Forensic psychology is a relatively young specialty. It wasn’t recognized by the American Psychological Association (APA) as a specialty until 2001. However, its popularity has seen explosive growth over the last two decades.
Part of the allure of forensic psychology is its subject matter. According to the APA, forensic psychology is the application of psychology in the legal realm. This is a broad definition of this field, but it touches on the interesting aspects of human behavior and criminality.
Since 2001, colleges and universities across the nation have developed forensic psychology programs, including in South Carolina. If you are ready to set a course for becoming a forensic psychologist, the degree programs available to you in the Palmetto State are a good place to start.
Below is a list of four very different programs you can pursue in South Carolina. There are other programs you can pursue, but these stand out as offering unique opportunities to students like you.
Forensic Psychology Schools in South Carolina
Columbia College dates to 1854, when it was founded by the Methodist Church as a school for women. The school opened its doors in 1859, right before the outbreak of the Civil War, and remained open until 1865, when Sherman’s March forced the school to close. It remained closed until 1873.
In the years since, Columbia opened its doors to male students, opened a new campus, and today, serves a small student body of around 1,200 undergraduate and graduate students. Yet, despite its small enrollment, Columbia offers many excellent and unique programs, including the forensic psychology degree discussed below.
Columbia dedicates itself to celebrating diversity and inclusion. It also prides itself on rigorous academics. You will study with professors that are experts in their fields and have real-world experience that provides you with a more informed and robust classroom experience.
Columbia College’s Bachelor of Science program in forensic psychology is available entirely online. This gives you excellent flexibility for pursuing your degree without the strict schedule of on-campus studies.
After completing the general education courses required for graduation, you will need to complete 46 credits of forensic psychology-related coursework. This includes:
- Introduction to Criminal Justice
- Drugs, Behavior, and Society
- Psychological Disorders
- Psychology of Personality
You must also complete statistics and psychological research coursework to round out this degree’s interdisciplinary component.
Provided you study full-time, you can complete this program in four years, though part-time studies are also available.
Midlands Technical College
Midlands Technical College is one of South Carolina’s largest two-year schools. In fact, with an enrollment of more than 28,000 students, Midlands Tech is larger than many four-year universities!
Given its size, Midlands Tech has a robust offering of programs for undergraduate students like you. In addition to social and behavioral sciences like psychology, you can study STEM, business, or education, to name just a few options. Moreover, you can complete the first two years of a bachelor’s degree program at a much lower cost.
For example, Midlands Tech offers a LIFE Scholarship for tuition for in-state students. Tuition is inexpensive to begin with anyway, with rates starting at just $188 per credit hour for local, in-state students.
You can start your pursuit of an education in forensic psychology with the Associate of Arts program at Midlands Technical College. This is a 61-credit program that focuses on introductory concepts in psychology and related fields.
An associate’s degree typically takes two years of full-time studies to complete. During that time, you will take general education courses like math, history, and science. You will also take lower-level psychology courses, such as:
- General Psychology
- Abnormal Psychology
- Social Psychology
You will also take courses in probability, statistics, and biology, among others.
This program is available in many formats, including on-campus, online, and a hybrid format in which you blend on-campus studies with online coursework.
Charleston Southern University (CSU)
Charleston Southern University is a private, religious school affiliated with the Baptist church. The school was founded in 1964 as the Baptist College of Charleston. In the years since, the university has grown to become a doctoral degree-granting institution with a host of on-campus and online programs.
Psychology is just one field you can pursue at CSU. There are more than 60 undergraduate programs to start your education, and nearly two dozen graduate programs for advanced studies. CSU also offers two doctoral degrees.
With around 3,500 students and a student-to-faculty ratio of 13:1, you can learn in a small-school environment with individualized attention from your professors.
The Bachelor of Science degree from Charleston Southern University offers a broad-based education in many psychological disciplines. By selecting forensic psychology-related internships and research opportunities, you can tailor your educational experience to prepare for the next step in your forensic psychology studies.
This is a 125-credit-hour program that usually takes four years to complete. Of those credits, 42 are in psychology, where you will study:
- Critical Thinking and Writing in Psychology
- Introduction to Psychopathology
- History and Systems of Psychology
- Introduction to Psychological Testing
- Cognitive Psychology
This program also includes a behavioral statistics course with lab plus a research methods course and lab that helps you build a solid foundation for conducting research in this field.
The University of South Carolina
With more than 35,000 students, the University of South Carolina is the biggest school on this list. It’s also the largest college in the state of South Carolina.
This school has a long and rich history of academics. The University was founded in 1801 in Columbia and has grown into a R1-level Carnegie Foundation school, which means there is a high level of research being done on campus.
Not all of South Carolina’s programs revolve around research, though. In fact, the school offers hundreds of degree programs in its 15 schools and colleges. You can study everything from accounting to biostatistics to tourism management. Psychology is an option, too, of course!
As the largest school in the state, the University of South Carolina has many different options for pursuing a degree in psychology while learning principles of forensics, too. The basic degree you can get is a Bachelor of Arts in psychology, which includes opportunities for independent study, a community-based practicum, and an internship, all of which you can do in forensic psychology.
In addition to these field experiences you will complete traditional coursework in psychology, where you will learn about personality development, abnormal behavior, and biological psychology, to name a few.
If you want to expand on your training, you can pursue a Ph.D. from the University of South Carolina (and get your master’s degree along the way). The school’s Department of Psychology offers four different tracks:
- Clinical-Community Psychology
- Cognitive and Neural Sciences
- Quantitative Psychology
- School Psychology
Each of these tracks (apart from School Psychology) offers the potential to focus your Ph.D. research in forensic psychology.
Requirements to Become a Forensic Psychologist in South Carolina
Once you have the appropriate training, you can apply for licensure from the state’s Board of Examiners in Psychology. Licensure depends on several factors, including, but not limited to:
- Meeting the minimum educational requirements, as evidenced by a Curriculum Vita and official transcripts from each college you’ve attended
- Passing the Examination for Professional Practice in Psychology
- Submitting a formal application and a $500 application fee
Once licensed, you will need to renew your licensure every few years. You might also need to complete continuing education credits to retain your license.
An additional step that’s not required, though might be worthy of taking, is to be certified as a forensic psychologist. The American Board of Professional Psychology (ABPP) offers certification in this field. The primary requirement for certification is having a doctoral degree from an APA-accredited program. The degree must include an internship component.
Likewise, the ABPP requires that you have 100 or more hours of specialized training in forensic psychology in addition to at least 1,000 hours of direct experience in the field, all of which must occur after completing your doctoral program. This requirement can also be met if you complete a 2,000-hour postdoctoral program in forensic psychology.