Criminal Psychology Professions Video: Educational Requirements and Career Options

Criminal Psychology Professions Video: Educational Requirements and Career Options Transcript

Criminal psychology professions are growing in prevalence and popularity. Recent high school graduates are often drawn toward police, forensic science and other law enforcement careers by the opportunity to help others. An increasing need for these criminal justice professionals has ensured that degree programs are available at post-secondary institutions throughout the nation.


Criminal psychology professionals work at the place where human thought and feeling intersect with the law. In many incidents brought before courts, the psychological state of an individual has a large bearing on why, how and even whether a crime has been committed. For example, a person charged with committing a violent act upon another may have genuinely feared for his or her life. If shown to be true, a legitimate case for acquittal by reason of self-defense might be made. These professionals gather and present information on a person's psychological temperament as it pertains to a legal case. Most often this entails evaluation of an individual charged with a crime and interviews with victims, friends, family members affected by or involved in criminal proceedings. Information is then presented before the court with the intention of providing an impartial view of an individual's culpability in relation to a given law.

Typical Coursework

Most forensic psychology programs are offered at the graduate level. Students entering this area of study often earn a bachelor's degree in psychology, criminal justice or another related field. Programs in forensic psychology are designed to give students applied skills that can be immediately transferred to the courtroom and other criminal justice environments. Topics covered in these courses, then, include trial procedures, jury selection, forensic assessment and testifying as an expert witness. These programs also examine psychology specifically in regard to criminal behavior and prosecution of the law. Courses may include such topics as counseling, psychological testing, victimology, psychopathology and crisis intervention. This training often occurs in a clinical setting to help prepare students for the real-world settings in which they will work.

Job Prospects

Job prospects for forensic psychologists are quite good. This is in part due to the unfortunate fact that incarceration rates have been increasing over a long period of time. In addition to determination of guilt, forensic psychologists are often also consulted in determining sentence length and, later, parole eligibility. In addition to assisting with jury selection, evaluation and other functions related to defendants, these professionals also help to make determinations in child custody and other hearings in which personal or family psychology are relevant.


The increasing need for forensic psychologists is not surprising given the broad range of roles they have in the criminal justice system. Many are drawn to these careers by an interest in law and the opportunity to help others. Given the increasing need for criminal justice professionals, students in these programs can expect to enter a vital job market upon graduation.


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