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Align your goals and interests with your studies by choosing one of six specializations in our PhD in Forensic Psychology degree program.
Automatically waive six courses* if you have earned a master’s degree in a related field**, shortening you journey to a PhD.
In today’s complex legal system, forensic psychology professionals are called upon to provide their expertise on issues that intersect with psychology and the law. In this specialization, you will examine probation and parole services, corrections, and their interaction in the criminal justice system. You will explore the many ways you can collaborate with the court system as you gain a basic understanding of expert testimony, jury selection, and eyewitness testimony.
Walden students have 8 years to complete their doctoral program unless they petition for an extension.
In general, students are continuously registered in the dissertation/doctoral study course until they complete their capstone project and it is approved. This usually takes longer than the minimum required terms in the dissertation/doctoral study course shell.
To complete a doctoral dissertation, students must obtain the academic approval of several independent evaluators including their committee, the University Research Reviewer, and the Institutional Review Board; pass the Form and Style Review; gain approval at the oral defense stage; and gain final approval by the Chief Academic Officer. Students must also publish their dissertation on ProQuest before their degree is conferred. Learn more about the dissertation process in the Dissertation Guidebook.
This sequence represents the minimum time to completion. For a personalized estimate of the number of your transfer credits that Walden would accept, call an enrollment advisor at 844-384-4529.
*FPSY 8252 Themes and Theories of Psychology, FPSY 8720 Abnormal Behavior, FPSY 8135 Criminal Behavior, FPSY 8116 Understanding Forensic Psychology Research, RSCH 8210 Quantitative Reasoning and Analysis, RSCH 8310 Qualitative Reasoning and Analysis
**Related fields include psychology, human services, social work, and counseling.
|Course Code||FPSY 8002||Course||Foundations of Graduate Study in Psychology||Credits||(3 cr.)|
|Course Code||FPSY 8252||Course||Themes and Theories of Psychology||Credits||(5 cr.)|
|Course Code||FPSY 8720||Course||Abnormal Behavior||Credits||(5 cr.)|
|Course Code||FPSY 8135||Course||Criminal Behavior||Credits||(5 cr.)|
|Course Code||FPSY 8116||Course||Understanding Forensic Psychology Research||Credits||(5 cr.)|
|Course Code||FPSY 8126||Course||Understanding Violence, Risk, and Threat Assessment||Credits||(5 cr.)|
|Course Code||FPSY 8762||Course||Teaching of Psychology||Credits||(5 cr.)|
|Course Code||RSCH 8210||Course||Quantitative Reasoning and Analysis||Credits||(5 cr.)|
|Course Code||FPSY 8522||Course||Psychology in the Legal System||Credits||(5 cr.)|
|Course Code||RSCH 8310||Course||Qualitative Reasoning and Analysis||Credits||(5 cr.)|
|Course Code||FPSY 8314||Course||Program Evaluation||Credits||(5 cr.)|
|Course Code||RSCH 8260||Course||Advanced Quantitative Reasoning and Analysis||Credits||(5 cr.)|
Criminal Investigative Analysis and Profiling
Psychological Aspects of Violent Crime
|Course Code||RSCH 8360||Course||Advanced Qualitative Reasoning and Analysis||Credits||(5 cr.)|
|Course Code||FPSY 8700||Course||Dissertation Literature Review Lab||Credits||(2 cr.)|
|Course Code||FPSY 8400||Course||Advanced Issues in Forensic Psychology||Credits||(5 cr.)|
|Course Code||FPSY 8214||Course||Consulting for Organizational Change||Credits||(5 cr.)|
|Course Code||FPSY 8115||Course||Writing A Quality Prospectus in Psychology||Credits||(5 cr.)|
|Course Code||FPSY 9000||Course||Dissertation I-IV||Credits||(5 cr. per term for a minimum of 4 quarters until completion)|
Students in this course are introduced to Walden University and to the requirements for successful participation in an online curriculum. Students build a foundation for academic and professional success as social change agents. They assess the relationship of Walden's mission and vision to professional goals. They establish connections with their peers and the broader Walden community. Students engage in course assignments focused on the practical application of scholarly writing, critical-thinking skills, academic integrity, ethics, and the promotion of professional and academic excellence within the field of psychology.
