Explore our MS in Forensic Psychology Self Designed specialization
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.
Minimum Degree Requirements
- 48 quarter credits
- Foundation course (3 cr.)
- Core courses (25 cr.)
- Specialization courses (15 cr.)
- Capstone or Field Experience (5 cr.)
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 the number of your transfer credits that Walden would accept, call an Enrollment Specialist at 855-646-5286.
Foundations of Graduate Studies in Psychology
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.
Intersection of Crime, Psychology, and the Law
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.
Understanding Forensic Psychology Research
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.
Understanding Violence, Risk, and Threat Assessment
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.
Choose one course from the following two courses:
MS in Psychology Capstone
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.
SPECIALIZATION COURSES - Choose Three
Psychology in the Courts
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.
Prevention: Research and Practice
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. (Prerequisite(s): FPSY 6305.)
Mental Health Law
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.
Treatment of Forensic Populations
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.
Forensic Applications in Community Settings
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.
Juvenile Justice, Delinquency, and Development
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.
Psychological Aspects of Violent Crime
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.
Criminal Investigative Analysis and Profiling
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.
Sex Offender Behavior and Treatment
In this course, students explore the traits and behaviors of both deviant and criminal sex offenders. Legal issues raised in both criminal and civil cases that involve sex offenses will be discussed. Students analyze the empirical evidence behind various assessment tools and treatment plans for sex offenders. They evaluate the risk for future sexual offense behavior and whether the protection of society outweighs the loss of civil liberty experienced by civil commitment for sex offenders.
Psychological Aspect of Cyber Crimes
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.
|VIEW ALL COURSES Less Courses|
Tuition and Fees
|Tuition||48 quarter credit||$535 per quarter hour||$25,680|
|Technology Fee||Per quarter||$160||$800|
*Tuition reflects the minimum time to completion. Time to completion varies by student, depending on individual progress and credits transferred, if applicable. Tuition and time to complete may be reduced if transfer credits are accepted, or if you receive grants, scholarships or other tuition reductions. Walden may accept up to 24 transfer credits. For a personalized estimate of the number of your transfer credits that Walden would accept, call an Enrollment Specialist at 855-646-5286.
Tuition and fees are subject to change. Books and materials are not included and may cost between $2,500 to $3,500.
Many Walden degree-seeking students—67%—receive some form of financial aid.* Create a customized plan that makes sense for you.
*Source: Walden University’s Office of Financial Aid. Data reports as of 2018.Find Ways to Save
Program Admission Considerations: A bachelor's degree or higher.
General Admission Requirements: Completed online application and transcripts. Please note that the materials you are required to submit may vary depending on the academic program to which you apply. More information for international applicants.
I really enjoyed both of my master’s degree programs with Walden, and have not ruled out returning for a doctoral degree.
Brandon Shurn MS in Forensic Psychology Graduate
I transferred to Walden University because it offers a tailored system of academic advisors, instructors, and support staff to ensure my journey is smooth and successful.
Ginger L. Jenkins MS in Forensic Psychology Graduate
I have always been passionate about helping survivors of heinous crimes. I knew that I wanted to get a degree in something that could help me make a difference.
Nicole Pavone MS in Forensic Psychology Graduate
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