This article was under contract to Northcentral University and appeared in Edcor Monthly Newsletter.

Forensic psychology is a rapidly growing specialization within psychology, providing critical insight into what motivates human behavior as it applies to the judicial system.

According to the American Board of Forensic Psychology, forensic psychology “is the application of the science and profession of psychology to questions and issues relating to law and the legal system.” Approved as a specialty by the American Psychological Association in 2001, it is now one of the fastest growing psychology fields. One of the primary reasons for that, according to clinical psychologists working with students today, is the role of forensic psychology in popular television culture.

The demand for forensic psychologists far outstrips the supply as the legal system calls on experts in roles such as case managers, clinical directors, court liaisons, forensic treatment specialists, jury consultants, and law enforcement advocates.

To be a successful forensic psychologist, students must earn a higher education degree. For example, Northcentral University’s 100% online master’s in forensic psychology focuses on the application of psychological principles, research, and diagnostic and assessment tools within forensic settings.

According to Jane Tyler Ward, Ph.D., a psychotherapist and forensic evaluator, “the practice of forensic psychology…is the psychological assessment of individuals who are involved, in one way or another, with the legal system.” It is imperative, according to Dr. Ward, to have solid clinical skills. When searching for a graduate degree, ensure that the program blends clinical skills with legal education.

In NCU’s Forensic Psychology program, for example, the 30-credit master’s degree program examines human behavior and its expression in legal settings; utilizes diagnostic and assessment tools in a forensic setting; and designs and synthesizes research related to judicial systems and law enforcement. Law enforcement and victim advocacy professionals teach students in a one-to-one setting utilizing psychological principles, uniquely combining the legal system and behavioral sciences.


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