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Certificate in Applied Forensic Psychology: Overview and Requirements

Some forensic psychology certificate programs are for individuals holding, or working towards, a bachelor's degree. Other certificate programs are for individuals who have graduate-level degrees in a relevant field.

Essential Information

Forensic psychology programs concentrate on applying psychological principles to understand and improve legal and criminal justice systems. Post-baccalaureate certificate programs in forensic psychology consist of courses that examine how psychological factors apply in criminal justice and legal situations. Students look at mental illness, personality types and cultural traditions as well as substance abuse and criminal behavior. Depending on the program, most require that students have or are working towards a bachelor's degree.

In a postgraduate certificate program, an individual with a master's or doctorate degree in a relevant field of study can study topics such as criminal behavior, interrogation techniques, juvenile justice and victimology. Postgraduate certificate program students may choose to specialize in fields such as research, forensic counseling or family violence. Applicants need to have completed a master's or doctoral degree program.


Post-baccalaureate Certificate in Forensic Psychology

Students in a post-baccalaureate forensic psychology certificate program can study psychological topics that can be applied to legal and criminal justice situations, which include mental illnesses, personality types, cultural traditions and expressions, criminal behavior and drug addiction. They can develop skills in listening, questioning, interviewing and presenting evidence clearly, which enable them work effectively in a forensic setting. Typically, no general education classes are required. Students must take several core courses, but they may be able to select some electives. Courses can cover topics such as:

  • Ethical and professional issues
  • Criminology
  • Forensic psychology social and cultural issues
  • Psychopathology
  • Motivation and learning theories
  • Group dynamics

Postgraduate Certificate in Forensic Psychology

A student who has earned a graduate degree in a relevant field can apply to a postgraduate certificate program in forensic psychology. This type of program is intended for students who want to supplement their education through specialized training. Students learn to work with other criminal justice professionals, including police officers, detectives, attorneys, jurors and counselors. Students may study topics such as eyewitness identification, the psychology of policing, victim psychology, addiction, rehabilitation and legal processes. Programs may allow students to specialize in an area of forensic psychology, such as psychological assessment, family violence, forensic counseling or research. Students enroll in courses that are most relevant to their interests within forensic psychology. Some of the topics that they could choose to study are:

  • Criminal behavior
  • Confessions and interrogations
  • Sex offender counseling
  • Victimology
  • Profiling methods
  • Crime scene analysis

Continuing Education Information

Graduates of the program who have not yet settled into careers may opt to continue their education in a master's degree program. They could apply to forensic psychology, mental health counseling, addiction studies or other relevant graduate programs. Those seeking education beyond the master's degree can continue their education in a doctoral program. They could apply to criminal justice, clinical forensic psychology, experimental forensic psychology or related programs.

Popular Career Options

For program graduates who already have an established career, the certificate may qualify them for a promotion or additional responsibilities. Graduates may already have careers or may be seeking careers in:

  • Law
  • Corrections
  • Criminal justice
  • Social services
  • Mental health care

Employment Outlook and Salary Information

Legal, corrections or educational institutions may employ forensic psychologists. Per the Bureau of Labor Statistics, clinical, counseling and school psychologists made an average of $76,040 a year in 2015. The psychology field is expected to see 19% growth from 2014-2024 ('bls.gov'). Forensic psychologists can also do private consulting work for courts or individuals, and they could earn between $100 and $300 per hour, as reported by the American Psychology-Law Society. The AP-LS stated that forensic psychology has been a growing discipline and demand for forensic psychologists should continue to increase.

Forensic psychology certificate programs allow students with a bachelor's or master's degree to gain skills in topics such as ethics, criminology, and psychopathology. Graduates may go on to careers in forensic psychology or counseling.


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