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Q: Forensic psychology and criminal profiing ( Answered 5 out of 5 stars,   1 Comment )
Subject: Forensic psychology and criminal profiing
Category: Reference, Education and News > Job and Careers
Asked by: banyan-ga
List Price: $50.00
Posted: 06 Jun 2005 04:18 PDT
Expires: 06 Jul 2005 04:18 PDT
Question ID: 529855
I am tutoring a college student who has taken an interest in forensic
psychology (in particular, criminal profiling) and I want to give him
as much research and information I can find on the career, in hopes of
inspiring him to take the next step (graduate school).

Please help me with the following questions:

1. Who are the best forensic psychologists and criminal profilers? How
did they get that way (learn their profession)? Where are they now?
2. What are the best books on the subject?
3. Which graduate schools have the best programs?
4. What are the educational and career pathways? In other words, do
you get your PhD and then join the FBI to really learn the trade? Or
can you learn in in school?
5. Anything else of interest on the subject.


Clarification of Question by banyan-ga on 06 Jun 2005 04:23 PDT
Actually, the student is a "her"; (I used the masculine in the
original question because I was trying to be more private.) Upon
further thought, however, it occurred to me that it might be very
different for a woman to pursue this career. If you wouldn't mind,
please consider that angle in the answers to your question (e.g., not
only who are the best forensic psychologists, but which are the best
woman forensic psychologists, etc.)
Subject: Re: Forensic psychology and criminal profiing
Answered By: umiat-ga on 06 Jun 2005 12:38 PDT
Rated:5 out of 5 stars
Hello, banyan-ga!
 I have compiled some helpful information for you to read through with
your student. The main pathway into Criminal Profiling is through many
years of hard work and experience in law enforcement. Forensic
Psychology with an emphasis on criminal behavior is another way to get
up close and personal, but a forensic psychologist is in a different
category than a criminal profiler, in most cases. Practicing criminal
forensic psychologists usually obtain a Master's degree and a PH.D and
are best-equipped if they have some experience in law enforcement as

 While men are standouts in this field, it is clearly not beyond a
female to pursue a career in either criminal profiling or forensic
psychology. Most of the well-known profilers at this point in time are
male, but I did highlight the work of Dr. Schurman-Kauflin, who is
recognized for her profiling expertise.

 Before you get into the body of the answer, I thought this first
article might provide an interesting overview of where the field of
criminal profiling currently stands:

Read "Criminal profiling: the reality behind the myth - Forensic
psychologists are working with law enforcement officials to integrate
psychological science into criminal profiling," By LEA WINERMAN. APA
Online. Volume 35,
No. 7 July/August 2004.

 An excerpt:

 "Nowadays profiling rests, sometimes uneasily, somewhere between law
enforcement and psychology. As a science, it is still a relatively new
field with few set boundaries or definitions. Its practitioners don't
always agree on methodology or even terminology. The term "profiling"
has caught on among the general public, largely due to movies like
"The Silence of the Lambs" and TV shows like "Profiler." But the FBI
calls its form of profiling "criminal investigative analysis"; one
prominent forensic psychologist calls his work "investigative
psychology"; and another calls his "crime action profiling."

"Despite the different names, all of these tactics share a common
goal: to help investigators examine evidence from crime scenes and
victim and witness reports to develop an offender description. The
description can include psychological variables such as personality
traits, psychopathologies and behavior patterns, as well as
demographic variables such as age, race or geographic location.
Investigators might use profiling to narrow down a field of suspects
or figure out how to interrogate a suspect already in custody."

"In some ways, [profiling] is really still as much an art as a
science," says psychologist Harvey Schlossberg, PhD, former director
of psychological services for the New York Police Department. But in
recent years, many psychologists--together with criminologists and law
enforcement officials--have begun using psychology's statistical and
research methods to bring more science into the art."

Read further.......... 



The West Chester University website has an excellent overview of
Forensic Psychology career descriptions, pros and cons and some
excellent links to pursue.

An excerpt:

"FORENSIC PSYCHOLOGY is the application of psychology to the criminal
justice system. Many people confuse Forensic Psychology with forensic
science. Although the two are closely related, there are many
differences. The primary difference is that forensic psychologists
delve into the vast psychological perspectives and apply them to
criminal justice system. On the other hand, forensic psychologists
frequently deal with legal issues, such as public policies, new laws,
competency, and also whether a defendant was insane at the time a
crime occurred. All of these issues weave together psychology and law
topics and are essential to the discipline of Forensic Psychology.
Forensic Psychology knowledge is used in various forms, such as in
treating mentally ill offenders, consulting with attorneys (e.g., on
picking a jury), analyzing a criminal's mind and intent, and
practicing within the civil arena."