In this course, students are introduced to theories, research, and themes that form the tenets of psychology. Basic theoretical models will be reviewed, including psychodynamic, cognitive, developmental, social learning/socio-cognitive, behaviorist, learning and motivation, systems, biopsychosocial, and gender theories. Theories encompassing diverse populations, including cross-cultural and feminist theories, will also be examined. Students will critically examine the strengths and limitations of these theories and their utility in the field of psychology. Contemporary themes in psychology will be explored, with an emphasis on application of theories designed to effect positive social change.
Understanding the characteristics and causes of atypical thoughts and actions—commonly known in mental health professions as abnormal behavior—is essential in determining accurate diagnoses, answering forensic referral questions, and planning effective treatment programs. In this course, students examine the history and evolution of abnormal psychology and how practitioners use contemporary diagnostic criteria of abnormal behavior in various settings, such as schools, rehabilitation facilities, community agencies, and forensic situations. They examine specific techniques for the diagnosis, assessment, and/or treatment of cognitive, emotional, and developmental disorders, as well as for psychophysiological and psychosocial problems. Using the scholar-practitioner model, students consider environmental and biological factors contributing to behavioral disorders. Students also investigate and discuss current and future trends, legal and ethical issues, and multicultural factors that complicate diagnosis and clinical assessment.
Students in this course are provided with contemporary views, theories, and case-study analysis of maladaptive and criminal behavior, victimology, and victim-offender relationships. A broad conceptualization of criminal behavior, such as that woven from biological, sociological, and psychological perspectives, is explored and evaluated. Theories of crime and the application of risk factors associated with criminal behavior are examined. Additionally, students will be exposed to specific offender groups, both violent and nonviolent, including psychopaths, serial and mass murderers, criminal paraphiliacs, arsonists, white-collar thieves, scam artists, domestic terrorists, and others.
Forensic psychologists, and others in the field, often rely on psychological research for a variety of functions; for example, to extract empirical data about psychological tests or to determine the efficacy of different interrogation techniques. Through this course, students work toward becoming astute consumers of forensic psychology research, acquiring skills needed to understand and interpret data. Students assess the relevance of research as well as the significance of incorporating ethics into practice. They examine basic principles of statistics, such as reliability and validity. Students also learn how to critically read forensic psychology research and how best to apply research results to forensic situations in clinical, correctional, court, public policy, and police settings.
Students in this course explore the various assessment techniques and instruments used within the forensic psychology arena. Some of the assessment areas covered include risk assessment, juvenile evaluations, child custody evaluations, and capital punishment, as well as the various psychological instruments that are used in these types of evaluations. Students are provided a solid foundation of the knowledge of forensic psychology techniques and assessment rather than specific skills in administering and interpreting psychological tests.
Students in this course examine techniques and issues related to teaching psychology at the college and/or university level. The primary focus is on teaching skills, developing rapport with students, managing the course, and managing the classroom. Classroom communication and ethical issues relevant to both faculty and students are also covered.
In this research course, students are provided with the opportunity to develop core knowledge and skills for designing and carrying out quantitative research at the doctoral level, including the application of statistical concepts and techniques. Students explore classical common statistical tests, the importance of the logic of inference, and social change implications of conducting quantitative research and producing knowledge. Students approach statistics from a problem-solving perspective with emphasis on selecting appropriate statistical tests for a research design. Students use statistical software to derive statistics from quantitative data and interpret and present results. (Prerequisites: RSCH 8110 or RSCH 7110 or RSCH 6110.)
Students in this course cover the major roles that a forensic psychologist could have within the court system. Issues such as expert testimony, jury selection, eyewitness testimony, and consultation with attorneys will be covered. Additionally, practical skills such as documentation and report writing will be addressed.
