Gain the expertise you need to drive positive change within the legal system.
Walden’s online Master of Science (MS) in Forensic Psychology degree can prepare you to apply new insights, skills, and perspectives to a variety of nonclinical roles in areas like cybercrimes, criminal investigative analysis and profiling, terrorism, and victim advocacy. Explore the biological, psychological, and social factors impacting criminal behavior. Evaluate psychological approaches and their effectiveness in dealing with offenders. Examine research methods used in forensic assessments, and learn to evaluate and enhance systems and programs aimed at forensic populations.
Why Choose Walden?
Choose from the general program or one of 10 specializations to help you tailor your degree to your personal and professional interests.
Understand criminal behavior on a deeper level through interactive case studies, podcasts, expert interviews, and our unique interactive learning community.
Your capstone or in-person field experience takes you beyond television crime drama and into the true workings of the criminal justice system.
Walden’s core faculty includes well-known authors and thought leaders in this exciting field.
Apply up to half of your coursework to our PhD in Psychology program, saving you time and money should you choose to pursue your doctorate.
Receive up to a $3,000 Grant and $100 Book Voucher if you reside in the U.S. and start this program on November 29, 2021. Contact one of our Enrollment Specialists to learn more.Get Started Now
Minimum Degree Requirements
- 48 quarter credits
- Foundation course (3 cr.)
- Core courses (25 cr.)
- Specialization courses (15 cr.)
- Capstone or Field Experience (5 cr.)
This sequence represents the minimum time to completion. Time to completion will vary by student, depending on individual progress and credits transferred, if applicable. For a personalized estimate of the number of your transfer credits that Walden would accept, call an Enrollment Specialist at 855-646-5286.
Foundations of Graduate Studies in Psychology
Students in this course are introduced to Walden University and to the requirements for successful participation in an online curriculum. Students build a foundation for academic and professional success as social change agents. They assess the relationship of Walden's mission and vision to professional goals. They establish connections with their peers and the broader Walden community. Students engage in course assignments focused on the practical application of scholarly writing, critical-thinking skills, academic integrity, ethics, and the promotion of professional and academic excellence within the field of psychology.
Intersection of Crime, Psychology, and the Law
Students in this course are provided with an expansive overview of forensic psychology, including basic tenets, practices, and procedures. Students explore subspecialties of forensic psychology; roles and responsibilities; and related legal, ethical, and diversity issues. They have the opportunity to learn how forensic psychology links to legal systems as they explore related topics, including criminal profiling, police psychology, psychology in the criminal courts, and correctional psychology. Through this course, students can acquire a broad understanding of forensic psychology theories and concepts, which they apply to the analysis of controversial issues and contemporary challenges within the fields.
Understanding the characteristics and causes of atypical thoughts and actions—commonly known in mental health professions as abnormal behavior—is essential in determining accurate diagnoses, answering forensic referral questions, and planning effective treatment programs. In this course, students examine the history and evolution of abnormal psychology and how practitioners use contemporary diagnostic criteria of abnormal behavior in various settings, such as schools, rehabilitation facilities, community agencies, and forensic situations. They examine specific techniques for the diagnosis, assessment, and/or treatment of cognitive, emotional, and developmental disorders, as well as for psychophysiological and psychosocial problems. Using the scholar-practitioner model, students consider environmental and biological factors contributing to behavioral disorders. Students also investigate and discuss current and future trends, legal and ethical issues, and multicultural factors that complicate diagnosis and clinical assessment.
Students in this course are provided with contemporary views, theories, and case-study analysis of maladaptive and criminal behavior, victimology, and victim-offender relationships. A broad conceptualization of criminal behavior, such as that woven from biological, sociological, and psychological perspectives is explored and evaluated. Theories of crime and the application of risk factors associated with criminal behavior are examined. Additionally, students will be exposed to specific offender groups, both violent and non-violent, including psychopaths, serial and mass murderers, criminal paraphiliacs, arsonists, white-collar thieves, scam artists, domestic terrorists, and others.
Understanding Forensic Psychology Research
Forensic psychologists, and others in the field, often rely on psychological research for a variety of functions; for example, to extract empirical data about psychological tests or to determine the efficacy of different interrogation techniques. Through this course, students work toward becoming astute consumers of forensic psychology research, acquiring skills needed to understand and interpret data. Students assess the relevance of research as well as the significance of incorporating ethics into practice. They examine basic principles of statistics, such as reliability and validity. Students also learn how to critically read forensic psychology research and how best to apply research results to forensic situations in clinical, correctional, court, public policy, and police settings.
