Forensic Psychology Degree Emphasis

Bachelor of Science in Psychology with an Emphasis in Forensic Psychology

Offered By: College of Humanities and Social Sciences


Estimated new jobs for psychologists from 2020-20301

The Bachelor of Science in Psychology with an Emphasis in Forensic Psychology degree at Grand Canyon University (GCU) provides an overview of the intersection of psychology and the criminal justice system. This emphasis program is for those interested in working with people who need assistance coping with the aftereffects of a violent crime.

If you are curious about the cause of crime as well as the role of the legal system and psychology, you may find this career path desirable. The American Psychological Association defines forensic psychology as “the application of clinical specialties to the legal arena” or applying clinical psychology skills (assessment, treatment and evaluation) to forensic settings.2 Those with a bachelor’s degree in forensic psychology may find themselves with a variety of responsibilities including:

  • Participating in child custody and criminal defendant evaluations
  • Working with juvenile or adult offenders and those suffering from substance abuse
  • Participating in investigations
  • Assisting in psychological screenings and assessments, counseling services and mental healthcare
  • Facilitating group sessions, crisis management and other evaluations
  • Researching psychology and law connections
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Man standing in front of police car

Forensic Psychology Degree Emphasis Course Topics

You will gain competencies in foundational psychology, scientific inquiry, critical thinking, ethical and social responsibility, personal and professional development and forensics. The forensic psychology emphasis examines the role of forensic scientists in the justice and psychology fields. While pursuing a BS in forensic psychology, you will acquire knowledge of criminological and victimological theories and will apply psychology theories to better understand criminal behavior and propensity. Emphasis areas of study include:

  • Roles, responsibilities and limitations of forensic psychologists
  • How motivations, deviance and abnormal behaviors can lead to crime
  • Differences between various criminological theories
  • Victim theory to explain patterns of victimization and precipitation of crime

Government and Healthcare

Most common industries to hire forensic psychologists3

Career Outlook With a BS in Forensic Psychology Degree

Forensic psychology is a broad field as specialists may work in a variety of settings such as:

Total Credits: 120
Campus: 15 weeks
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Online: 7 weeks
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Up to 90 credits, only 84 can be lower division
Campus: $8,250 per semester
[Tuition, Fees and Financial Aid]

Online: $485 per credit
[Tuition, Fees and Financial Aid]

Cost of Attendance
  • Rehabilitation or research centers
  • Hospitals
  • Forensics labs
  • Medical examiners’ offices
  • Police departments
  • Law firms
  • Education institutions
  • Government agencies
  • Prisons/jails

Forensic psychologists may also work alongside police officers, attorneys, defendants, offenders, patients, victims and their families. GCU’s BS in forensic psychology degree program focuses on where the science of the mind intersects with the law. During this program, you will gain insight into the psychological experiences of victims and abnormal behavior. You will also engage in the study of general psychology, human behavior criminology and other justice-related areas.

Earning a BS in forensic psychology is a recommended starting point toward becoming a forensic psychologist, which typically requires advanced education. This bachelor’s program is also designed for individuals seeking a career as a:

  • Community mental health professional
  • Social and community service manager
  • Social and human service assistant
  • Community and social service specialist

Other occupational areas include homeland security and private-sector work.

Bachelor's in Forensic Psychology Degree FAQs

Earning a forensic psychology degree allows a deeper understanding of the connection between psychology and the law. As a professional forensic psychologist, you can play an important role by applying insights from past crimes to help prevent future crimes. Psychologists who specialize in forensics can also offer their expertise in civil cases, such as child abuse, custody disputes and insurance claims — often providing the evidence needed to resolve cases effectively.

At GCU, you can earn your BS in forensic psychology online or on campus. Both online and campus degree programs are accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC) and meet the high academic standards for accreditation.

The bachelor’s in forensic psychology degree program at GCU requires 120 credits to completion. The courses for the online program are generally seven to eight weeks in length. The campus courses are about 15 weeks. Depending on your status and any applicable transfer credits, you can expect the BS in forensic psychology to take approximately four years to complete.

As a forensic psychologist, some of the individuals you may have to interview or evaluate can become aggressive or threatening. While this career may not be as dangerous as other law enforcement positions, it is important to lean on your skills and instincts and seek backup when needed.

If you enjoy psychology and research and want to play a role in serving due justice, then earning a forensic psychology degree is worth your consideration. Conducting interviews and evaluations as well as providing evidence and testimony can provide great satisfaction when cases are solved honestly and effectively.

