What is a Forensic Psychology Specialist?
A Forensic Psychologist Specialist is the educational track for students blending the field of psychology with the legal system. A Forensic Psychology Specialists uses their expertise of the legal system and legal jurisdictional factors to effectively work with other legal professionals such as judges, attorneys, paralegals, arbitrators, case managers, legal consultants, and court reporters. A critical facet of the Forensic Psychology Specialist requires professionals to possess the capacity and willingness to testify under oath as an expert witness. In other words, a Forensic Psychologist will reformulate psychological case findings in a legally relevant manner to help a jury and legal professionals better understand the case at hand. A Forensic Psychologist can be a generalist or choose to specialize in a division of psychology such as social, clinical, organizational, cognitive, biopsychology, comparative psychology, developmental psychology, health psychology, industrial psychology, or sports psychology.
Best Forensic Psychology Specialist Degrees
Degree options for a forensic psychology specialist include online programs and classroom-based degrees from a number of top colleges and universities. In an effort to help you determine the degree program and learning modality best for you, we have created a summary of each degree below. As you learn more about programs of interest, simply request information from schools that fit your personal priorities and career objectives to be as productive and efficient as possible with your time.
Online Bachelor’s Degree for a Forensic Psychology Specialist
Online bachelor's degrees for a forensic psychologist can be conferred as a Bachelor of Science (BS) or a Bachelor of Arts (BA) as a function of the school's curricular design. Bachelor's degrees are 4-year programs for full-time students that blend liberal arts classes such as English, creative writing, sociology, communications, and math with core classes psychology courses. Core classes for forensic psychologists will be vary by school and area of concentration. To illustrate, a student selecting a forensic psychologist track with an emphasis on the legal system will register for classes such as criminal law, criminal justice, forensic investigation, psychological disorders, forensic interviewing, psychological interviewing, and forensic assessment.
Online Master’s Degree for a Forensic Psychology Specialist
Both the classroom-based master's degree and the online master’s degree for a forensic psychologist will take 2-3 years to complete as a function of pace and course load. Master degrees in the field of psychology are conferred as a Master of Arts (MA), Master of Science (MS), or Master in Psychology (MPsy). The master’s degree is designed to provide deep insights into psychological issues in a concentrated format. The majority of schools will provide students the option to specialize in a master's program that can include paths such as: family violence, criminal justice, cyber-crimes, legal issues, terrorism, sex offender behavior, policy psychology, and military applications. Classes for each area of emphasis will correlate to the specialization of choice as prescribed by the school.
Online Doctorate Degree for a Forensic Psychology Specialist
Online doctorate degrees for a forensic psychologist will typically mirror their classroom-based counterpart. Degrees are conferred as either a PhD or PsyD which both are considered terminal degree in the field with no additional degrees beyond. The PsyD and PhD degrees are 4-6 years in length with a substantive portion of that time invested in an approved dissertation project in a specialized field of study. Akin to a typical master’s degree, doctorate degrees for forensic psychologists provide students with the ability to choose an area of concentration. Common tracks for a forensic psychologist include self-designed courses, victimology, legal issues, criminal justice, and crisis response. Graduates from a doctorate program with a forensic psychologist degree will be ready to engage in a variety of careers in private industry, teaching, research organizations, think tanks, or government agencies of all types.
Forensic Educational Requirements
In terms of educational requirements, Forensic Psychology degree holders will have typically studied the following courses while in college:
Skills & Abilities Required of Psychologists
- Critical Thinking
- Complex Problem Solving
- Reading Comprehension
- Active Listening
- Oral Expression
- Oral Comprehension
- Speech Recognition
- Written Comprehension
Schools Other Students Requested Information From:
Employment Information & Psychology Specializations
For students that earn a college degree in Forensic Psychology, there are several fields of specialization that one can pursue. The options range from attorney, psychologist, anthropologist, mental health counselors, postsecondary teacher, school counselor, forensic scientist, sociologist, survey researcher, law enforcement, detective, mediator, arbitrator, judge, paralegal, hearing officer, legal assistant, and conciliator to name a few possible career tracks. Additional resources for vocational specializations can be obtained via the American Board of Forensic Psychology (ABFP).
Job Growth and Career Outlook in Forensics
The job growth in the greater Forensic Psychology domain are well above average. For example, the rate of job growth for college professors is expected to rise 13% through 2024 and psychologists a 19% growth rate is expected during the same period. Given the broad nature of the Forensic Psychology degree, compensation after graduation can vary greatly from career field to career field given prior experience and geographic location. Related fields include teaching, research, attorney, legal assistant, mediator, forensic scientist, hearing officer, and sociologist.