APA-Accredited Forensic Psychology Programs

Jessica White

Written by Jessica White

Community Mental Health Worker & Case Manager

Updated & Fact Checked: 1/12/2023

Forensic psychology is a helpful way to contribute to the field of law and criminal justice. Psychologists have specialized knowledge to understand human behavior and can help others who are in charge of determining sentences or investigating a crime to understand complexities behind a case. Forensic psychology has become more and more popular over the years for a variety of reasons. If you are interested in this field, it’s important that you know what to look for when researching schools to look for. To obtain a high-quality education, you will want to earn a degree from a program that is accredited by the American Psychological Association.

The American Psychological Association states that Forensic Psychology is “characterized by activities primarily intended to provide professional psychological expertise within the judicial and legal systems.” Additionally, the APA has developed specialty guidelines surrounding forensic psychology due to the complexity of the definition and practice when it comes to psychology. Within the guidelines, the APA conveys that forensic psychology is practiced when the scientific or specialized knowledge of psychology is applied to law when addressing legal or administrative issues. Therefore, one could perceive that an individual does not technically need to receive a degree specifically specializing in forensic psychology. However, this article will review psychology degrees related to forensics.

Featured Forensic Psychology Degree Programs

  1. Drexel University – PhD in Clinical Psychology, Specialization in Forensic Psychology
    Drexel University’s forensic psychology specialization within their PhD in clinical psychology program allows students to apply assessment and intervention skills to assist attorneys and those who are in charge of legal decisions. This area of study allows the psychology student to focus specifically on criminal and juvenile issues while gaining advanced training in the law and behavioral science. Students will learn relevant and appropriate assessment and intervention approaches within their chosen focus. They will choose at least two electives while taking part in the program, which include:
    • Mindfulness and Acceptance-Based Treatment
    • Evidence-Based Psychotherapy
    • Neuropsychological Assessment
    • Advanced Cognitive Behavioral Therapy
    • Neuropsychological Case Analysis and Integration
    • Child Psychopathology and Treatment
    • Psychology of Rehabilitation

    Additionally, students will complete an 800 hour forensic psychology practicum, a thesis and dissertation, and two years of relevant research.
    Tuition: $1,342 per credit hour + fees

