Forensic Psychology Degree
Forensic psychology is a discipline within applied psychology that uses the principles of psychology to assist with criminal proceedings. A degree in forensic psychology is an advanced degree (either a master’s or doctorate) that can have specialties in sub-disciplines including sex offenses, crime prevention, victim support, correctional psychology, and children’s psychology. Scientific advances in understanding the human mind have made psychologists an integral part of the legal system today, as forensic psychologists are recognized for the deep training that allows them to examine and explain aspects of crime that can be inaccessible to those without an advanced degree.
What a Forensic Psychology Graduate Does
Forensic psychologists may provide clinical psychological evaluations on plaintiffs, defendants, and even jury members; serve as expert witnesses; testify at parole hearings; and even support or contest evidence introduced in a trial. Most forensic psychologists work in a private practice and are hired on a contract basis as consultants or providers of court-ordered services for both civil and criminal trials. State and federal government agencies frequently employ forensic psychologists as profilers or interviewers, or in specialist roles at agencies such as at the FBI’s Behavioral Science Unit.
Forensic Psychology Training and Courses
Since most degrees in forensic psychology are advanced, admission to a forensic psychology degree program typically requires that the student successfully complete a bachelor’s degree program, which may be in psychology, sociology, or a related field. Students in forensic psychology study criminology, sociology, and the criminal justice system. Additionally, students are taught how to work with offenders, how to counsel victims of crime, and how to gather, document, and present evidence in court, leading to an interesting and rewarding career working within the legal system after graduation.
While it is possible to find work in forensic psychology with a master’s degree, nearly all states require a doctoral degree to become licensed as a psychologist or to hold oneself out as a psychologist. Master’s-level employment is generally in research and support positions, and the jobs market at the master’s level is highly competitive.
Forensic Psychology Salaries and Job Outlook
The US Bureau of Labor Statistics projects 19% employment growth for psychologists through 2024, which is much faster than the average growth rate for other occupations.1 Psychologists earned an average annual salary of $72,580 per year as of 2015, but pay can vary substantially based on industry and employer.1 For example, psychologists working in government earned an median annual wage of $90,620 in 2015.1
Online Forensic Psychology Degrees, Programs and Criminal Justice Schools
What Jobs Can You Get With a Forensic Psychology Degree?
A forensic psychology degree may help you start a career in positions such as:
- Correctional Treatment Specialist
- Forensic Psychologist
- Substance Abuse and Behavioral Counselor
- Victim’s Advocate
- Youth Correctional Counselor
You can also view current job openings in your state and research job requirements at our criminal justice job board.
1. US Bureau of Labor Statistics Occupational Outlook Handbook, Psychologists: http://www.bls.gov/ooh/life-physical-and-social-science/psychologists.htm