Criminal Psychology Major: Information and Requirements

Students enrolled in a criminal psychology bachelor's degree program develop an understanding of the motivational factors behind illegal behavior. Courses examine the psychology of families and how societal and cultural factors may perpetuate and facilitate criminal tendencies and actions.

Essential Information

The study of criminal psychology includes education in sociology, criminal justice and mental health. Students interested in majoring in criminal psychology can enroll in a Bachelor of Arts or Bachelor of Science in Forensic Psychology program. The major difference is the Bachelor of Science's requirement of more quantitative psychology courses, and the Bachelor of Arts' focus on the criminal justice system.

Forensic psychology majors may learn skills in criminal profiling, individual assessment and counseling. Many programs require that students complete an internship or work experience with a law enforcement agency.

There are typically no special admission requirements for application to a criminal psychology major. However, some colleges may require introductory courses in statistics and psychology prior to core forensic psychology classes.

  • Program Levels in Criminal Psychology: Bachelor's degrees, master's degrees
  • Prerequisites: Coursework in Introductory Psychology and Statistics
  • Completion Requirements: Internship experience with law enforcement
  • Program Length: Four years

Bachelor's Degrees in Criminal Psychology

Criminal psychology majors are often required to participate in a professional work experience. Throughout their studies, students take courses such as:

  • Psychological Tests and Measurements
  • Abnormal Psychology
  • Laws Affecting Criminals
  • Judicial Criminal Proceedings
  • Studies in Victimization
  • Research Methods in Criminal Psychology

Employment Outlook and Salary Info

A bachelor's degree in forensic psychology is not sufficiently advanced to permit one to practice as a criminal psychologist. However, graduates of a forensic psychology program may find work as probation officers. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics projected little to no job growth for probation officers and correctional treatment specialists from 2012-2022. The median annual wage for probation officers was $49,060 in May 2014.

Continuing Education Information

Students wishing work in criminal psychology as licensed psychologists need a master's or doctoral degree, depending upon the state requirement for licensure. While some forensic psychology majors choose to earn a master's degree in the field, others pursue related areas of study including clinical psychology, criminal justice or sociology.

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