PhD in Forensic Psychology PsyD Programs
Doctorate in Forensic Psychology: Forensic Psychology PhD Programs and PsyD in Forensic Psychology programs help students cultivate a deeper understanding of the criminal justice system and the mental health issues underlying criminal behavior. The American Board of Forensic Psychology describes Forensic Psychology as “the application of the science and profession of psychology to questions and issues relating to law and the legal system”[i]. Psychologists that earn their PhD in Forensic Psychology sometimes assist in trial consulting, assess witnesses or defendants or provide psychological assessment in cases of child custody, sexual harassment, injury assessment, and other illegal activities. Choosing to obtain a doctorate in forensic psychology could be the best decision you make for your future career.
Doctorate in Forensic Psychology PhD Programs Overview
As an academic pursuit, doctorate degree in Forensic psychology integrate psychotherapy and psychological assessment with criminal investigation to help solve crimes and provide counseling services to offenders and victims. Students interested in a terminal degree in Forensic Psychology can choose either a Doctor of Psychology (PsyD) in Forensic Psychology or a Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) in Forensic Psychology.
You may choose between the two different types of Doctorate in Forensic Psychology. The main difference is that a PhD in Forensic Psychology is often geared more toward a career as a post secondary teacher, a researcher or consultant in law enforcement, government, education, and nonprofit sectors. The PsyD in Forensic Psychology is designed for those interested in working as practicing clinical psychologists. Typically the PsyD integrates academic, clinical training and research experiences centered on forensic topics. This track provides students with a structured set of experiences designed to gain core understanding in the assessment and treatment of forensic and correctional populations
SEARCH TIP: Some universities may not have doctorates specifically in forensic psychology, so students may also earn their degrees in psychology or clinical psychology, and complete a forensic psychology specialization afterward.
Whatever option is chosen, students may expect to invest five to seven years in a PsyD or Phd Forensic in Psychology program that includes an internship of at least one year in a criminal justice or forensic facility. Students often have to complete and defend a dissertation based on extensive research in an aspect of the field of Forensic Psychology.
Certain Forensic Psychology PhD programs accept students with only a bachelor's degree in psychology or related field, if the academic background is suitable for psychology, such as criminal justice or sociology. Other doctoral programs require that applicants hold master's degrees or earn them during their studies. Doctoral students need to have strong analytical skills and be good oral and written communicators. Many PhD in Forensic Psychology programs look for applicants who've completed undergraduate courses in clinical psychology and statistics.
Selecting a PsyD or PhD in Forensic Psychology Doctorate Program: Online or On Campus?
Two learning options exist for students interesting in pursuing a Forensic Psychology PhD or PsyD: a traditional campus-based graduate school or a distance-learning option. Use the GradSchools.com site to help you navigate these choices. If you initiate a location search it will help you find PsyD or PhD in Forensic Psychology programs by city, state or country. Or, you can search for PhD Forensic Psychology online programs for a list to review. Typically a campus format offers the face-to-face interaction that an online program simulates. While online programs are considered flexible, you need to be self-motivated and have where and when to study. Some of the listings to browse might include PsyD Clinical Forensic Psychology, PhD in Psychology- Forensic Psychology.
Forensic Psychology Doctoral Programs Potential Curriculum
Doctorate programs in Forensic Psychology broaden students’ understanding of advanced forensic psychology research methods, and help them evaluate programs designed specifically for such forensic populations as the incarcerated, recently released offenders, the mentally ill, and juvenile offenders.
Students can expect a PsyD or PhD Forensic Psychology curriculum to incorporate aspects of law with aspects of psychology, although coursework may vary between the different degree designations and institutions offering them.
Students learn the theoretical aspects of the field as well as the real-world applications through courses that may include topics such as:
- Forensic psychopathology
- Forensic psychological assessment methods
- Abnormal psychology
- Social forensic psychology
- Forensic psychology ethics
- Adult forensic psychology
- Juvenile forensic psychology
- Correctional psychology
- Child assessment
How To Become a Forensic Psychologist and Obtain Your Doctorate in Forensic Psychology
After obtaining a PhD in Forensic Psychology, graduates will need to obtain a license. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, all states require some form of certification or licensure to practice as a forensic psychologist. Exact requirements vary from state to state but in general candidates have to successfully pass a licensure examination. Individuals interested in the practice of forensic psychology should appraise the specific licensing requirements of their state as early as possible in their academic career.
The next step is to become board certified. Although not an absolute requirement for practice, most forensic psychologists apply for professional certification with the American Board of Forensic Psychology (ABFP). ABFP certification candidates must hold a doctoral degree from a professional psychology program, be licensed in their jurisdiction of practice, and complete at least 100 hours of formal education and 1,000 hours of practical experience in the field.
Job Outlook for PhD Forensic Psychology Graduates
The forensic psychologist is an advocate for those in the legal system, while also working to prevent crime and endorse rehabilitation standards for convicted felons. One who pursues this specialty area might expect to assist in any or all of the following areas:
- Develop prison rehabilitation programs
- Research crime prevention factors
- Aid police in selecting proper candidates for employment
- Analyze courtroom dynamics
- Help judges, lawyers and other legal specialists understand the psychological aspects of a case
- Testify as expert witnesses
- Help victims of crime
- Help determine sentencing for criminals
- Help create a profile of the criminal mind
- Research criminal behavior
According to BLS data, employment of psychologists in general is projected to grow 19% from 2014 to 2024. The median way for psychologists in May 2014 was $92,110
Ready to Pursue a PhD in Forensic Psychology?
Forensic psychologists are often employed in jails and prisons, or might be hired by police departments as consultants and profilers during criminal investigations. If the intersection of law and psychology is fascinating to you, consider pursuing a doctorate in Forensic Psychology degree to establish your expertise and potentially take on top-level roles.
Sources: [i] abfp.com/ | bls.gov/ooh/education-training-and-library/postsecondary-teachers.htm | bls.gov/oes/current/oes193039.htm | bls.gov/ooh/life-physical-and-social-science/psychologists.htm
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