Forensic psychology degree programs are increasingly popular amongst students. But what is forensic psychology? It is the application of psychology in law and law enforcement. For example, it is used in treating mentally ill offenders, providing expert testimony in court, and also in analyzing a criminal’s mind and intent. So to prepare for this work you need to take criminal justice and civil legal courses as well as psychology courses.
This page will help you to find out more about university forensic psychology and to locate suitable schools. If you are interested in other aspects of Criminal Justice, check out the pages for Forensic Science, and Law Enforcement.
What do you study in these programs?
In a forensic psychology program, you are trained to provide psychological services within the criminal justice and civil legal systems, e.g., to evaluate the psychological fitness of individuals who must stand trial. You must state and defend your psychological evaluations in court, so you need to be quick-witted and have good communication skills, as well as having the required psychological and legal knowledge. Courses covered would include: epidemiology of mental/behavioral disorders; risk factors for violence and criminality; profiling and patterning; psychological testing, prediction and intervention measurement; assessment; criminal and civil law and procedures; forensic treatment and intervention skills; interpersonal skills, communication skills, and, professional standards and ethics.
What are the opportunities with a forensic psychology degree?
Forensic psychology research work, consultation and clinical practice has grown considerably over recent years and this growth is expected to continue over the next ten years. There are now various sub-fields that you can work in, including: clinical-forensic psychology, developmental psychology, cognitive psychology, criminal investigative psychology.
Although a bachelors degree is a good preparation, you really need a masters or a PhD to pursue a career in forensic psychology. And graduates with a forensic psychology PhD have more career opportunities than those with only a forensic psychology masters degree.
Salaries are good – in the US, forensic psychologists average around US$70,000 (PayScales.com).
List of schools and programs