1 COVID-19 has adversely affected the global economy and data from 2020 may be atypical compared to prior years. The pandemic may impact the predicted future workforce outcomes indicated by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics as well. Accordingly, data shown is based on September 2021, which can be found here: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Occupational Outlook Handbook, Psychologists.

2 Retrieved from American Psychological Association, What is forensic psychology? in September 2022

3 Retrieved from, Forensic Psychologist Demographics and Statistics in the U.S. in September 2022 

Course List

General Education Requirements:
34-40 credits
64 credits
Open Elective Credits:
16-22 credits
Degree Requirements:
120 credits

General Education Requirements

General Education coursework prepares Grand Canyon University graduates to think critically, communicate clearly, live responsibly in a diverse world, and thoughtfully integrate their faith and ethical convictions into all dimensions of life. These competencies, essential to an effective and satisfying life, are outlined in the General Education Learner Outcomes. General Education courses embody the breadth of human understanding and creativity contained in the liberal arts and sciences tradition. Students take an array of foundational knowledge courses that promote expanded knowledge, insight, and the outcomes identified in the University's General Education Competencies. The knowledge and skills students acquire through these courses serve as a foundation for successful careers and lifelong journeys of growing understanding and wisdom.


Upon completion of the Grand Canyon University's University Foundation experience, students will be able to demonstrate competency in the areas of academic skills and self-leadership. They will be able to articulate the range of resources available to assist them, explore career options related to their area of study, and have knowledge of Grand Canyon's community. Students will be able to demonstrate foundational academic success skills, explore GCU resources (CLA, Library, Career Center, ADA office, etc), articulate strategies of self-leadership and management and recognize opportunities to engage in the GCU community.

Course Options

  • UNV-103, University Success: 4
  • UNV-303, University Success: 4
  • UNV-108, University Success in the College of Education: 4


Graduates of Grand Canyon University will be able to construct rhetorically effective communications appropriate to diverse audiences, purposes, and occasions (English composition, communication, critical reading, foreign language, sign language, etc.). Students are required to take 3 credits of English grammar or composition.

Course Options

  • UNV-104, 21st Century Skills: Communication and Information Literacy: 4
  • ENG-105, English Composition I: 4
  • ENG-106, English Composition II: 4


Graduates of Grand Canyon University will be able to express aspects of Christian heritage and worldview. Students are required to take CWV-101/CWV-301.

Course Options

  • CWV-101, Christian Worldview: 4
  • CWV-301, Christian Worldview: 4


Graduates of Grand Canyon University will be able to use various analytic and problem-solving skills to examine, evaluate, and/or challenge ideas and arguments (mathematics, biology, chemistry, physics, geology, astronomy, physical geography, ecology, economics, theology, logic, philosophy, technology, statistics, accounting, etc.). Students are required to take 3 credits of intermediate algebra or higher.

Course Options

  • MAT-154, Applications of College Algebra: 4
  • MAT-144, College Mathematics: 4
  • PHI-105, 21st Century Skills: Critical Thinking and Problem Solving: 4
  • BIO-220, Environmental Science: 4


Graduates of Grand Canyon University will be able to demonstrate awareness and appreciation of and empathy for differences in arts and culture, values, experiences, historical perspectives, and other aspects of life (psychology, sociology, government, Christian studies, Bible, geography, anthropology, economics, political science, child and family studies, law, ethics, cross-cultural studies, history, art, music, dance, theater, applied arts, literature, health, etc.). If the predefined course is a part of the major, students need to take an additional course.

Course Options

  • HIS-144, U.S. History Themes: 4
  • PSY-102, General Psychology: 4
  • SOC-100, Everyday Sociology: 4

Core Courses

Course Description

This foundation course in the science of behavior includes an overview of the history of psychology, the brain, motivation, emotion, sensory functions, perception, intelligence, gender and sexuality, social psychology, human development, learning psychopathology, and therapy.

Course Description

This course serves as a foundation for undergraduates in the field of psychology. Professional skill development, such as an introduction to scientific reasoning, research foundations, critical thinking, literature reviews, and scholarly writing are covered, as well as contemporary ethical issues in the field of psychology. Students have the opportunity to apply guidelines proposed by the American Psychological Association Code of Ethics when exploring topics. Prerequisite: PSY-102.

Course Description

This writing intensive course examines the nature and casual determinants of human behavior, including the definition and scientific measurement of personality. Theories explored include psychodynamic, Neo-Freudian, trait, biological, humanistic, cognitive, and behavioral theories. A Christian worldview offers perspective of nature and human personality. Prerequisite: PSY-102.

