Criminal Justice School Info

Forensic Psychology Degree

forensic psychologist stands before court building

Forensic Psychology: What compels the mind to commit acts of crime from the petty thief to the ritualistic and ruthless serial killer?

If you are interested in the workings of the human mind and how it relates to crime and criminal behavior, a forensic psychology degree could be a good match. Many prospective students believe that they must obtain a PhD before they can begin working in the field; however, there are several positions and career opportunities at the bachelor's and masters degree levels.

Advice from those currently in the profession is: "Start where you are". Forensic psychology is a life long journey that evolves and grows with your experience and education. Becoming an actual psychologist requires a PhD and licensure; however, the student who has just begun can be assured that opportunity awaits along the journey. Take some time to learn about the forensic psychology degree that matches your current level of education. Request information from top schools offering online and campus degree programs and prepare a list of questions for school representatives. Also, talk to professionals in the field at various levels, explore the many options among careers in criminal psychology. We've highlighted some of our top picks below, or explore specific degree levels in greater detail.


Explore Specific Forensic Psychology Degree Levels

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Courses & Curriculum in Forensic Psychology

Sample Courses in Forensic Psychology Programs
  • Introduction to Forensic Psychology
  • Abnormal Psychology & Deviant Behavior
  • Fundamentals of Forensic Psychology Research
  • Ethics & Responsibilities in the Field of Forensic Psychology
  • Psychology & its Uses in the Court System
  • Police & Law Enforcement Psychology
  • Internships & Practicums (see below)

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Internships & Practicums

Many schools strongly encourage or require that you complete an internship or practicum to conclude the theoretical education that you gain from your forensic psychology degree. Completing a practicum allows you to apply what you've learned in a real world setting allowing you to job shadow or work in a facility along side others in the profession. Internships are not only effective for bridging the gap between theory and practice, but can be an important factor on your resume when it's time to start applying for positions. When potential employers know that you have applied your skills with a mentor, they are more likely to feel comfortable with your qualifications for a job. Generally, the practicum is designed around your particular area of specialization or your desired entry point into the field. For example, you may sit in with a juvenile forensic psychologist or a professional who frequently deals with the legal and court system.

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Frequently Asked Questions

Are forensic psychology programs available online?

Yes, in fact there are many available options for completing a forensic psychology degree online; however, most graduate level programs encourage, and in some cases require that you conclude with an internship or practicum in a real life setting near your location

What are some of the common specializations or degree concentrations available?

Using Walden Universitys forensic psychology program as an example, they list four degree tracks at their graduate level. They include:

  • Forensic Psychology in the Community
  • Mental Health Applications (see article on Mental Health Training)
  • Program Planning and Evaluation in Forensic Settings
  • Psychology and Legal Systems
How long does it take to complete a forensic psychology bachelors or masters program?

The length of time it takes to complete a bachelors program is dependent upon whether you've had any previously earned college credits. If you have not, the program could take up to four school calendar years and sooner if you choose to attend summer quarters. Masters programs in forensic psychology take, on average, 1.5 years to complete.

What types of jobs or career paths can I take with a degree in forensic psychology?

Some of the common career paths include:

  • Expert Witness
  • Law Enforcement or Court Liason
  • Case Management
  • Juvenile Probation Officer and Counseling
  • Forensic Treatment Specialist
  • Jury Consultation
  • Victim Advocacy
  • Researcher
How can I obtain licensure in my state?

In most cases, you will need to continue your education and complete a PhD to become a licensed psychologist; however, there are many career options at the masters level and many work and continue on their educational path in tandem.


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