning Commission (HLC)
  • Tuition: $719 per credit 

Nova Southeastern University 

Nova Southeastern offers an online master of science in forensic psychology.  NSU’s online program is designed for busy working adults who want to pursue a non-clinical curriculum designed for students to complete graduate studies, while still balancing jobs and other daily responsibilities. 

The program consists of 24 core credits, with students selecting from one of two possible nine-credit specialization tracks and a three-credit capstone course. Specialization options are forensic psychology in the legal system or forensic psychology for mental health workers, first responders, and disaster teams. 

Students can choose to complete either a thesis or a field experience for their capstone content. Currently, there is no licensure or certification in Florida for forensic psychology, so this is a non-licensure track program. 

  • Location: Fort Lauderdale, FL 
  • Duration: Two years
  • Accreditation: Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACS-COC)
  • Tuition: $16,110 per year 

Liberty University 

Liberty University’s master of science in criminal justice and forensic psychology is offered 100 percent online. Liberty is ranked in the top 1 percent of online colleges. It is a Christian-centered university founded by Jerry Falwell in 1971. Courses include the fundamentals of forensic psychology, crisis intervention in law enforcement, and psychology and the legal system. This 36-credit program offers tuition discounts for active-duty law enforcement and first responders. Courses are offered in 8-week formats, and multiple start dates are available throughout the year. 

  • Location: Lynchburg, VA
  • Duration: 1.5 to two years
  • Accreditation: Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC)
  • Tuition: $565 per credit

Capella University 

Capella University’s online master of science in clinical psychology includes specializations in applied research, clinical psychology, and forensic psychology. This program teaches students how human behavior and the criminal mind intersect with the legal system. 

In addition, this program provides the foundation of study for students who want to continue pursuing a PhD in the field. These courses are offered in Capella’s Guided Path format, which is a more traditional format consisting of one to three courses per ten-week semester. 

  • Location: Minneapolis, MN 
  • Accreditation: Higher Learning Commission (HLC)

Purdue Global 

Purdue Global’s online master of science degree in psychology lets students choose one of five concentrations, including forensic psychology. Courses are 15 hours per week for a ten-week term. Students take 40 core credits and 25 to 35 elective credits. Flexible start dates allow students to begin courses throughout most of the year. Graduates from this program are eligible to sit for the Master Addictions Counselor (MAC) certification exam offered by the National Certification Commission for Addiction Professionals (NCCAP). 

  • Location: West Lafayette, IN 
  • Duration: Two years
  • Accreditation: Higher Learning Commission (HLC)
  • Tuition: $420 per credit

National University 

National University’s master of science in forensic psychology is a 100 percent online program that immerses students in the psychology of criminal behavior through seven specific courses plus three electives. This 30-credit program includes 10 courses, with new courses beginning every Monday. 

Northcentral provides for busy students through weekly course starts so students can work at their own pace. All professors hold doctoral degrees in their field. NCU’s psychology programs do not lead to licensure. However, students may choose a non-clinical internship.

  • Location: San Diego, CA 
  • Duration: 16 months
  • Accreditation: WASC Senior College and University Commission
  • Tuition: $872 per credit 

University of North Dakota

College Choice ranks the University of North Dakota’s online master of arts in forensic psychology as the No. 1 online forensic psychology program in the country, according to US News

The 30-credit program is offered online, full-time or part-time, and can be completed in about two years. Students in this program are immersed in research and practice-based courses that explore the relationship between the disciplines of law and psychology. Once accepted, students can begin their studies in the spring or fall. 

  • Location: Grand Forks, ND 
  • Duration: Two years
  • Accreditation: Higher Learning Commission (HLC)
  • Tuition: $800 per credit 

Walden University

The MS in forensic psychology program at Walden University is designed to prepare students for nonclinical forensic psychology roles. The program explores psychological principles and theories to help law enforcement and criminal justice systems function effectively. Areas of focus include criminal investigative analysis, terrorism, and victim advocacy. Admission requirements include a bachelor’s degree and transcripts.

  • Location: Minneapolis, MN
  • Duration: Two years
  • Accreditation: Higher Learning Commission (HLC)
  • Tuition: $555 per quarter credit

Grand Canyon University

The online master of science in forensic psychology degree from GCU provides students with the skills and knowledge necessary to work in various settings within the criminal justice system. The curriculum covers multiple topics, from social and cultural psychology to offender rehabilitation and reintegration. 

Students are also required to complete a professional capstone before graduation, during which they will explore career opportunities within the field of forensic psychology. The degree may also provide a foundation for those who wish to pursue a doctoral degree in forensic psychology.

  • Location: Phoenix, AZ
  • Duration: Two years
  • Accreditation: Higher Learning Commission (HLC)
  • Tuition: $575 per credit

Monroe College

The online MS in forensic psychology program at Monroe College integrates the fundamental principles of psychology with the study of law, preparing graduates for various careers in forensic settings. The 42-credit curriculum includes coursework in criminal psychology, victim advocacy, jury consulting, and police consulting, among other topics. 

