Criminal psychologists often work with the justice system.
As a subset of psychology, individuals trained in criminal psychology often work in the justice system to bring psychological knowledge to various legal matters. College criminal psychology programs, sometimes referred to as criminology or forensic psychology, give you the background information and skills you need to begin working in this growing field that blends justice and psychology. If you plan to major in this area, there are several colleges that are known for their excellent programs in terms of academics, graduation rates and student selectivity.
Univerity of Missouri St. Louis
The Criminology and Criminal Justice Department at UMSL offers bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral programs for students that rely on classroom work as well as independent research and directed readings. At the undergraduate level, students will take classes on corrections, the death penalty and philosophy of law. Graduate and Ph.D. students will take similar classes with a great focus on criminology knowledge and analytical skills. UMSL also helps students advance professionally, partnering with the government and other organizations for internship opportunities and assisting in job searches after graduation.
City University of New York John Jay College
The John Jay College of Criminal Justice at the City University of New York is a leader in criminology education with a distinguished faculty that includes Pulitzer Prize recipients. Students here choose from a variety of undergraduate majors, including forensic psychology. Classes in cognitive and social psychology and psychology of criminal behavior provide insight into human actions and motivations. The program also includes capstone courses as well as an optional thesis.
University of Pennsylvania
The University of Pennsylvania’s Department of Criminology applies an interdisciplinary approach, drawing from areas like economics, law, sociology and psychology. As the only Ivy League school with an undergraduate program in criminology, Penn students are expected to meet high standards in classes in criminology, bio-psychological analysis and the sociopolitical realm. Research is a vital part of the program and a capstone seminar course is required.
University of Maryland College Park
The undergraduate program at the University of Maryland is centered around a variety of criminal justice courses, including juvenile delinquency and criminal law in action. Research is emphasized through an honors program and independent studies, and the college also encourages students to take advantage of their credit-based internship program. There are also numerous extracurricular opportunities for criminology undergrads; students can join the Criminal Justice Student Association or even look into a study abroad program.
University of California Irvine
UC Irvine is home to the top-ranked Department of Criminology, Law & Society, which offers undergraduate and graduate degree programs. The undergraduate program explores crime and the intricacies of the legal system, as well as the social and psychological aspects of criminal behavior. In addition to classroom-based learning, the university uses field placements to give students practical experience in the field, which may include spending time in a police station or public defender’s office.