Colleges with Excellent Criminal Psychology Programs

Get a look at some of the top schools offering Bachelor’s Degrees in Criminal Psychology!

The field of psychology is fascinating to many, with a variety of different branches to learn more about. 

The most common branches of psychology include:

  • Clinical psychology 
  • Cognitive psychology 
  • Developmental psychology 
  • Evolutionary psychology 
  • Forensic psychology 
  • Health psychology 
  • Occupational psychology 

Psychology as a whole is most commonly referred to as “the mental characteristics or attitude of a person or group.” When we study certain branches of psychology, we can learn more about the mindsets of people that interest us most like criminals. Why did they do what they did? Do they feel remorse? If you’re interested in learning more about these common thoughts and behaviors of criminals, criminal psychology (which falls under the field of forensic psychology) could be a potential fit for you as a career path moving forward. Check out some schools with top criminal psychology programs to earn your Bachelor of Arts or Science! 

What Should I Look For in Colleges with Criminal Psychology Programs? 

Before you start the search of finding the best schools for you, it’s important you know what to look out for in a good criminal psychology program. 

To be a successful criminal psychologist you must:

  • Have extensive knowledge in the field of psychology: Are there a good variety of classes offered in the different branches? 
  • Counseling skills
  • Analytical thinking skills 
  • Sensitivity, understanding, overall sense of empathy when dealing with others. 

Colleges with the Best Criminal Psychology Programs 

Take a look at some colleges and universities with the best criminal psychology programs!

Northeastern University 

Northeastern University campus
As of 2022, there are more than 20,000 undergraduates at Northeastern University. Image courtesy from Northeastern University’s website.

Northeastern University is a private research university located in Boston, Massachusetts, first established in 1988. Northeastern offers undergraduate majors in over 60 departments with over 100 programs. Among these programs include the department of psychology, where you can earn a combined Bachelor of Science in criminal justice along with a psychology degree. This is very beneficial because you will be getting an in depth look into the relationship between criminal justice and psychology. The website at Northeastern explicitly states that you will learn about “the foundation in the interdisciplinary science of psychology, including the biological and psychosocial bases of behavior, learning, personality, and cognition”

Criminal psychology students at Northeastern will take approximately 84 courses dealing specifically with criminal justice and psychology. While pursuing these classes, Northeastern also provides opportunities for students to actually get the chance to work in related fields of study as internships. According to Northeastern’s website, you can expect to get experience working in a related field of study during your entire fall semesters of junior and senior year. 

John Jay College of Criminal Justice 

The John Jay College of Criminal Justice originated around 1954, and was the first liberal arts school to have a criminal justice and forensic focus. John Jay, the school’s namesake, was the first Chief Justice of the United States Supreme Court. John Jay is also one of the founding fathers of the United States!

John Jay has a fantastic program for those interested in criminal justice & psychology, which is their forensic psychology program. You will receive a Bachelor of Arts, and the university states on its website that the mission of their program is to “enhance students’ understanding of individual behavior, in terms of its biological, cognitive, social and emotional components and their interaction, and its effects on the broader community.” 

Here are some learning outcomes you can expect to achieve from this program:

  • Demonstrate extensive knowledge of the historical/theoretical foundations of psychology.
  • Gain the ability to perform effective database searches.
  • Demonstrate an appreciation of psychology’s relation to real life situations both professionally and personally. 
  • Demonstrate awareness of the scope/entry qualifications of various professional and graduate programs. 

John Jay also allows its students to work out in the field, and you can expect to complete somewhere between 43-52 credits as part of the program.

Florida Institute of Technology 

Formerly known as the Brevard Engineering College founded in 1958, The Florida Institute of Technology (Florida Tech) is a private research university in Melbourne, Florida. This university is separated by four different academic colleges: Engineering & Science, Aeronautics, Psychology & Liberal Arts, and Business. Similar to Northeastern, the Florida Institute offers a very strong B.A. program in forensic psychology. 

