Criminal Psychology Course - EXPLO

Criminal Psychology

Examine how psychologists, as well as psychological theories and methods, advance the study of crime, criminal behavior, and criminal justice.

What makes someone commit a crime? Is it genetics? A psychological disturbance? Social and environmental influences? Criminologists have long attempted to understand crime in the context of these potential factors, yet why crime happens is as difficult to answer as ever. Delve into various theories on criminal psychology and victimology to profile serial killers, adolescent thieves, and white collar criminals. Discover how different types of crimes correlate to various personality traits and socioeconomic backgrounds. Put the controversial “Broken Windows Theory” to the test, and examine the effects of zero tolerance policies on crime. With a deeper understanding of the social and psychological profile of the criminal mind, create a crime prevention policy and program, with the goal of both slowing the rate of crimes and helping to rehabilitate the people who commit them.

Students will not be allowed to enroll in both the Criminal Psychology course and the Criminal Psychology workshop.

Who Should Take This Course?

Delve into the criminal mind as you strive to unlock the secrets of criminal behavior. Hone your investigative skills while you work collaboratively with other criminal psychologists to identify causes of criminal behavior and develop a plan to decrease crime. This course is ideal for students who have an interest in criminal studies, psychology, and forensics.

Advisors + Past Speakers

  • Dr. Olivia Moorehead-Slaughter, Psychologist
  • Joseph Wippl, Former CIA Officer + Professor of the Practice of International Relations, Boston University
  • Dr. Marvin Chun, Dean of Yale College, and Professor of Psychology, Yale School of Medicine
  • Dr. Casey Jordan, Criminologist, TV Commentator + Attorney
  • Dr. Paul Bloom, Professor of Psychology + Cognitive Science, Yale University
  • Saul Kassin, Emeritus Professor of Psychology, John Jay College of Criminal Justice

Plan your summer


Course Highlights

  • Theoretical Review

    Deconstruct the prevailing theories associated with criminal psychology in an effort to develop a deeper understanding of how a criminal is made. By looking closely at the Broken Windows Theory, Social Control Theory, and more, build a framework that supports your profilings.

  • DSM-V + Mental Illness

    In the United States, more than half of all people in local jails and state prisons suffer from mental illness, yet few receive any mental health services. Learn about how mental illness is identified, and understand how it relates to those who may commit criminal offenses. Examine alternatives to incarceration and dig into the role of stigmatization and how it impacts manifestations of violence and anger.

  • Victimology

    Study four theories of victimology and explore how people become victims of crimes. Create victim profiles and review key data that helps you build accurate criminal profiles for suspects. Debate the significance of theories like Stockholm Syndrome and how they impact victims.

  • Develop Case Study

    Use offender case studies to create a criminal profile, a victim profile, and a victim data table for a serial criminal offense. Describe what causes someone to commit multiple murders, and research famous serial killers. Investigate a staged crime scene and solve the mystery.

  • Career Exploration

    Meet experts in the field, and research potential career paths available in criminal psychology. Learn about the education expectations, job responsibilities, and the future of the field.

My Criminal Psychology instructor is so knowledgeable and she makes things really fun. It's only the fourth day here and I've already learned so much. I've always liked shows about a criminal's mind and related things. Now I'm learning them in real life. We literally just learned about the profiling stuff that they always have in TV shows yesterday. Now I want to further develop my interest in it. Before I came, I've always thought I wanted to be an engineer. But after switching from the Engineering course to Criminal Psychology, I literally just fell in love with it. I might study it in college!

Advisors + Past Speakers

Dr. Olivia Moorehead-Slaughter


Dr. Olivia Moorehead-Slaughter is a clinically trained psychologist with over 30 years experience working with children, adolescents, families, and adults. She is the former Chair of the American Psychological Association Ethics Committee and the Massachusetts Board of Licensure for Psychologists. Currently, Moorehead-Slaughter is the Psychologist at The Park School, an independent school in Brookline, Massachusetts serving pre-kindergarten through eighth grade students.

Joseph Wippl

Former CIA Officer + Professor of the Practice of International Relations, Boston University

Joseph Wippl is a 30 year veteran of the CIA and a Professor of the Practice of International Relations at the Frederick S. Pardee School of Global Studies. Wippl spent his 30 year career as an operations officer in the National Clandestine Service (NCS) and he later occupied the Richard Helms Chair for Intelligence Collection in NCS Training Program. He has served all over the world in various CIA headquarters.

Dr. Marvin Chun

Dean of Yale College, and Professor of Psychology, Yale School of Medicine

Dr. Marvin Chun, Dean of Yale College, and the Richard M. Colgate Professor of Psychology, Dr. Chun leads a cognitive neuroscience laboratory at the Yale University School of Medicine. Also an award-winning professor, Chun’s undergraduate course Introduction to Psychology is one of the largest at Yale College and has been recognized many times. Chun has authored psychology textbooks, serves on several Boards, and acts as an advisor on the Nike Performance Council.

Dr. Casey Jordan

Criminologist, TV Commentator + Attorney

Dr. Casey Jordan is a criminologist, behavioral analyst, and attorney in private practice. She is currently the host-interviewer for Investigation Discovery’s “Wives with Knives” and serves as a consultant crime analyst for several other shows. She has contributed to more than 1000 television stories on crime and legal issues, serving as the in-house CNN Criminologist during the 2002 D.C. Sniper Event. She has appeared on all the major networks and has analyzed more than 100 cases for Court TV. Jordan has been a professor at Western Connecticut State University, John Jay College of Criminal Justice, Iona College, Queens College, and St. Joseph’s College. Jordan has interviewed dozens of violent offenders and authored dozens of scholarly articles and four books.

Dr. Paul Bloom

Professor of Psychology + Cognitive Science, Yale University

Dr. Paul Bloom is the Brooks and Suzanne Ragen Professor of Psychology and Cognitive Science at Yale University. His research explores how children and adults understand the physical and social world, with a special focus on morality, religion, fiction, and art. Bloom has won numerous awards for his research and teaching, and has written for the science journals Nature and Science, as well as for The New York Times, The Guardian, The New Yorker, and The Atlantic Monthly.

Saul Kassin

Emeritus Professor of Psychology, John Jay College of Criminal Justice

Saul Kassin is a Distinguished Professor of Psychology at John Jay College of Criminal Justice in New York and Massachusetts, and Professor Emeritus at Williams College. He is a premier (and award winning) expert on the study of false confessions, particularly the impact those confessions have on judges, juries, witnesses, and the plea bargaining process. Kassin has appeared on virtually all major United States television networks, and his research has been cited by the Supreme Courts of the United States, Canada, and Israel.