Criminal Psychology Major: Information and Requirements

Oct 09, 2019

Students enrolled in a criminal psychology bachelor's degree program develop an understanding of the motivations behind illegal behavior. Courses examine how familial, 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. There are typically no special 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.

Bachelor's Degree in Criminal Psychology

Students interested in majoring in criminal psychology can enroll in a 4-year Bachelor of Arts or Bachelor of Science in Forensic Psychology program. The major difference is that the Bachelor of Science requires more quantitative psychology courses, whereas the Bachelor of Arts focuses 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.

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 forensic psychology programs may find work as probation officers. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics projected slower-than-average job growth of 3% for probation officers and correctional treatment specialists from 2018-2028. The median annual wage for probation officers and correctional treatment specialists was $53,020 as of May 2018.

Continuing Education Information

Students wishing work in criminal psychology as licensed psychologists need a master's or doctoral degree, depending upon their state's requirements 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.

A bachelor's degree with a major in criminal psychology teaches students to examine the personal and societal factors which promote illegal behavior and prepares them for entry-level positions as probation officers or for graduate-level study.

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