Majoring in Forensic Psychology

This unique major combines the study of criminology, psychology, and law. In-person Forensic Psychology programs aren’t commonly offered at the bachelor’s degree level, but the degree is a stepping stone to many career opportunities, including the clinical, assessment, treatment, or counseling of criminals or victims, advocating for victims, and roles within the courts and corrections.

Forensic Psychology at Russell Sage

You’ll love the coursework in the Forensic Psychology major. Core courses include Victims & Their Experiences, Criminology, and a proseminar that introduces you to careers in the field. Elective courses explore why people engage in violence, in classes like Serial Killers/Other Offenders, Criminal Behavior Analysis, the Nature of Crime, and Problems of Alcohol and Drug Dependent Persons. 

Unlike some other programs, the major focuses on the explanation of criminal behavior. These courses apply theory to real criminal events to help students understand the criminal mind.

And you’ll put your evolving skills to the test in our Criminal Investigation Resource Center (CIRC), where students work with law enforcement on real cold cases.

Best Class Ever: Criminal Psychology

Join Dr. Christina Lane and her and her students as they explore the mind of criminals like Jack the Ripper in her Criminal Psychology class at Russell Sage College.

Got Questions? Find out from the Expert

Dr. Chris Kunkle, a forensic and clinical psychologist, longtime criminal justice adjunct professor, and deputy director of the South Carolina Department of Corrections, co-founded the Cold Case Analysis Center at The College of Saint Rose with Dr. Lane. A former president of the American Investigative Society of Cold Cases, Kunkle now brings his expertise to the Criminal Investigation Resource Center at Russell Sage College.

We asked him about forensic psychology and what drew him to the field: Q&A with Forensic Psychologist Chris Kunkle, Psy.D..

Program Distinctions

A focus on forensic psychology at the bachelor’s level:
In-person bachelor’s degree programs in forensic psychology are not common across the United States, and even then, the programs do not have a strong focus on forensic psychology.

Our core curriculum includes three classes specifically focused on the subject and profession. 

And our online M.S. in Criminal Justice and Community Corrections – the first program of its kind in the nation – well prepares students to work as probation officers or in other criminal justice roles.

  • Unresolved Homicide Unit
  • Unresolved Sex Crimes Unit
  • Missing Persons Investigation and Resource Unit
  • Crime Analysis Program
  • Continuing and Professional Training Unit

Careers to Pursue with a Bachelor’s Degree in Forensic Psychology

Options for those with a bachelor’s degree in forensic psychology include law enforcement, victim advocacy, research, policymaking, corrections, rehab counseling or addictions counseling (with additional certifications).

Some forensic psychology graduates opt to become attorneys, and our Albany campus is located next to Albany Law School, the nation’s oldest independent school of law.

Explore Courses Specific to Forensic Psychology (and Others Offered in the Major)

This course surveys how psychology provides answers within the criminal justice system. Specifically, this course will focus on the clinical, assessment, and treatment specialties.

This course helps students prepare for careers in forensic psychology as a profession, the choice of and preparation for specific careers, the integration of the academic content of the psychology major with a variety of professional practices, and issues in professional development. Diversity issues, including gender and ethnicity, will be addressed.

Forensic psychologists often provide treatment, design and direct programs, and provide clinical evaluations for people who are involved with the legal system. This course will explore the many ways clinical forensic psychologists apply their knowledge in the legal system. 

This course explores a detailed continuum of criminal thinking and action. By investigating how personality traits elucidate why certain individuals react to life strain by offending, why particular individuals are targets of crime, and why psychopathic offenders choose particular avenues of crime, a better understanding of why individuals offend can be grasped.

This course will apply current practices of Behavior Evidence Analysis (BEA) to understand various crimes of violence. The student will learn the psychological factors behind the technique of profiling unknown offenders based on the theoretical and practical foundations of criminal investigations, the psychology of criminal offenders, and the analysis of behavioral evidence as depicted in crime scenes and by victims of crimes.

This course examines various sex crimes ranging from nonviolent offenses such as exhibitionism, voyeurism, and obscene telephone calls to serial rapes and lust murders. Certain fantasies and paraphilias may not be perceived as criminal; however, it can be viewed as preparatory behavior that becomes motivation for future sex offending.

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Have questions about a Criminal Justice Degree?

Associate Professor of Psychology
Assistant Professor of Forensic Mental Health
Assistant Professor of Criminal Justice, Law, and Behavioral Science
Associate Professor of Psychology
Associate Professor of Criminal Justice, Law, and Behavioral Science