Forensic psychology is a fascinating and challenging career path. Like every other career in criminology, a forensic psychology degree can open the door to many chances.
So, in this article, you’ll get vital information on forensic psychology education requirements, steps to becoming a forensic psychologist, and most importantly the best schools where you can study it.
Brief History of forensic psychology
Forensic psychology’s first seed was planted in 1879, when Wilhelm Wundt, often called the father of psychology, established his first lab in Germany. Since Wundt, the field of forensic psychology has blossomed, with contributions by many other experts.
James McKeen Cattell, for instance, handled some of the earliest research on the psychology of testimony. He postured a series of questions to students at Columbia University, asking them to give a response and rate their degree of trust in their answer.
He found a surprising degree of inaccuracy, encouraging other psychologists to conduct their own experiments in witness proof. With witnesses being uncertain of themselves, this raised serious issues about the validity of their usefulness in court.
Inspired by Cattell’s work, Alfred Binet replicated Cattell’s research and studied the results of other psychology experiments that applied to law and criminal justice. His work in intelligence testing was also important to the development of forensic psychology, as many future assessment tools were based on his work.
What Is Forensic Psychology?
Forensic Psychology is simply an interaction or combination of the practice and study of psychology and the legal system.
The American Board of Forensic Psychology defines Forensic psychology as the application of the science and profession of psychology to questions and issues relating to law and the legal system.
Generally, it involves applying psychological principles to the field of criminal investigation and the law.
Who Is A Forensic Psychologist?
Forensic Psychologists can be defined as professionals who practice psychology within the criminal justice system and civil courts.
They focus on understanding the reason behind certain behaviors and also help in reducing and also preventing the occurrence of such behaviors.
Furthermore, Forensic psychologists are often involved in both criminal and civil cases such as civil lawsuits, custody disputes, and insurance claims.
In recent times, Forensic Psychologists are seen working with those who are demonstrating extreme emotional states. Therefore, the job of forensic psychologists can sometimes prove to be both physically and mentally demanding.
How long does it take to become a forensic psychologist?
Schooling for forensic psychology takes a total of 10-11 years to become a professional and licensed forensic psychologist.
- 4 years for the undergraduate study
- 2 years for the master’s program
- 4 to 5 years for the doctoral program.
Wondering if a degree in psychology is a BSC or BA? Find out here
What Does A Forensic Psychologist Do?
Basically, forensic psychologists apply their knowledge of psychological principles in criminal justice and the legal system.
Forensic psychologists use the principles of psychology such as the study of the mind and perception, to work with attorneys, judges, and other legal specialists in order to analyze and understand the psychological details of various cases.
Usually, they use their knowledge to provide a motive for a crime or narrow down a suspect list. Meanwhile, in some cases, the testimony of a forensic psychologist can be the last piece of the puzzle when trying to convict a criminal.
However, the duties and roles of forensic psychologists include but are not limited to the following:
- Criminal profiling services.
- Child custody evaluations.
- Investigate reports of child abuse.
- Evaluating suspected criminals for mental competency and their ability to stand trial.
- Evaluating convicted criminals to assist in the creation of rehabilitation plans.
- Expert witness/courtroom testimony regarding psychological questions before the court.
- Evaluating potential jurors and consulting with prosecuting defense, and plaintiff’s lawyers regarding the selection of juries.
- Evaluating witnesses, such as children, to verify the truthfulness and/or ability to remember key facts and circumstances.
- Consulting with, and providing training and curriculum development for law enforcement and corrections agencies.
- Teaching undergraduate and graduate programs, as well as at law schools for Juris doctorate candidates.
- Evaluating potential police officers for employment through psychological screenings.
What are the best Forensic Psychology schools in the world?
Forensic psychology exists at the intersection between psychology and criminal justice.
Here is a list of the best forensic psychology schools in the world:
- California State University, Los Angeles
- Holy Names University
- Roger Williams University
- Marymount University
- University of New Haven
- Chicago School of Professional Psychology (Irvine Campus)
- California Baptist University
- University of Denver
- University of North Dakota – Grand Forks
- City University of New York – John Jay College of Criminal Justice
#10. California State University, Los Angeles
California State University, Los Angeles’ Master of Science in Forensic Psychology is intended for students with an interest in the intersection between psychology and the criminal justice system.
