Forensic Psychology Undergraduate Program Information by Level
Forensic psychologists are trained psychologists who also have a strong understanding of the U.S. legal system. They often provide psychological analysis of criminals and provide testimony in court. The undergraduate programs in the field are a Forensic Psychology Certificate and a Bachelor of Science in Forensic Psychology.
Bachelor of Science in Forensic Psychology
Bachelor's degree programs in forensic psychology are interdisciplinary programs, requiring individuals to study psychology and law simultaneously. Undergraduate students gain an in-depth understanding of human development, theories of personality, abnormal psychology and cultural anthropology as well as the social and behavioral elements of psychology. They also study basic criminology, civil law, family law and criminal law.
Most bachelor's degree programs in forensic psychology require students to examine case studies and hone their research abilities. Students are also often required to complete a research project or a senior project exploring one particular aspect of forensic psychology.
Bachelor's degree programs are offered by 4-year colleges and universities, which typically require incoming students to hold a high school diploma and acceptable standardized test scores. Many such programs also require students to complete general education and prerequisite courses in humanities, human anatomy, chemistry and college writing before beginning core major courses.
The courses included in a bachelor's degree program in forensic psychology are often taught through classroom lectures, seminars, group discussions and individual research sessions. Students are expected to pass courses in the following subjects:
- Introduction to psychology
- Adult human development
- Child and adolescent development
- Introduction to criminal justice
- Social psychology
- Theories of personality
- Psychological testing
- Experimental psychology
Employment Outlook and Salary Info
Graduates of a bachelor's degree program in forensic psychology may gain entry-level positions assisting forensic psychologists or working in correctional programs, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (www.bls.gov). A master's degree and a Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) in the field are needed for aspiring forensic psychologists. Forensic psychologists who earn additional degrees can earn between $41,619 and $80,800 per year, according to PayScale.com.
Forensic Psychology Certificate
Undergraduate certificate programs in forensic psychology may be designed for students who hold a baccalaureate degree in another subject and who are interested in gaining the career skills necessary to work in the field of forensic psychology. Some institutions offer independent certificate programs that don't require completion of a bachelor's degree. Much like bachelor's degree programs in forensic psychology, certificate programs in the field provide students with a broad overview of both the theories of criminology and the science of psychology. Students also study the psychological factors behind crimes, such as domestic violence, homicide and sexual harassment. Students need a high school diploma or GED to enter into most certificate programs.
Many of the courses found within a forensic psychology certificate program are similar to the core courses found within a baccalaureate degree program in the subject. General education and elective courses are typically not required at the undergraduate certificate level. Specific examples of courses include:
- Criminal justice
- Principles of psychology
- Abnormal psychology
- Theories of personality
- Human biology
- Addiction psychology
- Criminal procedure
Popular Career Options
Forensic psychologists are required to have advanced graduate degrees. Individuals who have just a bachelor's degree or an undergraduate certificate in the field may find positions as (some positions may need additional education):
- Forensic psychology research assistant
- Probation officer
- Social worker
- Residential youth counselor
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