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