Bachelor’s degree in forensic psychology program guide

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Bachelor’s degree in forensic psychology

Forensic psychology is the area where psychology and law meet and this makes it a very interesting field of study. Forensic psychologists are in high demand as they are being used more and more by the legal system. There are many interesting areas that you can study and, as mentioned in an article on the APA website, there is a lot of opportunity to diversify and develop practices.

A forensic psychologist’s duties may range from criminal profiling, psychological assessment, and studying predators on the internet. If the range of interesting topics, the interweaving of the law and psychology, and the prospect of never having a dull moment at work are attractive for you, then studying forensic psychology may be a great idea.

By earning a bachelor’s degree with a specialization in this subject, you can go on to study for a master’s degree or a doctorate in forensic psychology or immediately find a career in a variety of fields.

What are the requirements to study forensic psychology?

If you are a student at high school and already planning a career in forensic psychology, consider taking a statistics course. A knowledge of statistics and strong test scores in math and science can add extra strength to your application to a bachelor program. As a general rule, a minimum GPA of 3.0 and letters of recommendation are required to apply to an undergraduate program.

Colleges vary in the prerequisites and conditions that are attached to their academic programs. Some colleges will permit you to major or minor in psychology, and take classes in forensic psychology. Other colleges offer forensic psychology programs that you can major in. This is research that you need to do before deciding on which program best suits your academic plans.

Types of degrees and what will you study?

For a full-time student, a bachelor’s degree generally takes 4 years to complete. Although the content of courses varies between colleges, an undergraduate degree with a focus in forensic psychology will include classes in psychology and law. Some popular undergraduate courses are listed below.

Bachelor of Arts (B.A.) in psychology

The course content for a B.A. in psychology will involve looking into human behavior and cognition. After choosing to major in psychology, the course content will look further into mental health, trauma, and development. This is an option for students who enjoy psychology but are not set on following a career in that specific area. An example of a future study or career direction, following a B.A. in psychology, is law or political science.

Bachelor of Science (B.S.) in psychology

The course content for a B.S. in psychology focuses on math and science, with copious time dedicated to statistics, research, and lab classes. This degree choice may be a better fit than a B.A. program if your plan includes a graduate degree in forensic psychology, as it will give you the required analytic and research skills.

B.A. in psychology, with a focus on forensic psychology

The course content in this degree covers general psychology with the addition of subjects on introductory criminology, the legal system, and justice and ethics. The development of critical thinking and research skills are emphasized in this program. You can learn about the relationship of abnormal psychology to criminal behavior, and the psychosocial factors often noted in the personal history of criminals.

B.S. in forensic science

If forensic psychology is the intersection of psychology and law, forensic science is the meeting point for science and law. This program offers classes on forensics and incorporates biology and chemistry classes to provide the scientific foundation required to work in this field. Subjects on the justice system in the United States provide the legal arm to the program.

B.A. in Criminal Justice

The courses in this degree look at the American justice system to provide an understanding of citizens rights and responsibilities. Other course content may include a dive into behavioral and social science as applied to criminology. This program also looks at ethics and introduces students to forensic science.

Practical experience/fieldwork

Although not required by all schools, some programs do include a fieldwork component in their bachelor programs. Fieldwork is practical experience, generally arranged for you and approved by your college. It is the opportunity to connect your coursework to real-life situations and people. For more details, check your school or department website.

How much is a degree in forensic psychology?

Generally, you will have the option to study for your undergraduate degree on campus or online. According to this 2020 report, the annual cost of tuition for a 4-year on-campus undergraduate degree ranges from $10,560 – $37,650. The online option for the 4-year degree in forensic psychology costs between $37,000 – $69,500, depending on the program and the college.

How to become a forensic psychologist

To become a licensed and practicing forensic psychologist, an undergraduate degree is only the beginning. In most states, the APA and licensing boards require a doctoral degree, at least 2 years of supervised professional experience, and passing the EPPP exam.

Although licenses cannot be applied for or received without a doctoral degree, some schools do offer certificates in forensic psychology which can support your application for one of the following careers.

