Forensic Psychology

If you are captivated by the connection between mind and action, and your goal is to assist victims of crime or those who perpetrate such offenses, St. Ambrose offers one of few forensic psychology programs that will help you achieve those goals.

Our graduates work at U.S. District Court, Southern District of Iowa; Lutheran Social Services of Illinois; Rosecrance Health Network; Texas Services for Veterans Families.

Ambrose Advantages

  • Unique Program: One of Only 10 in The Nation!
  • Meaningful and Formative Experiences
  • Real-World Application

Shyam Seetharaman

Julie Kettman talking to students

computer and noteboook

Our Forensic Psychology faculty provide close mentoring, hands-on experience, and advance your commitment to social justice. At St. Ambrose, you gain the skills to be successful, whether you directly enter the workforce or pursue an advanced degree.

Read Our Forensic Psychology Fact Sheet (pdf)

More Information on the Forensic Psychology Program

What will I learn?

With a bachelor's degree in forensic psychology, you'll possess research and writing skills, be a good problem solver, and have well-developed, higher-level thinking abilities when it comes to analyzing, synthesizing, and evaluating information. You will study criminal behavior, treatment of victims, theories of counseling, criminal law and procedure, and drugs and society.

Our faculty has diverse experience in psychological research and clinical practice, which allows us to offer unique courses, research experiences, and internships that go far beyond traditional undergraduate programs.

Throughout your education, you will benefit from strong relationships with psychology faculty who share their expertise in experimental, clinical/counseling, neuroscience, and forensic areas. Best of all, they believe their job is to teach and mentor.

Starting your first year, you will meet with a faculty member at least once a semester, or as often as needed, to discuss goals and ways to enhance your education. Their guidance continues through your senior year, as they offer career advice or help you with graduate school applications.

Courses such as Brain and Behavior walk you through the construction of the human nervous system and how those biological mechanisms are hugely relevant to key issues in psychology. Toward the end of your four years, you'll dive further into research and methodology with hands-on research experience in the Advanced Experimental Design and Analysis course. Read Course Descriptions

An important part of majoring in Forensic Psychology is the semester-long internship. The Quad Cities boasts more than 90 health and human services organizations, giving you a variety of placement options. And, if graduate school is your next step, the practical experience gained through this internship is excellent preparation for and entrance into graduate school or a career.

What are some unique opportunities I will have?
  • You can help Professor Andrew Kaiser, PhD, enter, analyze, and interpret data from inmates at the Scott County Jail as part of a study on recidivism. When appropriate, students can observe inmate interviews and use the project data to develop independent research projects.
  • You can also work with faculty on projects through the Summer Research Institute, independent research practicums, or the Honors Program.
  • Our internships go beyond shadowing professionals in this semester-long opportunity (120-140 hours on-site). You get to apply and build on your knowledge. The practical experience gained through this internship is excellent preparation for and entrance into graduate school or a career.
    Settings for the internship can include outpatient/inpatient treatment facilities, jails/prisons, state/federal courts, probation/parole facilities, community programs for treating the offender population, policing organizations, and agencies related to family court or treatment of youth offenders (including schools).
  • Many of our Psychology and Forensic Psychology majors have secured competitive national summer internships at sites including the Mayo Psychology, Forensic Psychology, Behavioral Neuropsychology Clinic; Florida International University; and Chicago's Children's Research Triangle.
  • Join Psi Chi, the International Honor Society in Psychology.
  • Join the Psychology Club, which holds joint meetings and events with the SAU Psi Chi Chapter. This gives you more opportunities and the ability to make a larger impact.
  • Get involved. All psychology students are strongly encouraged to support organizations in the community such as the National Alliance on Mental Illness, volunteer in campus activities, and join professional organizations.
  • St. Ambrose hosts a large number of university and community events, conferences, and discussions that will expand your learning and worldview, and most are free for our students.
Study Abroad

You've heard people say it before: "College will be the greatest time of your life!" With Study Abroad, you can add even more to your college years.

You can study in another country – without paying extra tuition – in a semester-long or short-term study abroad program (with a few offered during spring and winterim breaks). No matter the duration, these trips deepen your professional education while earning credit toward graduation.

There are also opportunities through an exchange program, an overseas internship, or volunteering. The limits for Study Abroad are only ones you set for yourself! SAU students have studied in Italy, Costa Rica, Australia, Korea, United Kingdom, Spain, Ecuador, Japan, Germany, Peru, Cyprus, Croatia, Belize, Canada, Chile, and more.

