Forensic psychology is the science where psychology meets legality. In other words, it is the understanding of criminal law influenced by the psychology of criminals, not to mention, all other figures involved in criminal trials, such as judges, attorneys and other positions. Forensic psychologists are hired to work in the courtroom setting and out in the field and particularly for questioning.
The forensic psychologists must answer questions in a medically accurate manner, even while using language the court understands (Not quite laymen’s terms, but not medical terms either). This mental health professional will also help attorneys evaluate individuals for testimony, plea of insanity, competency to stand trial, risk assessment, child custody rights, and even interpreting polygraph information. The job is extremely important as it helps the prosecution or defense builds a case through a credible witness. Without proper understanding and adherence to legal and psychological procedure, truly damaging results could occur.
It is also within this person’s capacity to provide a recommendation for sentencing, treatment, or even providing extra information directed at the judge. The forensic psychologist, oftentimes the mediator working with attorneys and judges, is an important part of the legal process. Due to the high demands of this job and tremendous responsibility, a master’s degree is usually the minimum degree that will serve as an entry level achievement.
What does a Student Learn in a M.S. in Forensic Psychology Degree Program?
The Master of Science in forensic psychology degree is exclusively for criminal and civil courtroom cases and presumes the student already knows a great deal about the core subject. The M.S. degree will prepare students to go further, offering them information on how the legal process work, evaluation and treatment of offenders and their victims, and other aspects of psychology, and with a psychopathology focus. Most of these degrees require a certain number of hours of direct supervision by a licensed psychologist.
Required courses usually involve studying social sciences, research methods and statistics. As courses progress, more information is given on criminal psychology, intellectual and cognitive ability of a subject, objective personality assessment, and information about how brains function, and how this affects behavior. Elective subjects could be anything from criminal behavior, a study of violence, counseling and rehabilitation, crisis intervention and substance abuse. There may also be training involved in juvenile criminals, sex offenders, terrorism and ethics that all doctors must be aware of at all times.
While the top schools are often cited as the best schools to attend, in truth, there are many colleges that offer advanced training in forensic psychology, such as the schools listed below. The master’s program at alternative schools often provide flexible scheduling, online learning, the ability to work and go to school at odd hours, and web access to materials, databases and other invaluable information.
If you want to be more involved in the legal system pursue a Master of Science in Forensic Psychology degree program with the school of your choice. Be a part of the day-to-day justice process and enjoy a high paying career!