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. 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 –University of Nebraska-Lincoln

Program Description

From the website: The Law-Psychology Program at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln is one of the leading centers for education and research in the interdisciplinary study of law and psychology. In existence since 1974, our program trains scholars who are engaged in basic and applied research and writing on psychosocial issues and problems related to the law. The Department of Psychology and the College of Law jointly sponsor the program, which is the world’s oldest ongoing integrated program in psycholegal studies. It remains unusual in the breadth of training with students specializing in virtually any area of psycholegal studies. Law-psychology faculty and students focus their studies in traditionally important psycholegal areas such as jury decision-making, eyewitness memory, children’s decision-making, distributive and procedural justice, domestic violence, criminal responsibility, juvenile justice, the admissibility of scientific evidence in litigation, and so on. They also work on less-studied topics, such as tax compliance, altruistic behavior, child support, death penalty issues, sexual harassment, workplace discrimination, mental health, financial literacy, bankruptcy, alternative dispute resolution, health care policy issues, and elder law.

The Law-Psychology Program offers interdisciplinary training in psychology and law. The Program specializes in training scholars who will be able to apply psychology and other social and behavioral sciences to analyses of empirical questions in law and policy. Students in the program study and apply theory and research from social, cognitive, clinical, and developmental psychology to problems of law and policy. The Law-Psychology program trains researchers and professionals to identify and evaluate the psychological assumptions underlying laws and court decisions and to apply their psycholegal expertise to improve understanding of the operation of law in our society.

Graduates of the program work in universities, research or public interest organizations, or in local, state or federal government. Graduates go on to take positions in a variety of settings specializing in diverse tasks and problems. For example, recent graduates work in universities (i.e. John Jay College, Florida International University, University of Nevada, and Carelton University), research or public interest organizations, law firms, jury consulting organizations, and the courts. Faculty and graduate students regularly consult with government and private agencies applying psycholegal scholarship to problems of law in everyday life.

The JD/MA Track

The J.D./M.A. track is for students who wish to be legal practitioners but who also desire to obtain a strong background in psychology or social science methods. It provides sufficient background in interdisciplinary studies, social science methods, and psychological knowledge to permit thorough evaluation of psychological research and practice and interdisciplinary collaboration in policy formation or implementation. In addition to interdisciplinary courses, J.D./M.A. students take courses designed to provide an overview of psychological research, theory and methods. In the first year, students take the same Law College curriculum as the rest of the first year law students. During subsequent years, students take courses from both the Law College and the Psychology Department tailored for their individual programs. Most students will complete the program in about four years and the M.A. degree is presumed to be terminal.

Credits

The program is a 4-year program, with the first year being completed at the Law School. The website does not easily delineate the number of credit hours required form this joint MA/JD program.

Thesis

Students are required to complete a thesis in this program.

Externship/Practicum

The focus of the MA/JD joint degree is on research; therefore a clinical externship is not part of the program requirements. It does appear, however, that supervised fieldwork in law and psychology is available; this fieldwork would emphasize the integration of legal analysis and psychological research in the formulation or implementation of public policy.

Admission Requirements

From the website: Applicants are required to have the following:

  • B.A. or B.S. degree with a major in psychology (see below if you are a non-psychology major)
  • Laboratory course in experimental psychology
  • Undergraduate course in statistics
  • Typically a grade point average (GPA) of 3.5 or higher on a 4.0 scale (see below if your GPA is below 3.5)
  • GRE scores (Verbal, Quantitative, Written)
  • GRE Subject Test is recommended if not a psychology major
  • LSAT, if applying for a JD

Applicants to the Law and Psychology program must also submit a law school application to the UNL College of Law.

Tuition & Fees

Tuition and fees at UNL vary by College, which means that the tuition is most likely different for the law school classes and the psychology classes. Interested students should call the program for more detailed information.

In-State Residents

$236-$380 per credit hour

Out-of-State Residents

$275 – $978 per credit hour

Coursework

The coursework for the joint MA/JD degree is not easily set out on the program website. The first year is taken in the Law School along with the rest of the incoming law class. The subsequent 3 years are a mix of law and psychology courses. Students who are interested in this joint MA/JD program are advised to contact the program directly for more specific information.

Law and Psychology Courses

  • 985. Law and Behavioral Science (LAW 762G) (1-4 cr)
  • 988. Mental Health Law (LAW 763G) (1-4 cr)
  • 989. Topics in Law and Psychology I (LAW 764G) (1-4 cr per sem)
  • 989. Topics in Law and Psychology II (LAW 765G) (1-4 cr per sem)
  • 995. Psycholegal Research Other than Thesis I (LAW 757G) (3-6 cr)
  • 995. Psycholegal Research Other than Thesis II (LAW 758G) (3-6 cr)
  • 998. Practicum in Law and Psychology (3 cr per sem, max 6) Prereq: Full graduate standing in Law/Psychology Graduate Training Program or permission of the director of the Law/Psychology Program.

Concluding Comments

The University of Nebraska-Lincoln has one of the longest standing and well-recognized Law and Psychology graduate programs. The majority of the students admitted to UNL are admitted to the doctoral degree programs. They do offer a joint MA/JD program for those students not interested in doctoral-level education. This program has a strong emphasis on research and prepares students to be legal practitioners with specific knowledge in psychology and social science methods. The Masters program is terminal, meaning that students do not typically do on to doctoral-level training within the same program. Students who desire a doctoral-level degree are encouraged to consider the doctoral programs at UNL.