One of the best forensic psychology undergraduate programs will propel you to play a vital part in the legal process.
Forensic psychologists can be the key witness and advisor to a criminal case. Can a suspect plead insanity? Were their motives rooted in childhood trauma? Do the patterns of criminal behavior suggest a psychological condition? These are just a few questions that forensic psychologists ask. And you can find out far more with one of the Five Best Bachelor’s in Forensic Psychology. We created this ranking to help you find the best college for forensic psychology.
From the television show Criminal Minds to nationally covered court cases, forensic psychologists are an essential entity. Yet, not every depiction of forensic psychologists is accurate. The most significant duty of forensic psychologists is to psychologically analyze people who are involved with the legal system.
Forensic psychology is a specialized area of professional psychology within the context of criminal justice and the legal system. While forensic science is defined as the scientific analysis of crime scene evidence, forensic psychology focuses on a person’s ability to stand trial or defend themselves in a court of law.
Psychological analysis can lead to a drastically different conclusion of a legal case. For a person to be convicted of a crime, they must be found guilty not only of the crime but of mens rea—a guilty mind. If a person claims insanity, and if a forensic psychologist diagnoses the suspect with insanity at the time of the crime or in general, the suspect may be found not guilty or have their charges heavily reduced.
The best forensic psychology schools prepare students for success by helping them develop skills in:
- critical thinking
- case presentation
- verbal communication
- clinical assessment
Related Resource: What is a Bachelor’s Degree?
What Is a Forensic Psychology Bachelors Degree
A forensic psychology bachelor’s degree is the first step toward becoming a forensic psychologist. To be sure, there are quite a few steps after a bachelor’s degree. You will need to complete a master’s degree in forensic psychology. Graduate forensic psychology programs give students in-depth knowledge and insight to the field. To become a forensic psychologist, you must obtain a Ph.D. or Psy.D. degree from an APA-approved program. Additionally, they must hold an internship and other experience for around two years to become a licensed forensic psychologist.
So what does the first step comprise? There are many great forensic psychology colleges in the US. Most bachelor’s students focus heavily on general education requirements, introductory psychology classes, and elementary classes in forensic psychology. Some classes students may take are:
- introduction to psychology
- English composition
- introduction to anatomy
Some colleges for forensic psychology offer more in-depth courses in forensic psychology, but the bulk of detailed courses will come at the doctoral level.
Admission requirements vary depending on the school. Typically, colleges ask prospective students to submit:
- official transcripts
- ACT or SAT scores
- personal statement
- letters of recommendation
- financial aid paperwork
Some forensic psychology major colleges may omit some of these requirements; others will ask for supplemental information.
Careers for Forensic Psychology Majors
Earning a bachelor’s degree from one of the best colleges for forensic psychology can lead to many possible careers. If you want to go forward with your major, though, you’re limited to the forensic psychology profession. But don’t consider that to be too much of a limitation. There are plenty of jobs available to professionals with a degree in forensic psychology. And as long as the legal system is intact, the profession will be, too.
Forensic psychologists have many tasks, they may be expert witnesses, but they may write reports behind-the-scenes; they may give direct treatment to patients, but they may also work with leading researchers from institutions and universities around the world. In every case, forensic psychologists play a significant role in the legal process and inform researchers on trends in the field.
Forensic psychology graduates most frequently work in:
- jails and prisons
- private practices
- educational institutions
- mental hospitals
Almost every forensic psychologist has a doctorate, but some may only have as much as a master’s degree.
Forensic Psychology Salary Potential
Getting to the point where you can practice forensic psychology requires a lot of schooling and money. Depending on the speed of your bachelor and doctoral program, it may take over ten years to practice forensic psychology. While the educational investment is significant, you can rest assured that the profession will pay it off handsomely.
Like every profession, the factors that dictate your salary are:
- your level of expertise
- the field of work
- work experience
According to PayScale, the average forensic psychologist earns $69,514 per year. But there is a wide variance in salaries. The top 10% of earners make over $102,000 per year, while the bottom 10% of earners make less than $39,000 per year.
Not every employer pays equally. Government and private agencies typically pay their forensic psychologists well, while public jails may not pay excellent salaries. Usually, there is a trade-off between salary and hours worked.
What Are the Best Forensic Psychology Colleges?
