Forensic Mental Health Degree Programs
|Concordia University - Saint Paul
|MAHS in Forensic Behavioral Health
|University of West Alabama
|Bachelor of Psychology
|University of West Alabama
|Master of Science: Clinical Mental Health Counseling
|East Central University
|Bachelor of Science in Psychology - Behavioral Health
Criminal activity may take place due to the perpetrator's mental state. Prior environment in where they were raised or substance abuse plays a common role in violence that takes place. The investigative process in analyzing this and finding solutions is within the forensic mental health category.
Studies in forensic mental health features topics in analyzing suspects and offenders for the status of their mental capability. They determine characteristics that lead to motives and reasons why criminal activity occurs. Types of mental disorders covered in these programs include personality and brain development or damage.
Professionals not only determine what the offender has done, but they may work with them suffering with mental illness. This requires clinical certification in order to develop a treatment plan for their mental illness. Positions exist within the police department, prisons, and correctional facilities.
What is Clinical Mental Health Counseling?
Some programs featuring forensic mental health topics emphasize clinical mental health counseling. These are geared toward professional opportunities that work with patients, both individuals and groups. They are responsible for diagnosing issues and determining treatment plans, which may differ from forensic activity.
Limited degrees blend forensic technology with mental health counseling procedures. This is featured in a Master's degree distributed by Roger Williams University. Graduates from the program will have the education necessary to apply for state licensure in Rhode Island and potentially in other states.
Forensic mental health jobs do not all require state licensure. Programs often designate if they have the education needed for clinical work at the state level. The American Mental Health Counselors Association offers a credential in Forensic Evaluation.
Are There Forensic Mental Health Degrees Online?
Even in a specific area of psychology, students have opportunities to pursue online higher education in forensic mental health. This can be available as a concentration when pursuing a psychology discipline. There are also some degrees that focus completely on mental health and counseling with some forensic technology studies.
Overall, most of this online education is available at the graduate level. For undergraduate students, they may consider taking traditional psychology or forensic psychology disciplines more widely available. This pathway can lead toward graduate programs in forensic mental health.
Disciplines or concentrations in mental health or clinical mental health may have opportunities with forensic studies. Students should check minors, graduate certificates, or electives offered by the university. Becoming a clinical professional requires additional years of education and post-graduate experience that may not be necessary for some forensic positions.
Top Online Programs for Forensic Mental Health
Concordia University-St. Paul
The Master of Arts in Human Services features a concentration in Forensic Behavioral Health. Available conveniently online, students learn intervention strategies with behavioral health that blends with improving the legal system. This is a joint program with the American Institute for the Advancement of Forensic Studies.
In total, 36 credit hours are required to complete the degree. Course distribution is seven weeks per module, providing a focused education on each topic throughout the two-year program. This curriculum does not prepare individuals for clinical work or state licensure in psychology.
Topics include research methods, psychopathology, and ethical issues when working in human services. Many courses tie together how human service makes an impact in criminal justice. This includes reviewing cases with mentally ill individuals, the insanity defense, and studying witness testimony for patterns and identification.
For the application, students submit transcripts detailing the completion of a Bachelor’s degree with a 3.0 GPA or higher. Personal statement should have 400 to 1,000 words that explain professional history and personal goals in this career field. This should also explain what influenced the individual to pursue the graduate program.
The Master of Science in Clinical Mental Health Counseling has a specialization in Forensic Counseling. Provides understanding of mental health law and how to participate in negotiation to mitigate conflict. This program is accredited by the Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs.
100 to 106 quarter credit hours are needed to complete the Master’s degree. 19 to 25 credit hours are dedicated to the specialization and required field experience. The practicum consists of 100 clock hours and the internship requires 600 clock hours to satisfy the curriculum.
Treatment of Forensic Populations is a required course in the specialization. Students select one of three restricted electives to round out the specialization. A Bachelor’s degree is needed for applicants to be considered for this program. Up to 45 credit hours are accepted in the transfer process.
Students may complete this program with a blend of online and on-campus coursework. Two pre-practicum lab sessions take place in six-week modules that require four days of physical education. A group lab session is distributed across nine weeks with multiple hours of synchronous group meetings.
Nova Southeastern University
The College of Psychology offers a Master of Science in Forensic Psychology. This is a fully online program that requires 12 courses to complete and has two concentrations. One focuses coursework toward the legal system while the other emphasizes forensic psychology with mental health workers and first responders.
