Align your goals and interests with your studies by choosing one of our specializations.
Gain a broad understanding of the forensic psychology field and how its principles are applied in a range of settings, from correctional institutions to court systems to community-based programs. The Self-Designed specialization allows you to create a unique learning program to deepen your understanding of forensic psychology. You will select electives that will build your knowledge of how forensic psychology professionals work within the legal system and in community-based programs, with an emphasis on preventing and reducing criminal behavior as well as understanding victimization.
Track I is a program of study for students who have a master’s degree in forensic psychology. If you have a master's degree in an unrelated discipline, see Track II.
Walden students have up to 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.
Walden offers a Fast-Track Option. Students can complete their doctorate in less time by taking advantage of this path. With the Fast-Track Option, students take additional courses and begin their dissertation early to expedite their path through the program.
Please refer to Walden’s catalog for more information about degree requirements.
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 specialist at 844-675-1718.
|Course Code||DRWA 8880G||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 complete or be exempted from additional required writing support needed to meet writing proficiency standards. This required assessment course is free. Students will be enrolled automatically in it at the beginning of their doctoral program.
|Course Code||FPSY 8002||Course||Foundations of Graduate Study in Psychology||Credits||(3 cr.)|
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.
|Course Code||FPSY 8102||Course||Intersection of Crime, Psychology, and the Law||Credits||(5 cr.)|
|Course Code||FPSY 8126||Course||Understanding Violence, Risk, and Threat Assessment||Credits||(5 cr.)|
|Course Code||FPSY 8400||Course||Advanced Issues in Forensic Psychology||Credits||(5 cr.)|
|Course Code||FPSY 8412||Course||Research Foundations||Credits||(5 cr.)|
|Course Code||FPSY 8910||Course||Legal Issues and Social Change in Forensic Psychology||Credits||(5 cr.)|
Students in this course are provided with an expansive overview of forensic psychology, including basic tenets, practices, and procedures. Students explore subspecialties of forensic psychology; roles and responsibilities; and related legal, ethical, and diversity issues. They have the opportunity to learn how forensic psychology links to legal systems as they explore related topics, including criminal profiling, police psychology, psychology in the criminal courts, and correctional psychology. Through this course, students can acquire a broad understanding of forensic psychology theories and concepts, which they apply to the analysis of controversial issues and contemporary challenges within the fields.
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.
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.
Students in this course examine and receive support for student readiness regarding the use of quantitative and qualitative research approaches. They study research fundamentals, including the distinction between social problems and research problems, the functions of research problems versus research purpose statements, and the role of theory and conceptual framework in informing research. Students examine quantitative and qualitative concepts central to research methods, design, and analysis. They also study how research design, methods, and analyses properly align for both quantitative and qualitative approaches. Students demonstrate their knowledge by creating two research outlines, using quantitative and qualitative approaches, which they develop throughout the course. They determine appropriate conditions for the use of mixed-methods approaches and differentiate between types of mixed-methods research designs. Students engage in pre- and post-assessments of skills and knowledge.
Students in this course critically examine the effects of recent legislation, case law, and national policies on social change and on consultation and research in forensic psychology. Students will have opportunities to explore and discuss contemporary and controversial issues such as the ethics of civil commitment, the death penalty, police use of force, investigative practices to curtail terrorism, hate crimes, and transfer of juveniles to adult criminal court. They can investigate how related legal issues affect forensic psychology and society in general. They will analyze ethical issues that often arise for forensic psychology professionals who are working in these areas.
