Focus your expertise and drive positive change with one of our master’s in forensic psychology specializations.
Gain a broad understanding of the intersection between the forensic psychology and criminal justice fields. This self-designed specialization allows you to create a unique learning program to deepen your understanding of forensic psychology as well as focus on criminal justice practice and theory. Select specialization courses that will build your knowledge of how forensic psychology professionals, criminal justice practitioners, and victim advocates work together.
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||Course||- Elective -||Credits||(5 cr.)|
|Quarter||4||Course Code||Course||- Elective -||Credits||(5 cr.)|
|Quarter||5||Course Code||Course||- Elective -||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.
Please select an Elective for this program.
Please select an Elective for this program.
Please select an Elective for this program.
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.
|Course Code||FPSY 6520||Course||Psychology in the Courts||Credits||(5 cr.)|
|Course Code||FPSY 6521||Course||Police Psychology||Credits||(5 cr.)|
|Course Code||FPSY 6810||Course||Community Psychology||Credits||(5 cr.)|
|Course Code||FPSY 6785||Course||Prevention: Research and Practice||Credits||(5 cr.)|
|Course Code||FPSY 6314||Course||Program Evaluation||Credits||(5 cr.)|
|Course Code||FPSY 6310||Course||Research Design||Credits||(5 cr.)|
|Course Code||FPSY 6912||Course||Mental Health Law||Credits||(5 cr.)|
|Course Code||FPSY 6511||Course||Treatment of Forensic Populations||Credits||(5 cr.)|
|Course Code||FPSY 6530||Course||Forensic Applications in Community Settings||Credits||(5 cr.)|
|Course Code||FPSY 6512||Course||Juvenile Justice, Delinquency, and Development||Credits||(5 cr.)|
|Course Code||FPSY 6203||Course||Victimology||Credits||(5 cr.)|
|Course Code||FPSY 6201||Course||Psychological Aspects of Violent Crime||Credits||(5 cr.)|
|Course Code||FPSY 6206||Course||Family Violence||Credits||(5 cr.)|
|Course Code||FPSY 6202||Course||Criminal Investigative Analysis and Profiling||Credits||(5 cr.)|
|Course Code||FPSY 6220||Course||Sex Offender Behavior||Credits||(5 cr.)|
|Course Code||FPSY 6205||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. FPSY 6305 and FPSY 6310.)
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.
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.
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 elderly abuse. Students in this course focus on addressing 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.
In this course, students take on the role of the criminal investigative analyst/profiler as they delve into a criminal case. They explore a structured process of analyzing case file information from investigative, scientific, and behavioral perspectives utilized in assisting in the investigation and prosecution of violent criminal offenses. Within this process, they learn how to organize and analyze case file material; common profiling concepts relating to the offense, the victim, and the offender; various forms of logic, reasoning, or arguments used in analyses; and how to convey conclusions in a written report.
This course is designed to provide an oversight of sex-offending behavior. Legal issues raised in both criminal and civil cases that involve sex offending will be discussed, as will psychological interventions that have been determined according to empirical evidence in helping 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. Students in this course examine the best practices in preventing and responding to cyber crimes.
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.