Forensic Psychology

Master of Science

The graduate program in Forensic Psychology is designed for students with an undergraduate degree in psychology, criminal justice, or a closely related field. Psychology is a discipline with a bright future. Among fields requiring a college degree, it is expected to be one of the fastest growing fields in America, and to continue to grow steadily for at least another dozen years after that. Our program is primarily concerned with applying psychological principles and skills to the understanding and functioning of the legal and criminal justice system.

Forensic psychology embraces psychology and law, and the psychology of policing, corrections, probation, and parole. It also focuses on victim services, juvenile justice, and family services. Forensic psychology covers the full range of activities related to law enforcement and the evaluation and treatment of offenders.

Learning Outcomes for Forensic Psychology
  • Students will develop a solid base of theoretical knowledge of psychological principles and skills they need in order to be able to effectively apply them to the problems that people have in their lives and in their interactions within the legal, correctional and law enforcement systems.
  • Students will develop a current and comprehensive understanding of the functioning of the mental health, legal, correctional and law enforcement systems.
  • Students will develop the ethical commitment and professional interpersonal skills needed to provide quality services to culturally diverse clients and organizations.
  • Students will develop forensic practice competencies appropriate for entering the forensic psychology field.

In the classroom. In the workforce.

What You'll Learn

With coursework focused on the application of psychological principles and skills to the understanding and functioning of the legal and criminal justice system, you’ll learn to view the service provider role in a broad context, from direct person-to-person intervention, to the production of basic research in areas of human growth and development.

Future Studies

The primary focus of this program is to prepare students for further graduate study, but whether you choose to continue your education or go directly into the workforce, you’ll be academically prepared for success in a growing and evolving field.

Career Opportunities

You’ll be prepared for fields including federal and state governments, the correctional system, police departments, social services and child care agencies, family court, and addiction services and mental health centers. Schools, consulting agencies, and private organizations also offer opportunities in psychology.

Psychology Component

  • PSY5036: Behavioral Statistics
  • PSY5205: Applied Research Methodology
  • PSY5345: Advanced Abnormal Psychology
  • PSY5316: Principles of Forensic Psychology
  • PSY5430: Assessment Techniques in Forensic Psychology
  • PSY6889: Externship in Forensic Psychology
  • PSY5415: Psychology of Development

Criminal Justice Component

  • CRJ5310: Interpersonal Violence
  • CRJ4438: Psychological Aspects of the Criminal Justice System
  • CRJ5410: Ethics in Criminal Justice
  • CRJ5510: Legal Aspects of the Criminal Justice System
  • CRJ4539: Counseling Skills for the Criminal Justice Professionals


Total Credits: 36

All Courses

Coverage includes descriptive statistics: central tendency, variability, transformed scores, graphing, skewness, and kurtosis. Also included will be probability and inferential statistics, including z test, t tests (one and two sample), ANOVA, Chi square and the Pearson r. Basic preparation in mathematics is needed. PREREQUISITE: Preparation in math.

This course examines social science research including evaluative methodologies and strategies, types of research, program evaluation, needs assessments, and ethical and legal considerations. This course links statistical analysis and research methodology so that the student may become a sophisticated research consumer as well as research producer. Understanding research strategy and the logic behind the statistical tests for applied purposes is the underlying theme of the course. This course will allow students to understand the nature of empirical research in developing surveys, educational interventions, program evaluations, and therapeutic strategies. PREREQUISITE: None

This course includes the identification and diagnosis and mental health treatment planning for abnormal, deviant, or psychopathological behavior and includes assessments and treatment procedures. This course examines disorders in adulthood, adolescence, and childhood with consideration of the relationship between biological, social, psychological and environmental factors, as well as problems in classification and potential behavior systems. The concepts of normal and abnormal will be explored especially when attempting to understand the behaviors of culturally diverse groups. The symptomatological disorders, including borderline personalities and various phobic and obsessive-compulsive syndromes will be studied. The standards for differential diagnosis will be clarified. Conditions relating to dis-compensation, stress, anxiety, and defense mechanisms will be covered. PREREQUISITE: PSY 5415

This course will provide students with information about the various forensic activities in which psychologists and other related professionals currently participate. Activities may include competency evaluations, assessment of violent behavior and dangerousness, child abuse/neglect, treatment issues, court testimony, police psychology and consultation to judges, attorneys and other law enforcement personnel. Students will obtain information about the numerous roles of professionals in the field of forensic psychology and will develop the skills and knowledge base that will prepare them to continue with specialized training in this area. PREREQUISITE: None

