Career Options with a Masters in Forensic Psychology

Aug 10, 2019

Students wondering 'what can I do with a master's in forensic psychology?' can explore a variety of careers in the field. Most master's in forensic psychology jobs aim to help people in the criminal justice system through psychological principles.

What Can I Do With a Master's in Forensic Psychology?

Forensic psychology allows students to study the complex behavior of humans, typically within the criminal justice system. Students can study forensic psychology at the bachelor's, master's, and doctoral levels, but there are several available careers with a master's in forensic psychology. Some of these careers include:

  • Mental health professional
  • Correctional treatment specialist
  • Jury consultant
  • Law enforcement officer
  • Research assistant
  • Child protective service worker

Below we discuss a few of the possible master's in forensic psychology jobs in more detail.

Mental Health Counselor

Most mental health counselors need a master's degree and have to complete an internship experience for hands-on learning. For those with a background in forensic psychology, working as a mental health professional in the legal and criminal justice system may be a good option. These professionals may help lawyers and judges understand the psychological aspects of a case. Mental health counselors may also:

  • Assess a client's health
  • Determine treatment methods
  • Treat conditions like anxiety, suicidal impulses, depression, stress, and more
  • Help clients modify their behavior

Correctional Treatment Specialist

Correctional treatment specialists usually need at least a bachelor's degree, but a master's degree is often needed to advance. Those with a forensic psychology background may work as juvenile offenders counselors, case managers, or other correctional counselors to help probationers and parolees successfully re-enter society. These specialists may use psychological concepts to evaluate a client's mental state and/or likelihood to commit a crime again. Other job duties may include:

  • Conducting psychological exams
  • Creating release plans
  • Helping arrange for housing, jobs, and other resources upon release
  • Maintaining records of progress

Jury Consultant/Expert Witness

Professionals with a master's in forensic psychology may also work as jury consultants and/or be called upon as expert witnesses in civil, family, or criminal court. As witnesses, they may apply their scientific knowledge to a particular case to help the jury understand the psychological aspects of a situation. As a jury consultant, these professionals help legal teams find the best possible jury. This may require them to:

  • Hold focus groups
  • Help determine the best strategy for case arguments
  • Help choose desirable jurors
  • Evaluate the persuasiveness of an argument

Master's in Forensic Psychology Degree Programs

There are a variety of top schools with forensic psychology degree programs, including several top graduate schools with graduate programs in forensic psychology. At the graduate level students can pursue master's and/or doctoral programs in the field.

Master's degree programs in forensic psychology are usually available as Master of Arts (MA) or Master of Science (MS) degrees. Some of these degree programs may be available in online formats and offer a nonclinical curriculum. Some programs may offer a thesis or externship track, and these programs may range from around 36 credits to 42 credits. Students in master's degree programs in forensic psychology may take courses in topics like:

  • Psychological assessment
  • Psychopathology
  • Research methods
  • Behavioral criminology
  • Psychological injury
  • Counseling methods

Salary Information

According to PayScale.com, the average annual salary for those with an MS in Forensic Psychology was $46,000 in 2019, while the average for those with an MA in Forensic Psychology was $50,000 for the same year. These averages do vary with specific jobs.

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