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Bringing It Home – The Saint Rose Blog

What it really means to be a forensic psychology major in college

handcuffs and finger prints

Let’s face it — if you’ve ever binge-watched Criminal Minds or Law and Order, then you probably have thought about becoming a forensic psychologist. Maybe you were compelled by the criminal profiler’s impeccable ability to trap serial killers in a matter of minutes. Perhaps you wanted to be present solving murder mysteries with a magnifying glass in hand. Or maybe you envisioned confidently sitting across from your suspect in a cold interrogation room.

However, once you’re a forensic psychology major in college, you might realize that these glamorized crime series only give you a tiny glimpse of this multifaceted academic major. So, no, not all forensic psychology majors will graduate to become brilliant detectives or mastermind criminal profilers. You might be wondering, then, what else you can do with a forensic psychology degree?

As a forensic psychology major at Saint Rose, I can break down the basics and help you better understand this dynamic field. Here’s what you need to know if you’re looking to major in this profession:

What really is forensic psychology?

According to the American Psychological Association, forensic psychology is “the application of clinical specialties to legal institutions and people who come into contact with the law.” In other words, this field merges diverse clinical capacities with the legal environment.

Why should you choose a bachelor’s degree in forensic psychology?

  •  It closely resembles a double major in psychology and criminal justice: If you are looking to get the best of both worlds and enjoy a fusion of these two fields, then this is the perfect major for you (it’s like a two-for-one special).

  • You are interested in working with victims of crime or a criminal population: If your ideal career involves supporting victims of crime or inmates, then this major will equip you with knowledge on both legal and psychological topics to do so successfully. If you want to work on unsolved criminal cases in real life, you will be glad to know that Saint Rose offers students in the forensic psychology degree (and forensic science and criminal justice majors)  the chance to work on true cold cases in the College’s Cold Case Analysis Center. (Watch out, because with this opportunity you might resemble the investigators in Criminal Minds more than you think).

  • It is a unique major:  If you are not sure what to study in college and you want to choose something that will set you apart from others in the criminal justice and psychology fields, then this major will make you a unique candidate for the workforce. A very limited number of institutions offer a bachelor’s degree in forensic psychology. (Prepare in advance for all the “oohs” and “ahhs” you will receive when sharing your major with others.)

What kind of career paths can you take with this field of study?

Here are a few:

  • Victims advocate

  • Court liaison

  • Law enforcement officer

  • Probation officer

  • Jury consultant

  • Licensed professional clinical counselor

  • Juvenile offenders counselor

  • Expert witness

What are some pros (+) to choosing this field of study?

  • You get both a legal and psychological perspective on the criminal justice system, which makes you a more well-rounded candidate for any position you apply for.

  • You can choose a legal, clinical, or law-enforcement concentration, which makes your learning experience more specialized and directly prepares you for those specific paths.

  • At Saint Rose, there are different clubs and internships on campus that will support your interest in this field of study (Mock Trial, Cold Case Center, Crimagnify).

  • The field has a very diverse career path, meaning you can always pursue different interests.

What are some cons (-) to choosing this field of study?

  • At Saint Rose, it is a credit-intensive major that requires a total of 73 credits, including required core courses, such as introductory and advanced forensic psychology, forensic mental health law, criminal behavior, court systems, abnormal psychology, and a senior seminar capstone course. *Wipes sweat off forehead.*

  • If you are interested in becoming an actual forensic psychologist, it is unlikely you will qualify without furthering your education with a master’s degree and possibly a doctorate degree. (OK, now I’m really sweating.)

My advice for those looking to major in forensic psychology

Forensic psychology is a multidimensional field of study that encompasses a lot of different interests. If you are contemplating your enrollment in this academic major, make sure to identify what interests you about it the most, and why it stands out among your other choices. Before entering my undergraduate education, I was certain that forensic psychology was the right path for me. Unlike criminology and criminal justice, this major managed to encompass the psychology aspect, which is riveting to me. I had already experienced a little bit of the law enforcement aspect of this field due to my prior experience as a law enforcement explorer. This experience helped spark the realization that I was most passionate about the psychology portion of the field, and so I decided this major would best fulfill that. At the end of the day, you don’t have to be one hundred percent certain that this is the field you will strictly pursue. The best way to choose a major is to recognize your own interests and realize whether it could be a career path for you. 

 

— By Glesaidys Eve ’23, forensic psychology student

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