WHAT IS FORENSIC PSYCHOLOGY?
Forensic psychology is the study and application of understanding criminal behavior in regard to the criminal justice system. Professionals working the field interview suspects, witnesses and jury members to determine mental health and state of mind. Their findings are used to settle cases in court, prevent local crime and apprehend criminal suspects. According to the Bureau of Justice Statistics, in 2009 more than 7.2 million were in jail, on probation or on parole. Those statistics keep the field of forensic psychology busy.
FORENSIC PSYCHOLOGY DEGREE
Practicing forensic psychologists can have a criminal justice degree with a concentration or certificate in forensic psychology. Another option is to have a bachelor’s, master’s or doctoral degree in psychology with an emphasis in forensic psychology. A bachelor’s degree is typically only suitable for entry level positions, and most departments and agencies require a master’s or doctoral degree. After completing a college program, students must work toward their license in psychology. In a forensic psychology degree program, students will first study the fundamentals of psychology. The basic curriculum will be to first understand human behavior, and the advanced courses will be to then analyze criminal behavior. Students will be responsible for developing a research study about criminal activity and analyze the findings in report.
Students will study how individuals react to their mental, social and emotional contexts as well as to the broader community. The field encompasses many disciplines including corrections, law enforcement, criminal justice and forensic science.
FORENSIC PSYCHOLOGY TOPICS
These are some common classes you would enroll in while studying forensic psychology:
- Criminal Behavior
- Criminal Law
- Social Psychology
- Correctional Psychology
- Psychology of Alcoholism and Drug Abuse
- Social Psychology
- Psychology Ethics
FORENSIC PSYCHOLOGY COLLEGE ACCREDITATION
The American Psychological Association accredits all psychology programs, including forensic psychology. It is recognized by both the secretary of the U.S. Department of Education and the Council for Higher Education Accreditation, as the national accrediting authority in the field. The association has a list compiled of accredited programs, although it is not mandatory for a college to have an accredited program in order to operate.
CAREERS WITH A FORENSIC PSYCHOLOGY DEGREE
With an education in forensic psychology you can pursue these jobs:
- Forensic Psychologist
- Correctional Psychologist
- Social Worker
- Consultant to Law Enforcement
- Jury Consultant
- Victim’s Advocate
- Expert Witness
- Court Liaison
- Case Manager
- Clinical and Program Director