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How Do I Get a Forensic Psychology Degree?

Students who wish to become a forensic psychologist may need to earn a doctoral degree.
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  • Written By: Allison Boelcke
  • Edited By: C. Wilborn
  • Last Modified Date: 19 November 2014
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Forensic psychology is the study of behavior and mental processes applied toward the field of criminal justice. It is a discipline that requires intensive knowledge of psychology, as well as criminal investigation and legal issues. Forensic psychologists have a wide range of duties, including determining the mental competency of defendants to stand trial, counseling crime victims, or providing expert trial testimony. Most specialized advanced study for forensic psychology is taught at a postgraduate level, so earning a forensic psychology degree can mean up to seven years of full-time study.

Students who wish to practice as a forensic psychologist may need to complete schooling to earn a doctoral degree. To begin, you will first need to earn an undergraduate degree from a four-year university. Students are generally not required to focus their undergraduate degree on any specific subject. When you apply to forensic psychology graduate schools, they will typically require some minimum background training; therefore, you may want to take introductory psychology, criminology, and research methodology classes.

After earning an undergraduate degree, you can continue on your path to getting a forensic psychology degree by earning a master’s degree. First, you will need to apply to a graduate school that offers a forensic psychology program. Forensic psychology graduate programs are offered all over the world, including the United States, Australia, and the United Kingdom.

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During graduate school, you will complete specialized coursework in various areas of psychology, including clinical, abnormal, and motivational. These classes can help you learn how to understand people and their actions. Additionally, coursework in law and criminology is needed to prepare you for the criminal justice aspects of your career. Earning a master’s degree in forensic psychology will typically take around two or three years to complete.

Once you complete your graduate school program’s requirements, you can begin the final step of getting a forensic psychology degree: completing a doctorate program. A doctorate of forensic psychology degree will typically qualify you to become licensed and able to practice as a forensic psychologist. Many schools that offer a master’s degree program will also offer continuing education that allows students to advance and earn a doctorate without needing to find an additional school.

Requirements for a doctorate in forensic psychology differ depending on the program; however, students are usually required to complete a set amount of hours of coursework in psychology and law. Besides coursework, a doctorate will require you to complete hands-on research. After completing your program’s coursework, you will research, write, and present a dissertation. A dissertation is an original research paper produced based on findings obtained during your own research. After you finish the required coursework and dissertation, most programs will require you to complete a year-long internship in a clinical or legal setting before awarding you a forensic psychology degree.

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chiranjib10
Post 3

I have completed a bachelor and master's degree in forensic psychology and doing a job, but my ultimate target to be a forensic psychologist and for that I am trying to take PhD degree online. Do you think in taking the degree online I will get the same value as a campus degree?

latte31
Post 2

Oasis11- I wanted to add that the field of forensic psychology does not require a forensic psychology degree specifically. Most people seeking a forensic psychology path often obtain a clinical psychology degree. It is usually a masters or doctorate.

The masters degree allows the forensic psychologist student the ability to become a licensed mental health counselor and assist law enforcement in diagnosing criminal behavior.

The doctorate in forensic psychology is rare, but a clinical psychology background will work the same way.

If a forensic psychologist student wants to work with people and diagnose them, then they would seek a PsyD which is the doctorate in clinical psychology.

However, if the forensic psychologist student wants to perform research on criminal behavior, then they would seek a PhD degree.

This degree will also allow the student to teach college courses at both the undergraduate and graduate levels.

oasis11
Post 1

The field of forensic psychology is an interesting one. Many people seeking forensic psychology degrees often start at the bachelor's degree level with a psychology degree and a minor in criminology.

A person interested in forensic psychology usually goes on to graduate school and receives a forensic psychology masters degree and then moves on to the doctorate level and receive a PhD in forensic psychology.

The PhD in forensic psychology is required for any research, or expert testimony on any criminal trial. There are many of forensic psychology graduate degrees available online, but the most important thing to remember is that the school has to be accredited.

In addition a great forensic psychology program should provide some hands-on clinical experience. If you would like to contact an expert in the field of forensic psychology, you can go to the site called expertwitness and it will provide you with a list of experts in the field along with educational requirements for this profession.

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