Students in this research course are provided with the opportunity to develop basic knowledge and skills for conducting qualitative research at the doctoral level. Students explore the nature of qualitative inquiry, how theory and theoretical and conceptual frameworks uniquely apply to qualitative research, data collection procedures and analysis strategy, and how the role of the researcher is expressed in the ethical and rigorous conduct of qualitative research. Students practice collecting, organizing, analyzing, and presenting data, and they develop a detailed research topic for conducting a qualitative study. (Prerequisites: RSCH 8110 or RSCH 7110 or RSCH 6110.)
The skills required to assess research and work effectively with stakeholders are among the many proficiencies required of professionals who evaluate and develop programs. In this course, students examine these skill sets as well as the history, theory, and major approaches underlying program evaluation. Students learn how to select appropriate quantitative and/or qualitative models and techniques to perform evaluations, demonstrate program effectiveness, and disseminate results. Additionally, students explore the procedures and techniques involved in offering their evaluation services to a specific group or organization. They also examine strategies to gain stakeholder interest in developing appropriate standards, research progress, and evaluation outcomes. Students acquire practical experience evaluating a program of interest through which they outline organizational structure, identify stakeholders, employ evaluation models, explain steps in planning, and predict possible challenges or stakeholder fears, for which they recommend solutions.
Students in this research course build upon knowledge and skills acquired in the prerequisite quantitative reasoning course and are presented with opportunities to apply them. They are provided with more specialized knowledge and skills for conducting quantitative research at the doctoral level, including understanding multivariate data analysis and applying more advanced statistical concepts, such as factorial ANOVA, mediation, moderation, logistic regression, ANCOVA, and MANOVA. Students explore existing datasets and apply suitable statistical tests to answer research questions with social change implications. In this course, they approach statistics from a problem-solving perspective with emphasis on selecting the appropriate statistical tests for more complex research questions and social problems. Students use statistical software to perform analyses and interpret and present results. They will apply and synthesize their knowledge and skills by carrying out a quantitative research project. (Prerequisites: RSCH 8110.)
Law enforcement officials characterize serial murder among one of the most abhorrent of all criminal behaviors. In this course, students examine the interest in serial and mass murder in popular culture and explore typologies and theories of criminal behavior. They assess and discuss the history and evolution of profiling; roles, goals, and responsibilities of profilers; the use of profiling in criminal investigations; and populations victimized by serial and mass murderers. Students also apply typologies and criminal theories to real-world case scenarios. This course is designed to provide an overview of theory and research in the core areas of forensic psychology, as it pertains to the interdisciplinary behavioral science that provides psychological profiling and assessments of political leaders and individuals in a variety of situations.
Through this course, students explore the nature and extent of the psychological nexus of criminal homicide across various environments to include serial, mass, spree, workplace violence homicide, school shooter homicide, and child abduction homicide. Students will examine the theories and trends of these types of violent crime regarding offender and victim psychological and behavioral characteristics.
Students build upon the knowledge and skills acquired in RSCH 8310 - Qualitative Reasoning and Analysis. and have experience applying them. Students develop a more sophisticated understanding of the theoretical antecedents and practical applications of eight contemporary qualitative approaches. Students gain experience developing qualitative interview guides, collecting data, and managing the process from transcription through analysis. The unique challenges of confidentiality and ethical issues are explored as well as implications for social change. Students will apply and synthesize their knowledge and skills by developing a qualitative research plan using a topic relevant to their capstone.
The purpose of this course is to help students prepare to write a well-structured, soundly presented, critical literature review. Students in the course cover topic selection, research analysis, writing, and editing. Upon completing the course, students produce an annotated bibliography and outline of a literature review using a minimum of 10 self-selected research articles. This course is appropriate for doctoral students who are preparing for their dissertation research.
