Overview of a Bachelor’s in Forensic Psychology
This multidisciplinary major takes includes some psychology and some criminal justice. A licensed forensic psychologist delves into the “whys” and “mentality” of a crime and seeks to understand the human mind and human behavior. Forensic psychology students and learners can expect to take such required classes as Forensic Mental Health Law, Forensic Psychology, Forensic Science, Court Systems, Criminal Behavior Abnormal Psychology, Advanced Forensic Psychology, Research Methods, and a senior seminar capstone course. These will vary depending on the university and forensic psychology program; students may choose between degrees, dual degrees, and certificate programs in clinical psychology and criminal justice, a degree in forensic psychology and law, and more options that will allow you to specialize your forensic psychology degree program.
Once students graduate, they may be required to take part in graduate training and gain a master's degree or doctoral degree in order to practice in some areas of forensic psychology. As you register for your psychology classes, you may get the idea that your major is also part criminal justice program - and you’re right. The work you will be doing means that many forensic psychology careers revolve around crimes and criminal evidence. These include work as forensic science technicians if you end up in the laboratory side of the law enforcement/criminal justice system, or work as a psychologist or forensic psychologists if students complete higher-level forensic psychology degrees.
As with any other topic, you have to consider the pros and cons. You’ll experience some really good outcomes from a bachelor's in forensic psychology degree, along with some you may not like much.
- As you begin getting farther and farther into your major, you’ll begin to see that you’re going to make a difference to the families of crime victims.
- Your bachelor's degree will give you greater access to the field of psychology, allowing you to delve deeper into understanding human behavior as well as diagnoses and treatment.
- Because of your greater level of education and responsibilities, you should be able to command a higher income.
- This level of degree in psychology will give you access to a greater variety of positions and certificate programs, and the chance to change what direction your career is taking if you want to do so.
- When you graduate, you may have thoughts of being assigned to a murder or other type of crime even though you’re still new to this field. Even with a bachelor's in forensic psychology degree, that likely won’t happen right away. Instead, you’re more likely to get a job as a law enforcement officer, criminal investigator, or probation officer. While you’ll be able to use some of what you’ve learned, you’ll really feel the gap between what you expected and what you’re doing. Students will need a master's degree in psychology to work as licensed forensic psychologists. A doctoral degree might even be necessary eventually.
- When you begin your career, students may work as forensic science technicians, a court liaison, laboratory assistant, correctional officer, or researcher. Your best opportunity to begin working as a forensic psychologist is to return to school and earn your master’s in forensic psychology. Expect your supervisor to encourage you to return to school to earn your master’s in forensic psychology. Completing your master’s or higher in forensic psychology is a better assurance you’ll actually work in this field.
Certificate vs. Bachelor's
What Forensic Psychology Bachelor’s Degrees are Available?
You’ll have a big choice about where you may go to school. If you choose a well-known, all-online program, the name of that degree may differ from another forensic psychology program.
These degrees may be called:
- Bachelor of Science in Psychology (Forensic Psychology)
This degree is in psychology, with a concentration in forensic psychology. This means you’ll take all of the required courses for a certificate. These hours are on top of other required courses in your psychology degree. In this program, you’ll be required to take additional lab courses and advanced statistical training. You’ll benefit with a deeper knowledge in the neuroscientific and biological areas of this psychology specialization.
- Bachelor of Arts in Psychology (Forensic Psychology)
Look carefully at the areas of focus in both of these degrees. Where the BS degree focused on the “science” of the degree, this BA gives you generalized training in psychology, along with specialized classes in criminal behavior, criminal law, legal decision-making, and the diagnosis and treatment of mental health disorders. You’ll be exposed to the material you’ll need when you’re assigned to work on a criminal case. Expect to learn about the different roles for psychologists in the legal system.
Submit your high school transcripts from an accredited high school. This transcript should show that you received your diploma. If you have earned your GED, submit proof of this.
If you are coming from a non-English speaking country, you’ll need to take the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL). Or you can take the International English Language Testing System (IELTS). Passing scores on both are required.
Submit your SAT or ACT scores. If you have an Individualized Education Program certificate or a high school certificate, these certificates will not be accepted.
How long does it take to earn a Forensic Psychology Bachelor's?
Most bachelor’s programs in psychology require between 120 and 128 credit hours to graduate. This means about four years in the program if you take 15 credits per semester. If you choose to take 12 credits per semester, then you will be in school for about five years.
The credits are made up of your general education courses, psychology core courses, criminology or criminal justice courses and, at some schools, a social science research sequence of classes, general electives, and an internship. That sounds like a lot, but it is achievable if you register for classes in the right sequence.
Potential Careers in Forensic Psychology with a Bachelor’s
- Psychology Assistant:
In this role, you’ll carry out either experimental or clinical work while a licensed psychologist supervises you. As an example of the work you might do, expect to help in diagnosing clients, designing and executing experiments, or administering psychological tests. In this field, you will work with clients who have been accused of crimes.
