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The 25 Best PhD in Forensic Psychology Programs in 2021

February 18, 2021 | Staff Writers

PhD in Forensic Psychology
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An Overview of Forensic Psychology

Forensic psychology is a fairly new discipline that only became a recognized professional field in the mid-20th century. Forensic psychology combines the study of law, criminology, and psychology. The goal of forensic psychology is to understand the criminal mindset. This gives practitioners insight into why criminals commit crimes, which can help predict and prevent future crimes.

The Admission Requirements for PhD in Forensic Psychology Programs

The requirements for PhD in Forensic Psychology programs are quite high. To be admitted, students must have completed at least a bachelor’s degree in Psychology with a high GPA. The average minimum undergraduate GPA for admission to a Forensic Psychology PhD program is a 3.5, although this does vary. Students may also have to submit standardized test scores on tests like the GRE. Most programs also require letters of recommendation from psychology professors. Some students complete a Master’s in Forensic Psychology before applying to doctoral programs, though this is not required.

Rank School Location
1University of WyomingLaramie, Wyoming
2John Jay College of Criminal JusticeNew York City, New York
3University of NevadaReno, Nevada
4University of NebraskaLincoln, Nebraska
5Florida International UniversityMiami, Florida

What Graduates Can Do With a PhD in Forensic Psychology

Graduates from Forensic Psychology PhD programs can pursue a variety of careers. Many work in federal, state, and local law enforcement agencies. Some set up their own consulting businesses to work with public and private organizations. Quite a few Forensic Psychology PhD graduates will go into research or teach at the university level (or some combination of the two).

1

University of Wyoming

  • Laramie, Wyoming
  • Graduation Rate: 54%

The University of Wyoming takes the top spot on our list of the best Forensic Psychology PhD programs. Like many of the programs on this list, Wyoming’s program is actually a Ph.D. in Psychology and Law. However, this program (and similar programs) will certainly help prepare students for a career in forensic psychology.

School Overview

Yearly tuition: $5,581 in-state / $18,151 non-resident
Student-to-faculty ratio: 15:1
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2

John Jay College of Criminal Justice

  • New York City, New York
  • Graduation Rate: 43%

The John Jay College of Criminal Justice is a member of the City University of New York system. It offers a Psychology & Law program that can be complete in five years. Students must complete a dissertation and two research practicum experiences.

School Overview

Yearly tuition: $7,470 in-state / $15,420 non-resident
Student-to-faculty ratio: 18:1
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3

University of Nevada

  • Reno, Nevada
  • Graduation Rate: 53%

The University of Nevada has long been recognized as a leader in the field of forensic psychology. It offers a unique Social Psychology Ph.D. with a concentration in Law/Justice. The structure of this program ensures that students get a well-rounded education in psychology while still focuses on forensic psychology.

School Overview

Yearly tuition: $8,034 in-state / $23,086 non-resident
Student-to-faculty ratio: 18:1
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4

University of Nebraska

  • Lincoln, Nebraska
  • Graduation Rate: 67%

The University of Nebraska is another widely recognized leader in the field of forensic psychology. UN offers a challenging dual Psychology Ph.D. and J.D. program. Students have the opportunity to get hands-on experience with law enforcement agencies. Students must complete original research in the areas of both psychology and law.

School Overview

Yearly tuition: $9,522 in-state / $25,828 non-resident
Student-to-faculty ratio: 17:1
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5

Florida International University

  • Miami, Florida
  • Graduation Rate: 72%

Florida International University offers the leading forensic psychology doctoral program in the state. The degree is a Legal Psychology Ph.D. Students can work in multiple on-campus research labs during their time in the program. This is a great program for those planning on a teaching career, as all students get teaching experience. Accepted PhD students typically receive a tuition waiver for at least 4 years. The program does not offer any clinical training.

School Overview

Yearly tuition: $6,565 in-state / $18,963 non-resident
Student-to-faculty ratio: 3:1
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6

Carlos Albizu University

  • San Juan, Puerto Rico
  • Graduation Rate: 87%

Carlos Albizu University is a small, lesser-known institution that still boasts a top forensic psychology program. This school offers a Psy.D. in Clinical Psychology with a Forensic Psychology concentration. The program focuses on preparing students to work with underserved populations, especially Hispanic populations.

