What is Forensic Psychology?
It is quite typical that when people hear about clinical forensic psychology they think of getting into a criminal’s mind, getting their hands dirty with collecting evidence at a crime scene, and studying cases over and over in detail. This is the stereotype that most people have about forensic psychology; however, there is much more to forensic psychology than these common perceptions.
Forensic Psychology, according to the American Board of Forensic Psychology, is “the application of the science and profession of psychology to questions and issues relating to law and the legal system.” Forensic psychology is a specialization that deals with concerns that occur at the interface of law and psychology. Those who practice forensic psychology are not necessarily forensic psychologists by training; they may be counselors, neurologists, or clinical psychologists (to name just a few professions) who offer or who are invited to offer their expertise to analyze crimes, testify, or provide recommendations in criminal or other legal cases.
This (narrowly-defined) field within psychology may be conceptualized by some as a relatively new area of expertise, with its history beginning in 2001 when the American Psychological Association recognized it as specialty area. However, the roots of forensic psychology extend deep and are traced by some to Wilhelm Wundt’s laboratory of forensic psychology in Leipzig, Germany.
The demand for forensic psychologists is increasing. The exposure that this field has received in recent years from books, articles, movies, and television programs has increasingly caught the attention of interested students considering this as a career option. Therefore, it is helpful to know what types of activities forensic psychologists engage in, what type of job you can expect to get after completing a degree in forensic psychology, and what are the best schools that offer this type of degree program.
What Does a Forensic Psychologist Do? All about Forensic Psychology Careers
A career in clinical forensic psychology will require you to work in many different areas of the legal system thus, having continuing education is important. This program is not all about being famous or working in the FBI or getting your hands dirty on a case. This job requires learning and being patient.
Forensic Psychology Jobs – What You Can Do After the Degree
Those who hold a degree in forensic psychology can work in any career within the justice system. Some work in the courtrooms, while there are those who choose to work at the police department. Some may choose to work at correctional facilities; there are also those who choose a career as a college professor. Depending on their personal reasons, there are those who study serial killers, offenders and juvenile delinquents. Job openings for those in this field are never running out.
In all these jobs though, skills in research, analysis and profiling are certainly part of the requirements. There is an assessment for any one who wants to get a career in forensic psychology to check whether the person has these skills.
Forensic Psychology Programs – Scope of Study
An introduction in forensic psychology always starts the program. The instructors usually will start you on Bartol’s Introduction to Psychology and other handbook and journals of psychology to get you warmed up on your studies. After learning the essentials and history of the major, they will get you into more details of the program. It is also a necessary part of the course to gain training in handling and dealing with people so internships is definitely part of the course syllabus almost every semester. There will be a lot of evaluations throughout the course so as you can track whether you’re indeed learning and you’re getting a hang of the program. By the end of the course you should be familiar with legal terms, your profiling skills should be excellent, and your familiarity with the Journal of Forensic Psychiatry and Psychology should be great.
Forensic Psychology Graduate Programs – Is It Needed?
Slots for Forensic Psychology bachelor’s degree program are only a few. The path for those who want to pursue a career in forensics is to get in this field and get a course in a different psychology major in college and then take a masters degree and eventually get into a doctoral program to be a PhD or PsyD. Studying further will get you a higher chance of getting that dream job or pay. Some choose to get in medical school to pursue a career in psychiatry. There are also times that a professional choose to enter into law school to be able to take their career further. No matter what step you choose to take, it is important to keep in mind that to master forensic psychology it is a must to gain knowledge and experience from top universities offering a graduate program.
Forensic Psychology Schools – How Do You Choose?
There are now a number of schools offering a degree in forensic psychology. Some are more famous than the others because of their rankings and how far they are taking their scale in advertising their programs. Whatever school you choose, it is important that you take into consideration not only their rankings but also their ethical and moral standards, if it is in line with your own; after all you are the one schooling and absorbing the knowledge from them.
Internships are also vital in this program, so it would be great to know in what company or organization they have an affiliation with when it comes to accepting students as apprentice or interns. It’s usually the internship program of the schools that defines whether they really support their students in getting excellent education.
Forensic Psychology Colleges in the Country
As of current, there are only a few colleges offering forensic psychology courses. There are only a few names that come to mind if you’re checking on a bachelors degree in forensic psychology, the most noted schools are Argosy University and Marymount University.
All the others such as John Jay College of Criminal Justice in New York (NYC), University of Denver, Massachusetts School of Professional Psychology and American Academy of Forensic Psychology offer the program with a masters of Arts (MA) degree and a doctorate degree.
Forensic Psychology Degree Online – Is there Such a Thing?
The answer to this is yes. Some colleges also offer online option to those who want to gain their graduate degrees at home. Topics, modules and exams are given and administered over the Internet. Spotlighted university offering online courses are The American College of Specialist Psychology and Argosy University. The Chicago School of Expert Psychology also has certificate and master’s degree that they offer through distance education.
Is the Course Worth It? Forensic Psychology Salary
After getting a bachelor’s degree, studying the majors and getting an evaluation, the next thing to consider is the worth of the program. Although they say money is not everything, it is still perfectly normal to have an outlook of success, in which the common measurement is the salaries. According to Payscale.com, for those new in the field it is normal to have a salary of about $53,500 to $57,224. It can shoot up to as much as $86,000 depending on years of experience.
The salary is not capped as a forensic psychologist can get as many consultations and justice system participation so depending on their credibility and reputation, their salary can rise through side jobs and court case evaluations.