Course Description

This course examines child and adolescent psychology through stages of development related to biological, cognitive, and socioemotional processes. From conception through adolescence, the nature of child development is explored by discussing theory, research, developmental milestones, attachment, personality, language, moral development, emotions, cultural differences, typical and atypical behaviors, methods of learning, and influences of parenting and environment. An emphasis on research methodology and interpretation is used to analyze the concepts in this class.

Course Description

This course provides a study of social and group factors affecting individual behavior. Attention is given to the development of attitudes, roles, norms, group processes, aggression and cooperation, persuasion, stereotypes and prejudices, and social awareness. The role of culture in social processes is emphasized.

Course Description

This theoretical and research-based course covers psychosocial, emotional, physical, and cognitive aspects of human development from emerging adulthood to death. Theories of development and applications to real-world situations provide a context for understanding how humans transition across stages of adulthood to death. Scientific approaches for studying developmental psychology stress the importance of research methodology and research interpretation. Prerequisite: PSY-102.

Course Description

This course reflects psychology’s growing interest in health-related issues by offering an overview of health psychology from a biopsychosocial model. Topics include theories related to health behavior, stress, pain development and management, in addition to patient adherence. Furthermore, the discussion explores cancer and chronic illness development and management. A review of complementary and alternative medicine (CAM), the hospital setting, and effects on patients are examined. Finally, the course examines health-related behaviors such as substance abuse, nutrition, and exercise. Prerequisite: PSY-102.

Course Description

This course provides an examination of the basic theories of criminology including victimology. The course exposes students to the motivators of criminal behavior to better understand crime and those who commit crime.

Course Description

This course is a study of elementary theories of probability, distribution, and testing of statistical hypotheses. Practical experience is provided in the application of statistical methods. Prerequisite: MAT-134, MAT-144 or MAT-154.

Course Description

This course includes an introduction to the experimental study of cognition and neurophysiology. Topics include sensation and perception, memory, learning, language, metacognition, intelligence, problem solving, decision-making, mental imagery, consciousness, attention, and the development of cognition through the life span. Major theoretical perspectives and current research within the fields of cognition and neuroscience are discussed. This course also provides students with a basic understanding of the neural underpinnings of a variety of cognitive processes. Prerequisite: PSY-102.

Course Description

This course is an introduction to the field of forensic psychology. Forensic psychology is where the science of the mind intersects with the law. This course explores the scientific principles of psychology as applied to the legal setting. The role and practice of forensic psychology is explored.

Course Description

This course provides an introduction to criminal liability with an emphasis on the elements of a crime and governmental sanctions of individual conduct as formulated by the legislature and the court system.

Course Description

This course is a laboratory course emphasizing both the theoretical and applied aspects of experimental design and research methodology. A variety of activities are performed in such areas as learning, motivation, and perception. Prerequisite: PSY-380.

Course Description

This course offers an overview of various types of trauma and effects of traumatic experiences within the physical, emotional, sociological, cognitive, and spiritual domains of a human being. It studies the dynamics of trauma throughout the human life-span development. It offers a brief overview of trauma, informed care assessment and treatment, and ethics associated with working with trauma victims.

Course Description

The capstone project is the culmination of learning experiences for students in the psychology program at Grand Canyon University’s College of Humanities and Social Sciences. Students prepare a written proposal for a research project that focuses on the resolution of an issue or problem significant to professional psychological practice. The proposal includes a problem statement, review of literature, research methods, research questions, limitations, and ethical considerations for the research. The proposal needs to reflect synthesis and integration of course content and professional practice. The capstone project is guided by the baccalaureate program student learner outcomes. This capstone course needs to be completed at the end of program. Prerequisite: PSY-452.

Course Description

This is a writing intensive foundation course in the science of abnormal behavior that offers students the opportunity to study the origin and development of abnormal patterns and disorders. This course is designed to assist students in recognizing and understanding mental illness through increased awareness of emotional, functional, and physiological factors influencing mental health. Specific topics include symptoms, diagnoses, etiology, epidemiology, and treatment of various psychological disorders and syndromes.


GCU Campus Student

Join Grand Canyon University’s vibrant and growing campus community, with daytime classes designed for traditional students. Immerse yourself in a full undergraduate experience, complete with curriculum designed within the context of our Christian worldview.

GCU Online Student

Pursue a next-generation education with an online degree from Grand Canyon University. Earn your degree with convenience and flexibility with online courses that let you study anytime, anywhere.

* Please note that this list may contain programs and courses not presently offered, as availability may vary depending on class size, enrollment and other contributing factors. If you are interested in a program or course listed herein please first contact your University Counselor for the most current information regarding availability.

* Please refer to the Academic Catalog for more information. Programs or courses subject to change.