Criminal Psychology Major: Information and Requirements
The study of criminal psychology includes training in sociology, criminal justice and mental health analysis. Students interested in pursuing a major in criminal psychology can enroll in a Bachelor of Arts or Science in Forensic Psychology degree program. The major difference between the Bachelor of Arts and Bachelor of Science degree programs is the Bachelor of Science's requirement of more psychology-centered courses.
Bachelor's Degree in Criminal or Forensic Psychology
Students enrolled in a criminal psychology bachelor's degree program develop an understanding of the reasons that motivate individuals to perform illegal activities. Students examine the psychology of families and learn how societal and cultural factors often perpetuate criminal tendencies. Forensic psychology majors may learn skills in criminal profiling, individual assessment and counseling.
There are typically no special admission requirements for application to a criminal psychology major. However, some colleges may require students to take foundational courses in statistics and psychology before being able to take core forensic psychology classes.
Criminal psychology majors are often required to participate in a professional work experience. Throughout the program, they take classes such as:
- Mental health tests and measurements
- Abnormal psychology
- Laws affecting criminals
- Judicial criminal proceedings
- Studies in victimization
- Research methods in criminal psychology
Employment Outlook and Salary Info
A bachelor's degree in forensic psychology is insufficient to become a criminal psychologist. However, graduates of a forensic psychology program may go on to work as probation officers. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics projected an average job growth of 18% for probation officers and correctional treatment specialists from 2010-2020. The mean wages for probation officers were $52,380 in May 2012.
Continuing Education Information
Students who want to work in criminal psychology as licensed psychologists need a master's degree, at the minimum. While some forensic psychology majors go on to earn a master's degree in the field, others decide to pursue related areas of study, including clinical psychology, criminal justice or sociology.
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