Criminal Psychology Schools and Colleges in the U.S.

Degree programs that cover criminal psychology, also known as forensic psychology, are available at the undergraduate and graduate degree levels. Read on to find out about educational opportunities in this field and schools where programs are available.

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It is possible to study criminal or forensic psychology at the bachelor's, master's or doctoral degree level. Programs may be offered specifically in this field, or the focus may be included as a concentration within a broader psychology or criminal justice program.

Top Schools with Criminal Psychology Programs

The following schools offer programs in criminal psychology. Tuition rates are based on the 2015-2016 academic year.

College/University Location Institution Type Degrees Offered Tuition and Fees, In-State (2015-2016)*
CUNY-John Jay College of Criminal Justice New York, NY 4-year, Public Bachelor's, Master's, Postgraduate certificate Undergraduate: $6,810 Graduate: $10,532
University of California-Irvine Irvine, CA 4-year, Public Master's** Graduate: $13,010
Nova Southeastern University Fort Lauderdale, FL 4-year, Public Master's Graduate: $17,454
Roosevelt University Chicago, IL 4-year, Private not-for-profit Bachelor's (concentration within psychology program)** Undergraduate: $27,300
Carlos Albizu University Miami, FL 4-year, Private not-for-profit Doctoral (concentration within psychology program)** Graduate: $12,786
Pacific University of Oregon Forest Grove, OR 4-year, Private not-for-profit Doctoral (track within psychology program)** Graduate: $29,491
Wright State University Dayton, OH 4-year, Public Doctoral (emphasis within psychology program)** Graduate: $12,788
Florida Institute of Technology Melbourne, FL 4-year, Private not-for-profit Doctoral (emphasis within psychology program)** Graduate: $21,940
Drexel University Philadelphia, PA 4-year, Private not-for-profit Doctoral (concentration within psychology program)** Graduate: $31,519
University of Denver Denver, CO 4-year, Private not-for-profit Master's Graduate: $43,458

Sources: *National Center for Education Statistics, **School websites

School Selection Criteria

When choosing a school, the following considerations are worth noting:

  • Prospective students should make sure that the program provides relevant preparation for their desired careers. For instance, Doctor of Philosophy programs typically focus on academic research, while Doctor of Psychology programs emphasize clinical practice.
  • To qualify for state licensure upon graduation, prospective criminal psychologists should ensure that their school of choice offers a doctoral program that is accredited by the American Psychological Association (APA).
  • Students who want to go into clinical practice may want to look into pass rates for graduates of the school on state licensure exams.
  • Students should look into the internship opportunities offered through the school. Since graduates can find work in a variety of settings, including hospitals, prisons and private practice, it can be helpful to choose a program that allows for internships in the student's interest area.

Bachelor's Degree in Criminal Psychology

At the bachelor's degree level, it is possible to earn a Bachelor of Arts (BA) or Bachelor of Science (BS) degree in forensic psychology or in criminal justice with a concentration in criminal psychology. These programs begin with introductory psychology courses before allowing students to take electives specifically on the psychology of criminal behavior. Prior to graduation, students may have the opportunity to get hands-on training through an internship or a supervised research experience.

Master's Degree Programs

Master of Arts (MA) in Forensic Psychology programs typically prepare graduates to work as clinical practitioners. They include advanced coursework in criminal psychology and mental health, and they may also emphasize research methods and/or legal topics. Prior to graduation, students may be required to complete an externship or submit a thesis.

Doctoral Degree in Criminal Programs

Some Doctor of Psychology (PsyD) programs in clinical psychology allow students to choose a track or concentration in forensic psychology. These programs provide advanced theoretical coursework in psychology and law, and they also include extensive hands-on clinical and research training. Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) programs in psychology with a specialization in forensic psychology focus more heavily on research, requiring candidates to submit a final dissertation prior to graduation.

Students looking to pursue a career in forensic psychology can pursue degrees at the bachelor's, master's and doctoral levels. When choosing between schools, it is critical for students to consider the different types of hands-on opportunities available through each program.

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