Making a choice about good forensic psychology graduate programs is getting a little more difficult. The number of programs in this field has increased as interest has grown, and many more choices exist than were available just a few years ago. Students will first need to do some investigation to determine what programs are available, and then they’ll need to take other things into account. These include verifying school credentials, deciding on whether to pursue a master or doctorate degree, comparing programs to determine their specialties and attractiveness, and deciding which schools are most practical to attend from both a convenience and price perspective.
It’s fairly easy to find lists of forensic psychology graduate programs. A few minutes of Internet searching can yield lists of the different degrees. Those students who are undergraduates should also ask around, particularly inquiring of professors about the programs that have the best reputation. Students may sometimes get conflicting answers, but it is a good place to start in choosing a program.
On point of applications, people will need to decide what degree they’d like to obtain. There are a few doctoral programs in forensic psychology and many more masters’ programs in this field. Doctoral forensic psychology graduate programs aren’t always listed as “forensic” studies, but could be listed as law and psychology programs. Obviously, the PhD requires more years of study, but it might be attractive from an employment perspective, offering greater opportunity. A master’s degree is equally attractive to others and may be greatly useful in this field.
After making a decision about type of degree to pursue, the next step is determining where to apply. All forensic psychology graduate programs should be checked thoroughly to verify that they will lead to employment in a place a person plans to live and that they are accredited. This is easy to verify online with regional or country accrediting agencies. This step is particularly important if looking at online schools. There are many of these and they may or may not be recognized by accrediting agencies. It's smart to only choose programs from accredited schools.
Reading school literature, touring a school, or even interviewing professors may be a great method for determining the school’s focus and specialties. There are many areas of forensic psychology, and if students already know their area of specialization, they will want to find schools that cater to this. Others may want a good all-around education and should look for schools that offer a broad range of subjects or specialties. Students should additionally weigh personal feelings as they investigate each school, and possibly make notations on the forensic psychology graduate programs that most excite them.
Practical considerations are valuable too. People must ask themselves what schools make the most sense to attend. Does an online program make more sense because it can be completed while people still work, for instance? Alternately, is saving money and attending a state school a good idea?
Distance of school from current home, convenience or inconvenience of attending, and cost are good things to think about. Lastly, as mentioned, school attendance should lead to a license in state a person plans to practice. People should thoroughly investigate ability to obtain a license if attending an out of state/country or online school.
Once people have weighed these matters, they’ve typically decided on a few forensic psychology graduate programs that are the most attractive. It’s suggested that people fully read admission requirements prior to applying, and use this information to determine schools to which an application should be sent. People generally apply to about three programs, unless they’re certain they’ll be accepted to each school they would like to attend. Without this certainty, application to a higher number of schools helps to increase chance of acceptance.