Understanding Violence, Risk, and Threat Assessment
Students in this course explore the various assessment techniques and instruments used within the forensic psychology arena. Some of the assessment areas covered include risk assessment, juvenile evaluations, child custody evaluations, and capital punishment, as well as the various psychological instruments that are used in these types of evaluations.
Psychological Aspects of Violent Crime
Through this course, students explore the nature and extent of the psychological nexus of criminal homicide across various environments to include serial, mass, spree, workplace violence homicide, school shooter homicide, and child abduction homicide. Students will examine the theories and trends of these types of violent crime regarding offender and victim psychological and behavioral characteristics.
What is the relationship between victims and those who commit crimes against them, and how does the criminal justice system protect and respond to victims of crime? In this course, students have the opportunity to answer such questions through a comprehensive assessment of victimology, a relatively new discipline in the field of criminal justice. Students examine victim patterns and tendencies and learn how victims interact with the police and the legal system. They also examine how factors of class, race, and sexual orientation affect the perception of the victim by different constituents, including the public, the court system, and the media. Students assess and discuss the concept of primary and secondary victims and gain practical insight on a range of services and resources available to all types of victims.
Criminal Investigative Analysis and Profiling
In this course, students take on the role of the criminal investigative analyst/profiler as they delve into a criminal case. They explore a structured process of analyzing case file information from investigative, scientific, and behavioral perspectives utilized in assisting in the investigation and prosecution of violent criminal offenses. Within this process, they learn how to organize and analyze case file material; common profiling concepts relating to the offense, the victim, and the offender; various forms of logic, reasoning, or arguments used in analyses; and how to convey conclusions in a written report.
Choose one from the following two courses:
MS in Psychology Capstone
Students are provided with the opportunity to synthesize knowledge and skills acquired throughout their program into a practical project designed to promote positive social change in a capstone project. During this course, students work on a capstone project in which they complete a major integrative paper on a topic related to their specialization, incorporating theoretical and practical knowledge as well as social scientific research skills acquired throughout the program. The instructor may approve other capstone projects presented by students.
Students engage in a 12-week practical field experience at a site specific to students' degree program and their anticipated employment setting or service population. Students work 60 hours on site, interact with peers, and share their experiences and perspectives. Gaining hands-on, practical experience, they apply concepts and theories learned throughout the program to the responsibilities encountered in their field experience setting.
|VIEW ALL COURSES Less Courses|
Program Admission Considerations: A bachelor's degree or higher.
General Admission Requirements: Completed online application and transcripts. Please note that the materials you are required to submit may vary depending on the academic program to which you apply. More information for international applicants.
Tuition and Fees
|Tuition||48 quarter credit||$535 per quarter hour||$25,680|
|Technology Fee||Per quarter||$160||$800|
*Tuition reflects the minimum time to completion. Time to completion varies by student, depending on individual progress and credits transferred, if applicable. Tuition and time to complete may be reduced if transfer credits are accepted, or if you receive grants, scholarships or other tuition reductions. Walden may accept up to 24 transfer credits. For a personalized estimate of the number of your transfer credits that Walden would accept, call an Enrollment Specialist at 855-646-5286.
Tuition and fees are subject to change. Books and materials are not included and may cost between $2,500 to $3,500.
Create a unique learning program to deepen your understanding of forensic psychology as well as focus on criminal justice practice and theory.
Explore how technology is used in the commission of various crimes that include child sexual exploitation, child pornography, cyberstalking, cyberbullying, and human trafficking.
Examine criminal behavior that includes intimate partner violence, child abuse, maternal and paternal filicide, and elderly abuse.
Explore probation and parole services, corrections, and the interactions in the criminal justice system.
Develop an understanding of military culture and the short- and long-term effects of post-traumatic stress disorder.
Discover how you can work with police departments or other law enforcement agencies by assisting in officer selection and training, stress management, critical incident stress debriefing, and hostage negotiation.
Create a unique learning program to deepen your understanding of forensic psychology as well as focus on criminal justice practice and theory.
Gain insight into the unique dynamics of sex offenders as you explore paraphilic behaviors, including pedophilia and hebephilia.
Apply both psychological and public policy principles to understand the impact of terrorism and the countermeasures required to combat terrorist threats.
Dive more deeply into the experiences of both victims themselves and first responders, who may suffer from vicarious traumatization as a result of working closely with victims.
Attorneys, police officers, and judges work hard to put criminals behind bars—but they don’t work alone. Forensic psychologists play a key role in helping these stakeholders understand the psychological drivers of crime and address criminal behavior in an effective way.