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John Jay College
New York City, New York
Average Net Price
Our choice for the best school for forensic psychology is John Jay College of Criminal Justice. You can’t beat the affordability, reputation, and well-rounded curriculum of the Bachelor of Arts in forensic psychology program at John Jay College of Criminal Justice. The program focuses on:
- the foundational theories of forensic psychology
- the latest research in the field
- the ethics of forensic psychology
- the intersection between psychology and the criminal justice system
The program’s 120-credit course load comprises 26-35 credits in electives, 42 general education credits, and 43-52 credits in the forensic psychology degree program. Students begin their studies with introductory classes like Introduction to Psychology and Pre-Calculus. As forensic psychology students continue into more advanced terrain, they take courses like:
- Seminar in Forensic Psychology
- Psychology of Criminal Behavior
- Advanced Undergraduate Research Experience in Psychology
Students should note that John Jay College offers a dual bachelor’s and master’s program. A master’s isn’t a necessary degree—most doctoral programs accept students with an undergraduate degree—but it will enhance your resume, likelihood for admittance, and knowledge.
Southern New Hampshire University
Manchester, New Hampshire
Average Net Price
One of the best forensic psychology degrees is offered by Southern New Hampshire University. SNHU offers an excellent Bachelor of Arts in psychology with a concentration in forensic psychology. SNHU is notable for its financial aid opportunities. Over 90% of students qualify for some form of student aid, and many of those students are eligible to receive up to $20,000 in education awards. And besides those awards, every student benefits from SNHU’s relatively affordable tuition.
Forensic psychology students divide their time between general education, psychology, and forensic psychology courses. In the four-year program, students learn about the legal, psychological, and ethical aspects of being a forensic psychologist. Students also receive a well-rounded education to become functional and educated adults.
Some classes that forensic psychology students take are:
- Scientific Investigations
- Statistics for Psychology
- Introduction to Psychology
- Introduction to Anatomy
Students finish their forensic psychology degree with a Senior Seminar in Psychology. This seminar connects ethics, field experience, research, and the latest theories in psychology and forensic psychology.
Florida Institute of Technology
Average Net Price
The Florida Institute of Technology is proud to offer one of the only bachelor’s in forensic psychology programs in Florida. And it happens to be one of the best forensic psychology colleges in the nation. The school offers terrific classes, the option to continue to a doctoral program at the FIT, and all of the knowledge you’ll need to flourish in graduate school and the real world.
The FIT offers many excellent classes. These include:
- Fundamentals of Forensic Psychology
- Clinical Forensic Assessment
- Psychology and the Law
Students also take courses that delve into the latest research in:
- inmate attachment
- jail re-entry
- mental health court
Students in this program research with leading faculty, which provides the opportunity to watch expertise in action.
After graduating, students will be well-versed in the essential tasks of forensic psychologists in the criminal justice system including:
- expert witnessing
- jury selection
- child custody evaluations
- sexual predator health evaluations
- mental health evaluations
University of New Haven
West Haven, Connecticut
Average Net Price
The University of New Haven’s Bachelor of Arts in psychology with a concentration in forensic psychology asks all of the critical questions of a forensic psychologist. Why do people commit crimes? How does a person’s state of mind during a crime affect their court case? Is there a way to reduce crime by making diagnoses beforehand? Students in this program learn about the many details of forensic psychology work, including how to determine mental competency to stand trial.
Some courses at the University of New Haven’s forensic psychology program are:
- Cognitive Neuroscience
- Drugs & Behavior
- Theories of Personality
- Police and Investigative Psychology
- Legal Psychology
Students also take general education and core psychology courses like:
- Abnormal Psychology
- Research Methods in Psychology
- Statistics for Behavioral Sciences
To gain admission, students must:
- complete the Common Application
- submit official transcripts
- provide at least one letter of recommendation
- provide SAT or ACT scores
- write a personal essay
California Baptist University
Average Net Price
Are you a religious Christian who wants to look at psychology and forensic psychology through a biblical scope? If so, California Baptist University’s Bachelor of Arts in psychology with a concentration in forensic psychology is your best option. The program connects legal history, scientific research, and the biblical worldview of psychology to create one of the most fascinating forensic psychology degree programs in the country.
Some of the many fascinating classes at this forensic psychology college include:
- Theories of Personality
- Abnormal Psychology
- Psychopathic Mind
- Introduction to Forensic Psychology
- Developmental Psychology: Adolescence and Adulthood
Students take these classes from expert Christian instructors, and they also take biblical-minded courses as general education requirements.
One unique feature of California Baptist University’s program is the requirement to complete a capstone project to graduate. In the project, students must complete an original research project over four semesters of study. Students who wish to go above and beyond can research alongside faculty and present their findings at the Annual CBU Student Research Colloquium.
If you’re interested in pursuing higher education, then you should check out The 20 Best Online Psychology Degree Programs and The Top 10 Online Masters in Counseling Degree Programs!