Forensic psychology professionals use certain principles in the legal and criminal justice system to help judges, attorneys, and other legal specialists understand the psychological aspects of a particular case. Those who have earned their degree in a psychology master’s program are often called as forensic mental health professionals, law enforcement officers, child protective service workers, or expert witnesses in criminal, civil, or family court.
So which crime show comes closest to depicting life as a forensic psychology professional? Is it NCIS and its brilliant, eccentric forensics specialist Abby Sciuto—or Criminal Minds’ jet-setting team of profilers for the FBI’s elite Behavioral Analysis Unit?
We found the perfect person to ask: former FBI psychologist Kristen Beyer, PhD. Dr. Beyer is the program director for the online MS in Forensic Psychology program at Walden University. “Of all the TV crime shows, Criminal Minds comes closest to depicting real forensic psychologists—if you take away the private jet,” said Dr. Beyer.
A clinical psychologist by training, Dr. Beyer worked at the FBI’s National Center for the Analysis of Violent Crime (NCAVC) which is known as “the brains” of the agency’s Behavioral Analysis Unit. As professional support staff for field agents, Dr. Beyer researched high-profile cases involving violent crimes, serial murders, rapes, and child abductions, as well as cold cases and interview strategies. Years later on September 11, 2001, she was part of the FBI team that responded to the crash of Flight 93 in Shanksville, Pennsylvania.
Unlike TV crimes that are neatly solved in less than an hour, the real work of forensic psychology professionals takes patience and persistence—and often, the expertise developed through an on-campus or online master’s degree in psychology program. And even though Criminal Minds comes closer to real life than other shows, forensic psychology professionals are seldom criminal profilers. Dr. Beyer actually advises online psychology degree students to consider a career in law enforcement if they want to be profilers.
Walden’s online MS in Forensic Psychology degree program focuses on practical knowledge and critical thinking skills that can be applied daily in a variety of settings. Students learn how to navigate different venues in the legal system and get results.
“Our non-licensure program fills a niche for students who don’t want to be psychology clinicians,” Dr. Beyer emphasized. “Our faculty provides students with the advanced education and skill set needed to conduct training, manage programs, teach, or be consultants.”
Online master’s programs in forensic psychology can prepare students for rewarding careers as law enforcement officers, probation officers, case managers, program managers, court liaisons, jury consultants, and other challenging forensic psychology careers.*
Explore Walden University's online MS in Forensic Psychology program to launch, advance, or change the direction of your career. Earn your graduate degree in a flexible online format that fits your busy life.
*Career options may require additional experience, training, or other factors beyond the successful completion of this degree program.
The MS in Forensic Psychology is not a licensure program and does not prepare an individual to become a licensed psychology professional.
Walden University is accredited by The Higher Learning Commission, www.hlcommission.org.