Faculty mentors guide each student through the program. Needed courses comprise Courtroom and Legal Issues in Criminalistics, Psychology and the Law, and a seminar in Abnormal Psychology. Students must also take a quantitative course linking to statistics or research methods.
Elective offerings encompass seminars in Developmental Psychology, Multicultural and Cross-Cultural Psychology, and Social Psychology. The degree’s 33 to 34 units of coursework constitute a nine-month practicum experience in a forensic setting. such as a family services counseling center, a sexual abuse crisis center, or a prison. Each student culminates in the program with a master’s thesis.
Cal State LA was established in 1947 by the California legislature as The Los Angeles State College. Now a public land-grant university, Cal State LA is a constituent of the California State University system. It is a federally designated Hispanic-serving institution. It is obviously one of the best schools for forensic psychology.
The university is home to the acclaimed Luckman Jazz Orchestra. Its hilltop campus in the greater Los Angeles area is home to a NASA-funded space program, a Rockefeller-supported humanities center, and a National Science Foundation-funded environmental research center. U.S. News & World Report ranks Cal State LA No. 52 in the West, No. 26 for the best value, and No. 13 among national public institutions.
Graduate Tuition/Fees: $7,176 in-state; $16,680 out-of-state
#9. Holy Names University
Holy Names University is one of the best schools for forensic psychology. It offers a Master of Arts in Forensic Psychology program that incorporates evidence-based practice and self-reflection. The course content also highlights cultural proficiency and social justice.
The 39-unit MA program is based on the philosophies of therapeutic restorative justice. It is fitting for individuals who wish to work in correctional facilities, court programs, and community advocacy positions.
Course topics address mental health, substance abuse, post-traumatic disorders, and more. The plan of study comprises essential courses in Human Diversity in Counseling, Domestic Violence Assessment and Treatment, and the Psychology of Criminal Behavior.
A Roman Catholic university, Holy Names University was founded by the Sisters of the Holy Names of Jesus and Mary in 1868. Despite its religious origins and connection, the school welcomes students from different religious and cultural backgrounds.
The private university is located in the Oakland Hills near the Montclair district of Oakland, California.
Students may get included in The Center for Social Justice, which involves the school’s Service-Learning and Community-Based Leadership programs. U.S. News & World Report ranks Holy Names No. 61 in Regional Universities West and No. 22 in Best Value Schools.
Graduate Tuition/Fees: $18,054
#8. Roger Williams University
Roger Williams University gives a Master of Arts in Forensic & Legal Psychology through its Feinstein School of Social and Natural Sciences. The two-year full-time program is designed to equip students to pursue Ph.D. studies. The program trains students in clinical assessment, psychological testing, research design, and statistical analysis.
The core course sequence is made up of 11 needed courses, including Multicultural Proficiency in Psychological Practice, Professional Ethics in Psychology, and Psychology and Law.
This forensic psychology school offers additional course choices covering Assessment in Criminal Law, Child Assessment, and Developmental Psychopathology. All students must finish an independent analysis or a research practicum along with a master’s thesis.
The origins of RWU can be tracked back to classes held in 1919 in the YMCA building in Providence, Rhode Island. The school developed over the next few decades and was officially established in 1956.
It was named after Roger Williams, a theologian and the co-founder of the state of Rhode Island. Now a nonsectarian private liberal arts university, RWU is located in Bristol, Rhode Island. In 2012, The Daily Meal named the university among the nation’s best colleges for food.
The school also highlights civil discourse and has welcomed campus speakers including Bob Geldof and Salman Rushdie. U.S. News & World Report ranks RWU 43rd in Regional Universities North and 71st for the best value.
Graduate Tuition/Fees: $14,936
#7. Marymount University
Marymount University is one of the best forensic psychology schools that offers an interdisciplinary program driving to a Master of Arts in Forensic and Legal Psychology. The degree program combines study in psychology with the areas of criminal justice, law, and public policy.
Students can also seek a concentration in Intelligence Studies. The program also gives students opportunities to study abroad in countries such as Israel, the Netherlands, and Sweden.
The curriculum covers courses in Bases of Psychopathology, Death Penalty and Mitigation, and Wrongful Convictions: Case Analysis. Students may also finish a research project in an area of interest or a 300-hour internship and accompanying seminar.
