Earning a degree in forensic psychology is a great way to enter an exciting and fast-paced career. When a person decides that this is the career path they want to pursue, they will quickly find that there are many colleges and universities offering post-secondary academic training in Forensic Psychology. The number of schools offering these degree programs has seen tremendous growth over the past 20 years. Before this specialized degree was offered, a psychology student would earn a degree in a field like clinical psychology and then pursue outside training in forensics. Now there are a vast number of standalone forensic psychology programs nationwide.
When searching through the many different degree programs, it can be hard to shorten your list of potential colleges. It can be helpful to keep in mind a few important questions to ask as you look for the right degree program.
Does this school offer the specialization you are looking for?
When it comes to forensic psychology, specializations can take many different shapes. Some schools offer a straightforward forensic psychology degree. However, some offer general training in psychology with the ability to specialize in forensics. It’s important to have an idea of what kind of specialization you would like to pursue so you know exactly what to look for. Some of the specializations currently offered include forensic psychology, psychology and law, child forensic psychology, criminology, prison psychology, criminal justice and mental health policy.
Do they offer your degree level?
There was a time when the only forensic psychology programs were offered at the doctoral level, but this is no longer the case. You can now earn a bachelor’s, master’s or doctoral degree in forensic psychology. When you begin your research on schools you might see that a certain college or university has a terrific reputation for their forensics program, but if you come to find out that they don’t offer the degree level you are seeking, you may be disappointed.
What size program is best for you?
Another important question to ask yourself is what program size is right for you. Many graduate degree programs run in what is known as a cohort group. Meaning you start your program with a group of fellow students and you stay with that group throughout your training. These people become your early colleagues and support system. If you would do better with a small group of people, this is a good question to be asking.
Are you willing to relocate for the right program?
This is a very personal question for people. If you find the perfect program, but it requires a move – is this something you are willing to do?
Can I afford this program?
The question that all college students must ask themselves is what they can afford to pay for their degree program. Do you have money set aside for your education? Will you have to take on debt to go to college? How much money can you afford to pay? It is also worth noting that you should also be looking into what you might get in the way of financial aid. Once you know the answers to these questions you can start to pare down your list of schools.
Is the program accredited?
When you are looking at bachelor’s or master’s level programs the question of accreditation isn’t necessary. When you are considering a doctoral program, it is a paramount question. The American Psychological Association (APA) has a system of accreditation that schools must adhere to in order to be accredited. http://www.apa.org/ed/accreditation/programs/using-database.aspx If you plan to earn your PhD or PsyD in forensic psychology, is it beneficial to opt for a school that is APA accredited.
The Chicago School of Professional Psychology has campuses in Chicago, Illinois, and Irvine, California, United States. The school offers several graduate degree programs in forensic psychology, with a range of specializations. Each of the programs culminates in a Master of Arts degree in forensic psychology. There are a number of available specializations to hone in on a specific area of practice. The full-time program includes course work in the legal system, public policy, opinions about criminals, criminal behavior, demographics, insanity and mental illness, the court system, and the correctional system. To be accepted to the program, applicants must have a bachelor’s degree in psychology, sociology, criminal justice, pre-law or other correlated fields of study. Additional requirements include completing a college level course in statistics or research.
The Clinical Psychology Department at the William James College in Newton, Massachusetts, United States, also offers more than one forensic psychology degree programs. There is an APA accredited PsyD in Clinical Psychology degree program with an optional program concentration in Forensic Psychology. They also support a Masters (MA) in Clinical Mental Health Counseling with an Area of Emphasis in Forensic and Correctional Counseling, as well as a Masters (MA) in Criminal Justice and Behavioral Health. Course work for these programs includes courses such as Mental Health and Counseling in the Legal System, Consultation, Collaboration and Testimony, Criminal Behavior and Sex Offender Evaluation and Treatment. To be accepted to the program, applicants must have obtained a bachelor’s degree in psychology or a similar field of study.
