What Can You Do With a Masters in Forensic Psychology? [2021 Guide]

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What can you do with a masters in forensic psychology? If the intersection of law and psychology interests you, you may consider looking into a masters in forensic psychology.

Masters in Forensic Psychology

Today, an online forensic psychology masters degree is easily accessible with distance learning.

This article will discuss the ins and outs of getting a master’s in forensic psychology, including potential jobs, salaries, and requirements to obtain your degree.

What Can You Do with a Masters in Forensic Psychology?

forensic psychologist with a patient

A master’s degree in forensic psychology may qualify you for a variety of career paths. Career options may include becoming a psychologist, a behavioral and mental health counselor, or even a detective.

What you do with your degree depends on where your interests lie, but getting a masters may open doors for you and help you grow in your career. Depending on your specialization, you may work in many settings, such as a correctional facility or courtroom.

When taking forensic psychology masters programs online or in person, there are various specializations you can choose from. Specialties give you the option of narrowing in on what you want to do and preparing for it early on.

Top 5 Things You Can Do with a Masters Degree in Forensic Psychology

Mental Health Professional comforting a patient

A masters degree in forensic psychology may lead to many different career paths. Below are some of the top careers you may pursue.

1. Mental Health Professional

Many psychology graduates become a mental health professional. A degree in forensic psychology may opens doors for you to become a mental health professional in the legal and criminal justice system.

As a mental health professional in these fields, you may help lawyers, judges, police, and detectives assess and understand the psychological aspects of a case.

2. Jury Consultant

Jury Consultant working in office

Jury consultants engage with the part of the legal process that involves picking the jury.

Not every court case has a jury, but for the ones that do, picking jurors involves many steps. Potential jurors are researched and questioned, and jury consultants can help with that process. They may also conduct mock trials and focus groups.

3. Correctional Counselor

Correctional Counselor with a patient

Correctional counselors work in the correctional system. They may work with juvenile cases as counselors for those in the juvenile detention system. They may also work with parolees and probationers and help them re-enter society successfully.

Correctional counselors can work as case managers as well. They can help create release plans and conduct psychological exams for anyone in a correctional facility.

4. Law Enforcement Officer

Law Enforcement Officer interviewing a woman

Law enforcement officers, such as policemen, help keep law and order in the community.

They have a range of duties to keep everyone safe. These duties can include securing and examining crime scenes and accidents, enforcing traffic laws, and tracking down, interviewing, and arresting any crime suspects in a case.

5. Federal Government Employee

Forensic psychology is an intersection of psychology and law, so those with a masters degree in that field might be a good match to work as a federal government employee.

Many government organizations, such as the FBI and CIA, are options that can be explored as career paths. Working for state and local government institutions is also a possibility.

Common Forensic Psychology Master’s Specializations

forensic psychologist with a patient

Within the field of forensic psychology, there are specializations that you can focus on while obtaining your degree. Common specializations include the following:

  • Police Psychology: A police psychology specialization trains you to work within law enforcement. Skills such as officer training and critical incident stress debriefing are taught.
  • Victimology: Specializing in victimology allows you to obtain a deeper understanding of the psychology of not only victims of trauma but also the first responders who help them and may suffer through trauma as a result.
  • Legal: Legal issues in forensic psychology involve aspects that involve the criminal justice system, the correctional facility system, and how those two intersect with the law.
  • Criminal Justice: A specialization in criminal justice allows you to learn about the criminal justice system in theory as well as in practice. You’ll also learn about the psychology behind those who are in the criminal justice system.
  • Family Violence: A family violence specialization focuses on aspects within the family, including elder abuse, child abuse, and domestic violence within a partnership.

Specializations can help you focus on the part of forensic psychology that interests you the most and may boost your career.

Forensic Psychology Careers & Salaries

Forensic Psychology Careers & Salaries

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, you may pursue the following careers with a masters degree in forensic psychology.

Careers Annual Median Salaries
Psychologists $80,370
Social and Community Service Managers $67,150
Police and Detectives $65,170
Probation Officers and Correctional Treatment Specialists $54,290
Social Workers $50,470
Marriage and Family Therapists $49,610
Substance Abuse, Behavioral Disorder, and Mental Health Counselors $46,240
Correctional Officers and Bailiffs $45,300
Rehabilitation Counselors $35,950
Social and Human Service Assistants $35,060

A doctoral degree is required if you want to become a licensed forensic psychologist. Forensic psychology master degrees can act as a foundational stepping stone toward this terminal degree. Also, most graduate degree programs require a bachelors degree in the field, so if you want to meet that requirement as soon as possible, either earning an on-campus or an accelerated online psychology degree may be a good route for you.

Is Financial Aid Available for a Master’s Degree?

master's degree financial aid

Financial aid is available for qualifying students, even if you’re pursuing a graduate degree. There are a few financial aid options you may want to explore.

Some places of employment will pay for part or all of your education, especially if the degree is related to the field you are working in. You can talk to your employer to see if your job offers that kind of a program and if you qualify.

Federal student aid is a part of the Department of Education. They provide student aid to both undergraduate and graduate students. To find out if you qualify, you can fill out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). You may qualify for state aid as well.

Another financial aid avenue is scholarships. Many schools and third-party organizations offer scholarships based on merit or other qualifying aspects, such as hobbies and activities.

What Is Forensic Psychology?

forensic psychologists in office

Forensic psychology is the study and application of psychology within the civil and criminal legal system. It is a subset of psychology, which involves the study of behaviors, emotions, and the mind.

Forensic psychology is the intersection of psychology and the law as well as those who come into contact with the law. It studies how the two work together and interact scientifically and technically.

