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Master’s Degree Programs in Criminal Psychology Overview

Majors Overview January 18, 2016

This article talks about master’s degree programs in criminal psychology and their education requirements, coursework, career choices, job and wage outlook, and continuing education choices.

Master’s Programs in Criminal Psychology

Forensic psychology is a general term used to refer to the criminal psychology field. Criminal or forensic psychologists apply their knowledge of the human psyche to legal issues. Program graduates can seek employment in courts, prisons, and not-for-profit organizations. Licensed psychologists are required to hold not only a master’s degree, but also a doctorate in most states. Program graduates may aspire to other practitioner or leadership roles, or a combination of both.

Students usually take two years to complete master’s degrees in forensic psychology that often incorporate intensive training internships. The psychology of criminal behavior is a topic in these programs that provide an advanced overview of research methods, assessment, and psychotherapy techniques. Graduates aspiring to become licensed psychologists can seek continuing education by earning a doctoral degree.

Education Requirements

Admission criteria typically require incoming students to hold a bachelor’s degree, in addition to meeting a GPA standard, submitting standardized GRE test scores, and completing introductory prerequisite courses in statistics and psychology.


Program coursework is devised to train students to counsel individuals impacted by the criminal justice system. Core coursework may cover topic areas such as:

•Personality theory
•Forensic assessment
•Research methods
•Social psychology

Career Choices

Forensic psychology professionals with a master’s degree can pursue careers that involve the provision of clinical treatment and administrative services. They may also choose from possible job positions such as:

•Correctional Officer
•Program Director
•Case Manager
•Court Liaison
•Jury consultant

Job and Wage Outlook

All psychologists are expected to see a faster-than-average 19% job growth, over the 2012 – 2022 decade (U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics). In May 2012, these professionals brought in an average annual wage of $70,700 (BLS).

Continuing Education Choices

State-level licensure is mandatory for forensic psychologists; licensure requirements include graduation from a Ph.D. or Psy.D. program. Master’s program graduates who seek continuing education may pursue doctoral programs in forensic psychology that could lead to careers in teaching or research.

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