|Course Code||FPSY 8520||Course||Psychology in the Courts||Credits||(5 cr.)|
|Course Code||FPSY 8521||Course||Police Psychology||Credits||(5 cr.)|
|Course Code||FPSY 8810||Course||Community Psychology||Credits||(5 cr.)|
|Course Code||FPSY 8785||Course||Prevention: Research and Practice||Credits||(5 cr.)|
|Course Code||FPSY 8314||Course||Program Evaluation||Credits||(5 cr.)|
|Course Code||FPSY 8310||Course||Research Design||Credits||(5 cr.)|
|Course Code||FPSY 8912||Course||Mental Health Law||Credits||(5 cr.)|
|Course Code||FPSY 8511||Course||Treatment of Forensic Populations||Credits||(5 cr.)|
|Course Code||FPSY 8530||Course||Forensic Applications in Community Settings||Credits||(5 cr.)|
|Course Code||FPSY 8512||Course||Juvenile Justice, Delinquency, and Development||Credits||(5 cr.)|
|Course Code||FPSY 8915||Course||Field Experience||Credits||(5 cr.)|
|Course Code||FPSY 8201||Course||Psychological Aspects of Violent Crime||Credits||(5 cr.)|
|Course Code||FPSY 8206||Course||Family Violence||Credits||(5 cr.)|
|Course Code||FPSY 8202||Course||Criminal Investigative Analysis and Profiling||Credits||(5 cr.)|
|Course Code||FPSY 8204||Course||Sex Offender Behavior and Treatment||Credits||(5 cr.)|
|Course Code||FPSY 8205||Course||Psychological Aspect of Cyber Crimes||Credits||(5 cr.)|
Forensic psychology professionals play a vital role in the court system, providing consultation, expert testimony, and recommendations for treatment. In this course, students have the opportunity to acquire the knowledge and skills used by forensic psychology professionals working in the courts. Students examine major roles of psychology professionals, their responsibilities, and required proficiencies, such as oral and written communication skills. Through application-based exercises, students engage in practical exercises, such as in writing reports, planning evaluations, and preparing witnesses for testimony. Students also consider contemporary challenges, ethical and legal issues, and the impact of technology on courts in the United States.
Students in this course learn about the various roles and responsibilities of forensic psychology professionals working with and in police departments, the structures and organizations in which they work, and the skills needed to perform daily functions, such as counseling and supporting police. Students analyze and discuss common issues and challenges, including crisis situations, psychological risks of police work, and stress management. They also explore less common roles of psychology professionals working with police, such as training in hostage negotiations and the selection of special officers (SWAT, snipers, and tactical commanders). Engaging in assignments designed to provide application of content, students gain practical insight on a variety of topics, such as diversity issues and training, community impact, and forensic psychology operations.
Through collaborative research and action, community psychologists work to enhance the well-being of individuals and community by understanding how communities function on many different levels. Students in this course explore the fundamental concepts and practice of community psychology. They examine guiding values and assumptions of the field, basic ecological concepts, and models of intervention. Evaluating traditional and topical research, students explore diversity in community psychology, strategies for social change, primary and secondary prevention, community mental health, empowerment, stress, and resiliency. They also have the opportunity to assess and discuss their personal and professional experiences, values, and cultural background and consider how these factors are likely to influence their work as community psychologists.
In this course, students prepare for their roles as counselors in areas of prevention, intervention, and consultation with specific populations in different settings. Students assess these three areas of mental health counseling, including the relationships among them, methodological applications, and related ethical and legal considerations. They also discuss a variety of topics with their peers, such as applications for social change, needs of specific populations, iatrogenic harm, professional approaches and challenges, program evaluation, and future trends. Using an action-research model, students develop a blueprint for a project to address a contemporary mental health issue through the context of prevention, intervention, or consultation.
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.
In this course, students have the opportunity to build a foundation in the design of qualitative, quantitative, and mixed-method approaches to psychological research. Students learn the strengths and limitations of each method and under what circumstances each approach would be the most appropriate research design. They also learn the importance of scholarly writing as well as how to identify a topic for research and how to conduct a literature search. Students gain hands-on practice developing a research proposal through which they address key elements, such as collecting and analyzing data, writing an introduction, stating a purpose for the study, identifying research questions and hypotheses, using theory, and defining the significance of the study. Additionally, students consider the legal and ethical issues associated with human subjects' protection. FPSY 6305.)
Mental health counseling professionals in all areas, especially criminal forensic psychological practice, may encounter various conflicts regarding psychological and legal approaches to treatment. Therefore, it is important for counselors to have a firm understanding of mental health law to avoid conflicts, such as issues of liability and malpractice. Students in this course are provided with the opportunity to examine several different aspects of the law related to mental health issues, including those constituting forensic psychological practice, such as civil matters (personal injury and civil competency issues) and criminal matters (competency to stand trial, criminal responsibility, diminished capacity, and death-penalty issues). Students employ recent court decisions and laws, such as the Tarasoff ruling, mandated reporting, and the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA), to examine how mental health law influences the practice of psychology and mental health counseling.