The program is designed to provide students with the skills necessary to work with forensic populations in various settings, including social service agencies, the court system, juvenile facilities, correctional facilities, and law enforcement agencies. Courses include criminology theory; perspectives on drugs, alcohol, and the criminal justice system; and forensic mental health in the courts. 

  • Location: Campuses in the Bronx and New Rochelle, NY
  • Duration: Two years
  • Accreditation: Middle States Commission on Higher Education (MSCHE)
  • Tuition: $893 per credit

Professors to Know in Master’s in Forensic Psychology & Counseling Programs

Dr. William Brown
The Chicago School of Professional Psychology

Dr. William Brown is the College School’s online campus dean. He earned a PsyD in clinical psychology from the Florida Institute of Technology and a BS in psychology from the University of Florida. He also completed a postdoctoral program in forensic psychology at the District of Columbia Commission on Mental Health Services at Saint Elizabeth’s Hospital. 

A licensed clinical psychologist in the Commonwealth of Virginia, Dr. Brown has worked as a clinical and forensic psychologist in multiple inpatient and outpatient settings, including private practice. In addition, Dr. Brown previously served in numerous academic and operational roles for Argosy University, including faculty member, program chair, campus vice president of academic affairs, campus president, and group vice president.

Dr. Elizabeth Cauffman
University of California, Irvine

Dr. Elizabeth Cauffman is a professor of psychological science, education, and law in the forensic psychology program at the University of California, Irvine. She received her PhD from Temple University. Her specialties are adolescent development, mental health, juvenile justice, and legal and social policy. She holds courtesy appointments in the School of Education and the School of Law. Following her studies at  Temple University, she completed a postdoctoral fellowship at the Center on Adolescence at Stanford University. 

Dr. Cauffman’s research addresses the intersection between adolescent development and juvenile justice at the broadest level. She has published over 100 articles, chapters, and books on various topics in the study of contemporary adolescence, including adolescent brain development, risk-taking and decision-making, parent-adolescent relationships, and juvenile justice. In addition, findings from her research were incorporated into the American Psychological Association’s amicus briefs submitted to the U.S. Supreme Court in Roper v. Simmons, which abolished the juvenile death penalty, and in both Graham v. Florida and Miller v. Alabama, which placed limits on the use of life without parole as a sentence for juveniles. 

As part of her more extensive efforts to help research inform practice and policy, she served as a member of the MacArthur Foundation’s Research Network on Adolescent Development and Juvenile Justice as well as the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine’s Committee on the Neurobiological and Socio-behavioral Science of Adolescent Development and Its Applications. In addition, Dr. Cauffman currently directs the Center for Psychology & Law and the master in legal and forensic psychology program at UCI. 

Dr. Julee Poole
Purdue Global

Dr. Julee Poole is the Purdue Global department of psychology department chair. She has taught a variety of undergraduate and graduate courses in psychology and serves as the academic chair of the graduate psychology program. 

Dr. Poole was a professor of psychology for 15 years before going into administration. She started her academic career at Austin Peay State University. She began teaching at Purdue Global (then Kaplan University) in 2007 in the undergraduate psychology department before moving to the graduate psychology department. She became the academic assistant chair before becoming the academic chair of the graduate psychology program in 2013. She earned her PhD from Capella University.

Jobs for Those With an Online Master’s Degree in Forensic Psychology & Counseling

There are several job possibilities for those with an online master’s degree in forensic psychology and counseling. 

Even if the degree program is not a licensure track program, the experience in understanding how social and cultural issues intersect with criminal behavior and the legal system can open many career doors. Those fans of TV crime shows probably already know that forensic psychologists can help in criminal investigations. Beyond that, they can also study criminals and their crimes to advance science’s understanding of the criminal mind. 

They can also work in the court system as assistants, researchers, or consultants to lawyers, judges, and juries. In private practice or group practice, they can work to advocate for fair treatment of underserved populations, including African-Americans, the LGBTQ+ community, the Latinx community, those from lower-economic areas, children, or those with mental illness. 

Forensic psychologists and counselors can work in jails, victim advocacy, court systems as jury consultants, or governmental agencies such as the FBI or CIA. They can work for police departments, veteran’s facilities, or as probation officers. Crime analysts are the job made famous on television shows, and that is certainly a possibility too. With a degree in forensic psychology, one can enter the world of academia, training other forensic psychologists. 

Vanessa Salvia

Vanessa Salvia


Vanessa Salvia is an Oregon-based freelance writer and editor with a bachelor’s degree in chemistry. As fun as rigorous studies in math and science were, Vanessa took an independent path and developed a prolific career covering lifestyle and healthcare topics for magazines and newspapers, important industries such as concrete construction and building waterproofing, and even hard science. You can get in touch at Sage Media and Marketing.