20 Best Forensic Psychology Ph.D. Programs | Programs, Requirements, Cost

Forensic psychology is a career that combines psychology with law. The basic concepts of law would only be complete with some psychological fundamentals. That being said, all you need to make your dream of becoming a guru in your career come true is to enroll in one of the best forensic psychology PhD programs.

It is more honorable to start an idea and finish well. Therefore, bagging a doctorate will place you above your counterparts.

We will provide all the information you seek about the requirements and costs of any of the Ph.D. programs.

Kindly go through the table of contents to get a recap of this article. You can also click on any section of this post in the table of contents to automatically take you there.

Table of contents

What Is Forensic Psychology?

Basically, forensic psychology and law are intertwined and can’t do much independently, hence, blending the theories of law and procedure with forensic psychology. It takes the practice of law to be successful in this field.

Forensic psychology professionals engage in psychological know-how and vice versa. Spring from the Latin word forensics means the court system of Ancient Rome or forum.

The American Board of Forensic Psychology describes this career path as using psychology on issues bordering law.

Its ability to promote upright, social services, decision-making, and similar fields makes this program second to none. Lately, there has been a significant increase in interest in this particular field, regardless of it being a new course.

While some of the Ph.D. programs specialize in offering two degrees in both psychology and law, others specialize in forensic psychology.

Furthermore, with a Ph.D. in forensic psychology, you can learn the theory behind contemporary criminal justice methods and conduct research into treatment methods, preventive measures, and evaluation techniques.

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Why Should I Get A Ph.D. in Forensic Psychology?

There are numerous advantages to improving your skills in any career path. It is no different in this field. Below are some reasons you should obtain a Ph.D. certificate in forensic psychology.

  • It allows you to design your programs to meet your career goals.
  •  You are open to various job opportunities in a relatively growing field.
  •  It gives you the opportunity to obtain a state license and use the title’ forensic psychologist.’
  •  Also, the mastery that comes with having a Ph.D. or PsyD.

What Jobs Can I Do With A Ph.D. in Forensic Psychology?

As a forensic psychologist, you can assist in court cases, assess criminals, measure the force of crime on victims, and countless more. You can also execute treatment plans, provide services to confined clients, or provide expert testimony in court.

Your daily work might involve speaking with traumatized victims, monitoring at-risk populations, or overseeing a probation facility. Other jobs you can feature with a PsyD or Ph.D. include

  • Clinical and program director
  •  Criminal justice clinical specialist
  •  Case manager
  •  Correctional officer
  •  Criminal profiler
  •  Forensic clinician
  •  Forensic mental health liaison
  •  Rehabilitative counselor
  •  Forensic psychologist
  •  Forensic treatment specialist
  •  Juvenile offender instructor
  •  Law enforcement advocate
  •  Victim advocate

Forensic Psychology PhD Programs

Two options are available to you at the doctoral level if you intend to work as a forensic psychologist. You can obtain a Doctor of Psychology (PsyD) degree or a Ph.D. Either way, you must be rooted in forensics.

A Ph.D. involves research in legal and academic settings, as well as the study of the practical application of legal theory. You’ll be taught research systems and how to form your own theories about psychology in a criminal setting.

PhD vs. PsyD In Forensic Psychology

While both degrees equips you to work as a forensic psychologist, there are some key differences. A PsyD degree borders on clinical settings and interactions with individual clients while a Ph.D. focuses more on analysis, statistics, and larger bearings in the field.

However, consider pursuing a PsyD degree if you intend to assess and treat patients in a forensic setting. Also, If you’re interested in implementing psychology to legal theory or working in academic settings, a Ph.D. is preferable.

Admission Requirements

Admission requirements depend solely on your program and whether you’re entering with a bachelor’s or master’s degree. However, you’ll most likely need to:

  • Provide letters of endorsement
  •  Complete a criminal history check
  •  Attend an interview
  •  Write a personal essay describing your career goals.

Some programs will also ask if you’ve prior experience in the field before gaining admission, either on a paid or voluntary basis.

