*Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, Police and Detectives, on the Internet at https://www.bls.gov/ooh/protective-service/police-and-detectives.htm (visited Marh 24, 2022).
Like their on-campus counterparts, online bachelor’s degrees generally take about four years to complete. In some cases, online students may be able to enroll in an accelerated program designed to cater to working adults with busy schedules. However, you’ll need to do your due diligence before entering a program. Forensic Psychology requires a great deal of credentialing, and that’s after you earn a bachelor’s degree and a doctorate. You’ll want to be 100% certain that the American Psychological Association accredits the degree program you sign up for. In general, the best online options come from public or private universities better known for their traditional academics.
It's also worth pointing out that this field of study does not lend itself easily to the online learning format. There are several courses one can take online but becoming a psychologist of any kind requires an in-depth knowledge of human behavior. As such, expect to spend a great deal of time both in the lab and later, completing supervised practice hours.
It depends on where you live and what type of school you choose. If you attend an in-state public university, costs will be much lower than attending an out-of-state school or a private university. According to College Calc, there aren’t too many four-year colleges that offer this major. Of those that they mention, the average cost ranges between $23,000 for in-state students, to $56,000 for out-of-state students. That said, a more accurate estimation might be to consider the average price of a psychology degree in the US. The average annual out-of-state cost is about $33,000, while the median cost of an in-state program is $8,000 annually. So, the numbers can vary wildly depending on where you live and what type of school you’re looking at
Forensic psychology is a specialized field, so it may be somewhat challenging to find a bachelor’s program near you. Look for schools that have a strong psychology program and review the program’s course catalog. General psychology classes are available at just about any institution, but you’ll want to study subjects like abnormal psychology, criminology, and psychology and the law as well.
Graduation rates aren’t the only way to measure quality, but they do offer some indication that a program is high-quality and provides the resources and support that students need to be able to complete their coursework and take their education to the next level. A school with a below average graduation rate could indicate that there is little in the way of help or guidance from professors.
Or, maybe the school doesn’t offer the required courses, or the program is low-quality. While students drop out of programs for all sorts of reasons, graduation rates are a helpful barometer when considered as part of the full picture. Factors like faculty reputation, school ranking, courses offered, financial aid packages, and more all come into play.
Reputation matters more in a competitive field with stringent guidelines such as forensic psychology. You’ll want to make sure you select a program that sets you up for success within the field. Failing to do your research could mean that you enroll in a program that doesn’t live up to the standards required to attend a graduate school or find work in your field.
The government tightly regulates psychology. When looking for a bachelor’s program, you’ll want to find a program with American Psychological Association accreditation. Without this designation, your degree might not be sufficient for gaining entry into a reputable graduate program, and there are few options for work unless you go into an unrelated field.
Becoming successful in this field is much harder than most other professions. The specialization is relatively new, and according to Psychology Today, there’s still no consensus on what the best educational path looks like. With that in mind, aspiring forensic psychologists should seek out a program that offers as much support as possible. Look for small class sizes, assistance with internships and employment, and networking opportunities.
When you’re embarking on a career path that requires multiple degrees, rating and accreditation is a major consideration. You don’t want to earn a bachelor’s degree from a school with a poor reputation, as this can impact your chances of admittance into a reputable master’s or doctoral program, which changes the entire trajectory of your career path.
As we’ve mentioned, accreditation matters a ton in this discipline. Psychology programs and licensing requirements must meet a strict set of standards so that patients can expect a certain level of expertise when they seek help for mental health issues. Because so much responsibility falls onto the lap of the psychologist, they need to prepare for their work with the public adequately. A program without accreditation might not give students the foundational knowledge required to go onto a graduate program, or eventually, work in the field. It takes a long time to become a practicing clinical psychologist, and as such, you’ll want to do significant research before enrolling in a program, otherwise, you risk wasting a lot of time and money.