10 Best Affordable Master’s in Forensic Psychology

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Forensic psychologists use their expertise in the science of human behavior to help government agencies, hospitals, courts, and law enforcement officials. The popular images of forensic psychology come from TV courtroom dramas that depict psychologists as expert witnesses or part of criminal investigative teams. A forensic psychologist working for a court system or law enforcement agency may evaluate criminal suspects for competency to stand trial. Hospitals and social service agencies employ forensic psychologists to determine risks for recidivism from convicted felons and treat victim traumas. Local and state agencies also ask forensic psychologists to evaluate juveniles for risk of criminal behavior as well as cognitive development.

If you choose a career in forensic psychology, you can help the justice system and make a comfortable living. PayScale says that the average salary for a forensic psychologist is $65,129 with a top salary of $102,000 and an entry-level salary of $39,000. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics identified an average salary of $58,230 for forensic science technicians and $79,010 for psychologists. This variation in average salary is due in part to a patchwork of funding for forensic psychology across the United States. Forensic psychologists may also experience differences in pay based on state licensing requirements, which can differ significantly from one state to the next.

BLS is optimistic about the future of careers in forensic science and psychology. The bureau estimated a 17 percent growth in forensic science jobs between 2016 and 2026. Job growth for psychologists is estimated at 14 percent during the same period. Forensic psychologists are in high demand as state justice systems seek methods of anticipating repeat offenders, improving trial quality, and treating convicted felons as they prepare for lives after their sentences. The field of forensic psychology continues to evolve and demands new professionals who want to challenge existing science. You can get the most out of your forensic psychology education by choosing one of the 10 best affordable master's programs in this field.

Ranking Methodology

The researchers and writers at Best Master's Degrees don't make recommendations based upon preference– we back our rankings with science. Here's a quick breakdown of how we organize ranking data:

  • Finances (40%)
  • Academic Rigor (35%)
  • Student Gratification (25%)

Nearly half of the data used to score each ranking involves finances and are acquired from sources such as the National Center for Education Statistics, the U.S. Department of Labor, U.S. Department of Education, Glassdoor, and PayScale. Financial data encompasses the cost of tuition, fees, and class supplied; the average price of living; access to financial aid and social services; and lastly, the projected annual salary acquired from degree outcomes and income for loan repayment. The second largest category of information involves the quality of education, how competitive degree applicants should be for consideration, and how exclusive a degree program is overall. The final 25 percent of collected data is dependent on student and alumni reviews from sources such as PayScale, Rate My Professor, and Students Review.

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#10 – The Chicago School of Professional Psychology

Master of Arts in Forensic Psychology

Irvine, CA

The Chicago School of Professional Psychology extends beyond the Windy City with courses at seven locations including Los Angeles, New Orleans, and Washington, D.C. Professionals around the country can also complete degrees in psychology disciplines through online courses. The school's Master of Arts in Forensic Psychology is held at the campus in Irvine, California. This location gives students access to the Forensic Training Institute, a facility used by police departments, law firms, and court systems to train staff in forensic psychology principles.

Forensic psychologist students are taught the latest research about trauma in the Trauma and Crisis Interventions course. The school's faculty help future psychologists understand how psychology fits into the legal system through the Mental Health Law course. The Tactical and Field Psychology course teaches students to provide psychological assessments and manage crime scenes. The Chicago School of Professional Psychology helps students transition into the law enforcement field with an optional Police Psychology specialization. Participants in this concentration work with local and county police and the city attorney to understand psychology uses in police work.

Net Price: N/A


#9 – Roger Williams University

Master of Arts in Forensic and Legal Psychology

Bristol, RI

Roger Williams University's Master of Arts in Forensic and Legal Psychology trains students in the latest trends in forensic psychology. This program features a 33-credit core curriculum with 11 courses covering topics from research design and quantitative methods to advanced developmental psychology. The next step is to select assessment in criminal law or child assessment to satisfy the advanced assessment requirement. Roger Williams University also requires completion of a developmental or adult psychopathology course. This MA program challenges future psychologists with two directed research courses and a thesis requirement.

