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Criminal Psychology Major: Information and Requirements

Get information on bachelor's degree in forensic psychology programs. Learn about course requirements, career options, continuing education opportunities and potential salaries.

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Essential Information

The study of criminal psychology includes training in sociology, criminal justice and mental health analysis. Students interested in pursuing a major in criminal psychology can enroll in a Bachelor of Arts or Bachelor of Science in Forensic Psychology program. The major difference between the two is the Bachelor of Science's requirement of more psychology-centered courses. Completing a bachelor's degree program does not qualify graduates to work as forensic psychologists. To be a psychologist, an individual needs at least a master's degree.

Students enrolled in a criminal psychology bachelor's degree program develop an understanding of the reasons that motivate individuals to perform illegal activities. They examine the psychology of families and learn how societal and cultural factors often perpetuate criminal tendencies. 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. Courses cover topics such as judicial proceedings, victimization studies and research methods.

Education Prerequisites

There are typically no special admission requirements for application to a criminal psychology major. However, some colleges may require students to take foundational courses in statistics and psychology before being able to take core forensic psychology classes.

Program Coursework

Criminal psychology majors are often required to participate in a professional work experience. Throughout the program, they take classes such as:

  • Mental health 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 insufficient to become a criminal psychologist. However, graduates of a forensic psychology program may go on to work as probation officers. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics projected an average job growth of 18% for probation officers and correctional treatment specialists from 2010-2020. The mean wages for probation officers were $52,380 in May 2012.

Continuing Education Information

Students who want to work in criminal psychology as licensed psychologists need a master's degree, at the minimum. While some forensic psychology majors go on to earn a master's degree in the field, others decide to pursue related areas of study, including clinical psychology, criminal justice or sociology.

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