What Courses Do You Take in a Forensic Psychology Program?

forensic psychologist attending an online class

There are a variety of courses that you may take in forensic psychology graduate programs. Here are some course possibilities:

  • Psychological Assessment: This course teaches the basics of psychological assessment. Psychological assessment is a process of testing. It uses techniques to figure out a person’s personality, behavior, and capabilities.
  • Psychopathology: Psychopathology is the study of mental disorders. This includes behavioral disorders and considers mental health collectively.
  • Research Methods: This course will teach you various research methods that you may use throughout the course of your career.
  • Behavioral Criminology: This course gives you the tools to dissect the behavior patterns of those who come into contact with the law. It can dive into why criminals behave a certain way and if there are any patterns.
  • Psychological Injury: Psychological injury is something that affects a person’s life, including how they behave. This course will let you study that and see why it can lead to mental health issues, such as anxiety and depression.
  • Counseling Methods: This course will teach you various counseling methods as well as how to determine which one is best for your patient.

This list is not exhaustive and can adjust based on the program you enroll in as well as your specialty.

Is Forensic Psychology a Good Career?

forensic psychologist during consultation

Forensic psychology may be a good field for you if you’re interested about the law and how it interacts with human behavior.

With a career in this field, you may work within the legal system to see why people do what they do, or you may help others that are in contact with the law, such as victims, offenders, or law enforcement workers.

If you want to become a psychologist, you may continue on to earn your doctorate and apply for licensure. Psychologists make an average salary of $80,370, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

There are a variety of career options in the field of forensic psychology. With a masters, you may qualify for a position as a jury consultant, a rehabilitation counselor, a correctional treatment specialist, or a substance abuse, behavioral disorder, and mental health counselor.

How Much Money Can You Make with a Masters in Forensic Psychology?

forensic psychologist with a patient during consultation

The amount of money you can make with a masters in forensic psychology depends on your employer and which career path you take.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average salary for psychologists is $80,370. In order to become a licensed psychologist, it is necessary to obtain a doctorate and licensure.

With a masters, there are still many paths you can pursue. Available careers for a masters in forensic psychology have average salaries ranging from $35,000 to $67,000 a year.

You may become a probation officer or correctional treatment specialist, a police officer or detective, or a substance abuse, behavioral disorder, or mental health counselor. These careers have average salaries of $54,290, $65,170, and $46,240, respectively.

A masters in this field may also qualify you for management or leadership roles. Social and community service managers make an average salary of $67,150 each year.

Do You Need a Master’s Degree to Be a Forensic Psychologist?

forensic psych

There are positions available in the field of forensic psychology that only require a bachelors degree or masters degree. Most counseling positions, for instance, require a masters while correctional treatment specialist roles typically require a bachelors.

In order to become a licensed forensic psychologist, though, a doctoral degree is also required. A masters is a common foundation that can help prepare you for doctoral studies. Looking into the requirements of the job you want beforehand can help you plan for the degree and level of education you want to pursue.

What Is the Difference Between Criminal Psychology vs. Forensic Psychology?

forensic psychologist with a patient

Forensic psychology focuses on psychology within the legal system, both in civil and criminal law. It includes aspects like law enforcement, counseling, and prison work.

Forensic psychology assesses everyone involved in the law, including witnesses, jurors, victims, and law enforcement. Criminal psychology focuses solely on criminal behavior. They look at the psychological profile of criminals to understand, apprehend, or prevent them.

What Is the Difference Between a Forensic Psychiatrist vs. Forensic Psychologist?

forensic psychologist with a child

The main difference between a forensic psychologist and a forensic psychiatrist is their areas of focus. Both focus on behavior and mental health, but a forensic psychiatrist is focused on the medical aspect of mental health.

A forensic psychologist focuses on the social and behavioral elements of mental health as well as how that works within the legal system. While both can require a doctorate, a psychiatrist is considered a medical doctor (MD). The licensing process may be different for both roles as well.

What Is the Difference Between a MA vs. MS in Forensic Psychology?

The difference between a Master of Arts and a Master of Science in Forensic Psychology is in the focus of the studies.

An MA degree typically has a stronger focus on the liberal arts. An MS degree usually keeps its concentration more within science and research. While the career paths with both degrees remain similar, the curriculum may differ.

Is a Masters in Forensic Psychology Worth It?

forensic psychologist

Yes, a masters in forensic psychology is worth it for many students. With an average salary range from $35,000 to $67,000 (Bureau of Labor Statistics), a degree in forensic psychology can help you launch a career in this rewarding field.

Common forensic psychology careers include law enforcement officers, jury consultants, federal government employees, psychologists, and social workers. If you continue on to earn a doctorate in forensic psychology, you may become a licensed forensic psychologist. Psychologists earn an average salary of $80,370.

You may consider a masters degree in forensic psychology if you want to study behavior and how it works within the law.

Getting Your Masters in Forensic Psychology Online

Forensic Psychology Online

Earning your online masters degree in forensic psychology may jumpstart many career paths for you.

A masters degree can also act as a strategic next step if you plan on pursuing your doctorate and becoming a forensic psychologist. A number of accredited universities now offer online masters program in forensic psychology. This avenue may give you the flexibility to obtain your degree from your own home and on your own schedule.

If you’re interested in this rewarding field, you may start this next step in your educational journey by exploring online masters programs in forensic psychology.

Joanna Smykowski
WRITTEN BY
Joanna Smykowski
Joanna has a Juris Doctor degree from the CUNY School of Law and earned her Bachelor's in Communications from St. John's University. Joanna is a licensed New York State attorney and she focuses her research and writing on current trends in higher education.