U.S. News & World Report includes Roger Williams University in several of its 2019 rankings. The university was No. 24 in Best Colleges for Veterans and No. 43 in Regional Universities North. U.S. News & World Report also listed the university as No. 71 in Best Value Schools. The MA program has produced graduates who presented research at annual meetings for the American Psychology-Law Society, the New England Psychological Association, and the Psychonomic Society.

Net Price: $36,862


#8 – University of Denver

Master of Arts in Forensic Psychology

Denver, CO

The University of Denver produces the next generation of forensic psychologists from its campus near downtown Denver. The Master of Arts in Forensic Psychology program starts all students with Professionalism and Practice I, a three-quarter course that balances legal and psychological topics. First-year students also complete courses in forensic mental health basics, group interventions, and the psychology of criminal behavior. With this background information in hand, each second-year student pursues studies in cognitive assessment, juvenile offender evaluation, and criminal evaluations. The University of Denver also requires Professionalism and Practice II to meld lessons from the first year with advanced concepts.

This private university was ranked No. 96 in National Universities for 2019 by U.S. News & World Report. The University of Denver also placed No. 59 in Best Colleges for Veterans and No. 58 in Best Value Schools. Students enjoy a natural setting for their studies because the campus is surrounded by an arboretum. This relatively small university has achieved recent success in athletics including a men's lacrosse championship in 2015 and a men's soccer championship appearance in 2016.

Net Price: $35,163


#7 – University of New Haven

Master of Science in Criminal Justice with Forensic Psychology Concentration

West Haven, CT

The University of New Haven combines criminal justice and psychology courses within its Master of Science in Criminal Justice. This MS program features a concentration in forensic psychology that leverages the university's faculty and learning resources. Forensic psychology students are required to complete four general courses in Mental Health and Criminal Justice, Theories of Criminal Behavior, Quantitative Applications, and Research Methods. An additional five courses are required including Abnormal Psychology, Forensic Assessment, and Introduction to Psychotherapy. Faculty advisors help MS students fill out their graduate studies with three approved elective courses.

Students at the University of New Haven balance the coastal brilliance of New Haven with easy access to New York City and Boston. The university was ranked No. 62 in Best Value Schools for 2019 by U.S. News & World Report. Additional rankings included the school at No. 52 in Best Colleges for Veterans and No. 93 in Regional Universities-North. Notable alumni of the University of New Haven include National Hockey League executive Dean Lombardi, ESPN anchor Darren Haynes, and former National Football League coach Tony Sparano.

Net Price: $25,714


#6 – California Baptist University

Master of Arts in Forensic Psychology

Riverside, CA

California Baptist University offers a Master of Arts in Forensic Psychology in the suburbs of Riverside, California. Every student in this MA program is required to complete 18 classes including two forensic research methods units, two courses in statistical analysis, and two forensic practical courses. The remaining courses address areas like criminal investigations and the biological bases of behavior. After completing these requirements, each student has to select a thesis, comprehensive exam, or a third forensic practicum as their final step. The thesis and exam options allow deep research into important topics in the profession, while a nine-month final practicum provides field experience prior to graduation.

U.S. News & World Report are also high on California Baptist University's appeal to graduate students. The publication ranked California Baptist University as No. 7 in Most Innovative Schools for 2019. U.S. News & World Report also ranked the school No. 20 in Best Value Schools and No. 32 in Regional Universities West. This Baptist university is known in the Riverside area for balancing 1920s architecture with new additions like a new engineering building completed in 2018.

Net Price: $25,714


#5 – Marymount University

Master of Arts in Forensic and Legal Psychology

Arlington, VA

Monmouth University bills itself as the first university near Washington, D.C. with a forensic psychology graduate degree. The Master of Arts in Forensic and Legal Psychology is a 39-credit program that includes eight required courses including bases of psychopathology, forensic assessment, and an internship. Students are able to select five elective classes that span topics like the death penalty, crisis intervention, juvenile justice, and counterintelligence. You can also swap the elective courses for a five-course specialization in intelligence studies ideal for future intelligence professionals.

The university attracts students with plenty of internships and study abroad opportunities for forensic psychology students. Monmouth University's proximity to Washington, D.C. means access to federal government agencies, national advocacy groups, and nonprofits in search of psychologists. Graduate students can work with their advisors to find study abroad opportunities to learn about forensic and legal trends from Japan to Sweden. Monmouth University received acclaim from U.S. News & World Report in 2019 including No. 40 in Best Colleges for Veterans and No. 65 in Best Value Schools.