In this course, students gain the foundational knowledge necessary to evaluate and subsequently treat many different forensic populations, such as sex offenders, substance abusers, and white-collar criminals. Students analyze the use of traditional forms of intervention, including individual and group psychotherapy, as well as recent developments in intervention, such as restorative justice. Applying concepts and theories learned in the course, students develop a project scenario in which they feature an offender and describe treatment approaches as well as related ethical, legal, and multicultural factors that may impact treatment. Reflecting on the course, students also consider and discuss professional identity and goals.
Professionals must devote considerable attention to forensic psychology perspectives and approaches to address issues such as the overpopulation of prisons; decrease in healthcare availability; and cases in which courts remand treatment in community settings. Students in this course examine forensic psychology theories and perspectives, and then they apply these concepts to various community settings. They engage in practical assignments and topical readings that focus on working with offenders upon re-entry to the community and offenders who receive nonincarceration community placements. In addition, students explore less-common applications, such as restorative justice and community crime prevention. They also analyze the impact of personal perspectives and setting on the application of forensic psychology.
In this course, students focus on the various aspects of the juvenile justice system and the population that it serves. As such, the course provides students with an overview of development theories, such as biological, cognitive, social-emotional, and social. Students apply these theories to cases of juvenile delinquency to determine appropriate prevention, treatment, and intervention strategies. They examine juvenile justice codes, case law, and effective methods for reporting offenses. Students also explore the changing landscape of the juvenile justice field based on current research of its population. Using theories presented in the course, students develop a delinquency-prevention or treatment program for their community, focusing on the underlying goal of social justice and change.
Students engage in a 12-week practical field experience at a site specific to students' degree program and their anticipated employment setting or service population. Students work a specified amount of time on site, interact with peers, and share their experiences and perspectives. Gaining hands-on, practical experience, they apply concepts and theories learned throughout the program to the responsibilities encountered in their field experience setting.
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.
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.
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.
This course is designed to provide an oversight of sex-offending behavior. Legal issues raised in both criminal and civil cases that involve sex offenses will be discussed. Psychological interventions have been determined to have empirical evidence in helping to reduce sex-offending behavior. Students will be expected to learn about the sex-offender assessment tools used by psychologists to conduct legal and psychological research.
In this course, students review the psychobehavioral factors of criminals who engage in criminal activities using digital social media and other online resources. Students analyze the types and trends of both domestic and global cyber crime. In addition, students will examine characteristics of cyber perpetrators and cyber victims. Students are also provided a foundational understanding of the origins and consequences of human trafficking; sexual exploitation of children from psychological, social, and legal perspectives; and how technology facilitates these types of crimes. Lastly, the students in this course examine the best practices in preventing and responding to cyber crimes.
|Course Code||RSCH 8260||Course||Advanced Quantitative Reasoning and Analysis||Credits||(5 cr.)|
|Course Code||RSCH 8360||Course||Advanced Qualitative Reasoning and Analysis||Credits||(5 cr.)|
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. RSCH 8110 and RESI 8402.)
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. RESI 8402.)
|Course Code||FPSY 8700||Course||Dissertation Literature Review Lab||Credits||(2 cr.)|
|Course Code||FPSY 8185||Course||Writing a Quality Prospectus in Psychology||Credits||(5 cr.)|
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.
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.
|Course Code||FPSY 9000*||Course||Doctoral Dissertation||Credits||(5 cr. per term for a minimum of 4 quarters until completion)|
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 four 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.
*Students are continuously enrolled in FPSY 9000 for a minimum of 4 quarters until completion of their dissertation with final Chief Academic Officer (CAO) approval.
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.
8-Year Maximum Timeframe
Students have up to 8 years to complete their doctoral degree requirements. See the policy in the Walden University Student Handbook. Students may petition to extend the 8-year maximum timeframe, but an extension is not guaranteed.
Note: Time to completion and cost are not estimates of individual experience and will vary based on individual factors applicable to the student. Factors may be programmatic or academic, such as tuition and fee increases; transfer credits accepted by Walden; program or specialization changes; unsuccessful course completion; credit load per term; part-time vs. full-time enrollment; writing, research, and editing skills; use of external data for the doctoral study/dissertation; and individual progress in the program. Other factors may include personal issues such as the student’s employment obligations, caregiving responsibilities, health issues, leaves of absence, or other personal circumstances.