Several colleges throughout California offer graduate programs in forensic psychology that prepare students to work in a variety of settings with connections to the criminal justice system. Explore some of the unique program options and their requirements.
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California Schools with Graduate Programs in Forensic Psychology
California State University - Los Angeles
California State University - Los Angeles has a Master of Science (MS) in Forensic Psychology program that requires a thesis. The curriculum includes 33 to 34 credits and a 9-month practicum for hands-on learning. The program focuses on psychology as it relates to the criminal justice system, and students can use their practicum experience to further explore areas of interest, such as prisons, probation or family services. Students in the program are paired with a faculty advisor, who serves as a mentor throughout the program.
The Chicago School of Professional Psychology at Los Angeles
The L.A. campus of the Chicago School of Professional Psychology offers two Master of Arts programs in forensic psychology, one with a police psychology concentration and one without. Both programs lead to professional counselor licensure. Students can also pursue a Doctorate of Psychology (PsyD) in Clinical Forensic Psychology. The full-time program takes 4 years to complete. Students must complete a practicum in assessment and therapy, a dissertation and an internship experience. Students can also participate in the unique consulting firm, ConCise, to help Southern California businesses while gaining additional hands-on experience.
Palo Alto University
Palo Alto University provides a Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) in Clinical Psychology program with an emphasis in forensic psychology. The program requires a dissertation and a 1-year practicum experience in a student's particular area of interest, such as corrections. Students are also expected to maintain a 3.67 GPA in electives pertaining to the emphasis. They can further their knowledge and experience in the field through the program's Forensic Speaker Series and participation in the Forensic Mental Health Student Group.
California Baptist University
Riverside's California Baptist University offers a Master of Arts (MA) in Forensic Psychology. The 2-year program has evening classes to accommodate working professionals. Students gain exposure to research in forensic psychology and participate in field experiences during the second year of the program. They can also choose from a thesis or written forensic evaluation option to fulfill the final requirement for the program.
University of California - Irvine
The University of California - Irvine has a unique program resulting in a Master of Legal and Forensic Psychology (MLFP). The curriculum incorporates legal issues and law concepts into traditional forensic psychology training. It is a 2-year program with online courses and 1-week residency during the first fall semester. The program culminates in elective courses in students' particular areas of interest and a capstone course that requires a final paper.
Common Entrance Requirements
Admission requirements for graduate programs in forensic psychology in California vary quite a bit based on the school and particular program but generally require applicants to at least hold a bachelor's degree and meet a minimum GPA requirement. It is fairly common for these programs to also require some prerequisite coursework in the field of psychology, but specific courses vary by program. Some programs may admit students on a probationary status until these prerequisites are met. Common application materials include official transcripts, letters of recommendation and a personal essay. Some programs also require GRE scores, a resume or CV and a personal interview.
Students can pursue several different kinds of master's and doctoral degree programs in forensic psychology, which all usually require some kind of final project, such as a thesis or dissertation. These programs also include hands-on learning experiences and research opportunities.