The College of Psychology and Liberal Arts at the Florida Institute of Technology in Melbourne, Florida, United States, offers a PsyD degree program in Clinical Psychology with an optional specialization track in Forensic Psychology. This APA accredited program is a service-oriented degree emphasizing clinical skills. The full-time program includes a robust curriculum of courses, research experiences, completion of a dissertation and clinical work with the advisement of an academic mentor. For acceptance into to the program, applicants must have minimally a bachelor’s degree from an accredited university or college.
The Graduate Center at the City University of New York in New York City, United States, offers a Doctoral Degree Program in Psychology and the Law. The full-time program includes course work in jury decision-making, the ability of jurors to understand and use scientific and probabilistic evidence, the plausibility of psychological assumptions built into legal rules of evidence and procedure, group processes in juries, jury selection by attorneys and social scientists and the accuracy of child and adult eyewitness identification and crime reports. To be accepted to the program, applicants must have a bachelor’s degree in psychology (or a closely related field) from an accredited college or university.
The Graduate School of Professional Psychology at the University of Denver in Colorado, United States, offers a Master of Arts Degree Program in Forensic Psychology. The full-time program includes training in the application of psychological theory, knowledge, skills and competencies to the civil and criminal justice systems. Students in this program are trained for work as competent mental health professionals, in the legal system or prison system. To be accepted to the program, applicants must have a bachelor’s degree in psychology or a related social science. The two-year program of study is often used as a platform to pursue additional graduate training in forensic psychology at the doctoral level.
The John Jay College of Criminal Justice in New York City, United States, offers multiple forensic psychology degree offerings. You can pursue a Master of Arts in Forensic Psychology, a Master of Arts in Forensic Mental Health Practice and a collaborative dual-degree program with a Master of Arts in Forensic Psychology and the Juris Doctor program (from the New York Law School). With a strong emphasis on criminal justice and law, programs offered at this school all have access to course work to gain an advanced understanding of psychological development and psychopathology, personality assessment, psychotherapeutic techniques, and research methods. To be accepted to the program, applicants must have a bachelor’s level degree in psychology or a related social science.
The College of Health Professions at Pacific Oregon University in Forest Grove, Oregon, United States, offers an APA accredited PsyD degree program in Clinical Psychology with a specific specialization track in forensic psychology. Students in this program are prepared for careers working at the intersection of psychology and the law. The full-time program includes course work in Adult Forensic Psychology, Psychology and the Law, Juvenile Forensic Psychology and Correctional Psychology. To be considered for this program, applicants must have obtained a minimum of a bachelor’s level degree in a field related to psychology. Students in this program will also complete a dissertation focused on a forensics topic and at least two of the three required clinical training experiences.
The College of Humanities and Social Sciences at the Sam Houston State University in Huntsville, Texas, United States, offers a Doctor of Clinical Psychology degree program with a specialization in Forensic Psychology. The full-time program includes course work in Mental Health Law and Forensic Assessment and students actively engage in forensic evaluations, consultation for the courts, and treatment of forensic populations. To be accepted to the program, applicants must have a minimum of a bachelor’s degree in psychology (or similar field). Those with a master’s degree in psychology must bring a syllabus from their program in order to assess their coursework. This program is accredited by the American Psychological Association.
The College of Graduate Studies at the University of North Dakota in Grand Forks, North Dakota, United States offers a Master of Arts degree program in forensic psychology. It is an online, part-time program and typically can be completed in about two years. The program includes course work in how to conduct focus groups and assist lawyers in trial preparation and jury selection, how to select the most appropriate tools for assessment or evaluation, how to testify as an expert witness, how to provide research-based program evaluations, and other important topics. To be accepted to the program, applicants must have a bachelor’s degree in psychology or similar field with an average GPA of 3.0 or greater.
The Graduate College at Missouri State University in Springfield, Missouri, United States, offers a unique specialization certification in forensic child psychology. It is one of very few programs nationwide to offer training specifically for work with children in a forensic psychology setting. Students can earn their Forensic Child Psychology undergraduate certification along with almost any related undergraduate major offered by the university. The Forensic Child Psychology graduate certification is a 12-credit hour program that can be a part of any graduate training program but is generally earned as part of master’s level training in psychology.