In this course, students are allowed to examine current trends and issues in forensic psychology through the lens of developing their own expertise and forming a consultative group with fellow doctoral students. Students develop skills and expertise necessary as forensic consultants and expert witnesses and in criminal investigative analysis. In this seminar-style course, students apply problem-based learning to cases and scenarios such as juvenile delinquency, terrorism, and human trafficking. They address the ethical challenges faced by forensic psychologist professionals and analyze the role of restorative justice for positive social change.
Organizational and professional development (OPD) professionals promote and implement organizational change by using fundamental techniques of change management. Students in this course examine and apply these tools, including consulting competencies, approaches, and organizational change models to learn the skills of an OPD consultant. Students explore methods for accelerating individual, group, and organizational performance through consulting, coaching, and change management. They also explore related topics, such as organizational assessment; team development; strategic planning; group dynamics; power, politics, and influence; leadership; and conflict management. Students apply course concepts to the assessment of an organization and the development of strategies to address identified needs for change.
What is the relationship between victims and those who commit crimes against them, and how does the criminal justice system protect and respond to victims of crime? In this course, students have the opportunity to answer such questions through a comprehensive assessment of victimology, a relatively new discipline in the field of criminal justice. Students examine victim patterns and tendencies and learn how victims interact with the police and the legal system. They also examine how factors of class, race, and sexual orientation affect the perception of the victim by different constituents, including the public, the court system, and the media. Students assess and discuss the concept of primary and secondary victims and gain practical insight on a range of services and resources available to all types of victims.
In this course, students review the victims and the perpetrators of crimes involving intimate partner violence, child maltreatment and abuse, and elder abuse. Students address the growing literature related to the psychological damage caused by these traumatic events, including the role of mental illness and how it impacts issues involving the criminal, civil, family, and juvenile law areas.
This five-credit course is focused specifically on the process of writing the doctoral study prospectus. Students will use their preliminary research plan, developed previously, and develop a problem statement, to be used in the doctoral study. They further refine the problem statement and carry out the planning and the library research that will bring them to the formulation of a doctoral study prospectus. The prospectus is a brief paper, typically 15–20 pages in length, that lays out the background for the problem statement, the problem statement itself, a survey of the relevant literature (typically 25–75 references), and a research, implementation, and evaluation plan for the solution of the problem.
Doctoral students in this course are provided with the opportunity to integrate their Program of Study into a research study through which they explore a specific area of interest. Students complete the dissertation with the guidance of a chair and committee members through a learning platform classroom in which weekly participation is required. Students work with their dissertation chair to write the prospectus, complete an approved proposal (the first three chapters of the dissertation), complete an application for Institutional Review Board approval, collect and analyze data, and complete the dissertation. During the final quarter, students prepare the dissertation for final review by the university and conclude with an oral defense of their dissertation. Once students register for FPSY 9000, they are registered each term until successful completion of the dissertation for a minimum of four terms.Students take this course for a minimum of 4 quarters and are continuously enrolled until completion of their Dissertation with final Chief Academic Officer (CAO) approval.To complete a dissertation, students must obtain the academic approval of several independent evaluators including their committee, the University Research Reviewer, and the Institutional Review Board; pass the Form and Style Review; gain approval at the oral defense stage; and gain final approval by the Chief Academic Officer. Students must also publish their dissertation on ProQuest before their degree is conferred. Learn more about the dissertation process in the Dissertation Guidebook.
Completing the program may require enrollment for additional terms and cost if the student petitions to extend the 8-year maximum time frame.
|Course Code||DRWA 8000||Course||Doctoral Writing Assessment||Credits||(0 cr.)|
This course is part of Walden's commitment to help prepare students to meet the university's expectations for writing in courses at the doctoral level. In this course, students write a short academic essay that will be scored by a team of writing assessors. Based on the essay score, students will be guided toward any further recommended or required writing support needed to meet writing proficiency standards. This required course is free. Students will be enrolled automatically in it after they complete their first term of their doctoral program.
†20 credits is the minimum requirement for FPSY 9000 – Dissertation. Actual time to complete your dissertation depends on numerous factors and while some students complete with 20 credits, some take longer. Please contact your enrollment advisor.