How Long Does It Take to Get a PhD in Forensic Psychology?

Your Ph.D. can take anywhere between 4 and 8 years to complete. Factors that influence the length of time include whether you attend full- or part-time and the structure of your chosen program. Some programs limit the amount of time allowed to work towards your Ph.D.

This means that if you’re unable to complete the requirements for graduation before the limit, generally 7 or 8 years, you’ll need to appeal for an extension.

Accelerated programs

Some schools offer accelerated or fast-track programs. In a fast-track program, you can start your thesis earlier in your program and take additional classes, allowing you to move through the requirements in pretty little time.

Another way to accelerate your Ph.D. is by attending a program that allows you to apply for credits from your master’s degree.

These programs can be a good choice if you already have a master’s degree in psychology because they reduce the number of courses you’ll need to take to earn your Ph.D.

How to Choose a Program

Your forensic psychology Ph.D. program is an advancement in your career. Therefore, by choosing the program that best fits your needs, you can ensure that your venture is worthwhile. Some key considerations are:

  • Is this program certified?
  •  What kinds of jobs do graduates of this program find?
  •  What credentials does the faculty of this program have?
  •  Can I attend this program part-time?
  •  What are the admissions requirements for this forensic psychology PhD program?
  •  Are online courses offered?
  •  Is an internship required and mandatory?
  •  Is financial aid available?
  •  Does this program have a cap on the amount of time I can take to earn my Ph.D.?

20 Best Forensic Psychology Ph.D. Programs

The ranking factors that have been put into consideration to give you these results are as follows

  • Yearly graduate tuition: Schools that go on to give low costs that students can afford are considered.
  •  Accreditation: An relevant body must regionally certify each school. 
  •  Student-to-faculty ratio: For many students, it is important to get the individualized attention of their instructors.

#1 John F. Kennedy University – PhD In Clinical Psychology

This doctoral program holds accreditation from the American Psychology Association. The hands-on program includes fieldwork at a cross-cultural clinical site.

The doctorate typically takes five years of full-time study to complete. The 180-credit program requires core courses, electives, and an internship. 

Average net price: $8,500

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#2 Arizona State University- PhD In Law and Psychology

This forensic psychology Ph.D. program comprises 84 credits that take about 4-5 years to complete. A thesis, and comprehensive exam are also required of the students.

Interestingly, admitted students with an MA/MS may have the thesis and up to 30 credits overlooked.

Tuition is $11,900 for in-state and $29,875 for out-of-state students.

#3 CUNY John Jay College – Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology

This Ph.D. program equips students to become licensed psychologists and requires competency in forensic applications. Graduates may work in evaluation and intervention or forensic practice.

Ph.D. candidates in the program’s experimental forensic psychology track are prepared for academic, applied research, and advisory positions for and within the justice systems. The program is fully funded.

#4 Sam Houston State University – PhD In Clinical Psychology

This forensic psychology Ph.D. program makes students take courses ranging from Mental Health Law to Forensic Assessment. Also, they will do forensic evaluations, consult on court cases, and participate in treating forensic populations.

Students in this program must complete 108 credits, which takes about six years. In addition to the coursework, students must take a comprehensive exam before graduating. No minimum GRE score or GPA is required for admittance into the program.

#5 Fairleigh Dickinson University – Ph.D. In Clinical Psychology with Forensic Track

The cost per credit for this Ph.D. program is $900, while the average cost for completion is $50,000. Students of this Ph.D. program need to complete a comprehensive exam before graduating from this forensic psychology Ph.D. program.

#6 Nova Southeastern University – PhD In Clinical Psychology Concentration In Forensic Psychology

This doctoral program prepares future psychologists to serve the mental needs of various populations and contribute to the field’s growth through creative research and professional clinical practice.

The concentration of forensic psychology deals with skills applicable in the criminal justice system with issues relating to psychological autopsies and criminal profiling.

