Legal Professions and Studies, Other  Program Description


Insider Info

dotPsychology and law programs may also be called forensic psychology. Many grads become forensic psychologists, but that's not the only career option open to you.

These studies don't just involve the analysis of those who've committed a crime. Often, psychologists work with victims as well, assessing the extent of the emotional impact of injuries due to all sorts of events, such as automobile accidents or even animal attacks.

Professionals in this field also provide treatment services to people involved in the court system. They might counsel adults and children in the midst of divorce or custody proceedings, for example.

These programs are generally offered as master's degrees, so you need a minimum three or four-year undergraduate degree (usually in psychology) first.

"Prospective students need an honors degree, an A average, solid GREs [Graduate Record Examinations], and either volunteer or paid experience in a forensic setting -- victim services, police, domestic violence group, etc.," says psychology professor Steve Porter.

Programs generally deal with topics such as psychological assumptions in law, science versus law, research methodology, the jury process and competency to stand trial.

In many cases, you can attain your undergrad degree and your master's or PhD at the same school.

High school students should take as many psychology courses as they can, says Heather Heitfield. She is the administrative assistant for the master's progam in forensic psychology at John Jay College of Criminal Justice at the City University of New York.

"Most preparation is conducted in college, but you can take some introductory psychology classes in high school, and of course there are the general requirements such as math and English," she says.

Porter says students should also study statistics, science and literature, and should make certain they have a working knowledge of computer software programs, especially word-processing, statistics analysis and graphics programs.

Students should also seek volunteer work in shelters and community organizations. "Get involved," Heitfield says. "These activities will give you a feel for what's ahead, and will prove to others as well as yourself that you have the necessary dedication to succeed in this career."


Occupational Outlook Handbook
For more information related to this field of study, see: Psychologists

Psychology, Crime and Law
A journal of psychological approaches to crime

Pyschology, Law and Justice
A collection of papers and presentations by a university professor

Just the Facts

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