What is a Criminal Psychology Degree?
“Criminal psychology” is a colloquial term for forensic psychology. Forensic psychology combines elements of criminal justice and psychology. Forensic psychology is an advanced field of study, so degrees in this field are generally master’s or Ph.D. degrees. Students generally study general psychology for their bachelor’s degrees and move onto the advanced and highly specialized field of forensic psychology for their graduate studies.
What Can Graduates Do With a Criminal Psychology Degree?
Graduates of a criminal psychology degree program have several different potential career paths. Many work for local, state, or federal law enforcement agencies. Others become outside consultants for these agencies. Still others teach at the university level or open their own private practices.
What Are the Requirements For a Criminal Psychology Degree?
Forensic psychology degrees are usually found at the graduate level, so they have stringent requirements. Students must have a bachelor’s degree (usually in psychology) with an excellent GPA and high GRE scores to get into the best programs. Some programs may be more lenient, especially if students have relevant work experience. Once in the program, students must complete several years of course work and at least one internship (also called a “practicum”).
Best 25 Criminal Psychology Degree Programs
California State University
California State University – Los Angeles has a top-ranked Master’s in Forensic Psychology. This program offers students the chance to be mentored by a faculty member. Students have the opportunity to do internships in courts, correctional facilities, and law enforcement agencies.
University of Houston
The University of Houston – Victoria offers the top-ranked Master’s degree in Forensic Psychology in Texas. Students must complete two practicum experiences at organizations in the Gulf Coast region of Texas. Many students go on to work for these organizations after graduation.
John Jay College of Criminal Justice
John Jay College of Criminal Justice, which is a constituent college of the City University of New York (CUNY) system, has a leading Master’s degree in Forensic Psychology. This degree program has only four required courses, giving students ample opportunity to customize their course of study. Students can choose to get research experience through a thesis project or to get work experience through an externship.
Oklahoma State University
Oklahoma State University has the top-ranked forensic psychology program in Oklahoma. This program is unique because it offers a Forensic Sciences major with a specialization in Forensic Psychology. This ensures that students get a well-rounded education in forensics.
University of Louisiana
The University of Louisiana – Monroe has one of the leading Forensic Psychology master’s degree programs in the South. This program is technically a Master’s degree in Psychology with a Forensic track. The program can be completed entirely over the Internet, and students do not have to submit a thesis.
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University of North Dakota
The University of North Dakota offers an accessible Master’s in Forensic Psychology. This program can be completed in only two years of part-time study. Students can complete their coursework in its entirety over the Internet.
Arizona State University
Arizona State University offers many leading online programs, including a Master’s in Forensic Psychology. Students must have a bachelor’s degree in psychology, criminal science, or a related field to enroll. Students complete a capstone project instead of a thesis.
The first doctoral program on our list is offered by Miami-based Albizu University. This program is a Psy.D. in Clinical Psychology with a concentration in Forensic Psychology. It is intended to prepare students to work with Hispanic populations.
University of California
The University of California – Irvine offers a Master’s degree in Forensic and Legal Psychology that can be completed online. Students do have to attend a one-week orientation in Irvine, CA at the beginning of their studies. Students must complete a capstone project to graduate.
Montclair State University
Montclair State University has the leading forensic psychology doctoral program in New Jersey. The degree offered is a Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology with an emphasis in Forensic Psychology. A one-year paid internship is require before students can receive their degrees.
The Chicago School of Professional Psychology
The Chicago School of Professional Psychology offers an elite Ph.D. in Clinical Forensic Psychology. This program is offered on Chicago School’s campuses in Irvine and Los Angeles, CA. Students have opportunities to do internships in correctional facilities and courts.
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 research with a forensic population and 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 PSY.D. The field focuses on more than simply understanding the criminal mindset; it also applies psychological science to modifying criminal behavior, understanding, and advancing the justice system.
Palo Alto University
Palo Alto University offers a leading forensic psychology doctoral program. The degree offered is a Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology with an emphasis in Forensic Psychology. Upon graduation, students receive certification in the forensic psychologist specialization.
William James College
William James College focuses on psychology and only psychology. Thus, it’s hardly a surprise that their Psy.D. in Clinical Psychology with a Forensic Psychology specialization is highly ranked. This program meets Massachutsetts licensure requirements.
Nova Southeastern University
Nova Southeastern University offers a forensic psychology doctorate at their Fort Lauderdale, FL location. This program is a Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology with an emphasis in Clinical Forensic Psychology. As with all of the programs on this list, Nova’s program is accredited by the American Psychological Association.
Marymount University may not be as well-known as some of the schools in this article, but its master’s-level forensic psychology program is top-notch. The program is technically a Master’s degree in Forensic & Legal Psychology, so students will get a well-rounded education in the field. This program requires 39 credits to complete, and students can expect to graduate in two to three years. The FLP MA offers a concentration in Intelligence Studies and a dual degree option with Clinical Mental Health Counseling.
California Baptist University
California Baptist University is affiliated with Christianity, but students of all faiths can attend their Master’s degree program in Forensic Psychology. This program requires a practicum in the final year of study. Students have the opportunity to work with local law enforcement and even federal agencies.
Roger Williams University
Roger Williams University may be a small private school, but its Master of Arts in Legal and Forensic Psychology is top-notch. The program is set up to prepare students to pursue a doctoral degree. A thesis must be successfully submitted before students can graduate.
Florida Institute of Technology
The Florida Institute of Technology has a doctoral Clinical Psychology program with an available emphasis in Forensic Psychology. Forensic psychology students have the opportunity to work in prisons and gain valuable practical experience. Students also have access to several leading research centers.
University of Denver
The University of Denver offers a Psy.D. in Clinical Psychology with several available areas of emphasis, including Forensic Psychology. Students have the opportunity to do a practicum in their final year. This program can only be taken on a full-time schedule.
Pacific University is another small school with a powerhouse forensic psychology program. Pacific has a Clinical Psychology Psy.D. degree with a forensic track. Students must complete two practicum experiences and an internship before they can graduate.
Widener University is known for its psychology programs, and its Clinical Psychology Psy.D. with Forensic Psychology concentration is a leader in the field. Applicants must have at least 12 months of relevant work experience to apply. Widener also offers dual master’s degrees in the area.
Fairleigh Dickinson University
Fairleigh Dickinson University offers a Clinical Psychology Ph.D. with a Forensic track. This program takes four years of full-time study to complete. Students will complete a practicum specific to forensic psychology.
Drexel University has an elite Clinical Psychology Ph.D. program with an emphasis in Forensic Psychology. This program takes five years of full-time study to complete. Students must complete both a practicum and a dissertation to graduate.
Fordham University offers a top-notch Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology with a Forensic Psychology emphasis. All students complete a practicum at a hospital, a private institution, or a correctional facility. Students must also successfully submit a defend their dissertation, which is an in-depth research project.
How We Came Up With These Rankings
Our algorithm is based on two statistics from each school. Firstly, the yearly tuition that each school charges. Some schools charge different tuition rates to in-state students and non-resident students. In these instances, we only looked at the in-state tuition rates. Secondly, we considered each school’s graduation rate. To come up with each school’s final rating, we took their yearly tuition rate and added a multiplier equal to the percentage of students who failed to graduate. E.g. School A has a yearly tuition rate of $50,000 and a graduation rate of 90%. Their rating would be 55,000 (50,000 x 110%). Lower ratings are better than higher ratings.
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