#7 Simon Fraser University – PhD in Clinical and Forensic Psychology

Upon graduation from this Ph.D. program, graduates qualify for licensure. Only full-time students are enrolled in this program. Also, the number of years required to complete this program is 6-8 years.

This forensic psychology Ph.D. program is accredited by the American Psychology Association (APA). This program tuition is $5,700 annually and the overall cost for completion of the program is between $34,000-$48,000.

#8 The University of Southern Mississippi – Ph.D. in Counseling Psychology

This program has continually found its way to the list of best forensic psychology programs since its inception because of the 100% pass rate of the national licensure exam. However, the number of years needed to complete this Ph.D. program is 5.

Graduates are eligible for licensure upon graduation. There is a funding package that includes a full tuition waiver.

Aside from the fact that this forensic psychology PhD program enrolls full-time students, there is no credit limit for graduation, and study plans are individualized.

A major requirement for students to graduate from this program is completing a comprehensive exam with an empirical master’s thesis.

The American Psychology Association does its accreditation and tuition is waived.

#10 University of California

This forensic psychology Ph.D. program concentrates on behavioral neuroscience, health psychology, social psychology, and clinical psychology. These concentrations are applied to the legal system where applicable.

The average net price for this program is $18,993.

#11 The Chicago School of Professional Psychology – PhD In Clinical Forensic Psychology

Accredited by the American Psychology Association (APA), this program offers concentrations in adult, child, and family, forensic neuropsychology, and law enforcement. This forensic psychology Ph.D. program takes four years to complete.

#12 University of Pennsylvania – PhD In Clinical Psychology

In order to complete 20 credits of coursework for this program, Ph.D. students can choose a clinical or non-clinical track.

The non-clinical track takes 4-5 years to complete, while the clinical students spend five years in the program, followed by a one-year clinical internship.

 Here, students are open to assessment, diagnosis, and psychotherapy training. The average net price for this forensic psychology Ph.D. program is $38,630.

#13 University of Denver in Colorado – PhD In Psychology

This graduate School of Professional Psychology offers a Ph.D. in forensic psychology program. Through the curriculum and internship components, students gain the knowledge and skills to apply psychological theory in criminal and civil justice systems.

This program offers 8 practical specialized forensic psychology and law-related classes. To be admitted into this doctoral program, students must have a master’s. In addition, the number of years it takes to complete this program is 3 years.

The Erasmus Mundus fully fund this forensic psychology PhD program.

#15 Oklahoma State University – PhD in Clinical Psychology

 The program prepares students for research and clinical practice careers with concentrations in cognitive, comparative neurobiology, developmental, and social psychology.

The average net price for this forensic psychology program is $13,283.

#16 California Baptist University – Ph.D. In Forensic Psychology

This Ph.D. program in forensic psychology seeks to provide students with an understanding of the true nature of crime, human development, psychology, psychopathology, and law. Its curriculum is bordered on criminal investigations, legal research, etc.

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#17 University Of North Dakorta – PhD In Psychology

This program takes about 5 years to complete and students are required to complete a comprehensive exam with an empirical master’s thesis.

The curriculum for this forensic psychology PhD program deals with psychology, behavior pathology, and law.

#18 Texas Tech State University – PhD In Counselling Psychology

Students of this program are required to complete a comprehensive examination to graduate from it. Also, the number of years needed to complete this graduate program is 5-6 years.

Average graduate tuition for this program is $20,000.

#19 University of Alabama – PhD In Clinical Psychology

The University of Alabama offers forensic psychology and law-related classes; this program takes 5 years to complete. Furthermore, it is accredited by the American Psychology Association.

Students of this psychology program receive stipends with tuition waivers.

#20 University Of New Haven – PhD In Criminal Justice With A concentration In Forensic Psychology

This forensic psychology concentration is meant for those already working or planning to work in the legal system. Its curriculum covers mental health law, forensic populations, criminal justice, etc.

Students must complete a dissertation or a comprehensive exam before graduating from this program.


This career path could be very demanding but pay off in the end. That is why we have painstakingly listed the schools offering PhD programs in forensic psychology to help you advance.



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