Forensic Psychology

Master of Science

This program is designed for students with a baccalaureate degree who are interested in psychology, criminal behavior and the criminal justice system. The forensic psychology program is primarily concerned with the application of psychological principles and skills to the understanding of human behavior and the functioning of the legal and criminal justice system.

The primary focus of the master’s degree program in forensic psychology at American International College is to prepare students for future graduate study. Upon completion of the degree, however, many students choose to obtain positions in a wide variety of public and private agencies and institutions, including prisons, juvenile facilities, social service and mental health agencies. Careers as forensic researchers and positions with Federal and State agencies are also possible.

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.

  • PSY5036: Applied Behavioral Statistics
  • PSY5110: Legal Systems and Evidence Practices in Forensic Psychology
  • PSY5112: Psychological Aspects of the Criminal Mind and Criminal Behavior
  • PSY5114: Counseling Techniques in Forensic Psychology
  • PSY5116: Psychological and Legal Aspects of Interpersonal Violence
  • PSY5118: Ethical Practices in Forensic Psychology
  • PSY5207: Applied Research Methodology and Evaluation
  • PSY5347: Psychopathology: Assessment, Diagnosis and Treatment
  • PSY5316: Theories and Practices in Forensic Psychology
  • PSY5417: Human Growth and Development
  • PSY5430: Assessment Techniques in Forensic Psychology
  • PSY6889: Internship in Forensic Psychology


Total Credits: 36


Additional Program Notes:

The Forensic Psychology program is a non-licensure program. Students from the Forensic Psychology program may transfer equivalent coursework to the Educational Psychology doctoral program at American International College. Graduates of the Forensic Psychology program interested in furthering their education to attain licensure as a mental health counselor in Massachusetts and similar states may apply for the 66 credit Doctoral program in Mental Health Counseling at American International College. The Forensic Psychology program does not meet any licensure requirements in part or whole.

All Courses

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 5417

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 across the lifespan for 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 for individuals and families are applied to the understanding of learning, personality development, and mental health counseling practice. The sociocultural and social economic factors that may contribute to a developmental outcome are also considered. PREREQUISITE: None

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, diversity, 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 and 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 variety of clinical settings. 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 by examining 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 current DSM diagnoses and the effectiveness of each approach is discussed. Coursework, classroom discussion and role play are used to translate theoretical understanding into effective counseling behavior for a clear understanding of applying theoretical perspectives to work with clients and for consultation with individuals and families. PREREQUISITE: None

This course examines a variety of statistical methods. Students will apply statistical methods to actual human behavioral topics and issues. Coverage includes descriptive statistics: frequencies, percentages, central tendency, variability, graphing, skewness and kurtosis. Statistical analyses included are probability and inferential statistics, including t tests (one and two sample), ANOVA, Chi square, Pearson r correlation and regression. Basic preparation in mathematics is needed. PREREQUISITE: Preparation in math.

The course is designed to give an overview of legal principles and practices which provide a framework for forensic psychology and 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, evidence practices, initial appearance, arraignment, preliminary examination, trial, guilty pleas or conviction, sentence and release. PREREQUISITE: None

In this course students will study the criminal mind and behavior. A portion of this course will be dedicated to examining and discussing criminal profiling and serial killers. Another important segment of this course will deal with causes of criminal behavior especially related to child abuse, domestic violence, rape, murder and other violent offenses. Coverage will also include the study of the mind and behaviors of professionals in the courts, corrections, law enforcement, probation and parole. PREREQUISITE: None

The purpose of this course is to provide the student with an understanding of counseling theory and specific skills as they relate to forensic psychology and criminal justice professionals. Topics will include treatment for substance use disorder, anger management, motivational interviewing, cognitive behavioral therapy and other current subject matter. The focus will be on the use of these skills to as an alternative to incarceration or to reduce recidivism. 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. PREREQUISITE: None

A psychological examination of domestic violence and its interaction with forensic psychology and the criminal justice system. Areas of focus include victim advocacy, causative factors, legal issues, substance abuse correlations and behavior modification programs. Particular emphasis will be placed on in-depth chronic offender profiles. PREREQUISITE: None

This course is designed to explore various ethical dilemmas in forensic psychology facing criminal justice professionals. Students will examine and discuss the ethical practice for forensic professionals in the courts, corrections, law enforcement, probation and parole. The content will include applying various theories of moral decision making, including moral rationalism, utilitarianism and Kant’s categorical imperative to real-life and hypothetical situations confronting the criminal justice practitioner. PREREQUISITE: None

This course examines social science research including evaluative methodologies and strategies, types of research, program evaluation, needs assessments, and ethical and legal considerations. Students will link statistical analysis and research methodology so that students 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 an 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

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