Marymount was originally a two-year women’s school. Today, it is a private Roman Catholic university. It is a member of the Consortium of Universities of the Washington Metropolitan Area, which allows students to take courses at or borrow books from any of the other 13 member institutions.
The university emphasizes community engagement, and it recently established the Saints’ Center for Service for sustainable community service programming. U.S. News & World Report ranks Marymount No. 65 in Best Value Schools and No. 58 in Regional Universities South.
Graduate Tuition/Fees: $17,550
#6. University of New Haven
The University of New Haven grants a Master of Science in Criminal Justice with a concentration in Forensic Psychology. The Forensic Psychology concentration is designed for individuals already working or planning to work in the justice system.
General Criminal Justice courses cover Mental Health, Law, Criminal Justice, and Theories of Criminal Behavior. Forensic Psychology concentration courses comprise Abnormal Psychology in Forensic Populations, Forensic Assessment, and Mental Health Law. All students complete either a thesis project or a comprehensive final exam.
The University of New Haven was established as the New Haven YMCA Junior College in 1920. For approximately 40 years, the school shared facilities with Yale University. It is now a private university that merges liberal arts with professional training. The graduate campus is located in Orange, Connecticut. Criminal justice and forensic science programs are the most popular. Leading forensic scientist Henry C. Lee has been a UNH faculty member since 1975.
The Henry C. Lee Institute of Forensic Science started on the university campus in 1998. The Institute welcomes forensic experts to speak on topics such as bloodstain analysis and evidence photography. U.S. News & World Report ranks UNH 93rd in Regional Universities North and 62nd for the best value.
Graduate Tuition/Fees: $16,020
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#5. Chicago School of Professional Psychology (Irvine Campus)
The Chicago School of Professional Psychology grants a Master of Arts in Forensic Psychology program at its Irvine, California campus. The two-year, full-time program integrates study in psychology, law, and public policy.
Beyond theoretical foundations, Forensic Psychology students work in the school’s Forensic Training Institute to render services in clinical treatment, forensic assessment, and program measurement. Sample courses involve Trauma and Crisis Interventions, Mental Health Law, and Tactical and Field Psychology.
Students may also achieve the Professional Counselor Licensure Track to qualify for Professional Clinical Counselor licensure in California. Irvine students also have the choice to concentrate on Police Psychology and gain hands-on experience in settings such as the Irvine Police Department or the Coroner’s Office.
The Chicago School is a private, not-for-profit institution based in Chicago, Illinois. The school operates campuses throughout the United States, in Illinois, Texas, California, and Washington, D.C. The Irvine campus is positioned in the heart of University Plaza, next to UC Irvine, in Orange County, California.
The Irvine campus is also home to the school’s counseling centers, which allow students the opportunity to gain real-world experience and get a behind-the-scenes look at running a private exercise or mental health clinic.
The school has also been known as a leader in diversity and multicultural training. It operates a Center for Multicultural and Diversity Studies, has long offered culturally sensitive courses, and hosts an annual Cultural Impact Conference.
#4. California Baptist University
California Baptist University awards a Master of Arts in Forensic Psychology. The program builds an understanding of the biological nature of the crime, criminal profiling, human development, psychopathology, and psychology and law.
The 57-unit curriculum includes courses in Legal Research and Reasoning, Criminal Investigations, and Theory and Perspectives in Criminal Behavior.
Students can seek a master’s thesis, or follow a non-thesis track culminating in a comprehensive exam. During their second year of study, students gain field knowledge in a forensic setting. The degree takes two years to complete.
Cal Baptist was established in 1950 as California Baptist College in El Monte, California. Now located in Riverside, California, it is a private Christian liberal arts university affiliated with the California Southern Baptist Convention.
The university gives students opportunities to participate in International Service Projects, which involve overseas community service work. U.S. News & World Report ranks CBU No. 32 in Regional Universities West, No. 20 in Best Value Schools, and No. 7 in Most Innovative Schools.
Graduate Tuition/Fees: $13,287
#3. University of Denver
The University of Denver first gave a Master of Arts in Forensic Psychology in 1999, when interest and development in the field of forensic psychology were growing. The program incorporates coursework and practicum practices in psychology and law. It also highlights the principles of diversity and cultural competencies.