Net Price: $25,387


#4 – Holy Names University

Master of Arts in Counseling and Forensic Psychology

Oakland, CA

Holy Names University is a private college based in a secluded setting just east of Oakland. The school offers a Master of Arts in Counseling & Forensic Psychology with a specialization in Forensic Psychology. This 39-credit concentration is intended for early-career professionals who need to take afternoon, evening, and Saturday courses. Every MA student starts with Foundations of Counseling: Models and Skills. More advanced courses in psychometrics, victim assessment, and substance abuse treatment allow students to dig into their work.

Holy Names University assigns students to field placements to put their education to the test. Two required seminars allow students to work with faculty to synthesize classroom and field experiences. Forensic psychology students can expand their career potential with a dual MA with Counseling and Forensic Psychology. This path opens up clinical psychologist and family therapy jobs for graduates. U.S. News & World Report listed Holy Names University as its No. 22 pick for Best Value Schools and No. 61 in its Regional Universities West ranking.

Net Price: $21,890


#3 – Tiffin University

Master of Science in Criminal Justice with Forensic Psychology Concentration

Tiffin, OH

Tiffin University trains future forensic psychologists through its Master of Science program in Criminal Justice. This graduate program features a concentration in forensic psychology that requires 30 credits of work beyond the core criminal science courses. Tiffin University asks students to complete courses in victimology, sex crimes, and forensic counseling to understand the underpinnings of this field. Students are able to define their forensic psychology path by selecting the thesis option, a course in career development, or a cultural competence course.

Graduates of the MS program are ready to enter the workforce or pursue doctoral degrees in the field. Tiffin University was ranked No. 128 in Regional Universities Midwest by U.S. News & World Report. The university offers a small-town feel on its western Ohio campus. Tiffin University also features campuses in Cleveland and Toledo and partners with the University of Bucharest to teach international students. This quaint university is known for producing professional football players including Chris Ivory and Nate Washington.

Net Price: $20,799


#2 – University of North Dakota–Grand Forks

Master of Science in Forensic Psychology

Grand Forks, ND

The University of North Dakota–Grand Forks is the state's public university flagship with origins back to the 19th century. The Master of Science in Forensic Psychology program and its affordable tuition helped the school reach the top of our rankings. MS students are asked to complete 30 graduate credits starting with 18 credits of mandatory courses. These required classes train students in essential skills like behavior pathology and experimental design. As students advance, they can select up to three electives in topics like Advanced Social Psychology and Victimology. To complete the MS in forensic psychology, students must complete thesis projects or independent studies.

The University of North Dakota–Grand Forks placed in a handful of 2019 rankings from U.S. News & World Report. The university reached No. 112 in Top Public Schools and No. 205 in National Universities for the year. The school also achieved No. 195 in the publication's High School Counselor Rankings. The University of North Dakota Fighting Hawks men's hockey team also won eight national titles as of the 2018-2019 season and has produced dozens of professional hockey players.

Net Price: $14,478


#1 – John Jay College of Criminal Justice

Master of Arts in Forensic Psychology

New York, NY

Future forensic psychologists looking for a big-city experience can pursue a Master of Arts in Forensic Psychology at John Jay College of Criminal Justice. This Manhattan school offers a 42-credit program that produces graduates trained in the latest theories and assessment tools. Every student starts with four required courses in Psychopathology, Social Science and the Law, Research Design, and Intermediate Statistics. The college asks MA students to select two psychological assessment courses and courses in human development and counseling methods. John Jay College offers electives relevant to the profession like Dissociation and Trauma and Eyewitness Identification. This program allows students to select thesis, externship, or combination tracks depending on their professional goals.

The college's urban location makes for diverse faculty and an international student body. U.S. News & World Report lauded the school's accessibility to students with a No. 46 ranking in Top Public Schools for 2019. John Jay College of Criminal Justice also ranked No. 139 in the publication's Regional Universities North list. MA students also benefit from the school's affiliation with the reputed City University of New York system.

Net Price: $4,891