Forensic psychology programs that emphasize juveniles include coursework at the graduate level that pertain to issues, concerns, and techniques related to youths in the criminal justice and legal systems, specifically as they relate to mental health. By providing learners with the ability to work with non-adult offenders and at-risk individuals, forensic psychology schools and programs prepare students to work with juveniles in law enforcement, criminal corrections, and social service settings.
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Schools Offering Juvenile Forensic Psychology Degrees
Prairie View A&M University
Prairie View A&M University, located in Prairie View, TX, offers a 36-credit hour master's of science degree in juvenile forensic psychology that includes a thesis or externship option for completion. The thesis option is ideal for students that seek to continue on to a doctoral degree in juvenile forensic psychology while the externship is well suited for students that want to work in the field. Admission to the program at Prairie View A&M University requires a baccalaureate degree with a GPA of 2.75 or higher, transcript information, GRE scores, a personal essay, and three letters of recommendation. Students may also need to complete prerequisite coursework if it was not part of their undergraduate education.
The curriculum of the juvenile forensic psychology program at Prairie View A&M University emphasizes cognitive and personality development among youths while providing students with theories and juvenile delinquency, crime, and violence. Students learn how to work with juvenile populations in a criminal justice setting by acquiring the knowledge and skills needed to assess and treat them. Coursework also allows students to learn about research methodologies, data collection, and statistical analysis.
Walden University has two 48-quarter hour master's degrees in forensic psychology that incorporate juvenile specializations. The Master of Science in Forensic Psychology -- Family Violence program includes coursework on juvenile justice, delinquency, and development as part of its core curriculum while allowing students to take an additional 15 credit hours in a specialized field. The self-designed master's degree similarly provides students with a core curriculum in forensic psychology while giving students the option to choose elective courses that are best suited for their own interests.
Both programs have a thesis or field experience component, the former ideal for students that seek to continue on to a doctoral degree while the latter is intended for students that wish to gain experience in anticipation of employment directly after degree completion. Admission to Walden University's programs requires a transcripts from all previous college coursework as well as proof of life experiences, work history, and military experience that may be applied for academic credit.
Harvard Medical School One-year Postdoctoral Fellowship in Juvenile Forensic Psychology
In conjunction with Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston, MA, Harvard Medical School offers a one-year postdoctoral fellowship in juvenile forensic psychology to individuals that hold a PhD in clinical or counseling psychology or a PsyD in clinical psychology from an APA or CPA-accredited program, have completed a APA or CPA predoctoral internship (or equivalent), and have clinical experience working with families and children. Applicants should submit three letters of recommendation, a letter of interest, a clinical writing sample, a CV, and graduate transcripts.
Successful applicants to the postdoctoral fellowship in juvenile forensic psychology will take part in weekly seminars as well as undergo a year of training through the psychiatric department at Massachusetts General Hospital. The program is designed to give students exposure to procedures, forensic issues, and psychological topics as they present to the Boston Juvenile Court through case studies, mock trials, and interaction with lawyers, judges, and juvenile forensic psychology professionals as well.
What You Can Do With A Degree In Juvenile Forensic Psychology?
Forensic Science Technicians
Forensic science technicians work in laboratories, at crime scenes, or with other data to collect and analyze evidence that relates to criminal acts and investigations. Forensic science technicians may work on specialized crimes and cases, including those related to juvenile offenders. Forensic science technicians prepare reports and may provide testimony in court.
Probation Officers and Corrections Treatment Specialists
Probation officers and corrections treatment specialists work with individuals that have been given supervision instead of jail or prison as a sentence for a crime. They oversee offenders and evaluate their environments, communities, and rehabilitation. Probation officers and corrections treatment specialists that work with juveniles makes sure the individuals they oversee stick to their probation plan and check in on their home life, reporting back to judicial officials as required.
Rehabilitation counselors are equipped to work with individuals that have emotional, mental, or physical disabilities, often with young individuals in a student setting. Rehabilitation counselors often specialize in employment, assisting clients as they enter the workforce. They assist doctors and other mental health professionals in developing treatment plans, maintain records, track progress, and advocate for their clients, appearing in criminal justice procedures as witnesses when necessary.
Police Officers and Detectives
Police officers and detectives work with individuals and communities to investigate and prevent criminal actions. Police officers and detectives collect information about crimes and alleged criminals, keep detailed records, and appear in court to testify. They are trained in legal policies and procedures and may need to work with specific criminal justice programs engaging youth populations.
Forensic psychologists apply psychological theories to their individual clients and patients, observing and treating mental health disorders as they arise. Forensic psychologists use their skills specifically to assist lawyers, judges, and other criminal justice professionals in understanding criminal cases. Forensic psychologists often specialize in one aspect of the field, including juvenile and family casework, maintaining records, conducting research, and appearing as witnesses in court.