Forensic Psychology Certificate Program

Graduate Certificate of Completion in Forensic Psychology

Offered By: College of Humanities and Social Sciences

Improve the Safety of Communities With a Graduate Certificate in Forensic Psychology

Forensic psychology is a multidisciplinary specialization that blends together law, criminal justice and psychology. Forensic psychologists extract evidence-based data from research studies and apply them to the legal field. The Graduate Certificate in Forensic Psychology at Grand Canyon University teaches you about the complexities of legal issues, criminality, crime reduction and criminal rehabilitation.

Offered by the College of Humanities and Social Sciences, this certificate is designed for those who have a bachelor’s degree in a related field, such as sociology or criminal justice. This certificate program does not directly lead to one becoming a forensic psychologist but is a comprehensive survey of crime analytics and societal responses to crime. There is an emphasis on scientifically sound research methods and the application of theory in practice, policy development and initiative implementation.

Benefits of the Forensic Psychology Certificate

You will be taught to apply scientific reasoning, demonstrate psychology information literacy and incorporate sociocultural factors in scientific inquiry. Explore theories of criminal behavior and how it affects individuals and communities, and examine diversity issues as they pertain to crime and society. The curriculum covers crime causation and preventive strategies that can help inform your future practice.

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The graduate certificate in forensic psychology, offered online, allows you to pursue higher education while continuing to meet your current obligations. Our online learning platform is an interactive way to complete your coursework and engage with your peers and instructors. This graduate certificate program is also available via evening classes on campus. It requires a total of 16 credits for completion.

Course Topics in the Graduate Certificate in Forensic Psychology

The curriculum includes a blend of instructional coursework, scientific research and practical case studies. In Theories of Criminal Behavior, you will examine the classic and contemporary theories of crime causation. You will also explore the following concepts:

  • Victims and victimology
  • Developmental theory (life/latent) and critical criminology
  • Public order, violent crimes and property crimes
  • Social structure and social process theories
  • Rational choice and trait theory

The program continues with a close look at the legal foundations of the adult and juvenile criminal justice systems. In Psychology and the Legal System, you will examine criminal procedures, pretrial processes and post-conviction procedures.

In Psychopathology of Crime, you will be taught about the many diverse factors that underlie criminal behavior. These include biological, neurochemical and sociological issues. There is a focus on addiction, brain imaging and future biopsychosocial research.

The forensic psychology certificate program concludes with Offender Rehabilitation and Reintegration. You will be taught about the rehabilitation of convicted criminals and their reintegration into society. There is an emphasis on rehabilitation for specific populations, including sex offenders, drug offenders, juvenile offenders, female offenders and mentally ill offenders.

Career Opportunities for Forensic Psychology Certificate Graduates

As long as there are criminals, society will require law enforcement and forensic specialists. As a criminal forensic specialist, you could pursue opportunities that can enable you to make a positive difference in your community. Some examples of employers that may hire individuals with a background in forensic psychology include:

  • Government agencies
  • Police departments
  • National law enforcement agencies
  • Correctional facilities
  • Juvenile detention centers
  • Law firms
  • Courthouses

You may choose to broaden your career qualifications by earning advanced degrees. The Graduate Certificate in Forensic Psychology teaches you core competencies that are helpful for pursuing a master’s or doctoral degree.

Graduate Certificate in Forensic Psychology FAQs

If you aspire to pursue a career in this subfield, then the forensic psychology certificate may fit your needs. Before taking the next step in your academic and professional journey, explore the answers to some commonly asked questions.

There are several types of professionals who are responsible for responding to, processing and analyzing crime scenes, including police officers and crime scene examiners. However, forensic psychologists aren’t likely to be requested to be present at a crime scene. Instead, their work centers on assessing individuals involved with the justice system, designing and implementing treatment programs, conducting research studies and testifying in court.

A forensic psychology certificate is a non-degree program that teaches core competencies in this subfield of psychology. Certificate programs do not lead to professional licensure. However, they can teach you the foundational knowledge and skills you will need to pursue a non-licensure position in the field, or to pursue further education.

Compared to degree-conferring programs, certificate programs require fewer credits and will generally take less time to complete. However, every student’s timetable is a little different. The time it will take you to complete a certificate depends on your schedule of classes. The forensic psychology certificate at GCU requires 16 credits. Online classes are eight weeks in length.

Forensic psychology professionals generally work on a variety of case types, including both violent and non-violent offenses. Some criminal psychologists do indeed work on cases that involve serial killers. However, these cases are relatively rare. The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) estimates that, out of all of the murder cases that arise during any given year, less than 1% of these cases are attributable to serial murderers.1

Forensic psychology and criminal psychology are closely related. Both subfields support the work of law enforcement and the justice system as a whole. However, there are key differences. Criminal psychology focuses exclusively on criminal law and criminal cases. In contrast, forensic psychology encompasses both criminal and civil cases, as well as academic research and at-risk population counseling. Because forensic psychology is broader in scope, earning a forensic psychology certificate may help you position yourself to pursue a broader range of career opportunities.

Apply today for admission to the forensic psychology certificate online program at GCU. Applications are reviewed and considered throughout the year — there is no application deadline! Take the first step toward acquiring core competencies in forensic psychology by filling out the form on this page.

1 Behavioral Analysis Unit 2. (n.d.). Serial murder: multi-disciplinary perspectives for investigators. Federal Bureau of Investigation. Retrieved June 14, 2023.

Total Credits: 16
Online: 8 weeks
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The University will accept one course of the total certificate requirements in transfer.
Online: $590 per credit
[Tuition, Fees and Financial Aid]

Cost of Attendance

Course List

16 credits
Degree Requirements:
16 credits

Core Courses

Course Description

This course explores classic and contemporary theories of crime causation, including psychological, developmental, and social causes of crime and theories of punishment.

Course Description

This course provides a psychological perspective for understanding legal issues, an examination of the various roles, functions, strategies, and interagency relationships of the courts, government entities, elements of the crime, and the individual as it relates to due process within the context of crime control.

Course Description

This course requires students to comprehensively examine various psychopathologies behind criminal behavior. Topics such as biological, genetic, neurochemical, cognitive, and sociological factors underlying criminal behavior will be examined. A focus will be placed on addiction, brain imaging, and future biopsychosocial research.

Course Description

This course examines various approaches to rehabilitative treatments in offender populations. A close look at rehabilitative methods within sex offenders, drug offenders, white collar criminals, cyber criminals, female offenders, juveniles, and mentally ill populations will be taken. Students will examine public policy and research based methods for successful prevention and community reintegration.


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.