School Overview

Yearly tuition: $12,444
Student-to-faculty ratio: 15:1
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7

Sam Houston State University

  • Huntsville, Texas
  • Graduation Rate: 67%

Sam Houston State University offers the leading forensic psychology program in Texas. The school offers a Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology with a specialization in Forensic Psychology. Students must complete a 12-month practicum, which they can do with a law enforcement organization. Students can also work at the Psychological Services Center on campus.

School Overview

Yearly tuition: $8,536 in-state / $18,664 non-resident
Student-to-faculty ratio: 23:1
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8

University of Alabama

  • Tuscaloosa, Alabama
  • Graduation Rate: 68%

The University of Alabama has the top forensic psychology program in the South. Its Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology with a concentration in Psychology and Law is one of the oldest and most prestigious programs of its kind. Students can benefit from dedicated faculty mentorship throughout the program. They also have the opportunity to get hands-on experience with local law enforcement agencies.

School Overview

Yearly tuition: $10,780 in-state / $30,250 non-resident
Student-to-faculty ratio: 20:1
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9

Montclair State University

  • Montclair, New Jersey
  • Graduation Rate: 65%

Montclair State University in New Jersey offers a Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology with a concentration in Forensic Psychology. Students have ample opportunity to teach undergraduates and do research work with faculty. They are also required to do a 12-month internship before they graduate.

School Overview

Yearly tuition: $13,073 in-state / $21,033 non-resident
Student-to-faculty ratio: 17:1
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10

Arizona State University

  • Tempe, Arizona
  • Graduation Rate: 67%

Arizona State University has an innovative Ph.D program in Law and Psychology. This program is aimed at preparing students for careers as researchers and university professors. Students can complete this program in as little as four years if they already have a related master’s degree. If they don’t, they can get one during the course of the program.

School Overview

Yearly tuition: $11,338 in-state / $29,428 non-resident
Student-to-faculty ratio: 20:1
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11

University of Texas – El Paso

  • El Paso, Texas
  • Graduation Rate: 37%

The University of Texas – El Paso, often called UTEP, offers a top-notch Ph.D. in Legal Psychology. UTEP offers three different forensic psychology labs on campus. This gives students an unmatched ability to gather data from their own projects.

School Overview

Yearly tuition: $9,161 in-state / $24,524 non-resident
Student-to-faculty ratio: 25:1
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12

William James College

  • Boston, Massachusetts

William James College is one of several institutions on this list that focuses solely on psychology. William James offers a Psy.D. in Clinical Psychology with a Forensic Psychology focus. This program does meet the requirements for students to become licensed psychologists in Massachusetts. Students will have the opportunity to get hands-on experience specific to forensic psychology.

We can help prospective PhD in Forensic Psychology students find the right program for their needs.

School Overview

Yearly tuition: $33,960
Student-to-faculty ratio: 7:1
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13

University of California – Irvine

  • Irvine, California
  • Graduation Rate: 87%

The University of California – Irvine beats out some stiff competition to be the top school from California in our rankings. Its innovative Psychology and Social Behavior Ph.D. program offers a Psychology and Law concentration. This program guarantees students a spot as a research assistant or teaching assistant for their first five years of study, which means they receive a full tuition waiver and a stipend.

School Overview

Yearly tuition: $13,727 in-state / $43,481 non-resident
Student-to-faculty ratio: 18:1
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14

Spalding University

  • Louisville, Kentucky
  • Graduation Rate: 51%

Spalding University offers a Psy.D. in Clinical Psychology with a Forensic/Correctional Psychology concentration. This is one of the longest-running programs in the field. Students are guaranteed the opportunity to do a practicum at a forensic or correctional site. Spalding also offers a master’s degree that can be applied toward the credits needed for the Ph.D.

School Overview

Yearly tuition: $25,200
Student-to-faculty ratio: 15:1
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15

Palo Alto University

  • Palo Alto, California

Palo Alto University is one of the few private universities in California that offers a forensic psychology Ph.D. degree. Like many of the programs featured in this article, the degree is technically a Clinical Psychology Ph.D. with an emphasis in Forensic Psychology. Graduates of this program receive certification as forensic psychologists, a feature that few similar programs offer.

School Overview

Yearly tuition: $22,755
Student-to-faculty ratio: 17:1
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16

Chicago School of Professional Psychology

  • Chicago, Illinois

The Chicago School of Professional Psychology is another institution that focuses solely on psychological studies. It has Clinical Forensic Psychology Ph.D. programs at its campuses in Los Angeles and Irvine, California. Students have the opportunity to intern with law enforcement agencies. Graduates are eligible for licensure as clinical psychologists in California.

