The American Psychological Association (APA) accredits doctoral programs in clinical, counseling, school and practice areas of psychology. APA does not accredit doctoral programs in forensic psychology or masters level programs in any area. Some universities, wishing to have accredited programs, offer forensic psychology as a concentration in a program which is accredited, usually clinical psychology.
Clinical Psychology with Forensic Concentration
The American Psychology - Law Society's 2007-2008 Guide to Graduate Programs in Forensic and Legal Psychology lists eight universities offering a doctorate in an APA-accredited clinical psychology program with a forensic psychology concentration or specialty (Drexel University, Fordham University, Nova Southeastern University, Sam Houston State University, Texas Tech University, University of Alabama, University of Arizona and University of Illinois at Chicago). The guide lists four universities or schools of professional psychology offering a Doctor of Psychology in an APA-accredited clinical psychology program with a forensic psychology concentration or specialty (Illinois School of Professional Psychology, Massachusetts School of Professional Psychology, Nova Southeastern University and University of Denver School of Professional Psychology). Though APA has accredited one Canadian university (Simon Fraser University), APA will end accreditation of Canadian programs in 2015.
Admission to Clinical Psychology Programs with Forensic Concentration
Check the admission requirements for universities of your choice and complete the undergraduate courses they require. Complete a bachelor's degree, preferably in psychology, with a grade point average high enough for admission, typically 3.5 or above. In your junior year take the Graduate Record Exam (GRE), and repeat it if you do not score high enough for admission. A minimum of 1100 points on the total GRE is the typical threshold for admission, but many universities require a higher score.
Clinical psychology graduate students take statistics and core courses (for example, personality, abnormal psychology and cognitive psychology) in their first year. After the first year, graduate students take small seminars in clinical psychology topics, such as bipolar disorders, psychopathology, or schizophrenia. Students must pass a comprehensive exam and complete an internship in a forensic area. It takes five to seven years after the bachelor's degree for a doctorate in clinical psychology, plus a yearlong internship.
While taking seminars in clinical psychology, students develop an interest in a particular area (for example, rape trauma syndrome, assessment of dangerousness or evaluation of competency). Students ask a professor with expertise in their area of interest to supervise their research. Under the guidance of the professor, the graduate student conducts original research for his dissertation which he defends to a faculty committee.
Joint Programs in Psychology and Law
The AP-LS Guide lists one university and one professional school of psychology which offer an APA-accredited doctorate in clinical psychology simultaneously with a juris doctorate in law (Pacific Graduate School of Psychology and Widener University). You need to be accepted into both the psychology program and the law school. Both programs require a dissertation, but neither program requires a practicum.
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