How to become a criminal psychologist

Criminal psychology, also classified as forensic psychology, requires 5 to 7 years of study and a doctorate in clinical, counselling or criminal psychology. As a criminal psychology, you will examine and extract information from a crime scene in order to piece together information about the crime, the attacker and the motivation for the crime. Read more to learn how you can study to become a criminal psychologist.

Prepare for graduate study with an undergraduate degree in psychology. Earn a high Grade Point Average (GPA) and demonstrate merit and competence within the field of psychology. Add science courses, such as chemistry, biology, physics and mathematics to satisfy prerequisite coursework.

Earn research hours in the general field of psychology. Intern or work as a research assistant while an undergraduate.

Choose a graduate degree. Opt for either a Ph.D. (Doctor of Philosophy) or Psy.D. (Doctor of Psychology) in clinical, counselling or criminal psychology. Both require practical training and research, dissertation, theoretical competence and about a 5-year completion schedule. Design your curriculum with either an emphasis on research and practical study, or clinical practice. That distinction will determine the type of degree that is earned. Both degrees are of equal measure, merit and esteem.

Complete a year of field work. Participate in a postdoctoral fellowship training program to earn a year of field work experience.

Pass the state certification examination. State certification and licensure requirements vary from state to state. Use the library and online resources to find specific information for your locality.


Choose a school that is accredited by the American Psychological Association (APA).

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About the Author

Charlie Gaston has written numerous instructional articles on topics ranging from business to communications and estate planning. Gaston holds a bachelor's degree in international business and a master's degree in communications. She is fluent in Spanish and has extensive travel experience.

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