School Overview

Yearly tuition: $21,564
Student-to-faculty ratio: 18:1
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17

Pacific University

  • Forest Grove, Oregon
  • Graduation Rate: 58%

Pacific University is the only institution in Oregon to offer a forensic psychology Ph.D. Pacific offers a Psy.D. in Clinical Psychology with a Forensic Psychology emphasis. Students must complete two practicum experiences to graduate, which ensures that they get plenty of practical experience.

School Overview

Yearly tuition: $46,402
Student-to-faculty ratio: 10:1
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18

Fairleigh Dickinson University

  • Teaneck, New Jersey
  • Graduation Rate: 39%

Fairleigh Dickinson University is the second institution from New Jersey on our list. It offers a Clinical Psychology Ph.D. with a specialization in Forensic Psychology. Students must complete a clinical practicum and a dissertation featuring original research within the field of forensic psychology in order to graduate.

School Overview

Yearly tuition: $42,220
Student-to-faculty ratio: 12:1
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19

Cornell University

  • Ithaca, New York
  • Graduation Rate: 94%

Cornell University is the only Ivy League institution on our list. Its dual Ph.D./J.D. program in Psychology and Law is very challenging, yet phenomenally rewarding. Students must complete both a master’s-level thesis and a doctoral-level dissertation to graduate from this program.

School Overview

Yearly tuition: $57,222
Student-to-faculty ratio: 9:1
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20

Nova Southeastern University

  • Fort Lauderdale, Florida
  • Graduation Rate: 62%

Nova Southeastern University is another Florida institution that makes our list. It offers a Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology with a specialization in Clinical Forensic Psychology. Students in this program have the unique opportunity to get an MBA along with their Forensic Psychology Ph.D.

School Overview

Yearly tuition: $32,110
Student-to-faculty ratio: 17:1
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21

University of Denver

  • Denver, Colorado
  • Graduation Rate: 79%

The University of Denver is one of the most prestigious private universities in the American West. They offer a Psy.D. in Clinical Psychology and a Master’s in Forensic Psychology. Students in the doctoral program can take specialty coursework specific to Forensic Psychology.

School Overview

Yearly tuition: $52,515
Student-to-faculty ratio: 11:1
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22

Florida Institute of Technology

  • Melbourne, Florida
  • Graduation Rate: 57%

Florida Institute of Technology offers a Psy.D. in Clinical Psychology with a concentration in Forensic Psychology. Students will have the opportunity to do research and gain hands-on experience in the field. FIT’s program also offers students a well-rounded education in other areas of clinical psychology.

School Overview

Yearly tuition: $42,470
Student-to-faculty ratio: 14:1
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23

Drexel University

  • Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
  • Graduation Rate: 70%

Drexel University may not be the most well-known school on this list, but it offers an elite doctoral forensic psychology degree. The exact degree offered is a Clinical Psychology Ph.D. with a Forensic Psychology emphasis. Students will have the opportunity to get practicum experience and to do their dissertation in the field.

School Overview

Yearly tuition: $54,516
Student-to-faculty ratio: 11:1
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24

Widener University

  • Chester, Pennsylvania
  • Graduation Rate: 56%

Widener University offers a Psy.D. in Clinical Psychology with a Forensic Psychology concentration. Students must have at least 12 months of relevant work experience to be accepted into this concentration. They will have the opportunity to do a paid internship in this area.

School Overview

Yearly tuition: $47,328
Student-to-faculty ratio: 13:1
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25

Fordham University

  • New York City, New York
  • Graduation Rate: 79%

Fordham University has one of the leading forensic psychology programs in New York. It offers a Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology with an emphasis in Forensic Psychology. Students must complete a year-long practicum and successfully submit a dissertation to graduate.

School Overview

Yearly tuition: $54,393
Student-to-faculty ratio: 13:1
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How We Created These Rankings

We took two factors into consideration when coming up with these rankings, namely yearly tuition rate and student-to-faculty ratio. Schools that charge different rates for in-state and non-resident students only had their in-state rates counted. To come up with the rating of each school, we multiplied the school’s yearly tuition by the number of students per faculty member. For example, if School A has a yearly tuition rate of $10,000 and a student-to-faculty ratio of 10:1, its rating would be 100,000 (10,000 x 10). Lower ratings result in better rankings.

Representatives of the institutions included in this article can feel free to contact us regarding any questions or corrections they may have.

If you’re looking for the best school for a PhD in Forensic Psychology, we can help you find it based on your criteria.

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