Forensic psychology is a fascinating branch of psychological study that is used in combination with knowledge of the legal system in criminal cases. Forensic psychologists may act as expert witnesses during trials, assess the mental state of either the defendant or the victim, and help legislation write better policies based around human behavior.
If you’ve already earned your undergraduate degree in psychology and are interested in specializing in forensic psychology, a masters degree is the next step in this plan. Most states require you to hold a doctorate before being licensed as a forensic psychologist, but earning your masters degree in the specialization is a solid starting point.
There are lots of benefits of doing a masters degree in forensic psychology even if you decide not to pursue a doctorate and become a licensed forensic psychologist.
#1. Gain Knowledge in Both the Legal System and Psychology
Not everyone adores the thought of studying law and becoming a lawyer, but you can still be interested in learning a bit more about the country’s legal system without making it your major in university.
If you’re someone that has always had an interest in the legal system, but never wanted to become a lawyer, law enforcement officer, or other type of legal worker, becoming a forensic psychologist could be right up your alley. With a masters in forensic psychology, you learn about both the legal system and psychology as well as how to use the two together.
With a masters degree in forensic psychology, you’re exposed to psychology in the legal system and have a chance to apply theories and practices in support of the justice system. Even if you decide that a career in forensic psychology isn’t for you, the extra knowledge may come in handy in the future.
#2. Increased Job Opportunities
Psychology is already a very broad field and offers numerous job opportunities, but with a masters degree in forensic psychology, the number of possible job options increases. You have access to more specialized work and can choose how you want to focus your abilities.
Career opportunities in forensic psychology aren’t limited to working with police officers or in court rooms. You can work as a counselor or social worker within prisons, support victims as a victim advocate, work with law enforcement as a crime analyst, or even work as a legal consultant.
Forensic psychology is a truly broad field of work despite what your initial impression may be. You don’t have to work in a precinct or a prison as a forensic psychologist. You can choose to use your skills and knowledge alongside the legal system or not.
#3. Improve Soft Skills
Skills such as time management, critical thinking, communication, and attention to detail are incredibly important in the eyes of an employer. You can have all the necessary education and qualifications, but without a few key soft skills, you’ll have trouble finding a job.
As a forensic psychologist, you’ll be expected to demonstrate certain necessary soft skills that may not come naturally to you. Fortunately, earning a masters degree will help you work on and improve yourself in these areas.
Psychology on its own already increases your critical thinking skills and can guide you to make better decisions in your daily life. A masters degree in forensic psychology, however, will help you hone these skills and can provide even more knowledge about both the legal system and psychology as a practice and study.
Whether you take your course online or on campus, you’ll need to develop time management skills in order to achieve the most from your degree and prevent yourself from falling behind.
During the program, you’ll also develop listening and communication skills along with compassion. As a forensic psychologist, you’ll likely encounter criminals or listen to incredibly difficult testimonies. Remaining kind and compassionate while maintaining an objective point of view is critical. You’ll work on these skills during the masters program and again during your doctorate.
#4. It’s a Rewarding Challenge
Don’t be fooled: Masters degrees are not a walk in the park and you won’t be able to float your way through one. However, the knowledge and skills that you develop during your degree program will help you in both your career and daily life.
Masters degrees in any field are a challenge so you aren’t alone. Working with your classmates and communicating with your teacher will help ensure you’re on track to complete your degree.
While you work on a masters in forensic psychology, you’ll have the chance to begin putting into practice the theories you learned during your undergrad program which is both daunting and exciting. You won’t be the only one in your class, though, and working with your colleagues can open your eyes to new possibilities and thought processes that can help you later.
#5. Good Job Outlook
Careers in forensic psychology are on the rise and demand for forensic psychologists is actually rather high. As there are so many choices within forensic psychology, you’re really able to pick and choose what type of career you want to pursue. You can choose to work in a court and assist attorneys in picking jury members or work as a social worker for victims or in detention centers.
Wherever you would like to work, the job outlook for those holding a forensic psychology degree are optimistic. Although the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ report covers all types of psychologists, the general message is that psychologists are still in demand and it looks like they will continue to be for years to come.
As a Forensic Psychologist
If you do decide to go into a career as a forensic psychologist, doing a masters degree won’t be the end of your education. Rather, it’s only the beginning. Nevertheless, earning a masters in forensic psychology will open your eyes to the possibility of psychology from a legal standpoint and can provide you with an opening to help people in a more unique way.