"Individuals interested in pursuing a Forensic Psychology career would
have take psychology and criminal justice courses at the core of their
academic studies. There is a very limited number of academic
institutions that specifically offer a Forensic Psychology degree.
Clinical, social, cognitive, criminal investigative, and developmental
psychology also help to prepare one for this speciality."

"A forensic psychologist may chose to solely focus his/her career on
research, ranging anywhere from examination of eyewitness testimony to
learning how to improve interrogation methods. Another form of
Forensic Psychology work is public policy, in which researchers can
help in the design of correctional facilities and prisons. More
generally, Forensic Psychology covers territory between the
traditional options of criminal justice (i.e., academic training, law
enforcement, and corrections)."

Go to the site for extensive links: 


The College of Integrated Science and Technology (CISAT), James
Madison University has a further description of the educational track
and career options for Forensic Psychologists.

"How do I become a forensic psychologist?
"Forensic psychology is one of the newer disciplines in psychology,
and does not yet have one formal, structured path to the profession,
but we can identify a path that most forensic psychologists have
taken.  The vast majority of psychologists who work regularly within
the legal system have a doctoral degree and received their graduate
training in clinical psychology or (less frequently) counseling
psychology.  This makes sense when you realize that many of the
activities of forensic psychologists are clinical/applied in nature. 
They obtained their knowledge of forensic psychology through
on-the-job training and experiences, post-graduate educational and
training opportunities, and attendance at professional meetings
conferences.  Of the forensic psychologists who do only research, many
are I/O or social psychologists."

"Until we have more training programs that offer a specialty track in
forensic psychology, the most effective way to become a forensic
psychologist is still to obtain comprehensive training as a clinical
psychologist, if you intend to do applied forensic work.  If your
program happens to offer a course, practicum experience or supervision
that is forensic in nature, all the better.  If you can, do your
internship in a forensic setting.  You might also do some volunteer
work in a forensic setting as part of your training."

"If you intend to specialize in police psychology, it would be ideal
to spend a few years as a police officer first. Of course, this does
not appeal to everyone.  At the very least, attend a citizens police
academy, and do some citizen ride-alongs with police officers.  If you
plan to work mainly within the court system, it would be ideal to
obtain a law degree along with your doctorate in psychology. There are
a few graduate programs that offer this possibility."

How can I get started as an undergraduate? 
"As an undergraduate student to get exposure to both fields, you can
major or minor in psychology and/or major or minor in criminal
justice.  Among your psychology courses, try to take personality,
biopsychology, learning, abnormal psychology, forensic psychology,
and/or police psychology.  In addition to the fundamental criminal
justice courses, take courses that address psychology-relevant topics,
such as theories of crime and punishment."

"Take advantage any internships or field placements that are available
in forensic settings (for example, the forensic unit at a state mental
hospital, a probation/parole office, a spouse abuse shelter, a court
services center, a mediation center, etc.)  Look for summer jobs or
volunteer work in forensic settings.  Attend a citizens police academy
or go on a ride-along a local police department."


Also from the The College of Integrated Science and Technology
(CISAT), James Madison University website:

"Criminal profilers look at data derived from crime scenes to make
predictions about the likely characteristics of unknown serial
offenders. The FBI originally developed profiling techniques and were
the primary people doing profiling. The FBI now also trains local and
state police officers to do profiling. There are also a few private
organizations, staffed primarily by retired FBI agents, that offer
training in profiling.  Although there are a few psychologists
nationwide who are involved in providing profiling services to law
enforcement, it is probably safe to say that the vast majority of
profilers are police officers. All training is currently provided by
law enforcement agencies, and is typically open only to law
enforcement personnel.  Even among police officers, very few receive
training in profiling.  This is a highly specialized activity, and is
an unrealistic career goal for most people, even if you are fortunate
enough to be able to join the FBI."


From John Douglas's website: (I have linked to his website below under
well-know profilers)

Do You Need a Particular College Major to Become a Profiler?

"The answer to that is "no." In regards to education, it is certainly
necessary to have a bachelor?s degree as a foundation, as well as good
verbal and writing skills, but there is no specific degree that would
make someone much more or less qualified for this position than
someone else. I might recommend a degree in the area of forensic
psychology, but the people who have worked for me have had an
assortment of different degrees from business management to psychology
to even music. Therefore, you should choose whatever interests you the

"At some point in your career you will have to get an advanced degree.
However, when you are working towards your undergraduate or graduate
degree, the most important factor that will separate you from everyone
else is actually gaining hands-on experience in delving into the minds
of criminals. To do that, you?re going to have to work or do research
where you will personally come into contact with a variety of
incarcerated felons. Remember, ?In order to understand an artist, you
must look at the art work.? The crime is a reflection of the


Read "Man Behind the Badge," by Stan Hall. The Weekly


The American Psychology Law Society has compiled a list of graduate
schools offering degrees in Forensic Psychology with a brief
description of each program.

