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What students should know about forensic psychology from a specialist in the field

With a surge of awareness from many mainstream media outlets and a newfound push to teach the importance of mental health, psychology has never been more popular and readily accessible to the public. Although there has been an increase in awareness, there are still many fields and subjects of psychology that are not as commonly popular or are simply unknown. 


What is forensic psychology?

Interest in forensic psychology has surged in recent years, primarily due to such television programs as “Criminal Minds,” where criminal profilers have an almost psychic ability to give elaborate personality and behavioral descriptions of perpetrators (“UNSUBs”). This is a misconception of the role that forensic psychologists play and leads to confusion about who is a forensic psychologist. Since forensic psychology is a relatively new field within psychology, it is still having growing pains. Thus, it would probably be best to start with a definition.


Master’s careers in psychology

For most careers, providing professional services using psychological knowledge requires a doctoral degree in psychology, and these careers are often called professional or health service psychology. However, psychology careers for individuals holding master’s degrees are available in multiple occupational settings and in fields across the discipline. The demand for jobs at this level of training is reflected in the growth of master’s psychology degrees — from slightly below 18,000 in 2003 to nearly 28,000 in 2013. Similarly, the National Science Foundation reports growth during the past decade in research-focused psychology master’s degrees: approximately 15,000 in 2003 and 22,000 in 2011.