School for Criminal Psychology

July 21, 2014

#3 Saint Leo University Online

Postgraduate criminal psychology students can choose programs that lead to either a Ph.D. or a Psy.D. degree and a number of universities and colleges offer these forensic psychology programs. Students will want to consider which type of degree they should earn and if that chosen school's program is accredited. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, APA-accredited programs include those that provide doctoral students with internship opportunities within their chosen field of study ( When choosing a school, the following considerations are worth noting:

  • A bachelor's or master's degree alone is of little value to a prospective criminal psychologist, since professional state licensure guidelines typically require individuals to hold a doctoral degree in the criminal/forensic psychology field.
  • Ph.D. programs in criminal psychology focus on training graduates for careers conducting research or teaching at universities while Psy.D. programs are designed for students who wish to gain employment as practicing criminal psychologists.
  • 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).
  • Criminal psychology students need to complete an internship before obtaining licensure and should select schools that offer these opportunities as part of a program curriculum.

Bachelor's Degree in Criminal Psychology

Students can gain introductory knowledge of the criminal psychology field by earning a bachelor's degree in forensic psychology or criminal justice. Subjects covered at the undergraduate level include personality assessment, evaluation of offenders and psychopathology. Students may take courses on topics such as:

  • Abnormal psychology
  • Social psychology
  • Intervention strategies

Master's Degree in Criminal Psychology

A master's degree in criminal psychology can be applied to further schooling at the doctoral level or to careers in administration or research with mental health agencies. At the graduate level, criminal psychology students may be required to complete coursework, research projects and community internships. Course subjects may include:

  • Forensic mediation and dispute resolution
  • Victimology
  • Mental health law

Doctoral Degree in Criminal Psychology

A Psy.D. in Clinical Forensic Psychology program prepares students to obtain licensure as forensic psychologists so that they can provide their expertise in family, criminal and civil court cases. Psy.D. programs combine hands-on career training with coursework in areas such as:

  • Family systems
  • Biological bases of behavior
  • Criminal behavior

A Ph.D. in Clinical Forensic Psychology program, which involves both coursework and fieldwork, may focus on topics such as:

  • Research and evaluation
  • Advocacy
  • Ethical legal standards

Top 10 Criminal Psychology Schools

College/University Institution Type
University of Maryland-College Park 4-year, Public
University of Albany-SUNY
University of Cincinnati
University of Missouri-St. Louis
Pennsylvania State University-University Park
University of California-Irvine
Florida State University
Michigan State University
Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey-Newark
CUNY-John Jay College of Criminal Justice

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Forensic Psychology courses at the School of Psychology
Forensic Psychology courses at the School of Psychology
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Forensic Psychology