How Long Does Forensic Psychology School Take?

Forensic psychologists play a vital role in helping law enforcement authorities understand the motivations behind the commission of a crime. They are also integral in assisting authorities profile an unidentified suspect which will help lead to the latter’s arrest. They can also be called upon to provide expert testimony in court. The job of a forensic psychologist is an exciting one but it can be emotionally and mentally draining at times and even potentially dangerous.

If this is a career that you want to pursue, you’ll have to be ready for the lengthy educational preparation that is required by this profession. Forensic psychology starts with a bachelor’s degree in psychology, often combined with a double major in criminology. A few schools also offer a bachelor’s degree specifically in forensic psychology which would also serve as a more focused preparation for this career. These programs take around four years to finish. One of these schools is Southern New Hampshire University which offers the Bachelor of Arts in Forensic Psychology degree. This 120-credit course is also offered online.

An undergraduate degree alone will not be sufficient preparation for this profession. Before you can work as a clinical psychologist, you need to be licensed and you can’t apply for licensure if you don’t have a doctoral degree. For many programs, completion of a master’s degree is a prerequisite for entry. Schools offering a master’s degree in forensic psychology typically have a program completion time of two years. At The Chicago School of Professional Psychology, an MA in Forensic Psychology licensure track is a 60-credit course that would qualify graduates to take the professional licensure in Illinois. The licensure track requires 700 hours of fieldwork which can be completed in 9 to 12 months. The entire program can be finished in two years for those enroll fulltime and four years for those who study part-time.

Another school that offers a postgraduate program in forensic psychology is Walden University. The MS in Forensic Psychology degree is designed to be completed in 24 months. John Jay College of Criminal Justice, on the other hand, also offers the Master of Arts in Forensic Psychology program. It requires 42 credits for completion which includes a 300-hour externship. At the University of Denver, an MA in Forensic Psychology includes such courses as issues in forensic psychology, psychopathology and diagnosis, psychology of criminal behavior, trauma and crisis intervention, evaluation and treatment of the juvenile offender, among others. It can be completed in two years for students who are enrolled fulltime.

The next step for those who want to become clinical psychologists is pursuing a doctoral degree. At The Chicago School of Professional Psychology, the Clinical Forensic Psychology PsyD program will enable students to sit for the national exam for licensure in clinical psychology. This 104-credit course is designed to be completed in 4 to 5 years. At the Graduate School of Professional Psychology in the University of Denver, students are able to finish the academic requirements of the PsyD Clinical Psychology program in around four years.

Career Spotlight: Forensic Psychologist

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