Forensic psychology is a branch of psychology that addresses legal issues. The job of a forensic psychologist involves consulting with people associated with all levels of the legal system.
Forensic psychology programs teach students how to apply clinical psychology principles to civil and criminal justice systems.
Apart from campus-based programs, nowadays online forensic psychology programs are offered as well. These programs provide flexible scheduling and are also much less expensive as compared to campus-based programs.
There are mainly three levels of degrees that can be pursued in forensic psychology:
Bachelor’s program in Forensic Psychology
The bachelor’s program in forensic psychology teaches students the importance of psychology within the context of the criminal justice system. It enhances the ability of students to identify and interact with mentally ill, understand the impact of crime and mediate in crisis situations.
The curriculum of a Bachelor’s of arts (B.A) degree in forensic psychology may consist of the following:
Required core courses
These include courses in Mathematics, English, Arts and Humanities.
Psychology major courses
These may include the following:
Introduction to psychology
This course provides basics of the scientific study methods of behavior and mental processes.
In this course students develop understanding of a variety of research methods, such as experimental, survey, case history, and correlation techniques.
Statistics for psychology
Students are taught application of statistical methods in psychological research and practice in this course.
Some seminar in psychology
This capstone course combines practical and class room experiences and focuses on current issues in psychology.
Psychology elective courses
The elective courses may include the following:
This course engages students in exploring theories, basic concepts, and research methods in psychological development.
Psychology of personality
Personality is studied using theories, group patterns, and applications of behavior formation.
In this course students are taught how the brain influences thought, feelings and behavior.
This course offers students an opportunity to study human behavior.
Social psychology is a study of how people’s thoughts and actions are influenced by others
What Career Opportunities would it open?
Graduates with bachelor’s degree in forensic psychology can find employment in a variety of settings within psychology and law. They may work as:
These professionals make sure that recipients of extended services receive their best possible options. They also ensure that provision of services meets policy standards and requirements.
Correctional officers are responsible for overseeing those who have been arrested and are awaiting trial, and those who have been sentenced to serve time in a prison or jail.
Probation and parole officers
These professionals assist in rehabilitation of law offenders who are on probation or in custody or parole. They also make recommendations for the formation of rehabilitation plans. Also, they make recommendations for treatment of offenders, including conditional release and employment stipulations.
Forensic administrators are responsible for planning, development, and supervision of forensic services.
Forensic treatment specialist
These professionals are engaged in forensic work and have a particular expertise that can be applied to law enforcement.
Law enforcement advocates
Law enforcement advocates make sure legal rules are applied in forensic matters.
Master’s program in Forensic Psychology
The master’s program in forensic psychology prepares practitioners to provide psychology services to the criminal justice systems. It also prepares them for a doctoral study in psychology.
The curriculum is usually divided into foundational courses and specialization courses.
The foundational courses usually include the following:
Psychology of diversity and difference
This course examines the difference between socio-cultural variables and mental health of patients.
Theories of psychotherapy and counseling
This course teaches major theoretical models for understanding human behavior and methods of treating its dysfunction.
This course examines the aspects of human development throughout life span.
In this course students are given a broad overview of adult psychopathology.
This course provides foundation in major psychological theories of criminal and aggressive behavior.
Psychology and the legal system
This course explores the relationship between law and psychology and the mental health systems, illnesses, and criminal conduct.
Testimony and consultation in forensic psychology
This course provides an overview of the ethical, professional, and legal practices considered when clinicians provide consultation or testimony in court proceedings.
Apart from the coursework, students enroll for thesis work and usually complete it in their final semester. Alternatively, students may also have the option to do an externship, which involves coursework followed by fieldwork.
The above mentioned curriculum is typical for many schools. However, please note that it may vary between programs.
What Career Opportunities would it open?
Some of the careers graduates with a master’s in forensic psychology can pursue are:
These professionals provide psychological treatment to mentally ill patients who have been engaged in violent or aggressive offences.
Forensic educators work on the academic side of the forensic psychology field.
These professionals make sure law is implemented in the field of forensic psychology.
Legal and insurance consultants
Legal and insurance consultants provide advice to their clients on insurance and other legal matters.
Doctorate program in Forensic Psychology
Doctorate in forensic psychology is an advanced level program that prepares students in clinical, counseling, and neuropsychology skills for providing psychological services within legal and criminal justice systems.
By the end of the program, the students are ready to use research and theory to make contributions to various government, private, and nonprofit organizations.
The curriculum usually constitutes coursework and research and offers specialization in the following areas, among others:
This field involves working with a tailored formulation to improve psychological functioning and well-being of patients.
This field integrates science, clinical knowledge, and theory to understand and prevent disorders in patients.
Forensic psychology is a specialty field that deals with issues involving psychology and law.
Social psychology focuses on social influence, perception and areas including attitudes, aggression, social communication and prejudice.
This field is the study of how people learn
What Career opportunities would it open?
After pursuing a doctorate in forensic psychology, graduates can practice in mental health centers, government agencies, corporations, social services, community agencies, and schools. Some of the most common careers chosen by graduates include:
These professionals provide consultancy in the field of forensic psychology.
Research and Staff psychology
Doctoral graduates can join forensic psychology research firms and can also join lectureship in the field.
After a doctorate in forensic psychology, candidates can also join directorship of student career services.
Those in administration are responsible for planning, supervision, and development of forensic psychology services.
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Q:How can I follow a career in forensic psychology?
A:To pursue a career in forensic psychology, an individual must have a bachelor's, masters or doctoral degree in this field. Moreover, any individual who wishes to practice as a psychologist needs to acquire the proper licensure from any state psychologist licensing board that carries its operations under the American Board of Professional Psychology (ABPP).
Q:How is an Online Forensic Psychology degree different from campus-based degree?
A:The coursework covered by online forensic psychology degree may be the same as that covered by campus-based degree. Apart from the convenience of studying from any geographic location, online programs offer additional benefits. These programs provide a flexible learning schedule which may suit the needs of professionals with busy life routines. Also, these programs cost less than campus based programs.
Q:Which are some of the subjects that will be covered during Forensic Psychology Programs?
A:The courses taught in forensic psychology programs are designed to give you a thorough understanding of psychology and forensic sciences, and the relationship between the two. Examples of courses are psychology of violence, traumatic stress reactions, basic forensic psychology, forensic assessment, abnormal psychology, psychopathology, violence and aggression, mental health issues in policing, ethical issues in forensic mental health, criminal psychological assessment, empirical crime scene analysis, hypnosis, psychology and the law and personality profiles of the homicidal offender.
Q:Can you tell me how to become a forensic psychologist?
A:To become a licensed or certified forensic psychologist a master's degree and a doctoral degree may be required. Students are advised to pursue a psychology degree with specialization in forensics. Courses such as psychology forensics and criminology are typically covered in these programs. For some job positions in the field a certification in forensic psychology may be needed. The American Board of Forensic Psychology is a credentialing board that offers certification in this branch of psychology. It is important that individuals check what the minimum licensing and certification requirements are in their state.
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