With an online master’s in forensic psychology from Walden, you’ll have the expertise needed to be an invaluable resource in many facets of the criminal justice system. Make a positive impact for victims, families, and communities as you help protect human rights and ensure that justice is served.
An MS in Forensic Psychology can prepare you to pursue career options such as:
- Law enforcement advocate
- Court liaison
- Expert witness
- Jury consultant
An MS in Forensic Psychology can prepare you to work in settings such as:
- Law enforcement
- Court system
- Government agencies
Career options may require additional experience, training, or other factors beyond the successful completion of this degree program.
As a graduate of Walden’s MS in Forensic Psychology program, you’ll be able to:
- Analyze the role of psychology within the legal system.
- Promote social change through application of advanced psychological concepts and principles within forensic settings.
- Analyze the principles of research design as applied to forensic psychology research.
- Distinguish the professional roles and responsibilities that are unique to the practice of forensic psychology.
- Explain relevant ethical codes (e.g., the APA’s Specialty Guidelines for Forensic Psychologists) used in forensic work settings.
- Apply psychological theories relevant to criminal behavior in forensic psychology settings.
- Explain the assessment elements (psychological assessment, risk assessment, psychological reports) used within forensic psychology settings.
I really enjoyed both of my master’s degree programs with Walden, and have not ruled out returning for a doctoral degree.
Brandon Shurn MS in Forensic Psychology Graduate
I transferred to Walden University because it offers a tailored system of academic advisors, instructors, and support staff to ensure my journey is smooth and successful.
Ginger L. Jenkins MS in Forensic Psychology Graduate
I have always been passionate about helping survivors of heinous crimes. I knew that I wanted to get a degree in something that could help me make a difference.
Nicole Pavone MS in Forensic Psychology Graduate
FAQ About Walden’s Online MS in Forensic Psychology Program
A forensic psychologist applies psychological theory and practices to the criminal justice and legal system. They do this by evaluating criminal behavior in order to determine the motives and mindset of an offender. A forensic psychologist often works with local law enforcement and many have a presence in the courtroom, providing testimony of their findings and assessment for a judge and jury. By uncovering a person’s mental state at the time of a crime, not only do forensic psychology professionals identify the drive behind the action, they also prevent the same crimes from happening in the future.
Many people study forensic psychology in hopes of effecting positive change for public policy and the justice system. Psychology is a window into understanding the root causes of crime and can reveal new, effective ways of dealing with offenders. Whether you have a background in criminal investigation, social work, public safety, or research, pursuing a master’s in forensic psychology can broaden your understanding of critical issues like cybercrime, victim advocacy, and the socioeconomic conditions that impact criminal behavior. When you study at Walden, you will learn to apply psychological theories of criminal behavior to forensic settings and gain an understanding of the ethical codes used in forensic work. Also, when you choose to earn your MS in Forensic Psychology from Walden University, up to half of the credits you earn can later be applied to a Walden PhD in Psychology. It’s a great way for lifelong learners to save time and money while pursuing their doctorate.
In addition to the general program, Walden’s MS in Forensic Psychology program offers a number of specializations including Family Violence, Police Psychology, Victimology, Terrorism, Legal Issues In Forensic Psychology, and others. Here are some things to consider when deciding how to focus your studies:
- Give thought to your aspirations, passions, and goals, and look for a specialization that aligns with them.
- Think about the specific population or subjects you want to work with. The information you gain in your specialization courses can help guide your career.
- Keep in mind that if you don’t find the perfect fit for your choice of specialization, Walden’s online MS in Forensic Psychology options also include a self-designed specialization that allows you to choose a variety of courses from different focus areas.
You will encounter a number of interesting courses throughout Walden’s MS in Forensic Psychology program. One such example is the course Criminal Investigative Analysis and Profiling. In this course, you’ll learn that crime scene investigators face complex situations and must take a structured approach, evaluating case elements using careful methodologies that take both scientific and behavioral perspectives into account. As part of your studies, you will take on the role of an investigative analyst considering a criminal case, learning how to sort through and consolidate background information and apply offense-specific profiling concepts to the victim, the offender, and the crime. You’ll learn to develop logical arguments based on your investigation and create a written report to communicate them.
Earning your MS in Forensic Psychology can prepare you with the expertise you need to qualify for a range of professional opportunities and enjoy a meaningful career effecting change in the legal system and community settings. Some of the positions possible with an MS in Forensic Psychology include:
- Law enforcement officer
- Probation officer
- Case manager
- Program manager
- Court liaison
- Jury consultant
Career options may require additional experience, training, or other factors beyond the successful completion of a degree program.
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