Criminal Investigative Psychology Schools and Colleges in the U.S.

Dec 10, 2019

Criminal investigative psychology, commonly known as forensic psychology, is an applied psychology that uses scientific research to assist in collecting and interpreting data for use in the legal and criminal justice system. Forensic psychology programs are not as common at the undergraduate level as they are at the graduate level, but they do exist at four-year colleges and universities.

Professionals in forensic psychology conduct work ranging from assessing the mental competence of criminal defendants to interviewing victims and witnesses to evaluating evidence in criminal and civil procedures. There are many careers in the criminal justice field that only require a bachelor's degree, while licensed forensic psychologists are required to have a doctoral degree in applied psychology.

Schools with Forensic Psychology Programs

The following list includes a number of public and private schools that offer undergraduate and graduate degrees in forensic psychology.

College/University Location Institution Type Degrees Offered Tuition* (2018-2019)
CUNY-John Jay College of Criminal Justice New York, NY 4-year, Public Bachelor's, Master's, Doctoral In-state Undergraduate $7,270; Out-of-state Undergraduate $14,940; In-state Graduate $11,212; Out-of-state Graduate $20,362
University of Denver Denver, CO 4-year, Private Master's $49,695
The Chicago School of Professional Psychology Chicago, IL 4-year, Private Master's $22,601
Oklahoma State University Stillwater, OK 4-year, Public Master's In-state $8,460; Out-of-state $23,963
Roger Williams University Bristol, RI 4-year, Private Master's $15,386
Holy Names University Oakland, CA 4-year, Private Master's $18,570
Tiffin University Tiffin, OH 4-year, Private Bachelor's, Master's Undergraduate $25,000; Graduate $13,000
Florida Institute of Technology Melbourne, FL 4-year, Private Bachelor's $41,850
University of North Dakota in Grand Forks Grand Forks, ND 4-year, Public Master's In-state $9,697; Out-of-state $23,435

Source: *National Center for Education Statistics (NCES)

School Selection Criteria

There are several things to consider when selecting a criminal investigative psychology program.

  • Individuals considering a forensic psychology program may want to consider the type of work they wish to perform upon completion of their education.
  • Students should make sure the graduate schools they are considering offer specializations or field placements in their area of interest.
  • Possible areas of specialization include counseling juvenile offenders, working with victims of domestic violence and conducting death investigations, among many others.
  • Some programs are available through online study, which may appeal to students who have a job or are unable to relocate for school.

Bachelor's Degree in Forensic Psychology

Forensic psychology bachelor's degree programs provide foundational skills in writing, communication and quantitative analysis through general education courses. Programs typically cover criminal justice topics, such as criminal justice theory, legal processes and law enforcement, the role of technology in criminal investigation, criminal profiling and corrections. Psychology courses are also featured. Students in these programs often have internship opportunities as well.

Master's Degree in Forensic Psychology

Master's degrees in forensic psychology can usually be completed in 2-3 years. Students typically choose an area of specialization or concentration, such as child protection, sexual offenses or corrections. Training often includes the use of psychological assessment tools to help identify potential criminal offenders, sexual abuse victims and the mentally ill. Candidates should have a bachelor's degree in psychology, criminal justice or a closely related field.

Doctoral Degree in Forensic Psychology

Doctoral degree programs in forensic psychology are offered as either the professional Doctor of Psychology (Psy.D.) or the academic Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.). Psy.D. programs prepare graduates for clinical work and case management. These programs often culminate in writing a formal case study, but they don't require dissertations. Psy.D. programs in forensic psychology accept students who have earned a bachelor's or master's degree. Ph.D. programs train students for academic or research careers in forensic and criminal psychology. They generally require a dissertation on a selected research topic. Admission to a Ph.D. program in forensic psychology typically requires a master's degree in psychology or a closely related field with courses in experimental psychology.

There are many institutions that offer programs in forensic psychology. Prospective students can opt between public and private colleges and universities, and can pursue studies towards a bachelor's, master's or doctoral degree.

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