  2. William James College – PsyD in Clinical Psychology, Forensic Psychology Concentration
    The forensic psychology concentration within the clinical psychology program at William James College provides students with an opportunity to expand upon the generalized training they receive within the main program and gain specialized training within specific topics. These topics may include personal injury, child custody evaluations, child protection cases, criminal matters, competence to stand trial, criminal responsibility, and more. Students in this program they’ll also study how to provide assessments in how to determine risk of threats and how to manage violent or sexual offenders. Students in this concentration may also get further opportunities to receive more education in correctional and police psychology through the optional electives available. In the third or fourth year of the program, students will spend one year completing their field education at a site that is completing forensic work. This may include outpatient treatment clinics, treatment facilities, court clinics, forensic hospital units, correctional facilities, etc. This provides the student with experience in assessing, evaluating, testing, and providing treatment methods that will allow them to work with a variety of populations. They will also consult with the director of their concentration to determine if they want to complete a second placement. Students in this concentration also need to complete a doctoral project, although it does not need to be related to forensics.
    Tuition: $52,220 per year, including fees
  3. Fairleigh Dickinson University – PhD in Clinical Psychology, Forensic Track
    The forensic track at Fairleigh Dickinson University’s PhD in Clinical Psychology program is an optional add-on that will be noted on a student’s transcript if they choose to take part. Students who participate in this track will complete a clinical practicum after their first year in the program via an approved externship or similar placement. Additionally, they will complete a Forensic Assessment and Prediction course. This course reviews how to assess the risk of violence, personal injury, managing disability and child custody in regards to law and psychology, psychopathology, and more. A main focus of the course is how to make quick decisions when feeling uncertainty. Students will also take an Evaluating Responsibility and Competency course. Students who choose to enroll in this track will be responsible to complete a dissertation on a topic related to forensics. Additionally, students will be able to take part in forensic psychology research opportunities.
    Tuition: $623 per credit + fees
  4. Fordham University – PhD in Clinical Psychology, Area of Study in Forensics
    Fordham University’s forensics area of study in their PhD in Clinical Psychology program trains students to apply psychology to the law by directing students to learn through coursework in the curriculum and then apply what they have learned to direct work in the field. The program is successful because Fordham University seeks to follow the goals of the American Psychology Law Society. These goals work towards the advancement of the relationship between psychology and the law. The other goal of the program is to transform students into graduates who are competent forensic clinical psychologists. Students who decide to participate in this area of study will complete the core curriculum of the clinical psychology program, and will also take three courses in forensic psychology, along with an externship in a forensic setting. They will also complete research on a forensic psychology topic.
    Tuition: $1,560 per credit
  5. Pacific University School of Professional Psychology – PsyD in Clinical Psychology, Emphasis in Forensic Psychology
    The forensic psychology emphasis at Pacific University’s doctoral clinical psychology program focuses on the principles of human welfare and the dignity and respect of those who are involved in the legal system. The program trains through a lens of compassion, responsibility, integrity, and a responsibility to society. This emphasis trans psychology students to become leaders and pursue innovative research. Students are encouraged to use both assessment and treatment strategies that are based on evidence in all settings. The mission of this emphasis area at Spalding University is to train all psychology students to become competent clinical psychologists who are familiar with the most up-to-date practices to assist those who are involved in the criminal justice system. Forensic psychology students will complete practica and an internship at an external location that is related to forensics.
    Tuition: $39,567 per year + fees
  6. Nova Southeastern University – PhD in Clinical Psychology, Clinical Forensic Psychology Concentration
    Nova Southeastern University offers a forensic psychology concentration within their clinical psychology doctoral program because they recognize the need for psychologists working in the justice system. This concentration will emphasize strategies for how to use clinical psychology skills and how to apply them to the criminal justice system, such as assessing competency and judging criminal responsibility. This also includes managing and assessing psychological damage that can occur in civil trials, criminal profiling, autopsies, child custody cases, and parental ability. The concentrations at Nova Southeastern University are limited during the first year of study, and students Can only participate in one concentration. Students in the forensic concentration will participate in electives. They will also complete their practicum and research activities.
    Tuition: $1,267 per credit hour
  7. University of Denver – Master of Arts in Forensic Psychology
    The forensic psychology specialty at University of Denver is intended to provide students with increased knowledge of theory and skills so students can graduate and go on to serve communities involved in the criminal justice system. Students will learn how to tie in theories and competencies regarding psychology to the criminal justice system. Students who take this course may end up employed in organizations or with populations such as correctional institutions, victims assistance, crisis intervention, domestic violence shelters, specialty courts, and more. This program is designed to be completed within two years of full-time study. Students who graduate this program can work under a licensed clinical psychologist.
  8. Palo Alto University – PhD in Clinical Psychology, Emphasis in Forensic Psychology
    Palo Alto University’s forensic psychology emphasis in their clinical psychology program emphasizes advanced training that is designed to turn students into psychologists who specialize in the legal system and advocate for clients who need it the most. The forensics program focuses on general training, as well as specific and specialized elective courses that are backed up with real life and practical experience. Students complete this requirement through an internship where they apply their specific knowledge in a forensics environment. KThey will also complete a dissertation That demonstrates their knowledge of psychology and law. The coursework that students complete when taking part in this emphasis involves five courses that equal 15 credits. Students have the option to customize their training experience even further with aiming it towards correctional treatment in the rehabilitation space by taking a course focusing on substance abuse diagnosis, per the university website.
    Tuition: $16,288 per year + fees
  9. Widener University – PsyD in Clinical Psychology, Forensic Psychology Concentration
    Widener University’s Clinical Psychology program produces scholars who can function equally as practitioners and psychologists. They offer a number of concentrations, including one in forensics. Graduates of the forensics concentration will be able to perform psycholegal assessments, diagnoses, testimonies and consultations, and treatments and interventions. All of this will be able to be performed in contexts of criminal and civil law. To complete the program, students will apply the knowledge that they have gained in their coursework by gaining real world experience by working for one year in a forensic environment. However, this must be approved before the student begins. Additionally, students must also complete a forensic assessment case and subsequently write a forensic report. An alternative option is to complete a forensic intervention case, which also results in a report. Students will also take part in a dissertation or a presentation that is relevant to both law and psychology.
    Tuition: $1,259 per credit + fees
  10. Alliant International University – PhD in Clinical Psychology, Emphasis in Forensic Psychology
    Alliant International University’s forensic psychology emphasis within their clinical psychology doctoral program prepares students to work in both civil and criminal legal settings and to work with diverse populations that are involved in the criminal justice system. Psychologists who work in this field may work with many individuals including law enforcement, medical professionals, those who have committed a crime, and more. The forensics courses cover needs that may be related to topics such as divorce, disability, custody, adoption, workers compensation, and more. Psychology students can gain many specific skills from this program, including the ability to use assessment and diagnostic tools for therapeutic purposes, research and analysis skills to understand laws at different levels, the legality and ethics of interacting with clients and others, interpersonal communication skills, building and supporting ongoing relationships, analyzing friends of psychology research, and more. Psychology students are required to complete 500 practicum hours in two forensic settings minimum, and complete a dissertation related to forensic psychology.
    Tuition: $1,298 per credit +fees

