Master’s Degree in Forensic Psychology @ Maastricht University

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pg” alt=”" width=”204″ height=”158″ />After having reviewed the five fully online masters programs in forensic psychology, numerous requests were received for more information on the campus-based masters programs in forensic psychology that are available. Thus, this series of articles will review each of the masters programs in forensic psychology and provide information on each program in a similar format so as to assist in comparisons between the various options.

The goal of this series of articles is simply to provide information in a consistent format to assist those individuals who are considering an education in forensic psychology and not to convince anyone to attend a particular program. Having been a professor in this field for the last 13 years I am familiar at some level with almost every forensic psychology program available in North America and a few on other continents as well. Many undergraduate students are not familiar with all the possible options and so this series will lay them out in a consistent format for ease of comparison.

Masters Degree in Forensic Psychology – Maastricht University

Program Description

From the website: Forensic Psychology is the application of scientific and professional aspects of psychology to questions and issues relating to law and the legal system. The two-year Master of Science in Forensic Psychology (MSc) at Maastricht University, Faculty of Psychology and Neuroscience, educates its students to become scientist-practitioners in the forensic mental health field.

This selective programme provides students with a mix of theoretical and empirical knowledge in forensic psychology through the educational concept of Problem Based Learning (PBL). Students study the literature in relation to real-life problems and work in small tutorial groups to meet their learning goals. Furthermore, the programme includes hands-on training in forensic assessment and therapy skills. This combination makes this master’s programme unique.

Forensic psychologists always operate with two goals in mind: the safety of society and the well-being of the offender-patient. Forensic psychologists need specialised knowledge in areas such as offender typologies, criminal and juvenile law, psychopathy, malingering, sexual offending, trauma and victimisation, risk assessment and offender treatment.

Work in forensic settings is challenging. First of all, the patient group that is admitted to forensic settings is diverse and demanding, including persons with severe antisocial behaviour problems and co-morbid mental disorders (such as schizophrenia combined with substance use disorders). Secondly, assessment and research questions in forensic settings are highly complex (for example questions concerning criminal responsibility, future violence risk and parenting capacity). Last but not least, to be able to work effectively in the forensic field, specialised skills and knowledge in the field of material law and legal procedure are required, for example to serve as an expert witness in court.

Apart from the above-mentioned knowledge and skills, a successful career in the forensic mental health field requires strong motivation and communication skills.

The Master in Forensic Psychology is a two-year, internationally oriented programme, taught in English.

Specializations

The two-year master’s programme in Forensic Psychology will deliver scientist-practitioner forensic psychologists with both knowledge of mental disorders and their evidence-based assessment and treatment, specific to forensic settings. The first year of the two-year programme prepares the students for their clinical and research internship, and their master’s thesis during the second year.

Credits

The two-year program of study has a total of 120 European credits (60 credits each academic year), with each credit equaling 28 hours of study.

Thesis

Completion of a masters thesis is a required component of this program.

Externship/Practicum

The internship is a key component of the education as a forensic psychologist. During the second year, students will spend at least 32 weeks on internships, applying the theoretical knowledge and professional skills and attitudes obtained during the first year.

There are two internships. The research internship entails addressing a carefully formulated research question, working out a research proposal, conducting the actual study, and writing a master’s thesis in a form suitable for submission to an English-language scientific journal.

The clinical internship is aimed at conducting evidence-based practice in forensic assessment and forensic therapy. Furthermore, students will conduct a small-scale clinical research project, which forms the basis for the minor thesis. During the clinical internship period, students who are located close enough to the UM, will have regular in-person meetings with fellow students and an instructor, to discuss their experiences at the internship site and to learn to relate these experiences to relevant knowledge and skills. Dutch-speaking students are offered the opportunity to fulfill entrance requirements for professional postmaster training programmes in The Netherlands.

Admission Requirements

To be eligible for admission in this master’s programme, students must meet the following criteria:

  • A bachelor’s degree in Psychology or Mental Health Science from a Dutch university, or a foreign university bachelor’s degree from a programme that meets similar achievement levels;
  • The bachelor’s programme must include the following subjects relevant to this master’s programme:
  • Basic training in clinical interviewing skills;
  • Basic training in psychological assessment;
  • Basic training in research methodology and statistical analysis;
  • Basic training in psychopathology
  • A Grade Point Average (GPA) of 3.0 or more (= 7.0 or more in the Dutch grading system) for the subjects (courses, thesis, practicums, etc.) of the bachelor’s degree.

Tuition & Fees

In-State Residents

Individuals who are citizens of The Netherlands or one of the other EU/EER countries, Suriname, or Switzerland pay approximately the following tuition:

1,771 per year

Out-of-State Residents

Individuals who are not citizens of The Netherlands or one of the other EU/EER countries, Suriname, or Switzerland pay the following tuition:

12,000 per year

Coursework

Core Courses

Introduction to Forensic Psychology (4 credits)

Eyewitnesses and Victims (4 credits)

Psychotic Disorders (4 credits)

Perpetrators and Defendants (4 credits)

Personality Disorders (6 credits)

Criminal Law (6 credits)

Professional Ethics in Forensic Psychology (2 credits)

Forensic Neuropsychology (2 credits)

Sex Offenders (2 credits)

Psychopharmacology of Reward and Drugs of Abuse (2 credits)

Deception and Malingering (2 credits)

What works with young offenders? (2 credits)

Master class with international experts I (3 credits)

Master class with international experts II (3 credits)

Workshop

Writing a research proposal (1 credit)

Skills Labs

Assessment skills lab I (4 credits)

Assessment skills lab II (4 credits)

Therapy skills lab I & II (6 credits)

Expert witness skills lab (2 credits)

Clinical and Research

Research proposal (2 credits)

Research Internship (25 credits)

Masters thesis (10 credits)

Clinical research proposal (1 credit)

Clinical Internship (15 credits)

Minor’s Thesis (4 credits)

Concluding Comments

This is a well known and high quality program of study in The Netherlands and the faculty consists of internationally respected researchers on forensic issues. The program is akin to a clinical psychology program in the United States (as opposed to experimental) but has a strong emphasis on research as well as clinical work. Students who are interested in more information about this program should check out the program’s website, which includes an informative 12-minute video with Professor Corine de Ruiter, an international expert in forensic psychology and member of the faculty.