Students select three courses in a group of restricted electives for the second concentration. Topics look at various issues professionals encounter, such as trauma assessment, substance abuse, and suicide prevention measures. A capstone project features a research paper in an approved topic or 90 volunteer hours in field experience.
36 total credit hours are needed to complete the program. 24 credit hours are in core concepts all students take outside of just mental health consideration. Core subjects feature advanced general study in psychology and explores disorders, evaluation methods, and communication skills.
With the 100 percent online program, students have the flexibility to take all courses on their own time. Faculty members are established professionals in the field of criminal law and psychology. There are multiple start times throughout the year and no GRE needed in the admission process.
An alternative graduate degree is the Master of Health Science with a Forensic Investigative Technology concentration. This has less of an emphasis in the psychology and mental health angle of forensic health care. Instead, this offers core topics in current health care, research methods used in evaluation, and traditional criminal investigation processes with forensic technology.
Undergraduate Programs in Forensic Mental Health
There are some opportunities for individuals that hold a Bachelor’s degree and are looking for forensic mental health jobs. Those focused on criminal justice may take some psychology and mental health courses in a Bachelor’s degree to consider entry-level positions. They work with criminal scene investigation to determine motive or find evidence that could be considered in a court of law.
Counseling opportunities require a state licensure. This means students must complete graduate work and additional supervised work during post-graduate hours with clients. Examination and other various requirements are needed depending on the state.
Foundational psychology studies may be earned with an associate degree. This offers basic topics in the discipline along with some general education requirements. In order to gain job positions featuring forensic mental health capability, this must be transferred toward a higher degree.
The Bachelor of Science in Criminal Justice features a concentration in Forensic Mental Health. This is a unique offering at the undergraduate level providing foundational study in these topics. Students look at theory, practice, and ethics that go into criminal justice.
General education accounts for half of the program and most courses are taken in the first two years. Students select courses to satisfy English composition, arts and humanities, social sciences, and more. 18 to 21 credit hours are reserved for electives, which are separate from the major concentration.
Most of the Criminal Justice major looks at criminology, corrective systems, and the American government in general. The Forensic Mental Health concentration requires five courses. An example course explores discrimination for those in the legal system and how that can affect them psychologically.
Requires 120 total credit hours and all coursework is available in an online format. At least 36 credit hours must be completed in the upper-division of course options. A 2.0 GPA or higher is needed in all the major and concentration courses.
Graduate Programs in Forensic Mental Health
A number of forensic mental health jobs require the completion of a graduate-level degree. This is due to the advanced nature of the profession. Workers must understand how mental health can impact an offender and how to diagnose these issues.
Programs often require at least one or two years of study. Much of the content will divide forensic technology skills with mental health topics. There are commonly many electives to choose from to customize these studies toward a particular profession.
Individuals looking for clinical work must complete the criteria needed within the state they reside in. This varies depending on the state, but often requires graduate-level education and many hours of field experience. If the student intends to become licensed in the state they completed education in, that university often sets the curriculum to meet those standards.
Sage Graduate School
The School of Health Sciences offers multiple pathways to receive forensic mental health education. One is the Master of Science with a concentration in Health Services Administration. The other is an abbreviated Certificate of Advanced Study in the Forensic Mental Health discipline.
Students explore and understand different addictions and diagnosis within the profession. Topics may dive into how trauma can impact individuals at different levels. Soft skills include critical thinking capability, oral and written communication, and working with others effectively.
At least 30 credit hours of study is needed for the Master’s degree. At least 240 hours of an internship within forensic mental health is needed. Graduates understand the importance of establishing evidence-based principles and ethically applying this to their profession.
This program is not designed for the clinical profession. It does not meet requirements for state licensure in clinical work. Some of the education may apply toward the clinical level and may meet some requirements in different states.
John Jay College of Criminal Justice (CUNY)
Students may pursue the Master of Arts in Forensic Mental Health Counseling through the City University of New York. This is an on-campus program that offers numerous mental health electives and various concentrations. It satisfies the New York state requirements to receive licensure as a mental health counselor.
Five courses that are required within the first 30 credit hours are introductory topics in forensic mental health, psychopathology, and research design. All students complete a supervised internship experience across six credit hours. 600 total clock hours of field experience combines with weekly seminars and the Clinical Instruction course must be completed prior to the internship.