What is an APA-Accredited Forensic Psychology Program?

An APA-accredited forensic psychology program has met the qualifications to earn an accreditation status through the American Psychological Association. These programs are typically a Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) degree with a specialization in forensic psychology, a Doctor of Psychology (PsyD) degree with a concentration in forensic psychology, or other small variations. It can take someone about four to five years to earn their PhD or PsyD degree once they have started the program assuming that they already have an undergraduate education, but longer without.

What is APA Accreditation?

APA stands for the American Psychological Association, which is the leading accrediting program in the United States. The APA has a Commission on Accreditation (the APA-CoA) that comprises 32 members who are passionate about the quality and consistency of psychology education. Their role is to evaluate psychology programs to ensure that they meet the criteria for accreditation, which includes a certain level of ethics, professionalism, scientific standards, and quality standards. The APA as a whole comprises professionals and experts in the field of psychology who want to innovate psychology education.

Featured Doctoral Programs in Forensic Psychology

Why Choose an APA-Accredited School for My Forensic Psychology Program?

APA accreditation ensures that your education will adequately prepare you for a career as a psychologist, including taking the licensing exam. This is because APA accredited programs have gone through a rigorous process to prove that they are educating students to provide evidence-based services that have been proven to promote health and well-being. This accreditation is good for schools because it appeals more to students over non-accredited schools, as students are investing in their education, and students can be assured that their investment is safe. A degree from an APA-accredited school may also be required from employers, as they recognize the importance of the title. Accreditation creates consistency across the United States, which also holds benefits for students who need to move states and get a new state license, because the application process may be much easier. The benefits of attending an APA-accredited program can last many years beyond when you attend a program.

Requirements to Enroll in an APA-Accredited Forensic Psychology Program

Whether you are ready to apply for your APA-accredited forensic psychology program or need to do a little more research first, there are still a few things you can know about to become prepared. While the requirements might differ slightly between some universities, there are some standard expectations of information that you may need to submit:

  1. College transcripts. PhD and PsyD programs will accept you if you have your bachelor’s or master’s degree (although you may have to complete some prerequisite courses before applying to the doctoral program). However, you should have maintained a high GPA, as these programs are often competitive.
  2. GRE scores. This is the Graduate Record Exam, a requirement that is being gradually phased out in general. However, some institutions still require that you take this test and submit the scores with your application. Review the requirements of your chosen program.
  3. Essay/Personal statement. This portion involves writing a response to a prompt that is usually given by the program within the application. The questions often involve writing about your experiences, your goals, and how being a part of the program will help you meet those goals.
  4. Resume. This should list your employment and academic history, especially if it pertains to psychology.
  5. Letters of recommendation. Institutions usually request that these come from previous educators (such as old professors) or employers.

APA-Accredited Forensic Psychology Program Scholarships and Grants

When it comes to earning a doctoral degree, finances may be a roadblock for some students. The benefit of pursuing a higher level degree is that there is frequently more financial assistance available through the university’s program via fellowships, grants, and assistantships. There also may be scholarships or other kinds of financial assistance available as long as a student remains in good standing within the program.

The American Psychological Association has a foundation that offers funding opportunities for students. This organization is called the American Psychological Foundation. Through this foundation, multiple grants and scholarships are available.

Other forms of financial assistance that may be available for forensic psychology students include: