Forensic psychology training programs have advanced in many features in last three decades. These programs are available at under-graduate, graduate, masters and doctoral levels. These are broadly classified into clinical and non-clinical forensic psychology, depending upon the training models and curriculum. Advanced certification is available for those wishing to pursue postdoctoral programs.
Courses in forensic psychology
For a graduate program, an individual must take up core courses at an undergraduate level. These courses include clinical, cognitive, criminal investigative, social, and developmental psychology. A bachelors' degree program in forensic psychology may limit a student's career options, while students with master's and doctoral programs have wide-ranging career opportunities.
The broad spectrum of programs available to the students in forensic psychology is as follows:
Bachelor of Arts in forensic psychology (B.A) is a two year degree program and prepares students to incorporate psychological knowledge in the legal system. Students can find work in areas related to prison, correctional centers, law enforcement centers, hospitals.
Bachelor of Science in forensic psychology (B.S.) is a two year degree program and allows post- baccalaureate education to a student. This means a student can take up a masters and a doctoral program after B.S degree.
Master of Science in forensic psychology (MS or MSc) is a degree program offered through physical or empirical sciences. It focuses mainly on empirical research and offers specialization in areas like neurophysiology and biological psychology
Master of Arts in forensic psychology (M.A) is a two year degree program offered through humanities and social sciences. The studies are mainly based on degree of emphasis on research. It offers specialization in core courses such as clinical, cognitive, and social and developmental psychology.
Doctor of Philosophy in forensic psychology (PhD) is a more common postdoctoral degree than Psy.D and offers specialized programs in both clinical and non-clinical studies. It's widely accepted in US, Canada and other countries. The program comprises of 5 to 7 years of studies including one year supervised APA accredited internship.
Doctor of Psychology (Psy.D) mainly emphasizes on the study of psychology, has a narrower focus and is less common. Yet it is accepted in many states and provinces as a postdoctoral degree and can be used as a licensure to practice independently
Advanced board certification is for PhD /Psy.D students looking to further enhance their expertise in forensic psychology.
Clinical and non-clinical courses
Clinical forensic psychology is the study based on evaluation of mental illnesses, treatment of victims and deal directly with patients/clients. Non-clinical programs in forensic psychology are based on research using the knowledge of psychology and judicial system and offer non-clinical services like consultation.
Top Colleges /Universities for forensic psychology
The leading colleges offering American Psychological Association (APA) accredited programs are:
Nova Southeastern University (cps.nova.edu)
Florida Institute of Technology (www.fir.edu)
The Chicago School of Professional Psychology (www.thechicagoschool.edu)
John Jay College of Criminal Justice, New York (www.jjay.cuny.edu)
Michigan State University: School of Criminal Justice (forensic.msu.edu)
University of Denver (www.du.edu)
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Online programs in forensic psychology
Online degree programs are available for those individuals who are hard-pressed on time on professional and personal front. These courses offer flexibility in schedule and classes and could be taken up at one's convenience. There are various colleges accredited by higher learning commission that offer online programs in forensic psychology. Some of them are as follows:
The Chicago School of Professional Psychology
An accreditation from APA is required for an individual with postdoctoral degree to start his own private practice. A license for the same is acquired only when after completion of the post doctoral degree and two years of supervised work experience.