SAU students returning from their Study Abroad locations talk about their time away as life-changing - personally, emotionally, culturally, and academically. Click here to search our Study Abroad programs, and for general information click here.

What are some potential career outcomes?

Forensic psychology majors may work as employment counselors, correction counselor trainees, interviewers, personnel analysts, probation officers, police officers, and more.

If you decide to become a licensed psychologist, you will need a master's or doctorate degree. With more education, the fields in which you can work are limitless.

Many of our majors continue their education in master's and doctoral-level programs. Your forensic psychology major also pairs well with our Master of Social Work or Master of Criminal Justice programs, and we have 4+1 plans for each of those degrees (see below).

You have other graduate options at SAU, too, including occupational therapy, physical therapy, physician assistant studies, and speech-language pathology.

What have alumni of this program done?

Kirstin Kramer '12 is a Community Corrections Specialist at the Washington State Department of Corrections.

Eryka Berglund '14 continues her education at Western Illinois University-Quad Cities in clinical mental health counseling.


Andy Kaiser, PhD, Professor and Chair

Robin Anderson, PhD, Professor
Jennifer Best, MSEd, Visiting Asst. Professor
Carol DeVolder, PhD, Professor
Judy Correa Kaiser, PhD, Professor
Julie Jenks Kettman, PhD, Assoc. Professor
John Stachula, PhD, Professor
Katie Trujillo, PhD, Professor

Degree Requirements

Bachelor of Arts Degree in Forensic Psychology

+PSYC 105 Introductory Psychology
PSYC 215 Research Methods
PSYC 306 Social Psychology or +SOC 220 Self and Society
PSYC 321 Psychology and Law
PSYC 325 Psychology of Criminal Behavior
PSYC 328 Psychology and Treatment of the Victim
PSYC 342 Theories of Counseling
PSYC 421 Internship in Forensic Psychology (3-6 credits)
+CRJU 101 Introduction to Criminal Justice
CRJU 221 Criminal Law and Procedure
CRJU 400 Criminological Theory
SOC 342 Drugs and Society
+STAT 213 Applied Statistical Reasoning for the Sciences

Choose one concentration area:

Concentration in Children Services (12 hours): CRJU 316 Juvenile Justice, PSYC 326 Child and Adolescent Psychopathology, PSYC 327 Psychology and Treatment of the Juvenile Offender, and PSYC 384 Advanced Child and Adolescent Development.

Concentration in Adult Services (12 hours): CRJU 231 Contemporary Corrections, CRJU 313 Offender Treatment and Theories, CRJU 314 Probation, Parole, and Community Corrections, and PSYC 324 Abnormal Psychology.

Internship Program: Students receive practical experience in Forensic Psychology by enrolling in internship placements in settings such as outpatient/inpatient treatment facilities, jails/prisons, state/federal courts, probation/parole facilities, community programs for treating the offender population, policing organizations, and agencies related to the family court or treatment of youthful offenders (including schools).

+satisfies a general education requirement

Click here to read course descriptions for Psychology

Plan to Graduate

This is the suggested plan of study to graduate in four years with a degree in Forensic Psychology. This plan assumes the student has not satisfied the foreign language requirement (three years of high school foreign language).

Check the online course catalog for prerequisites.

Year One

ENGL 101 3 Oral Communication 3
MATH 171 Elementary Functions 3 †STAT 213 Applied Stats/Science 3
Foreign Language 101 3 Catholic Intellectual Tradition 3
PSYC 105 Introductory Psychology 3 †Foreign Language 102 3
CRJU 101 Intro to Criminal Justice 3 *Liberal Arts Perspective 3
New Student Seminar 1 KIN Activity 1-2
KIN 149 1
Total Credits 17 Total Credits 16-17

Year Two

†Liberal Arts Perspective: Natural Science (Rec. BIOL 101, CHEM 101) + Lab (Gen Ed) 3-4 *Liberal Arts Perspective 3
†PSYC 215 Research Methods 3 †PSYC 324 (ADULT) OR PSYC 326 (CHILD) 3
†PSYC 321 Psychology & Law 3 †PSYC 325 Psychology of Criminal Behavior 3
†CRJU 221 Criminal Law & Procedure 3 PHIL/THEO 300 Level 3
†CRJU 313 (ADULT) or PSYC 384 (CHILD) 3 †WI Course (200 or 300 any department) 3
**Experiential Learning **Experiential Learning             
Total Credits 15-16 Total Credits 15-18

