Can I work while studying for my PhD in forensic psychology?
Some PhD programs in forensic psychology are designed for working professionals and enable you to work full or part time while taking classes. Since you will most likely already hold an advanced degree in forensic psychology, you will be eligible for some clinical positions that you would not be qualified for while working toward other forensic psychology degrees.
Many forensic psychology PhD students work in a clinical or law enforcement setting and are pursuing their doctorate in order to be more qualified as a witness or practitioner in the field. Consulting on psychological issues for law firms, police departments and prison systems is also common for students working toward a PhD in forensic psychology.
Accredited forensic psychology PhD programs, however, are academically challenging and can require as much commitment as a full-time job. Courses are traditionally held during the workday, which may prevent you from working. Most PhD programs also require an internship at a mental health clinic or other facility, possibly preventing you from continuing your previous employment. Working toward an online PhD in forensic psychology can help alleviate these pressures since your coursework can be completed at night or on weekends.
Are there any scholarships for traditional or online PhD students in forensic psychology?
While not as common as scholarships for undergraduate or masters students, there are a few scholarships available if you are working toward a doctorate in forensic psychology. In general, students in 1 of the accredited online PhD forensic psychology programs will qualify for the same scholarships as a student studying traditionally, although some may specify that you must attend on-campus courses to qualify.
The U.S. military offers the Health Professions Scholarship Program, which offers active duty personnel 1 and 2-year scholarships if they are attending accredited doctoral programs in psychology. The scholarship provides full tuition and a monthly stipend.
The FBI’s Visiting Scientist Program is a mentoring and internship program that awards students a monthly stipend as well as provides hands-on training with the FBI. The program lasts for 3 months to 1 year, depending on your academic schedule. It can be renewed for 2 additional years.
The American Psychological Association (APA) sponsors several scholarships for doctoral students. The APA offers a search page as a resource for students to locate scholarships, grants and awards. This search includes scholarships that are open to students studying all specializations of psychology in addition to awards only given to students in forensic psychology doctoral programs.
Are there any notable people who have earned PhDs in forensic psychology?
While clinical psychologists have been consulting on civil and criminal cases for almost 150 years, the recognition of forensic psychology as a specialization within the field only occurred in the last decade. Until very recently, most forensic psychologists studied clinical or behavioral psychology in their doctoral programs.
Aldert Vrij, a pioneer in the forensic psychology field, focused his research on nonverbal and verbal cues to lie detection. This has led him to publish much of his work on the topic of effective police interviewing techniques. Vrij completed his PhD in 1991 at the Vrije Universiteit in Amsterdam. He now lives in England, where he is a professor of psychology and editor of The British Psychological Society journal of Legal and Criminological Psychology. He also consults frequently on court cases and works closely with police in interviewing suspects.
Ray Bull is a well-known forensic psychologist who is famous for his research on tactics used to interview suspects, witnesses and victims. He is also interested in witness memory and conducts research in the area, focusing on voice recognition. Bull earned his doctorate in 1995 and currently serves as director of post-graduate courses in forensic psychology at the University of Leicester.
Do you recommend any forensic psychology PhD student blogs that I should follow?
Pavlov’s Couch is a blog by an anonymous clinical psychology student in London. He chronicles his experiences with his coursework as well as offers psychology-related book and website reviews. His primary interests are in psychopathy and social psychology, topics often covered in his posts.
Shirley Feldman-Summers already holds a PhD in clinical psychology, but she runs a blog on her website focused on earning your degree, beginning your own forensic psychology practice and earning a forensic psychology certification. She also addresses many current issues in the field through her blog.
Karen Franklin is a forensic psychologist who records her thoughts on the field in her blog, In the News. Franklin holds a PhD in psychology and is well known in the fields of forensic psychology, criminology and psychology law. She is an adjunct professor at 1 of the best doctoral programs in forensic psychology offered in the U.S. and often discusses her teaching work in her blog.
Evil Deeds, a blog sponsored by Psychology Today, focuses on crime, hate, anger, destructive behavior and psychopathy from a practitioner’s perspective. The blog is written by Dr. Stephen Diamond, a clinical and forensic psychologist.
Another way to read about the experiences of fellow doctoral students in forensic psychology is by joining the Forensic Psych Students group on Yahoo. This group is fairly active and discusses all aspects of forensic psychology education including issues faced by students while attending the nation’s top forensic psychology doctorate programs.