Trending Forensic Psychology Programs and Schools in Virginia [2023]

Study Forensic Psychology in Virginia

When it comes to studying forensic psychology, Virginia might not be a place that comes immediately to mind. However, it’s one of the best locations to study in this field. Why? That’s easy!

With close proximity to Washington, D.C., psychology schools in Virginia offer you the opportunity to work with agencies like the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) to develop curricula, establish internship opportunities, and shape the way forensic psychology is taught.

What’s more, non-profit organizations, think tanks, and other agencies headquartered in the nation’s capital might provide additional guidance and learning opportunities for you if you study in Virginia.

With that, the list below outlines four of the top forensic psychology programs in the Old Dominion state.

Forensic Psychology Programs in Virginia

George Mason University

George Mason’s location on the outskirts of Washington, D.C., makes it a prime school to choose if you want to maximize your opportunities to learn and work inside the beltway. As the largest public research university in the state (with more than 38,000 students), George Mason can help you open doors that other schools cannot.

George Mason’s size and location aren’t its only benefits. It’s also a well-respected school. The school ranks among the top 100 universities in the nation. It also ranks in the top 300 universities around the world. That’s just part of the reason why so many people attend George Mason from around the nation (there are students from all 50 states) and around the world (from 130 different countries).

Forensic Psychology Program Information

If you are an undergraduate student and forensic psychology is of interest to you, you can begin building the foundation for future academic pursuits with George Mason University’s forensic psychology concentration.

This 15-credit specialization is designed for students majoring in psychology, criminal justice, and closely related fields. Though the program of study is short, you will gain insights into critical forensic psychology topics like mental illness, victimology, and criminology.

Of the 15 credits you need to complete the concentration, nine are required courses:

  • Basic Concepts in Psychology
  • Introduction to Forensic Psychology
  • Mental Illness and Criminal Justice

Additionally, you must choose two electives from the following:

  • Psychology of Crime Victims
  • Forensic Psychology: Science and Pseudoscience
  • Criminal Behavior: Psychological and Neurological Aspects
  • Introduction to Criminal Justice
  • Special Topics (requires Undergraduate Associate Chair approval)
  • Selected Topics in Forensic Psychology (requires Undergraduate Associate Chair approval)

You must maintain a GPA of at least 2.0 in your coursework related to this concentration. You must also successfully complete the general education requirements and the major-area requirements of your degree program to graduate.

To apply to George Mason as a first-year student, you must:

  • Apply to George Mason
  • Submit official high school transcripts
  • Submit standardized test scores

You can also include a personal statement, a secondary school report, and/or two letters of recommendation to support your application for admission.

Marymount University

Marymount University is a private, non-profit school in Arlington, just across the river from Washington, D.C. The school is relatively young, having been founded in 1950. Yet, over the years, Marymount has established itself as a fine academic institution that is fully accredited by the Southern Associations of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges to offer bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral programs.

Marymount is a small school with a total enrollment of just over 4,000 students. With this intimate campus setting, you can reap the benefits of small class sizes and more individualized attention from your professors. Likewise, you can build long-lasting relationships with your classmates with whom you will take many classes.

Forensic Psychology Program Information

Marymount University offers a Master of Arts program that focuses on Forensic and Legal Psychology. This 39-credit program requires two years or less to complete. In fact, you might be able to complete the program in as little as 18 months!

The curriculum includes 24 credits of core courses and 15 credits of electives. Core courses include:

  • Bases of Psychopathology
  • Legal and Investigative Psychology
  • Issues in the American Legal System
  • Psychology, Public Policy, and Law
  • FLP 540 Forensic Assessment

Additionally, youare required to participate in a forensic and legal psychology internship.

This program also gives you the opportunity to focus your learning in an Intelligence Studies concentration. Rather than taking five elective courses of your choosing, you must take the following to satisfy the requirements of the concentration:

  • The Intelligence Community: Theory, Process, and Challenges
  • Intelligence Analysis I
  • Intelligence Analysis II
  • Counterintelligence
  • An approved elective

There are several “clusters” of courses you can take that focus your studies on a different area. These include legal and policy issues, crime and victims, and children and juveniles. Law enforcement and investigative issues is another option, though it should be noted that none of these clusters leads to an official concentration noted on your transcripts.

You can apply as a first-time graduate student by filling out Marymount’s online application. You must submit official undergraduate transcripts and a resume as well.

Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU)

While other schools in Virginia might have better name recognition than Virginia Commonwealth, it’s still one of the largest schools in the state with just under 29,000 students. Yet, VCU manages to maintain a small student-to-faculty ratio of 17:1 to ensure the classroom environment is rich and engaging.

VCU is a solid choice for advancing your studies. There are more than 140 programs of study for graduate and doctoral students, including the forensic science program discussed below. Better still, more than two dozen VCU graduate programs are among the top 50 in the nation, according to US News & World Report.

In other words, VCU’s size gives you the advantages of a large research institution, but its small class sizes and top-ranked programs give you the tools you need to succeed.

Forensic Psychology Program Information

The Master of Science program in Forensic Science from VCU doesn’t specifically focus on forensic psychology. However, you will get a well-rounded education that introduces you to legal issues, forensic biology and chemistry, and professional ethics, among others.

To supplement these studies, you can take graduate-level courses in psychology, criminology, criminal justice, and related fields. There are also many required and elective courses in this program that are important for a future career in forensic psychology. You’ll explore topics related to providing expert testimony, examining trace evidence, legal issues, and quality assurance.

Additionally, this VCU program has four concentration areas that further specialize your studies. These include:

  • Forensic Biology
  • Forensic Chemistry/Drug Analysis and Toxicology
  • Forensic Chemistry/Trace Analysis
  • Forensic Physical Evidence

This program requires you to complete 42 credits. This includes 26 core credits and 14 elective credits, as well as a directed research project that requires intensive research in a forensic lab. Most full-time students can complete this program in two years.

Admission to this program requires you to complete the following steps:

  • Hold a bachelor’s degree in forensic science or a natural science field
  • Complete at least eight credits of organic chemistry and lab, as well as eight credits of general biology and lab
  • Complete at least nine upper-level credits that align with your chosen concentration in the graduate program
  • Have a GPA of 2.9 or above on a 4.0 scale
  • Submit three letters of recommendation

GRE scores are not required to apply.

Liberty University

Liberty University was founded in 1971 in Lynchburg, Virginia, as a private school affiliated with the Baptist church. From humble beginnings, Liberty has grown into a very large institution of higher learning with a total enrollment of more than 130,000 students – many of whom study online.

The university offers more than 700 programs of study, including over 300 programs on campus and more than 450 fully online programs. With small class sizes (18:1 on campus and 17:1 online), you’re assured of building a solid relationship with each professor who can help guide and direct your learning with individual attention.

Forensic Psychology Program Information

The Master of Science in Criminal Justice – Forensic Psychology from Liberty University is a 36-credit program that takes just 1.5 years to complete. This program is entirely online with no campus visits required. What’s more, each class is just eight weeks in length, and since you take classes one at a time, you can easily concentrate on each subject.

Core coursework might include the following:

  • Fundamentals of Forensic Psychology
  • Crisis Intervention in Law Enforcement
  • Psychology and the Legal System
  • Rehabilitation and Reintegration of Offenders
  • Administration of Justice Organizations

You will also explore topics related to child custody issues, the admissibility of expert testimony in court, and crisis theory strategies.

This program offers additional benefits if you work in law enforcement or are a first responder. Not only do you get a 25 percent discount on tuition, but you might also gain credit for training and work experience that you’ve already completed.

What’s more, if you were in the military, you can stack Liberty’s military benefits with law enforcement and first responder benefits to further reduce the cost of this degree.

To apply to this program, you must fill out an admissions application and submit transcripts from all colleges and universities.

Work Opportunities For Forensic Psychologists in Virginia

As noted earlier, Virginia’s location near Washington, D.C., opens many doors for educational opportunities with government agencies, non-profits, and think tanks, to name a few. The same is true of finding work after you graduate.

One of the most popular employment settings for forensic psychologists is in government agencies. Organizations like the FBI, Central Intelligence Agency, and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms are ideal places of employment for high-performing and skilled forensic psychology graduates. Each of these agencies is headquartered in nearby Washington, D.C.

But working for the government isn’t your only option as a graduate of one of the programs discussed above. You might seek licensure as a psychologist and open a private practice in Virginia. Conversely, you might use your licensed status to focus on providing expert testimony in criminal and civil trials.

Yet another option for working as a forensic psychologist in Virginia is to teach. Many forensic psychologists spend years in the field acquiring experience before transitioning into academic positions. With so many forensic psychology programs in the state, you might find it an attractive option to pursue a teaching position in the future!

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