This article describes the masters in forensic psychology degree program, some of the subjects and courses to take, and why you may want to consider this degree to boost your career. It will also present a high quality masters in forensic psychology that you might want to consider.
What Is a Masters in Forensic Psychology?
A masters in forensic psychology provides a greater understanding of the intersection between law and psychology. Graduates are able to apply practices and theories to the justice system in all its forms. The degree covers advanced concepts in the legal system, psychology, and analysis and research. It provides an in-depth understanding of criminal behavior and how social, psychological, and biological factors affect this. Graduates are able to prepare court evaluations, provide expert witness testimony, conduct research, and provide therapy.
That said, to practice as a psychologist in this country, a doctorate degree is required. Hence, while a masters in forensic psychology does enable graduates to work in homeland security, social work, government agencies, prisons, hospitals, and more, they are not yet allowed to call themselves “psychologists” until they finish a doctorate degree. Nevertheless, the masters degree is sufficient to enable them to play a pivotal role in the resolution of crimes and the prevention of future ones.
Typically, this degree is made up of both core and elective classes that focus on research practices and psychology. Some schools also allow for concentration areas, although many don’t, since forensic psychology is already a specialization. However, when schools do offer sub-specializations, this enables students to really shape their future career. Common concentrations include:
- Family violence
- Military studies
- Police psychology
Most schools do allow students to choose whether they want to focus on research, or whether they are more interested in the clinical application of the degree. Common core courses in either direction are:
- Criminal Psychology
- Abnormal Psychology
- Theories Of Criminal Behavior
- Psychological Profiling
- Children and Adolescents in the Legal System
- Courtroom and Legal Issues
- Interrogation and Interviewing
- Consultation and Testimony
- Family Law
- Substance Abuse
- Evaluation and Treatment of Offenders
Why Earn a Masters in Forensic Psychology?
A masters in forensic psychology will provide you with a better understanding of social, emotional, and cognitive processes and behaviors, by looking at how people relate to each other and their environment, and interpreting these observations. You will conduct various scientific studies and/or counsel patients directly by identifying their psychological needs and developing treatment plans. However, you will have to do so under the supervision of a registered psychologist.
Your ultimate goal will be to understand and explain behavior, feelings, emotions, and thoughts, and how these relate to crimes. You will learn to do so through experimentation, assessment, and observation, enabling you to develop theories about behavior. This is often done through psychotherapy, psychoanalysis, and lab experiments, and also by conducting various tests. As a forensic psychologist, you will help attorneys, judges, and others in the legal system to better understand the psychology involved in specific cases. It is common for forensic psychologists to focus on specific areas, such as criminal, family, or civil law.
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics has reported that psychologists had a median salary of $75,230 per year as of May 2016. However, this is at the doctorate degree level, which is required to practice as a forensic psychologist. With a master’s degree, fewer positions are available since a graduate cannot become licensed to practice, and the vast majority will go on to complete their doctorate degree.
Online Option for Masters in Forensic Psychology
Southern New Hampshire University
One example of an online masters in forensic psychology program is the MS in Psychology, with Forensic Psychology as concentration, is offered by Southern New Hampshire University (SNHU). Graduates are expected to have an in-depth understanding of psychology, using cutting-edge methods and theories. You will understand the responsibilities of forensic psychologists in the field, especially in connection with issues of diversity, ethics, and the law.
The program provides students the ability to evaluate the victim or defendant; act as a court consultant; and find employment with the FBI (Federal Bureau of Investigation), police departments, law offices, or correctional facilities. Graduates are expected to focus on cracking the criminal mind, improving the criminal justice system, and ensuring victims receive the help they need.
Forensic psychology graduates are respected for having a strong professional skill set and enhanced knowledge in this particular field. They have an in-depth understanding of what it means to be a forensic psychologist, not in the least because they have the opportunity to practice their skills and knowledge in real life situations. Graduates are excellent researchers and have advanced skills and knowledge in human behavior, assessment, analysis, research, and team working.
SNHU is a nonprofit private university, which has set itself the mission to ensure that all of their students can become the best they can be. They offer a number of key benefits to students, including the fact that their programs are highly affordable. In fact, the school has been recognized for this many times. Furthermore, the degree program is delivered online, which makes it convenient, flexible, and efficient, enabling students to participate in the program while still having time for their personal and/or professional responsibilities. Faculty members at the university are respected for their real-world, relevant experience and the school has very loose admission requirements, thereby giving more people the opportunity to enroll. Additionally, the school believes in supporting its graduates into employment by enabling them to network with alumni and presenting with various career opportunities. Lastly, SNHU is known for its excellent student support offered by career and academic advisors within the school.
Core courses of the masters in forensic psychology include:
- Research Methods in Psychology
- Social Psychology
- Cognitive Processes
- Measurement and Assessment
- Theories Of Personality
- Ethical Practice in Psychology
- Forensic Psychology
- Assessment for Forensic Psychology
- Intersection of Law and Psychology
- Psychology in the Courtroom
- Foundations in Statistics
- Foundations in Research Methods
- Foundations in Psychology
Clearly, there are a lot of benefits from having a masters in forensic psychology. It is not a terminal degree and, if you wish to practice as a psychologist, you must go on to the doctorate. Nevertheless, even a master’s degree can open up various career doors to you, through which you can make a real difference in the lives of people in your community. Whether you use it as a stepping stone or not, this is a highly beneficial degree.
- Psychologists. (2015, Dec. 17). Retrieved from https://www.bls.gov/ooh/life-physical-and-social-science/psychologists.htm
- Forensic Psychology. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://www.snhu.edu/online-degrees/masters/ms-in-psychology/forensic-psychology