As seen in popular media, forensic psychologists are essential members of the criminal justice system. These professionals work at the intersection of psychology and law. In their day to day, forensic psychologists can provide competency evaluations, sentencing recommendations, testimony as expert witnesses, and programs for correctional facilities.
Forensic psychologist services are useful throughout government organizations, correctional facilities, courts, and other settings. Their services can include psychological assessments of individuals involved in the legal system. Other forensic psychologists consult on public policy or work within the criminal justice system.
The interest in the field has grown significantly over recent years, thanks to popular media portrayals of forensic psychologists. Many universities nationwide offer dual degrees in psychology and law, while others provide specialization in the field. Students learn essential clinical skills at these programs, such as assessing and performing client interviews, report writing, and case presentations.
Forensic psychology students take various courses, including criminal psychology, social behavior, criminal justice, and law. From child and family law to law enforcement, many programs will offer further specialization within the field of forensic psychology. Through hands-on experience and coursework, students learn how to communicate and think critically.
With over 7,500 forensic psychologists across the United States, there are a growing number of programs. The top programs will provide the training and fieldwork necessary to continue to higher education and state certification as a practitioner.
Here are the 10 of the best forensic psychology schools in the nation.
College of Saint Rose (Albany, NY)
The forensic psychology program at Saint Rose has a strong integrated design, making it a popular choice in the growing field.
Housed in the Department of Psychology, the forensic psychology major acts as a double major in psychology and criminal justice. Forensic mental health law, criminal behavior, court systems, and abnormal psychology are just some of the classes that undergraduates will complete.
In order to tailor their education, students can choose from a variety of paths within the degree. By selecting a clinical, legal, or research concentration, students will be well-prepared for a graduate degree or employment following graduation.
Located in the capital of New York, there are plenty of opportunities for internships in the field of forensic psychology. The American Institute for Economic Research ranks Albany in the top ten small metro areas nationwide for providing learning opportunities outside of the classroom. Qualified students can intern with faculty advisors, working at the Cold Case Analysis Center.
The Chicago School of Professional Psychology at Los Angeles (Los Angeles, CA)
At the Chicago School, forensic psychology students work directly in the arena of police and public safety. There are a variety of programs at the Los Angeles campus, including both BA and MA degrees. The programs prepare graduates for licensure as professional counselors and to provide specialized services to clients in forensic settings.
While in classes, undergraduates and graduates alike work alongside experienced and passionate faculty practitioners. They will benefit from significant networking opportunities and gain the skills needed to practice forensic psychology in legal and public policy arenas.
The Chicago School’s forensic psychology alumni are enabled to work in a rapidly expanding range of settings. Child welfare agencies, mental health facilities, government agencies, correctional facilities, and private practice are just some of the settings where alumni use their degrees.
Kean University (Union, NJ)
At Kean University, the MA in forensic psychology program is designed for students interested in forensic or law enforcement positions. The curriculum pulls from several departments, including sociology, criminal justice, and psychology. Whether graduates are interested in working in court clinics or forensic psychiatric settings, they will be able to pursue their passion at Kean.
Kean believes that learning and professional growth extend beyond the classroom. Students in the forensic psychology program can participate in practicum and externship experiences throughout the clinical setting. Through these valuable hands-on opportunities, students can apply the knowledge gained in the classroom.
Forensic psychology students can also participate in research teams to further their understanding of the field. Alongside department faculty, they present their research projects at the annual Kean Research Days event.
George Washington University (Washington, DC)
Students at GWU learn to examine mental health through social, cultural, and legal lenses. Forensic psychology students seek to understand the motivation behind crime using psychological concepts from their classes.
While studying at George Washington University, forensic psychology students must complete at least 250 hours of internship training. These hands-on experiences are tailored to their professional interests and provide the necessary skills to succeed as a psychologist.
Due to the school’s location in the nation’s capital, many local employers, from law enforcement agencies to nonprofits for victims, hire GWU alumni.
GWU forensic psychology alumni go on to pursue doctoral programs at top institutions across the United States. Others go straight into employment, working for notable employers such as the NCIS, FBI, US Department of Justice, and Maryland Department of Public Safety.
Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University, Prescott (Prescott, AZ)
Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University is home to one of a handful of forensic psychology bachelor programs in the nation. Furthermore, it is one of the only psychology programs where faculty members teach courses instead of graduate students. Using small class sizes and hands-on activities, students are well-prepared for a future career in forensic psychology.
While on campus, undergraduates have access to a variety of state-of-the-art equipment for faculty demonstrations and research. Forensic psychology students can use forensic, cybersecurity, and intelligence labs through the College of Security and Intelligence.
Outside of classes, ERAU has plenty of social and professional resources for students. By mentoring juvenile offenders and volunteering in the local criminal justice system, undergraduates gain hands-on experience in the field.
One notable extracurricular activity, the Psych Club, is one of the most quickly growing organizations on campus, providing networking and professional development opportunities.
Maryville University of St. Louis (St. Louis, MO)
The forensic psychology program at Maryville is designed to prepare students for a career in the social, community, and human services fields. Emphasizing project-based learning, the curriculum provides unparalleled educational opportunities. Forensic psychology undergraduates may join a faculty member or team of students to pursue a research project.
As a member of the forensic psychology department, students will complete at least 150 hours of hands-on work experience in the St. Louis region. These internships provide experience working with mental illness, neuropsychology issues, and the probation process.
Faculty members at Maryville are well-respected in their fields and work to impact their communities positively. Furthermore, they aim to inspire students to cultivate critical thinking and communication abilities.
After over a decade working in law enforcement, one notable teacher, Professor Geriann Brandt, began teaching criminal justice for the program.
Montclair State University (Montclair, NJ)
Few specialized programs train students in forensic psychology, especially ones that emphasize child and family issues. Montclair State University is committed to producing psychologists to make legal decisions that impact their community’s justice systems. Students will study the unique intersection between psychology and law.
In classes, forensic psychology students will gain practical experience in clinical assessments, report writing, and providing treatment to various populations. This concentration highlights child, adolescent, and family issues.
Montclair State University also offers a certificate program in forensic psychology designed for psychologists, social workers, and professional counselors. This flexible program is tailored to each student’s schedule to meet the demands of practicing professionals. With options for intensive clinical supervision in forensic settings, this program will prepare graduates for practice.
Florida Institute of Technology (Melbourne, FL)
The forensic psychology degree program at Florida Tech is the only undergraduate program of its kind in Florida. At the intersection of law and psychology, the degree provides students with a top-tier education. The low student-to-faculty ratio ensures close collaboration between students and faculty.
While in classes, undergraduates develop skills in crime analysis, prevention, and acting as a community liaison. Senior undergraduates participate in a scholarly inquiry project. Through an intensive field internship and substantial research, forensic psychology students gain necessary hands-on experience.
Active Minds, a prominent student organization on campus, focuses on psychology and mental health. Members work together to change the perception of mental health on campus through seminars, lectures, and other events.
Along with Active Minds, forensic psychology students can join the Forensic Psychology Association to develop their leadership experience.
University of Denver (Denver, CO)
The Denver Forensic Institute for Research, Service, and Training (Denver FIRST) acts as a regional hub for forensic mental health expertise. Through policy and advocacy work, the center focuses on advocating for legislative reform for marginalized people.
Denver FIRST provides forensic mental health services throughout the state of Colorado. Students gain insight into implementing cutting-edge, evidence-based practice; outpatient competency restoration, forensic assessment, case management, and neuropsychological screening are just some of the services provided.
The University of Denver is a leading source for forensic mental health training for forensic evaluators and other professionals. Through training sessions, workshops, and consultations, the university is an essential part of the forensic community in Denver.
CUNY John Jay College of Criminal Justice (New York, NY)
The John Jay College of Criminal Justice at CUNY is one of the nation’s most prestigious liberal arts colleges.
Nearly 10% of the 2,000 graduate students are part of the forensic psychology program. The Master of Arts in forensic psychology provides a strong foundation that can be applied within the criminal and civil justice systems.
While studying forensic psychology, students at CUNY learn from over 35 full-time faculty members. Offering a unique blend of expertise, professors are often actively working as clinicians. Many faculty members have extensive experience in forensic units of hospitals, family court, or law enforcement consultants.
After graduation, CUNY forensic psychology students are connected to a network of 60,000 active criminal justice alumni. Nearly half of graduates work in public service, with top career preferences including government and non-profit organizations.