Doctoral Degrees in Clinical Forensic Psychology: Program Overview

Several schools' clinical psychology programs offer concentrations in forensic psychology at the doctoral level. Programs teach students about psychological topics such as cognition, behavior, social interaction, clinical procedures and research methodology. Forensic topics include legal processes, evaluation of criminals and victims, expert testimony and treatments.

Essential Information

Doctoral programs in clinical forensic psychology include courses in law and mental health, psychological profiling, psychopathology and forensic interviewing. Students develop their research skills and learn to analyze data. Graduates may qualify for state licensure and pursue careers as practitioners. They might also pursue careers in research or academia and may be qualified to provide expert testimony in court.

  • Program Levels: Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) or Doctor of Psychology (Psy.D).
  • Prerequisites: Bachelor's degree in a relevant field; possibly experience in psychological or forensic settings.
  • Program Length: 4-5 years
  • Experiential Learning: Clinical research, internships
  • Other Requirements: Dissertation

Doctoral Degree in Clinical Psychology with a Concentration in Forensic Psychology

Students learn about the legal system and the various roles of forensic professionals. Courses might cover cross-cultural psychology and other diversity issues. Legal topics teach students to evaluate individual risk for violence potential, intelligence, mental state, cognition and behavioral disorders in order to provide consultation to courts, lawyers and corrections officials. They learn to give expert testimony in court and recommend treatment plans for accused or convicted individuals. Some examples of course topics include:

  • Research methods and statistics for psychology
  • Psychological profiling
  • Mental health and the law
  • Psychopathology
  • Multicultural psychology
  • Forensic interviewing

Popular Career Options

Graduates of doctoral clinical forensic psychology programs qualify for licensure as psychology practitioners in mental health facilities, psychiatric hospitals or private practice. They might also work in academic institutions, courts, police departments or government agencies. Clinical psychologists specializing in forensic psychology can pursue one or more of the following career options:

  • Clinical practice
  • Consulting
  • Administration
  • Research
  • Teaching

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