Between 9 to 18 credit hours are dedicated to forensic mental health electives. Students can elect to take a thesis track that adds advanced statistical analysis and research methods. Here is a listing of available electives:
- Brain and Behavior
- Clinical Crime Scene Analysis
- Criminal Behavior
- Eyewitness Identification
- Objective Personality Assessment
- Social Psychology and the Legal System
The Victim Counseling specialization focuses on traumatic studies in child and family abuse and various counseling methods to consider. This requires six specific courses with no option to complete a thesis paper. A specialized track is also available to become a Certified Alcohol and Substance Abuse Counselor (CASAC).
Roger Williams University
The Feinstein School of Social and Natural Sciences offers a Master of Arts in Forensic Mental Health Counseling. This curriculum provides the necessary study for clinical work in the legal field. It can also prepare individuals for additional study at the doctorate level.
60 total credit hours are needed across the entire program. This equates to two years of full-time study, which is recommended due to the field experience needed. Students complete 200 clock hours for their clinical practicum and additional 600 hours for their internship.
The difference in the practicum and internship are the former focuses on particular skills in a clinical setting. For example, students oversee and practice the interview process and diagnose potential mental health factors. This is expanded upon in the second practicum with data analysis and developing intervention strategy.
Applicants must submit official transcripts, a letter of intent, and three recommendation letters. This programs satisfies Rhode Island state licensure requirements to be a Licensed Professional Counselor or Licensed Mental Health Counselor. Students should check their own state to see if this equates to their licensure criteria.
Top Courses in Forensic Mental Health
Trauma Assessment and Intervention
Students look into theory and case study in order to determine crisis intervention and evaluating trauma with clients. This can be within a wide-ranging group of clients, from individuals to families and what type of issues they are dealing with. Mental health studies tend to focus on verbal abuse, violence, and neglect that has a negative impact on the human mind.
Clients dealing with substance abuse issues deal with numerous mental health deficiencies and disorders. These courses may look at short and long-term effects of using drugs and alcohol. Students may learn to set up treatment plans with their patients or detect these issues in forensic investigations.
Child Abuse and Violence
The developing mind is prone to a larger impact of neglect or abuse from troubled households. Students focus exclusively on how to detect and treat these issues in a professional setting. Features skills in communicating with children and how to set up successful strategy with those who influence them the most.
Juvenile Justice and Development
Provides an overview of the juvenile justice system and how to detect delinquency patterns in children and young adults. Topics may feature the success and downfalls of this justice system and how environment impacts delinquency. This can be due to racial background, community standards, peer pressure, and more.
Strange behaviors and mental activity is recognized in psychopathology, which is part of the diagnosis process when studying individuals. Courses often look at the history of this study and how it has developed over time. Also recognized as personality or behavioral disorders within psychology curricula.
General study of victims and how they are perceived to society. These courses expand on how perception and treatment can impact victim within a community. May also look at interaction and relationships among groups of people, both victims and perpetrators, in criminal activity.
May be a general or advanced course within forensic mental health studies. In general, these courses give students the skills to develop a hypothesis and how to test theory in different experimentations. Information gathered is then analyzed to determine if the hypothesis is validated.
Advanced courses provide statistical methods that can identify trends and patters in mental health data. This is valuable in the investigative process to determine impact and potential intent. These courses often require basic computational skills and understanding of entry-level analysis software.
Students assess offenders in criminal investigations to determine motive and psychological impact of their actions. This helps individuals understand why the activity takes place and detecting intent in future criminal investigations. Forensic topics may focus on the insanity defense and ability to conduct themselves in a court of law.
Mental Health Law and Regulation
Observes how mental health issues have impacted United States law and policy over time. Students look at what has changed over time and the perception of mental health in society. Explores what still needs to be done in order to improve mental health issues across the country.
What Can You Do With a Forensic Mental Health Degree?
Multiple career pathways may be considered in forensic mental health. Professionals that focus on providing treatment to clients are mental health counselors. According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average salary of mental health professionals is at $46,420 annually.
Salaries may increase based on where the individual plans to be a mental health counselor. Increased pay is available for those that consider clinical work. Adding forensics and investigation skills offers flexibility and more pay in those opportunities.
Forensic psychologists have a number of different duties in criminal procedure. They may analyze clients that are set for trial and determine if they are capable to field questions from a lawyer. Holding mental health counseling skills give them capability to diagnose and determine if they are capable of participation.
All Schools with Forensic Science Programs
Sage Graduate School
- Certificate in Forensic Mental Health
- Master of Science in Forensic Mental Health