Colleges with the Best Criminal Psychology Programs
Explore some of the best schools in the U.S. for criminal psychology if you're considering a career in this growing field. Opportunities to complete your degree online, get educational credit for field work, and earn dual degrees are just some of the perks. Schools offering Forensic Psychology degrees can also be found in these popular choices.
Criminal psychology is the analysis of human behavior in an attempt to understand both criminals and victims of crime better. The most common degree in this field is in forensic psychology, and coursework includes the basics of human psychology but also focuses on the impact of addiction, abuse, age, gender, effective counseling, and more. Additionally, these programs train you to effectively communicate so that you may use your expertise to support law enforcement services and others.
What Types of Jobs Are Available in this Field?
If you pursue a career in criminal psychology, you might find yourself working in a wide variety of areas, including trial consulting, victim advocacy, domestic and child abuse, correctional facility rehabilitation, and police consultations. Employers are diverse, including anything from the FBI to public schools. Regardless of your focus, the primary purpose is to help mitigate the circumstances that lead to crime and provide support to help people leave their criminal activity behind them. One such job is that of a parole officer. Although considered stressful, it can also be very gratifying due to the strong emphasis on helping others and giving back to your community at large. Parole officers are generally required to have a bachelor's degree in sociology or criminal justice. Some states also require prior experience or at least a year of post-graduate work in a related field such as psychology.
What Are Some of the Top Schools in the U.S. Offering Bachelor's Degrees in Criminal Psychology?
A bachelor's degree program includes learning the foundational concepts of psychology and how it relates to the law; how influences such as culture, race, and class affect behavior; and how to impartially gather data and share findings. Students with this degree either go on to earn a higher degree in the same discipline or go into fields such as social work, research, or law enforcement.
CUNY - John Jay College of Criminal Justice
The Bachelor of Arts in Forensic Psychology program at this highly regarded school requires between 42 and 53 hours to complete, and you have the opportunity to prepare for a master's degree at the same time if you chose to do so. There are also opportunities to complete some of the coursework in the field to gain hands-on experience.
This university offers a combined Bachelor of Science in Criminal Justice and Psychology program that takes a close-up look at the science of psychology and the criminal justice system with a focus on understanding the relationship between the two. Students are required to complete the same core coursework as any undergrad along with 84 courses specifically related to psychology and criminal justice - some of which will take the form of paid, semester-long positions in related areas.
Florida Institute of Technology
Florida Tech offers a B.A. in Forensic Psychology program with low student-to-teacher ratios that promote individual attention. The program is for those who want to apply psychological theory and research to advocate for improvements in the system. As part of the program, you'll conduct research alongside faculty members as part of the program's hands-on curriculum approach. Course credits total 120 hours, including required undergrad coursework for all students at the university as well as degree-specific classes.
What if I Want to Get a Master's in Criminal Psychology?
If you want to further your education, getting a master's degree in the same field will expand your knowledge and can help you land an advanced position - often with higher wages. These programs build on the foundational coursework of their undergraduate counterparts, but can also include extensive work in the field, completion of a thesis, and more intensive courses such as interviewing and theories of psychotherapy, group interventions, and ethical issues in forensic psychology.
CUNY - John Jay College of Criminal Justice
This school also offers a Master of Arts in Forensic Psychology for students interested in providing psychological and civil justice services. The program focuses on analyzing and providing treatment to both criminals and victims. Once you complete the 42-hour curriculum, you have the option of finishing your degree by either accruing 300 hours of pre-approved work experience in a psychology setting or completing a thesis.
University of Denver
Earn your MA in Forensic Psychology degree at the University of Denver for robust preparation to become a mental health professional in a clinical setting. You will be trained and evaluated in three areas of study as part of the program - the application of therapy, your ability to assess populations, and legal and criminal justice consultations. This two-year program boasts a 71% hiring rate in a relevant field after graduation and incorporates field trips and clinical studies to provide real-world experience.
University of California - Irvine
The Master of Legal and Forensic Psychology program gives you the chance to earn your degree in an online format. You will be required to attend one five-day course in person, but after that, you can complete the remaining requirements online. The program takes two years to complete and focuses on the connection between psychology and criminology. Courses such as Violence and Psychopathology and Clinical Interviewing and Treatment are just part of the curriculum students have to choose from, and instead of a thesis, your final course will be a capstone course where you write a term paper highlighting what you learned and how you can apply it to a research program.
What Does the Job Market Look Like for Criminal Psychologists?
Although the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) doesn't provide statistics specifically for criminal psychologists, the median wage in 2018 for all psychologists was $79,010 per year with an above average job growth of 14% projected from 2018 to 2028.
Regardless of the degree level you choose, a career in criminal psychology can be a rewarding way to earn a living while positively impacting the lives of those directly affected by crime, including victims, law enforcement officials, and criminals.
To continue researching, browse degree options below for course curriculum, prerequisites and financial aid information. Or, learn more about the subject by reading the related articles below: