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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 North Dakota

Program Description

There are two masters degree programs in forensic psychology offered by the University of North Dakota, a Science-based program (M.S.) and an Arts-based program (M.A.) From the website: 1) Master’s of Science (M.S.). In the U.S. forensic graduates obtain master’s-level psychology jobs in agencies and institutions such as prisons, juvenile facilities, social service agencies, police departments, child care agencies, probation, parole, family court, addiction services, hospitals, and community mental health centers. Some students get jobs as forensic researchers doing studies and evaluations of at-risk populations. A few graduates will be accepted in federal law enforcement agencies after earning the Master’s degree. You would expect to see forensic graduates working in the following areas: secure forensic units in state facilities, jails/prisons, probation services, court service units, community mental health centers, protective services, violence risk assessment, specialized agencies (i.e. child advocacy centers), law enforcement, and trial consulting. The M.S. degree in forensic psychology will also allow some students to advance to doctoral programs in forensic psychology, forensic science, and law school. Students in the M.S. Forensic Psychology Program at UND are required to attend classes on campus and complete 44 credits of study. This includes 26 credits of required course work, 12 credits of elective courses, and a minimum of 6 credit hours for thesis work.

2) Master’s of Arts (M.A.). The Department of Psychology, in conjunction with the Division of Continuing Education, has designed an online forensic psychology program targeted for working professionals. The M.A. Forensic Psychology program is the first to be offered online by a nationally recognized, fully accredited university. Through the 34-credit M.A. program, students will learn how to provide the psychological expertise and knowledge needed by the legal community and agencies having a strong forensic focus. Students in the program will likely be in-service professionals, such as law enforcement personnel, who want to further their career as well as those with a behavioral or social science background, such as counselors or social workers, who are interested in applying psychology to their work involving forensic issues.

The online Master’s degree is described elsewhere. The M.S. in Forensic Psychology is described below.

Specializations

The Masters in Forensic Psychology does not appear to have formal specializations, but allows for an individualized program of study by allowing students to choose from a number of electives (minimum of 12 credits/4 courses).

Credits

The program consists of 44 credits, which include 26 credits of required coursework, 12 credits of elective coursework, and 6 credits of thesis work.

Thesis

Students are required to complete a thesis in this program. The thesis is worth 6 credits of the 44 required credits for this program.

Externship/Practicum

Although the required coursework includes a 2-credit course in Supervised Field Work, it does not appear that this would be a clinical placement, but rather, would include placement at various settings where research would be the primary focus of the fieldwork.

Admission Requirements

From the website: Applicants must have a baccalaureate degree from an accredited college or university with a behavioral or social science major allied with psychology, e.g., psychology, criminal justice, sociology, counseling, social work. Applicants must submit scores from the Graduate Record Examination, including the Advanced Examination in Psychology. Advanced students who have earned, or will earn, a graduate degree in psychology, counseling, social work, sociology, any related behavioral science can also apply. Applicants must have a cumulative undergraduate GPA of 3.2 or above, or a graduate GPA > 3.75; an analytic GRE writing test score > 2.5; and Verbal & Quantitative GRE scores must both equal or exceed the 30th percentile. Applicant must also submit three letters of recommendation, academic transcripts, and an essay. Applicants not meeting these standards may be admitted on a provisional basis with continued enrollment contingent on successful performance in the program. A 250-300 words essay discussing reasons for pursuing a graduate degree in forensic psychology is required as part of the admissions material to be submitted. Three letters of recommendation from those who can comment on the applicant’s academic abilities are also required. Consideration will be given for experience working in forensic areas or participating in research as an assistant prior to the program application.

Tuition & Fees

The University of North Dakota’s website presents tuition averages for a full year of study (Fall & Spring semesters). Discounted tuition rates are given to Western Exchange States, which include: Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Hawaii, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, Oregon, Utah, Washington, Wyoming, and the provinces of Saskatchewan and Manitoba.

In-State Residents

$7,531 per year (the Masters degree appears to be a 2-year program)

Out-of-State Residents

$17,938 for the first year (the Masters degree is a 2-year program; it appears that the ongoing tuition after the first year is at the rate of $10,647/year).

Coursework

Required Core Classes (32 credits)

• Psy 520 – Foundations of Forensic Psychology (3cr)
• Psy 521 – Diversity Psychology (3cr)
• Psy 524 – Psychology & Law (3cr)
• Psy 541 – Advanced Univariate Statistics (3cr)
• Psy 542 – Multivariate Analysis (3cr)
• Psy 543 – Experimental Design (3cr)
• Psy 575 – Behavior Pathology (3cr)
• Psy 587 – Supervised Field Work (2cr)
• Psy 593 – Readings in Psychology (3cr)
• Psy 998 – Thesis (6-9cr)

Elective Courses (12 credits)

Choose four of the following:

• Psy 501 – Psychological Foundations of Education (3cr)
• Psy 526 – Psychological Profiling & Criminal Behavior (3cr)
• Psy 539 – Cognitive Psychology (3cr)
• Psy 560 – Advanced Social Psychology (3cr)
• Psy 572 – Community Psychology (3cr)
• Psy 576 – Child Psychopathology & Treatment (3cr)
• Psy 594 – Special Topics: Conflict Management (3cr)
• Psy 594 – Special Topics: Neuropsychology (3cr)
• Psy 594 – Special Topics: Psychopharmocology (3cr)
• CJ 515 – Human Nature & Crime (3cr)
• CJ 535 – Seminar in Juvenile Justice (3cr)
• CJ 565 – Victimology (3cr)

Concluding Comments

This program is a research-based program that provides the necessary foundation for those students interested in research careers or in further study in psychology at the doctoral level. There are a good number of electives from which to choose so that students may personalize the coursework to fit their interests. The coursework does not appear to be intended to prepare master’s level clinicians and so students interested in becoming master’s level clinicians should consider either the online M.A. in Forensic Psychology offered by the University of North Dakota or another master program. This is one of the few master’s program that prepares students for research careers or further study at the doctoral level.