Forensic Psychology Degree
Forensic Psychology Degree is a specialized degree for people interested in working with victims and criminal offenders in the legal and law enforcement arenas. Forensic Psychologists determine whether defendants are competent to stand trial and even assess whether individuals are considered "mentally insane." Forensic Psychologists also profile cases and can advocate for victims of crimes.
They are specialized in recognizing the differences between sociopaths and anti-social personality disorders (yes there is a difference) as well as other personality disorders and mental handicaps and disabilities.
In order to understand the specialization of a forensic psychology degree, consider the following questions: (these are all questions that individuals with a forensic psychology degree are trained to answer.)
- Is a particular individual competent to stand trial?
- What was the individual's state of mind when he or she committed the act? (e.g. sane versus insane, accidental versus pre-meditated)
- Was the individual solely responsible for his or her actions or were they being manipulated or threatened to commit the act?
- Are the witnesses or expert witnesses credible?
- Is the jury objective or impartial?
- Are the lawyers acting in their client's best interest?
- Is anyone involved malingering (that's a fancy word for lying)?
- Is the sentence/punishment appropriate for the crime and or state of mind of the defendant?
- Can witness testimony be trusted as fact? Do we accept "recovered memory" as evidence of a crime?
- In situations where there are several culprits, how we determine who is the most to blame and therefore should get the heaviest sentence or should they all be treated the same?
- Should children that commit crimes be charged similarly to adults?
If these are questions/issues that interest you, then a forensic psychology degree might be a perfect educational option for you to consider.
Other Skills Explored in Forensic Psychology
Some other skills of the forensic psychologist are profiling, handwriting analysis, and reading body language or determining if a person is being deceptive. Profiling is a popular subject for many crime tv dramas. A profiler looks at many aspects of a crime and attempts to make educated guesses about the personality of the perpetrator or perpetrators. Knowing the personality of criminals can lead detectives to know where to look or how to apprehend dangerous individuals. Individuals with a forensic psychology degree are also trained to assess risk in apprehension of suspects so that law enforcement takes adequate precautions.
Students working toward a forensic psychology degree are also trained to read body language. Although detecting deception is not an exact science, forensic psychologists watch for patterns of behavior that are typical of deception. For example, someone that has difficulty maintaining eye contact may be hiding something out of shame or fear. This could be because they committed the crime, were a victim of the crime, or witnessed something. No matter what the motive is behind the behavior, individuals with a forensic psychology degree know that it is a sign that requires deeper exploration to discover its roots.
Handwriting analysis is another skill learned while acquiring a forensic psychology degree. Like reading body language, handwriting analysis is not an exact science but additional clues to understanding personality types and possible psychopathology. Technological advances have advanced this specialty significantly because computers can analyze small differences between stokes and spacing much easier than we can. This has made it much easier to detect forgeries and determine whether a given individual wrote something or not.
Colleges and Universities
There are many colleges and universities that offer a forensic psychology degree. Some colleges and universities even offer a forensic psychology degree online. Some of these are Argosy, Adler, Alliant, Walden, John Jay College, and the Chicago School of Professional Psychology. You can also find additional Universities that offer a forensic psychology degree through the use of a college search engine or typing in the words "forensic psychology degree" in a general search engine. And of course, you can check out other psychology schools on AlleyDog.com.
Other Sources of Forensic Psychology Degree Information
If a forensic psychology degree interests you, the best source of information is probably someone who already has a forensic psychology degree. Go to your local law enforcement agency or legal system and ask to interview a forensic psychologist. They can be a wonderful source of information and can answer specific questions you may have about their educational journey and other skills that they use in their careers.
Be sure to interview professors at prospective universities that interest you. They can also be a great source of information to help you determine if a forensic psychology degree is right for you.
I hope this information has been helpful in providing some basic information to get you started in pursuing your forensic psychology degree.
Forensic Psychology Schools & Programs