Forensic Psychology Masters Program Guide

Earning a master's in forensic psychology creates pathways to lucrative and exciting careers in the field. Forensic psychologists work within the criminal justice and legal systems, providing psychological services to people in contact with those systems, including legal professionals, law enforcement agents, and suspected criminals. Forensic psychology graduate programs provide students with the educational credentials required to earn clinical licensure in psychology.

Sometimes referred to as criminal psychology, forensic psychology is a newer field in psychology that's ideal for students interested in the intersection of psychology and the legal system. Read on to learn more about what goes into earning a master's in forensic psychology.

Degree Snapshot

Typical Admission Requirements:
Bachelor's in psychology or a related field, letters of recommendation, 3.0 GPA

Time to Completion:
2-3 years

Average Salary:
$66,295

Why Get a Master's Degree in Forensic Psychology?

Becoming a forensic psychologist requires graduate-level study. Earning a master's in forensic psychology provides a variety of professional and personal benefits, including required educational credentials.

  • A master's degree in forensic psychology can lead to a salary increase; those with master's degrees tend to earn more than those with bachelor's.
  • A master's in forensic psychology prepares students to earn a doctorate, which is the minimum degree required for licensure as a psychologist.
  • Students can tailor their master's degrees to suit a variety of career areas, including some outside of forensic science.
  • Graduate students often enjoy access to special research grant opportunities, which can bolster their resumes before entering the job field.
  • A forensic psychology degree prepares students for careers in a variety of fields, providing marketable skills in several subject areas.

Example Courses

Psychopathology

This course explores various psychological disorders, building off introductory studies in abnormal psychology. Students gain a working understanding of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, which is the keystone text for diagnosing and treating psychological disorders.

Advanced Legal Psychology

Students explore and discuss the integral differences between the practice of clinical psychology and the legal system, including the challenges of navigating these differences. This course provides a fundamental overview of the mental health and legal systems in the United States, highlighting their various intersections and the implications for psychology professionals working within them.

Qualitative Analysis

Graduate studies in forensic psychology emphasize various research methodologies, including qualitative research and analysis. This course provides an overview of common qualitative research methodologies used in psychology and the legal system. Students also explore the ethical implications of practicing psychology in various sectors of the legal system.

Advanced Correctional Psychology

This course examines the role of psychologists and other mental health professionals within corrections systems, which include jails, prisons, and juvenile facilities. Students explore the various ethical issues related to working with these populations and how to navigate appropriate relationships with corrections staff and inmates.

What Can You Do With a Master's Degree in Forensic Psychology?

A master's in forensic psychology prepares students for careers in a variety of areas. The clinical practice of psychology requires a doctoral degree, so some graduates with master's degrees in forensic psychology opt to pursue jobs as corrections counselors, victim advocates, or jail supervisors.


Where Do Forensic Psychologists Work?

Forensic psychologists work for federal government agencies, local governments, private organizations, universities, and research labs. They also work as independent consultants.

Career Advancement

Doctoral Programs

Many graduates of master's in forensic psychology programs go on to pursue doctoral degrees, which are required for clinical psychologist licensure. Doctoral programs in forensic psychology expand upon the knowledge and skills gained in a master's program, further emphasizing research and clinical field experience. Doctoral students often pursue internships and fellowships in specialized areas, working alongside licensed professionals.

Upon earning a doctorate in psychology, graduates can pursue careers in a variety of professional psychology and counseling roles depending on their interests, career goals, and licensure. The doctorate also prepares graduates to teach postsecondary psychology courses.

Licensure

To practice clinically as a psychologist or counselor, you must earn the appropriate license. Generally, clinical psychology licensure requires a doctoral degree and a minimum number of postdoctoral supervised practice hours. However, each state sets its own licensure requirements for psychologists, which may vary between states.

Some states impose additional requirements, like earning a degree from a specially accredited program or completing a higher number of internship hours. Prospective forensic psychologists should check with their respective state boards to determine specific licensure requirements.

Professional Organizations

  • American Psychology-Law Society This organization aims to further education for legal and psychology professionals, emphasizing scholarship and public service. Members enjoy access to conferences, leadership opportunities, and awards.
  • American Psychological Association The foremost organization for psychologists and students in psychology, APA provides a wide variety of member resources, including special publications, career boards, and conferences.
  • Society for Police and Criminal Psychology Membership with this organization offers access to scholarly publications, an annual conference, and opportunities for networking with other criminal psychology professionals.

Take the Next Steps

Program Database

School Degree Levels State