Focus your expertise and drive positive change with one of our master’s in forensic psychology specializations.
Discover how you can work with police departments or other law enforcement agencies by assisting in officer selection and training, stress management, critical incident stress debriefing, and hostage negotiation. Gain insights into stress management and coping strategies, and understand the impact of dealing firsthand with victims and first responders. Understand the phenomenon of post-traumatic stress—which has been associated with increased suicide risk—and its impact on law enforcement personnel and their families.
This sequence represents the minimum time to completion. Time to completion will vary by student, depending on individual progress and credits transferred, if applicable. For a personalized estimate of your time to completion, call an enrollment advisor at 855-646-5286.
|Quarter||1||Course Code||FPSY 6002||Course||Foundations of Graduate Studies in Psychology||Credits||(3 cr.)|
|Quarter||1||Course Code||FPSY 6102||Course||Intersection of Crime, Psychology, and the Law||Credits||(5 cr.)|
|Quarter||2||Course Code||FPSY 6720||Course||Abnormal Behavior||Credits||(5 cr.)|
|Quarter||2||Course Code||FPSY 6135||Course||Criminal Behavior||Credits||(5 cr.)|
|Quarter||3||Course Code||FPSY 6115||Course||Understanding Forensic Psychology Research||Credits||(5 cr.)|
|Quarter||3||Course Code||FPSY 6126||Course||Understanding Violence, Risk, and Threat Assessment||Credits||(5 cr.)|
|Quarter||4||Course Code||FPSY 6521||Course||Police Psychology||Credits||(5 cr.)|
Disaster, Crisis, and Trauma
Stress and Coping
|Quarter||5||Course Code||FPSY 6333||Course||Vicarious Trauma and Compassion Fatigue||Credits||(5 cr.)|
MS in Psychology Capstone
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.
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.
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 non-violent, 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 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.
There is no shortage of natural and human-made disasters, such as war, violence, genocide, and terrorist activities. Individuals and communities impacted by such disasters often need assistance from professionals who understand the social, cultural, and psychological complexities of crisis and trauma. Students in this course investigate how these incidents impact the psychology of individuals and groups. They assess traditional and current literature and complete practical exercises to learn about theories of trauma; actions and behaviors following a disaster; stress, coping, and adjustment difficulties; psychological disorders (e.g., post-traumatic stress disorder); and available resources to deal with trauma. Considering the various ways crisis professionals can promote positive social change, students devote special attention to the importance and development of culturally appropriate, service-delivery programs and interventions for individuals affected and traumatized by disasters.
Students in this course examine contemporary theories on the perception of stress, appraisal of stressors, ways of coping, and the psychophysiological mechanisms involved in the stress response. They explore topical issues, including psychoneuroimmunology, behavioral nutrition, psychophysiology, traumatic stress, chronic pain, and stress-related psychophysiological and medical disorders as they relate to stress and coping. Students engage in discussions designed to provide practical application of course content. Demonstrating breadth and depth of knowledge and critical-thinking skills, students explore a topic of interest through a final research proposal and paper on a current issue related to course concepts. PSYC 6225.)
Through this course, students gain an understanding and awareness of vicarious trauma and compassion fatigue for trauma-response-helping professionals. They examine intervention strategies and models of treatment and prevention of vicarious trauma and compassion fatigue through the lens of counselor educators, supervisors, and clinicians. Applying course concepts, students gain hands-on practice conducting a needs assessment and examining the use of standardized instruments. They also propose social change recommendations related to vicarious trauma and compassion fatigue to promote informed and competent trauma-response-helping professionals. Students engage in course assignments that emphasize the ethical, legal, multicultural, and spiritual implications for wellness and self-care, including personal, professional, and organizational elements. As a final project, students interview a trauma-response-helping professional and develop an organizational wellness plan for their setting.
Students are provided with the opportunity to synthesize knowledge and skills acquired throughout their program into a practical project designed to promote positive social change in a capstone project. During this course, students work on a capstone project in which they complete a major integrative paper on a topic related to their specialization, incorporating theoretical and practical knowledge as well as social scientific research skills acquired throughout the program. The instructor may approve other capstone projects presented by students.
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.
For students interested in providing direct services such as assessment, treatment, and therapy to forensic populations and in the delivery of traditional mental health services to populations served by the legal system, Walden offers a Forensic Counseling specialization in its MS in Clinical Mental Health Counseling program. Learn more about this specialization and view the course descriptions.
Note on licensure: The MS in Forensic Psychology is not a licensure program and does not prepare an individual to become a licensed psychology professional.