Forensic Psychology Bachelor Degree Guide

Embarking on a relatively new field in psychology, forensic psychologists apply clinical specialties to the legal arena. Most frequently, they assess the psychology of people involved with the legal system. They may evaluate child custody candidates, allocate counseling services to crime victims, or design treatment programs for juvenile and adult offenders. Since they commonly work with the law, forensic psychologists may also counsel law enforcement agents and assist in criminal proceedings. For this career, strong clinical skills are a must.

A bachelor's degree in forensic psychology — also called criminal psychology — not only prepares you to enter a career in this exciting field, but it also provides you with a strong foundation for several careers. Keep reading to learn more about earning a forensic psychology degree.

Degree Snapshot

Typical Admission Requirements:
High school degree or equivalent, competitive GPA, SAT/ACT scores

Time to Completion:
4 years

Average Salary:
$66,610

Why Get a Bachelor's Degree in Forensic Psychology?

A bachelor's degree in forensic psychology benefits graduates professionally and personally. Here are a few of those benefits:

  • A degree in forensic psychology prepares students for careers in fields like social work, law, and counseling.
  • Earning a bachelor's in forensic psychology can yield higher salaries and advanced job roles.
  • A bachelor's in forensic psychology prepares students to pursue a graduate degree.
  • Criminal psychologists and forensic professionals can earn their livings assisting law enforcement in criminal proceedings and investigations, which may translate to exciting and unconventional work.
  • Forensic psychologists can work in public and private sectors, providing even more career path options.

Example Courses

Psychology and Law

This course provides students with a foundational background in the intersection of psychology and law, including basic tenets of forensic psychology and legal proceedings. Students explore the judicial system, including different functions and processes. Students also discuss real court cases and their implications for practicing psychologists.

Introduction to Criminology

Criminology explores different patterns of criminal behavior and criminological theories. This introductory course examines cultural and social influences on crime throughout recent history. Students also learn about crime prevention, sectors of law enforcement, and victimology. For students in forensic psychology, this course may also explore the role of psychologists in the criminal justice system.

Research Methodology

This course explores research methodologies commonly employed in the field of psychology. Students explore quantitative and qualitative methodologies, along with processes and methods most often employed by each. The course involves reading existing research and discussing implications for further research in the field.

Abnormal Psychology

In this course, students explore physiological, social, and psychological influences on a person's mental health and how mental disorders evolve from different biological and psychosocial circumstances. The course introduces categories of mental disorders, methods for diagnosis, and existing treatment options.

What Can You Do With a Bachelor's Degree in Forensic Psychology?

A bachelor's in forensic psychology can lead you to various careers. Some graduates go on to work in entry-level positions in the field, while others pursue graduate degrees in psychology and related areas. Keep in mind that, in order to practice as a forensic psychologist, you will need to earn a doctorate.


Where Do Forensic Psychologists Work?

Forensic psychologists work for federal government agencies, local governments, private organizations, universities, research labs, and as independent consultants.

Career Advancement

Graduate Programs

If you hope to practice professionally as a forensic psychologist, you will have to earn a graduate degree. After earning a bachelor's in forensic psychology, many students go on to pursue a master's and a doctoral degree in psychology or a closely related field. For example, some students go on to earn a master's in social work or counseling, which allows them to earn counseling licensure without pursuing a doctorate.

Students interested in working as a clinical forensic psychologist need to earn a doctorate in psychology, and they would likely need a supervised internship in forensics.

Licensure

In order to practice as a psychologist, forensic or otherwise, you must be licensed. Depending on the state where you wish to practice, licensure requirements can vary. Prospective psychologists must consult with their state's psychology licensure board to learn about that state's specific licensing requirements.

Generally, states require a doctoral degree in psychology and a specific number of supervised postdoc practice hours in order to earn licensure. Some states also require a set number of internship hours or a doctoral degree from a specially accredited program. Check with your state board for specific licensing requirements.

Professional Organizations

  • American Psychological Association APAprovides a variety of resources for students and practicing psychologists, including information on practice, licensing, and student loan payment counseling.
  • International Association for Correctional and Forensic Psychology This forensic psychology association offers special discounted memberships for students. Members benefit from access to publications and discounts on conferences and event registration.
  • American Academy of Forensic Psychology This nonprofit offers funding and grant opportunities to doctoral students in forensic psychology, including a dissertation grant. Members also have access to workshops, a mentorship program, and special awards.

Take the Next Steps

Program Database

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