An updated list (without descriptions) can be found on the American
Psychology-Law Society website:


Although not as well-known as some of the male profilers, I wanted to
list a woman first!!

President, Violent Crimes Institute

"Dr. Schurman-Kauflin is an expert criminal profiler who has studied
serial killers for nearly 20 years. Police agencies most often contact
the Doctor for help with serial and sexual homicide cases. She
profiles for police and other governmental agencies throughout the US,
provides specialized training, and conducts research on violent crime.
Dr. Schurman-Kauflin has not only investigated serial crimes, but she
has gone into prisons thoughout the Unitied States to interview both
serial killers and mass killers to obtain background information which
has helped police departments when faced with such crimes. She holds a
Ph.D. in Criminal Justice/Forensic Science and has taught at the
University of Cincinnati."


Also read the following profile from the Court TV website:

"On August 4, 2000, David Lohr contacted Dr. Deborah Schurman-Kauflin,
President of the Violent Crimes Institute, and asked her to draw up a
profile of the killer based on the information at hand. The profile
read as follows...."

"I retired from the FBI in 1995, after pursuing predators like the
Atlanta child murderer, Seattle's Green River Killer (or killers), and
San Francisco's Trailside Killer. I'd done years of research into the
criminal mind-including face-to-face interviews with Ed Kemper,
Charles Manson, David Berkowitz, Richard Speck, and many others. But
my work as a profiler did not end with my retirement......

Books/DVD's -


Read an interview with Roy Hazelwood from the Court TV site:


"Retired FBI Special Agent Robert Ressler makes a living tracking down
some of America's most vicious, brutal and frightening predators. In
fact, Ressler is the man who coined the term "serial killer" while
working in the Bureau's Behavioral Science Unit. Bob Ressler is
credited with creating the FBI's Criminal Profiling System, and is
considered the foremost expert on the psychology of serial and mass
murders. During his ongoing research, he interviewed over 100 of the
most terrifying killers known to mankind. He developed "intimate"
relationships with the likes of David "Son of Sam" Berkowitz, Ted
Bundy, Charles Manson, and he's the only person to ever interview John
Wayne Gacy on video. Prior to joining the FBI, Ressler served for 10
years with the U.S. Army's Criminal Investigations Division (CID),
rising to the rank of colonel...."


From "Academy Group Brings Expertise to George Mason," by Laura
Martinez Massie.

"Roger Depue, the group's founder, is former chief of the behavioral
sciences unit at the FBI Academy at Quantico. He and his colleagues
are former FBI and U.S. Secret Service agents and played a major role
in the creation of the National Center for the Analysis of Violent
Crime. They are original members of the group that managed the FBI's
behavioral response to all facets of crime and were depicted and made
famous in the Academy Award-winning film Silence of the Lambs."

Interview from Larry King Live:



Read "Indexing Evil," by Kaja Perina. Psychology Today

DR. STANTON SAMENOW (Clinical Psychologist- Criminal Behavior Investigation)

Dr. Stanton Samenow's website

**************************** has a large list of books and videos about Criminal Profiling:

Court TV also has an interestng list, including some inteviews with
famous profilers:


A lengthy compilation of links regarding criminal profiling

Other types of Training for Criminal Profiling Techniques:

"The Behavior Analysis Training Institute (BATI) was founded in 1984
by seasoned law enforcement investigators.  Our Investigative
Interview and Interrogation Techniques course, was the first I&I
course certified by the California Commission on Peace Officer
Standards and Training (POST) in 1984. All instructors are all
classified as "subject matter experts" by California POST. Our
training has been designated as mandatory training for many major law
enforcement organizations throughout California."

The Crime and Clues website has some interesting links;

More links can be found on this Google search string for "training
institutes for criminal profiling"

Some additional career information can be found in the booklet,
"Careers in Psychology and the Law: A Guide for Prospective Students."
A Publication of the Careers and Training Committee, American
Psychology-Law Society. APA Division 41.


 I am going to have to put a stop to this or I might go on all day! I
hope the references I have compiled provide a good overview and
starting point into mapping out a future college and career path.
Don't ignore the suggestion of a law enforcement career as one pathway
to this goal.