The curriculum includes courses in Group Interventions, Lifespan Development and the Cultural Context, Mental Health Law, Trauma and Crisis Intervention, and Conflict Resolution.
The private research university is located in Denver, Colorado. The campus is a 125-acre designated arboretum with historic buildings built in Collegiate Gothic and Romanesque architectural styles.
In 2015, DU was first amidst the nation’s doctoral research institutions in the percentage of undergraduate students in study abroad programs. U.S. News & World Report ranks DU No. 96 in National Universities and No. 58 in Best Value Schools.
Graduate Tuition/Fees: $47,520
#2. University of North Dakota – Grand Forks
The University of North Dakota – Grand Forks gives a Master of Science in Forensic Psychology. The 30-credit curriculum includes essential courses such as Behavior Pathology, Experimental Design, and Psychology and Law. Elective offerings include Cognitive Psychology, Human Nature and Crime, and Victimology.
The program does not incorporate a comprehensive exam. However, students can choose to follow a thesis track with six thesis credit hours or to finish a non-thesis independent study option. Overall, the degree takes about two years to achieve.
UND was founded in 1883 by the Dakota Territorial Assembly. Located in Grand Forks, the public research university has a strong foundation in the liberal arts. National research institutions on campus cover the USDA Human Nutrition Research Center, the Energy and Environmental Research Center, and the School of Medicine and Health Sciences.
Finally, additional campus facilities incorporate the North Dakota Museum of Art, Memorial Stadium, and the Chester Fritz Auditorium. U.S. News & World Report ranks the university No. 205 in National Universities and No. 112 in Top Public Schools.
Graduate Tuition/Fees: $7,688 in-state; $20,526 out-of-state
#1. City University of New York – John Jay College of Criminal Justice
The City University of New York is home to Grad School Hub’s No. 1 best master’s degree in Forensic Psychology. The university offers a Master of Arts in Forensic Psychology through its John Jay College of Criminal Justice.
The degree program focuses on the evaluation, treatment, and understanding of both offenders and victims. It covers areas of psychopathology, personality assessment, therapeutic techniques, and research methods.
Furthermore, the 42-credit curriculum includes four required courses: Mental Health Professionals, Social Science, and the Law; Research Design and Methods; Psychopathology; and Intermediate Statistics in the Social Sciences.
Moreso, students may choose to complete an externship, which involves a minimum of 300 hours spent in a supervised psychological setting. Alternatively, students can opt to pursue a master’s thesis.
In addition, CUNY is the public university system of New York City. It’s John Jay College of Criminal Justice is a public senior liberal arts college. Established in 1965, the college was named after founding father, New York native, and the first chief justice of the United States, John Jay.
The college was established as the nation’s only liberal arts college with a focus on forensics and criminal justice. Finally, the school’s student-to-faculty ratio is 16:1. John Jay is ranked No. 139 in Regional Universities North and No. 46 in Top Public Schools by U.S. News & World Report.
Graduate Tuition/Fees: $10,450 in-state; $19,320 out-of-state
FAQs on best Forensic Psychology Schools in the World.
How long does it take to become a psychologist?
To become a clinical psychologist, you will need an undergraduate degree (four to five years of college) plus a doctorate degree (four to seven years of graduate school). For this specialty area, most people will spend between eight to 12 years in higher education.
What requirements are needed to become a psychologist?
To start a psychology career, you’ll need to get at least a master’s degree (for school psychology) or a doctorate to practice in other specialties. To get licensed to practice psychology, you’ll need to earn the required degree, pass a state and/or national exam, and fulfill other licensing requirements.
What is a Forensic Psychology Degree?
Forensic psychology is the study of human behavior in conjunction with the criminal justice system. Many people first become interested in this field either through their own academic interest in psychology or through popular culture such as crime shows.
Why is Forensic Psychology Interesting?
Forensic psychologists evaluate criminals to learn what their mindset and motives were at the time of—and leading up to—the crime they committed. They also determine what threat an offender may be to the public, so they work with parole and probation boards.
The article above provides you with all the information you need to pursue a career in forensic psychology – from who a forensic psychologist is to the best schools to become one.
I hope you find this useful