Due to the ever-growing popularity of crime television dramas like Criminal Minds and CSI: Crime Scene Investigation, criminal psychologists are among the most recognized within the psychology field. Each week on Law and Order, millions of Americans tune in to watch actors portray criminal psychologists and take the stand to testify in a court of law about a defendant’s mental health state. As one of the most crucial components within the criminal justice and legal system, criminal psychology is focused on investigating the state of mind and behavior for accused offenders to bear witness at trials. Many are involved firsthand in criminal investigations in order to study a criminal’s mind for abnormal behaviors, motives, emotions, thoughts, and mental health disorders.
If you are an individual who has a passion for crime novels or a healthy love for studying the anomalies of the mind, becoming a criminal psychologist might be the perfect option for a fulfilling criminal justice career. Since criminal psychologists are held to high responsibilities and a wealth of knowledge in their specialized field, extensive training is necessary to hold positions within criminal psychology. Not only must criminal psychologists have a broad expertise in psychology, they also must possess a keen understanding on the laws regarding mental health and criminal behavior. Read on to find a detailed guide to all the necessary qualifications that must be completed to become a criminal psychologist.
The pathway towards a career in criminal psychology must begin by achieving a bachelor’s degree in psychology, criminal justice, or a related field major. While some universities in the United States do offer a criminal psychology degree at the baccalaureate level, most similar degrees will be acceptable to gain admissions into a graduate program. It is required for criminal psychologists to receive a doctoral degree in the field of criminal or forensic psychology, which will usually take between five and seven years of studies. Whether pursuing a Doctor of Psychology (PsyD) or Doctor of Philosophy (PhD), the programs will include a rigorous curriculum on violence, criminal law, psychology in law, mental health assessments, and trauma cases.
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