Further study

It is necessary to continue your studies if you want to become a forensic psychologist. This may include completing a master’s program and then a doctoral program. Another option, which is offered by some doctoral programs, is to go directly from an undergraduate degree to a doctoral degree. In this option, often referred to as a “joint” or “dual” program, your master’s degree is earned on the way to completing your doctorate.

A master’s degree in forensic psychology or a master’s degree in clinical psychology with a focus on forensics are examples of graduate degrees that are suitable for further study. While gaining your master’s degree, you can look into and apply for doctoral programs. Examples of doctoral degrees suitable for aspiring forensic psychologists are Ph.D. in forensic psychology, Psy.D. in forensic psychology, or Ph.D. in clinical psychology with a forensic specialization.

Career options

An undergraduate degree can give you access to these interesting career options in the field of forensic psychology:

The job of a crime analyst is to look at research data for patterns of criminal activities. This data is analyzed and shared with the police and other law enforcement agencies to reduce or solve crimes. A crime analyst’s work often takes place in police stations as their support is often needed to help with existing cases.

Average yearly salary: $46,551

A court liaison officer has a range of administrative duties that includes the preparation of paperwork necessary for trials, scheduling depositions, and the dissemination of shared information between the police and the courts. Basically, a court liaison officer is responsible for ensuring smooth interactions occur between the courts and law enforcement agencies.

Average yearly salary: $38,000

A forensic case manager works with formerly incarcerated individuals as they plan for their futures outside of the prison. This work can include assistance finding employment, locating professional help from healthcare services, and establishing a lifestyle that minimizes the chance of reoffending.

Average yearly salary: $41,125

The main duties of a law enforcement officer include responding to emergencies and keeping members of a community safe. Law enforcement officers can work at the national, state, county, and local levels. A bachelor’s degree is not always required for these positions, although it can be beneficial in passing exams needed to become a law enforcement officer, and in applying for promotions.

Average yearly salary: $45,604

This position usually entails case management of clients who have been convicted of a crime and have been given a sentence of probation, rather than a prison sentence. Probation officers ensure that these offenders fulfill the conditions of their probation. They arrange support within the community to minimize the chance that the person will reoffend. Strong interpersonal and decision-making skills are essential in this job, which can be facilitated in a forensic psychology study program.

Average yearly salary: $39,736

Usually employed under the supervision of a licensed psychologist, a psychological assistant can be employed in research and clinical programs. An assistant’s workload can involve the preparation, performance, and analysis of psychological experiments. Other duties can include consultations regarding mental health care with primary care providers. Although direct diagnosis or treatment of patients is not possible in this field, helping diagnose patients under a supervisor is sometimes part of this career.

Average yearly salary: $40,000

Those in this career help their communities by identifying community needs – for example, services for homeless people – and making sure those needs are met. After suggesting and implementing programs, social and community service managers also oversee and analyze the effectiveness of those programs. Collecting this information is necessary to then apply for funding from organizations, or show the results of funding that has been received and put to use. Social and community service managers often work with disadvantaged youths, homeless people, and young people.

Average yearly salary: $50,789

In this position, your responsibilities would be based on the provision of emotional and practical support to victims of crime. This might involve upholding the victim’s rights, finding shelter for victims, providing support in court, and helping with paperwork for compensation.

Average yearly salary: $35,904

The American Academy of Forensic Science was founded in 1948. It is a multidisciplinary professional organization that is at the forefront of growing scientific involvement in forensics.

The International Association for Correctional and Forensic Psychology is a non-profit organization that helps criminal offenders get the help and support that they need. They look at humane practices in prison and incarceration facilities throughout the world.

The Society for Police and Criminal Psychology is an organization that encourages the study of criminal psychology and its application in criminal cases. The society includes input from psychologists, police and corrections officers, social workers, and lawyers.

The American Academy of Forensic Psychology is a non-profit organization that supports the advancement of forensic psychology. They provide workshops and contribute to the development and maintenance of this specialized field in study, research, and practice.