A strong advantage noted of the program at Florida Tech is the low ratio between students and faculty. This will allow professors to be able to work with students a lot more closely and collaboratively, emphasizing individual creativity and leadership. Florida Tech is also highly noted for the work they help students with outside of the classroom. Every senior part of the forensic psychology program at Florida Tech will also be required to complete an intensive field experience, along with a thorough research study. 

Aside from these out of the classroom experiences, students will also have the opportunity to build leadership experience while they are at school. There are over 100 campus organizations at Florida Tech, including student government and the Forensic Psychology Association. You can also join the Psi Chi International Honor Society in Psychology!

FIT campus
As of 2021, Florida Tech had an acceptance rate of 70%. Image courtesy from the school’s LinkedIn profile

Maryville University

Maryville University is a private school located in St. Louis, Missouri. The school was founded in 1872 and offers over 90 degrees at the undergraduate, graduate, and doctoral levels. The Bachelor of Arts in Forensic Psychology program at Maryville is completely online, and designed to help you blend various psychology and criminal justice skills to lead you on whichever path you might choose. 

The fact that this program is fully online may seem intimidating, but there are many benefits to the program that could change your mind!:

  • It is stated on the school’s website for the program that all related coursework is designed to meet the American Psychological Association standards. 
  • You can begin the program in the fall, spring, or summer.
  • No application fees or any sort of entrance exam.
  • Lots of financial aid and transfer credit options are available. 

The coursework part of the forensic psychology program at Maryville consists of psychology core courses, criminal justice core courses, internship opportunities, electives, along with experience in different research practices. Students can expect to gain a deeper understanding of crafting research, analyzing results, and presenting findings.

Different Degrees

As with many career paths, it can be beneficial to earn a master’s and even doctorate degree in your field of study. Higher degrees generally mean increased chance of pay increase, and the opportunity to take on more advanced roles. As far as criminal psychology is concerned, you may decide one day that you want to work as a forensic psychologist for example. To work as a psychologist in the forensic field, you need not only your bachelor’s degree, or master’s degree, but a doctorate degree! 

Other professions that have you working in a correctional facility for example will typically also require you to have at least a master’s degree. Even if you’re just looking for a school to start your education off at the moment, it doesn’t hurt to learn more about schools that can take your degree even further. Take a look at one of the top schools in all of the country with one of the best master programs in the criminal psychology field! 

University of Denver

The University of Denver is a private research university located in Denver, Colorado and founded in 1864. The University of Denver is a good example of a school that offers a great Master of Arts program in forensic psychology. The program incorporates master level clinical psychology training and coursework centered primarily on psychology and law. 

Most common branches of criminal psychology those with a master’s degree become involved in:

  • Police consultation
  • Correctional institutions
  • Specialty court 

This program at the University of Denver is designed to be completed in just two full years of academic study. 

The program lists the three knowledge and skill areas focused on within the program:

  • Assessment of a variety of populations.
  • Individual and group therapy.
  • Consultation in legal and criminal justice settings. 

The program also works with various agencies involved in forensic mental health to lead different workshops, training, and presentations. 

Currents programs/partnerships include:

  • Working with incarcerated adults
  • Child welfare cases
  • Animal cruelty cases
  • Juveniles on probation
  • Recently released offenders 
Michael Karson
Michael Karson, professor in the Master of Art’s forensic psychology program at the University of Denver, shares a notable quote about the field of psychology on the school’s website. “The least among us deserve treatments that work and deserve to be conceptualized with the same language and theories we use with more fortunate people.” Image courtesy of the school’s website.

Final Words of Wisdom

When it comes down to it, remember that your options are pretty open when it comes to looking for schools that have good criminal psychology programs. Decide on a couple to tour and see if you would get the chance to meet any faculty apart of the program ahead of time. Good luck!

Matt Lyons
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