The word forensic has its origin the Latin forensis, or public, from forum; criminal cases in Roman times were argued in public, in front of the forum. It has come to mean, on the one hand, argumentative, or rhetorical, on the other, related to the application of science to legal matters. The two main specializations in forensics available at online criminal justice schools are in forensic science and forensic psychology; the latter is where the specific science applied to the courtroom is psychology. Criminal justice degrees in forensic science or psychology can be earned online with tuition for a degree ranging from around $50,000 to close to $70,000.
Walden University has the most affordable online criminal justice degree with a specialization in forensics, at $280 per quarter credit hour, with a total of 181 quarter credit hours needed for the degree, a total of $50,680. Their B.S. in Forensics and the Law “examines concepts and practices related to criminal law, including domestic and international crimes, criminal defense, punishment, and sentencing” Students review the dynamics of courtroom and prosecution, and study “the structure and function of the legal system from the perspectives of law enforcement, court, and corrections professionals.” There is also a strong focus on how psychological theories and assessments impact decision-making throughout the legal process.
Ashford University has an online Bachelor of Arts in Social and Criminal Justice with a specialization in forensics, that, with books and fees added to tuition, comes to $53,680. In this program, students “examine and understand principles of criminal liability and the acts, mental state, and attendant circumstances that are central ingredients in crimes against society, persons, or property.”
American Intercontinental University offers an online Bachelor of Science in Criminal Justice: Specialization in Forensic Science, at $302 a credit hour, which, after 180 credit hours, comes to $54,410. They describe the field as combining scientific and criminal justice techniques; students develop knowledge and skills common to forensic science professionals. Students are provided “with an opportunity to study the field of medico-legal death investigation in the context of forensic science while learning foundational criminal justice theories.
Kaplan University offers a somewhat more expensive online Bachelor of Science in Criminal Justice with an emphasis in Forensic Psychology. They charge $371 per credit hour, which for 180 credit hours would come to $66,780. Their program studies psychology within the context of the criminal justice system, focusing “on enhancing your ability to identify and interact with mentally ill individuals, intervene in crisis situations, and understand the impact of crime on its victims and the community.”
The University of Liverpool does not make its tuition information available except to prospective students. They advertise the option to “study for an online degree from a prestigious UK university.” Their offering is an online Master of Science in Forensic Psychology and Criminal Investigation. This degree may be suited for individuals who are already involved in criminal investigation, but may also work for those “who have an active and passionate interest in the psychology of crime, criminals and investigation.”
The online Bachelor’s degrees in criminal justice take about four years to complete. For those with a passion for law enforcement, these programs can open doors to a solid career.