Year Three

†PSYC 328 Psychology & Treatment of Victims 3 †PSYC 342 3
†PSYC 306 OR SOC 220 3 †CRJU 314 (ADULT) OR PSYC 327 (CHILD) 3
*Liberal Arts Perspective (Gen Ed ) 3 †CRJU 231 (ADULT) OR CRJU 316 (CHILD) 3
†SOC 342 Drugs & Society              3 300 Level Elective or Minor 3
Catholic Intellectual Tradition 3 Elective: PSYC 255 (ADULT) OR Elective/2nd major/minor (CHILD) 3
**Experiential Learning **Experiential Learning
Total Credits 15 Total Credits 15

Year Four

†PSYC 421 Forensic Psychology Internship 3 †PSYC 421 Forensic Psychology Internship 3
†CRJU 400 Criminological Theory 3 †PSYC 300 or 400 level 3
300 level Electives 9 Electives or Minor 9
Major Field Test (Required for Graduation)
Total Credits 15 Total Credits 15

*Liberal Arts Perspective History category must be from 2 different departments
**PSYC 294/394 Research Practicum (if taking Research course for credit PSYC 105- Must talk to Psych Advisor); Volunteering, Psychology Club, Exploration of Graduate School)
†Needs pre-requisite

ADULT=Concentration in Adult Services
CHILD=Concentration in Children Services
WI =writing intensive

BA-MSW Program

Being interested in studying and understanding human emotion, cognition, and behavior might be why students want to major in psychology. These are also reasons why people become social workers!

Psychology majors benefit from unique coursework on mental health, developmental and social influences on human behavior, as well as on how the brain functions. This background provides a solid foundation for developing the skills that social workers need when assessing and counseling clients and offers an extra layer of understanding and insight into client issues and motivations.

Further, psychology's roots in answering questions about human behavior through conducting scientific research prepares social workers to understand and design research in their field that will allow them to use best practices with clients and organizations.

For all of these reasons and more, this pairing of psychology and social work - as well as the completion of your internship - helps graduates really stand out in job interviews.

Course Sequence

The timeline for achieving your Master of Social Work degree in five years is listed below. While students don't have to follow this plan exactly, it's an example of how the degree can be achieved. Requirements for a major in Psychology with an interdisciplinary minor in Peace and Justice Studies are in boldRead the admissions requirements here.

First Year (30 undergraduate credits)

Semester 1: PSYC 105, Math pre-requisite for statistics
Semester 2: PSYC 215 OR 212

Second Year (30 undergraduate credits)

Semester 1: PSYC 215 or 212
Semester 2: STAT 213, PSYC 255, PSYC 324, PSCI 309

Third Year (18 undergraduate credits; 12 graduate credits)

Semester 1: PSYC 300-level "other," PSYCH 300-level, HIST 330; MSW 510, 610
Semester 2: WI-PSYC 342, 300-LEVEL, PHIL 343; MSW 520, 620

Fourth Year (12 undergraduate credits; 18 graduate credits)

Semester 1: JPS Capstone; MSW 591, 710, 810
Semester 2: Two gen ed courses; MSW 592, 720, 820

Fifth Year (30 graduate credits)

Semester 1: MSW 530, 593, 603; two MSW electives
Semester 2: MSW 540, 594, 604; two MSW electives

Meet One of Our Alumni

Our alumni and students are doing some fantastic things, something that has become a hallmark of anyone associated with the Forensic Psychology program at St. Ambrose. Learn about a few of our alumni:

Kirsten Kramer, '16

Ashley Nelson

Bachelor of Science in Biology,Class of 2014

We have roughly 150 biology majors, which means our faculty can give students personal attention and guidance. Many of our undergraduate programs are intentionally designed to give you an exceptional foundation for medical programs. We do all we can to help you explore – and reach your goals – just as we did with Ashley.

See My Story

Apply Visit Info


Andy Kaiser, PhD, Chairperson

Psychology Department
McMullen Hall 113
518 W. Locust St.
Davenport, IA 52803

So, what's next?

Are you ready to take the next step? St. Ambrose offers more than 60 programs and 27 athletic teams and sports to join on campus. Become an Ambrosian today!