 I wish your student all the best!


Some of the search strategy used:

best books on criminal profiling
how to become a criminal profiler
degree in Forensic Psychology
criminal profiler John Douglas
criminal profiler Roy Hazelwood
Stanton Samenow
John Philpin
Roger Depue
Academy Group and Roger Depue
Deborah Schurman-Kauflin
female criminal forensic psychologist
female criminal profiler
training institutes for criminal profiling

Request for Answer Clarification by banyan-ga on 06 Jun 2005 13:49 PDT
First off, thank you for such an interesting and comprehensive
response. With regards to my question #3:

3. Which graduate schools have the best programs?

Could you focus a little more energy into this? This is actually one
of the most important questions because she soon graduates from
College. (If you desire, I can re-ask this as a separate question so
that you can get paid for your time -- and I can get the best

Clarification of Answer by umiat-ga on 06 Jun 2005 16:02 PDT
Hello again, banyan!

I am sorry I cannot be of any further help in this regard. While there
are numerous colleges offering graduate level programs in Psychology,
there are far fewer that offer degrees in Forensic Psychology. I have
spent the last hour searching quite comprehensively for any type of
rating information regarding Master's/PHD level programs in Forensic
Psychology and I have found nothing.

The two lists I provided in my previous answer from the American
Psychology Law website were quite small, and the Society provides no

"Graduate Programs: Clinical PhD/PsyD Programs"

Master's programs in Forensic Psychology

** However, you can go to a site like the Forensic Psychology Bulletin
Board to gain some insider student views on Forensic Psychology
programs around the country.


The American Association of Forensic Sciences also offers a list of
schools according to degree level and category of Forensic Science but
there is no rating.


The U.S. News Rankings of "America's Best Graduate Schools 2006" does
not, unfortunately, rank schools with degrees in Forensic Psychology,
although they do rank other areas of Psychology. The site also
highlights the top Criminology Programs.

Main page:


Peterson's offers a guide to 500 psychology graduate programs, but I
don't think you will find out much more about individual rankings for
the few programs offered in Forensic Psychology.

"Graduate Programs in Psychology 2004 (Peterson's Decision Guides :
Graduate Programs)"


Older rankings of schools offering Clinical Psychology Programs can be
found on the following website, but these are not specific to Forensic


The PsychGrad website does not offer any rankings, either:


If money and location are no object, I would suggest looking at the
small number of schools which offer Forensic Psychology programs as
listed in the above links, and find ratings for each school "overall."

You might also go to a few of the sources listed in the following link
that I have not already referenced in my earlier answer.
 See Q/A concerning "Attending graduate school to study for a career
in forensic psychology" -

One link is provided that I did not reference earlier, but again,
there are no ratings!:

FORENSIC PSYCHOLOGY - Graduate School Programs - Master's, Ph.D.


Unfortunately, I think the answer to figuring out which is the best
school for your student is basically going to come down to an in-depth
review of colleges involving several personal factors. Phone calls to
respected Forensic Psychologists in the criminal field are not out of
the question, either.

Sorry I could not help further in this regard!


Clarification of Answer by umiat-ga on 06 Jun 2005 17:13 PDT
One last note:

I am listening to the news right now. How could I have overlooked
former FBI criminal profiler Candice Delong? She is speaking as I
Here is a link to a recent interview with her from USA today


What steps did you take, education wise, to become an FBI proflier? 

Candice DeLong: "I already had a BA in Nursing and a decade of
experience in psychiatric nursing. I met an agent who. I joined the
FBI in 1980. I attended several inservice training programs within the
FBI that led me further into my involvement into profiling and the
Behavioral Sciences Unit."

"I am a 24year old man with a BA in Psychology, I have always wanted
to be an FBI profiler. What would be my best bet getting into the FBI
to do so since I do not have a Law or Accounting degree? Also, is
there a special unit that deals with profiling Serial Killers or those
involved in Hate Crimes; those are my main fields of interest."

Candice DeLong: "What you need to do is get more experiece -- the
average FBI agent starting out is 30 years old. I was a head nurse at
a psyciatric hospital. Get in the field of mental healh or law
enforcement and don't even think about getting into the FBI until you
have some kind of investigation experience."


Your student might like to read her book - "Special Agent - My Life on
the Front Lines as a Woman in the FBI."

Perhaps a graduation present???
banyan-ga rated this answer:5 out of 5 stars and gave an additional tip of: $20.00
Thank you!

Subject: Re: Forensic psychology and criminal profiing
From: umiat-ga on 06 Jun 2005 19:51 PDT
Thank you very much as well, banyan-ga!

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