Serve the field of criminal justice as an expert on human behavior.
In today’s complex legal system, forensic psychology professionals are called upon to provide their expertise on the intersection of psychology and the law. Explore probation and parole services, corrections, and the interactions in the criminal justice system. Examine the many ways you can engage with the court system as you gain a basic understanding of expert testimony, jury selection, and eyewitness testimony.
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 specialist 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 6522||Course||Forensic Psychology in the Legal System||Credits||(5 cr.)|
|Quarter||4||Course Code||FPSY 6202||Course||Criminal Investigative Analysis and Profiling||Credits||(5 cr.)|
|Quarter||5||Course Code||FPSY 6912||Course||Mental Health Law||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.
In this course, students explore the major roles that a forensic psychology professional could have within the court system. Issues such as consultation with attorneys, case conceptualization based on psychology, jury selection, eyewitness testimony, witness preparation, and expert testimony will be covered. Additionally, practical skills such as testifying in court during both direct and cross examination will be addressed.
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.
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.
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.