Study Forensic Psychology

If you want to study forensic psychology, here are some resources which answer questions such as:

  • What is forensic psychology?

  • Should I major in psychology?

  • Do I need to earn a doctorate degree (PsyD or PhD)?

What is Forensic Psychology?

Forensic psychology - Using psychological knowledge and methods to help answer legal questions.

Study Forensic Psychology for College Students

The resources below will help a university student study forensic psychology as a possible career.


Careers in Psychology - American Psychological Association (APA). On that web page, see in particular (using the drop-down menu):

  • Getting ready to work in psychology

  • APA resources for students

Careers in Psychology and Law - American Psychology — Law Society (APA Division 41).

  • Overview of psychology & law

  • Subspecialties in psychology and law: A closer look

  • Training opportunities in psychology and law


Majoring in Psychology: Achieving Your Educational and Career Goals

Helms, Jeffrey L. and Daniel T. Rogers. Majoring in Psychology: Achieving Your Educational and Career Goals. 2nd ed. Malden, MA: Wiley Blackwell, 2015.

What Psychology Majors Could (and Should) Be Doing

Silvia, Paul J., Peter F. Delaney, and Stuart Marcovitch. What Psychology Majors Could (and Should) Be Doing. 2nd ed. Washington, D.C.: American Psychological Association, 2016.

(Note: Links go to Google Books where you can preview the text and then visit your favorite bookseller if you decide to purchase a book.)

Graduate Study in forensic Psychology

If you are seriously considering a forensic psychology career, here are online and print resources to help you ...

  • prepare for

  • select

  • apply to

  • and get into ...

a Masters (M.A. or M.S.) or Doctoral (Ph.D. or Psy.D.) program in clinical or counseling psychology. 

Note: There are other psychology specialties, e.g., social; industrial-organizational; neuro (neuropsychology or neuroscience); or developmental psychology, which also prepare students for forensic psychological work.


Insider's Guide to Graduate Programs in Clinical and Counseling Psychology

Sayette, Michael A. and John C. Norcross. Insider's Guide to Graduate Programs in Clinical and Counseling Psychology. 2018/2019 ed. New York: Guildford, 2018.

But I Want to Be a Criminal Profiler!

Spencer Reid, PhD - FBI profiler on the CBS show "Criminal Minds"Spencer Reid PhD (Matthew Gray Gubler), FBI profiler on "Criminal Minds" (CBS)

I have reviewed several sources that explain why you should not pursue a career in forensic psychology if you want to become a criminal profiler. 

Most of them don't explain it very well. 

But the following explanation, from the American Psychology — Law Society, explains the difference between forensic psychology and "profiling" quite well, although it's not easy to find.

Here is the path to this excellent explanation: > Division 41 (American Psychology — Law Society) > Education and Training in Psychology and LawCareers in Psychology and LawSubspecialties in psychology and law: A closer look > Clinical and Forensic Psychology > A Note About Criminal Profiling

Here is the full quote:

[BEGIN Quote]

A Note About Criminal Profiling

Due to depictions in popular media (e.g., Silence of the LambsProfilerCSI), many students express an interest in and ask questions about criminal profiling, which may be described as a criminal investigative technique based, in part, on psychological expertise and knowledge.

In reality, few law enforcement agencies employ such techniques and there is little call for such professionals. Those interested in such work would probably do better to consider a career in law enforcement than clinical-forensic psychology.

The Behavioral Sciences Unit of the FBI, does employ a few FBI agents who engage in this activity. The FBI makes a distinction between mental health and law enforcement: FBI agents are law enforcement professionals, not mental health professionals.

In order to work as a profiler, or with the FBI in any other role, it is necessary to become an FBI agent. Experience in criminal investigation is needed before an agent can even be considered for a profiling position, but only a small number of agents ever become profilers.

Since this would be a difficult goal to achieve, the FBI encourages prospective applicants who are interested in being special agents to do so because they are interested in the range of opportunities available with the FBInot because they want to be a profiler.

Further information is available from their office in Washington, D.C. or through the FBI website

[END Quote]

(Note: Paragraph breaks, bold text, and italics added; and very minor edits made, to improve readability.)

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