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

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

*PSY6505 Issues and Ethics in Psychology can substitute for CRJ 5410 Ethics in
Criminal Justice. PSY5215 Counseling Theory and practice can substitute for CRJ 5420
Counseling Skills for the Criminal Justice Professionals.

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.

This course links statistical analysis and research methodology in order that the student may become a sophisticated research consumer as well as research producer. The student must learn to understand the logic of the research enterprise and have a basic grasp of the conceptual base on which the statistical tests of significance rest. Understanding research strategy and the logic behind the statistical tests is the underlying theme of the course. This will allow students to understand the nature of empirical research in developing education interventions and therapeutic strategies. Students are also required to learn the SPSS computer program.

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. Also covered will be dis-compensation, stress, anxiety, and defense.

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.

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.

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.

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 in terms of relative contributions of heredity and environment. The sociocultural and social economic factors that may contribute to a development outcome are considered.

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.

The emphasis in this course will be on human 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. Drug addictions, poverty, and education will be explored in understanding the individual response to group counseling. The class itself will experience these concepts by both participating in a personal growth group and reviewing appropriate literature.

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

The purpose of this course is to acquaint the student with the major issues in the practice of psychology. The course will involve an intense analysis of the philosophical, technical, and consultative issues contributing to the professional identity and function of the psychologist in a public school or clinical setting. Emphasis will be placed on the setting, the practical application of theory, and the demands placed on the setting, the practical application of theory, and the demands placed on the practicing school psychologist. This course stresses professional ethics and general standards of conduct. The guide for this section of the course is the American Psychological Associations Code of Ethics.

This course will examine in some detail the influence of psychoanalytic, interpersonal/social, cognitive, and behavioristic theories on present therapeutic techniques. Each style of counseling is evaluated and the relationship between the nature of the disturbance and the effectiveness of each approach is discussed. The response to counseling of those from various racial and cultural groups will be considered. Classroom discussion will be used in conjunction with film and audio tape presentations to translate theoretical understanding into effective counseling behavior.

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