Average annual salary: $37,000
- Victim Advocate:
Your role is to assist crime victims in finding resources they need, filling out needed paperwork, and attending court hearings. You will also provide emotional support for victims as they come to terms with what happened to them. You could run support groups for crime survivors or you may work at a crisis center.
Average annual salary: $35,000
- Investigative Researcher:
Your role includes researching records and documents, interviewing witnesses, and writing reports on your findings for lawyers or others you work with. You may freelance or be employed by a lawyer. This role is an excellent internship opportunity.
Average annual salary: $46,000
- Forensic Case Manager:
You help people who are currently behind bars to find the support systems they need once they are released from prison. You help them to meet their recovery goals and establish and meet their re-assimilation goals. You’ll connect them to community resources and set up any mental health services they may need.
Average annual salary: $36,800
- Probation Officer:
In this role, you’ll work with those who have been recently released from prison, helping them to stay on-track to meet their post-release goals. This job role is highly challenging, but with your forensic psychology knowledge, you’ll be able to help clients with their rehabilitation when things get difficult for them. This may include finding a place to live, or a job.
Average annual salary: $41,500
Options to Advance
A master’s in forensic psychology is an excellent idea if you plan to rise in your career. In the criminal justice and legal systems, your role is vital in assisting judges, lawyers, and other legal professionals to understand the psychological “whys” of a crime. You’ll be called to testify in civil, criminal, and family court hearings.
Your work will take weeks and months as you try to solve crimes. Your master’s degree will give you the support you need in your profession.
As a graduate of a doctoral program in forensic psychology, you’ll help law enforcement determine who committed a crime. You may be asked to detail how a crime victim has suffered either neurological or psychological damage. Before a criminal defendant goes to trial, you may evaluate that person’s mental competence to stand trial. If you have a companion degree in law, you’ll be particularly valuable in the criminal setting.
Best Bachelor of Science in Forensic Psychology Programs
Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University
With campuses in three states, Asia, and online; Embry-Riddle clearly has valuable knowledge to share with its students. At the Prescott campus, Embry-Riddle offers a degree in a forensic psychology major that will allow you to reach your career goals. The entire school believes that diversity is the key to learning.
- Bachelor of Science in Forensic Psychology (BSFP)
This is a private, liberal arts, Christian university. The faculty has been given the responsibility to provide educations that are based in character, service, and intellect. The school was funded in 1942 and has a small student body enrollment of 3,262.
- Bachelor of Science in Forensic Psychology (BSFP)
In 1784, Leicester Academy was founded as the first nonsectarian academy accepting female students in New England. Today, Becker College has been ranked #3 in the world for its game design program by The Princeton Review. It has been ranked #7 of all nursing programs in Massachusetts.
- Bachelor of Science in Forensic Science: Forensic Psychology Concentration
Walla Walla University
College Place, Washington
As a Christian university, Walla Walla stresses its belief that every person holds value and worth. The university is committed to excellence in thought, working to pass on knowledge in science, arts, and the professions.
- Bachelor of Science in Forensic Psychology
Oklahoma Baptist University
The school was founded in 1910 by the Baptist General Convention of Oklahoma. Offering ten bachelor’s degrees in 99 areas of study and five master’s degrees, OBU gives its students the tools they need to thrive and succeed.
- Bachelor of Arts in Forensic Psychology
Traditional Schools Offering a BS in Forensic Psychology
Eastern Kentucky University
Eastern Kentucky University enables its online students to benefit from the same courses as those at the university, and from distinguished education professionals as its on-campus students. Its online program offers six starting dates annually so all students can take classes at their convenience.
- Bachelor in Psychology with a Forensic Psychology Concentration
Northwest Christian University
The administrators of Northwest Christian University believe that their students are given the materials they need to become critical thinkers. Students are encouraged to discover, share, and grow within their campus community. At the same time, they are looking for opportunities for servant leadership in every sphere of their lives.
- Bachelor of Science in Psychology with a Concentration in Forensic Psychology
Bay Path University
This independent, not-for-profit university has locations in Longmeadow, East Longmeadow, Sturbridge, and Concord. It was founded in 1807 and named for the Bay Road footpath that was used by Native Americans. Today, with about 16,000 alumni, Bay Path University offers traditional undergraduate degrees for women and more than 30 graduate programs for women and men.
- Bachelor of Arts in Psychology, with a Concentration in Forensic Psychology
University of New Haven
West Haven, Connecticut
With several schools and colleges available for its students, the University of New Haven offers career-focused education through the liberal arts and sciences, business, fine arts, healthcare, public safety, public service, and engineering. The university offers more than 100 degree programs all together.
- Bachelor of Arts in Psychology, with a concentration in Forensic Psychology
St. Leo University
St. Leo, Florida
St. Leo is one of the top-ranked universities in Florida, providing a long tradition of welcoming and accepting students from all faiths. This liberal arts campus counts a few more than 2,200 students, with total enrollment at almost 15,000. This includes online programs. The university offers undergraduate programs, endorsements, master’s, doctoral, and certificate programs.
- Bachelor of Arts in Psychology with applied courses in Forensic Psychology
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