This course will familiarize students with the particulars of forensic assessment and test administration and will deal with techniques of synthesizing and integrating psychological and practical information into an effective forensic report. Emphasis will be placed on formal and informal assessment techniques, presenting problems, presentation of reports and collaboration with other professionals. Students will develop skills in the assessment and diagnosis of disorders commonly found in forensic settings. PREREQUISITE: PSY5316

This course is primarily an off-campus supervised work experience in a forensic setting involving approximately 15 hours per week for an academic semester. All externships are usually undertaken during the final year of the program with approval of the program director. One hour of direct on-site supervision is required and will optimally be provided by a licensed/certified mental health professional. On-campus meetings are also required and are an integral part of the supervision process. All forensic experiences, broadly defined, will be considered as acceptable placements. PREREQUISITE: Permission of department chair

This course addresses the physical, cognitive and social-emotional development of children, adolescents, adults and the elderly, including a description of behaviors that are present at the various stages and explanations for those behaviors regarding relative contributions of heredity and environment. The major theories of physical, cognitive, affective and social development across the life span are applied to mental health counseling practice. The sociocultural and social economic factors that may contribute to a development outcome are also considered. PREREQUISITE: None

An examination of domestic violence and its interaction with the criminal justice system. Areas of focus include causative factors, legal issues, substance abuse correlations, and victim advocate and behavior modification programs. Particular emphasis will be placed on in-depth chronic offender profiles.

This course looks at the behavior of people in the system and seeks to help students better understand their own values and behavior. Coverage will include the impact of roles played by people in courts, corrections, law enforcement, probation, parole, and rehabilitation. An important segment will deal with the developing use of hypnosis in recall enhancement. As time permits, issues such as child abuse and rape will be included.

This course is designed to explore various ethical dilemmas facing the criminal justice professional. The content will focus on applying various theories of moral decision making, including moral rationalism, utilitarianism, and Kant’s categorical imperative to hypothetical situations confronting the criminal justice practitioner.

The course is designed to give an overview of legal principles, which provide a framework for the criminal justice system. An analysis of cases and statutes, pertinent to areas under consideration, is emphasized together with instruction in fundamental aspects of legal research. Areas covered include investigation, initial appearance, arraignment, preliminary examination, trial, guilty pleas or conviction, sentence, and release.

The purpose of this course is to provide the student with an understanding of counseling theory and specific skills as they relate to criminal justice professionals. The focus will be on the use of these skills with offenders who have been referred to agencies as an alternative to incarceration. Emphasis will be placed on rapport development, listening skills, and communication skills. Consideration will be given to problem-solving strategies, decision making and stress management. Some attention will be given to a review of vocational tests and interest inventories with emphasis on proper interpretation and use of results.

This course will examine the theoretical and experiential understandings of group development, purpose, dynamics, group counseling methods and skills, as well as leadership styles for group facilitation. Coursework covers the dynamics and processes of mental health groups (therapeutic, psychosocial, psycho‑educational). An emphasis of this course is on personal growth and the counseling process within the group setting. Among the concepts included are curative factors, interpersonal learning, group composition, and tasks and techniques for change. Topics such as addiction, poverty, and education, will be explored in understanding the individual response to group counseling. PREREQUISITE: None

In this course, a student pursues, in-depth, an individualized program of reading and/or research with a specific faculty member. PREREQUISITE: Permission of department chair

The purpose of this course is to acquaint the student with the major ethical issues in the practice of mental health counseling or school psychology. This course includes the understanding of professional roles and functions of counselors or psychologists, with particular emphasis on legal and ethical standard through ethical case conceptualization, analysis and decision making as it relates to clinical practice. The course involves an intense analysis of the philosophical, technical and consultative issues contributing to the professional identity and function of the counselor or psychologist in a clinical or school setting. Emphasis will be placed on the practical application of theory and the demands of particular setting. This course stresses professional ethics and general standards of conduct. The course examines the standards set by the code of ethics of the American Counseling Association and the American Mental Health Counselors Association for the understanding of licensure and regulatory practices. In addition, a guide for this section of the course is also the American Psychological Associations Code of Ethics. PREREQUISITE: None

This course examines the major theories, principles and techniques of mental health counseling and the application of such theories to counseling settings. This includes the examination of the influence of psychoanalytic, interpersonal/social, cognitive and behavioristic theories on present therapeutic techniques. A number of treatment modalities and styles of counseling are evaluated and the relationship between the nature of the disturbance and the effectiveness of each approach is discussed. Coursework, classroom discussion and role play is used to translate theoretical understanding into effective counseling behavior for a clear understanding of applying theoretical perspectives to work with clients. PREREQUISITE: None

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