Forensic Psychology Graduate Programs

There are two primary opportunities for training in forensic psychology at William James College.

Masters (MA) in Clinical Mental Health Counseling with an Area of Emphasis in Forensic and Correctional Counseling

The Masters in Clinical Mental Health Counseling at William James College is a two-year program full-time or three years part time and allows for students to choose a particular area of emphasis. The Forensic & Correctional Counseling area of emphasis provides a focus upon counseling work with persons in court, correctional, juvenile justice, forensic hospital units, community agencies, or other forensic settings. Classes and field placements reflect both the emphasis upon providing the students with counseling skills and their application within forensic settings or with forensic populations. The student may apply directly for admission to this Master's degree program.

PsyD in Clinical Psychology with a Concentration in Forensic Psychology

Students apply for admission to the doctoral program first and then may be eligible to apply for the Forensic Concentration. The PsyD degree ordinarily takes five years to complete depending upon whether the student enters as a first year student or an "advanced standing" student, how much coursework a student can complete given family or other responsibilities, and how long it takes to complete the final Doctoral Project.

Specialized forensic practice should be based in fundamentally sound clinical psychology practice. Therefore, students ordinarily complete the first two years of clinical training in the doctoral program and apply at the end of their second year to participate in the Forensic Concentration. Doctoral students in the Forensic Concentration graduate with the PsyD in Clinical Psychology but receive a Forensic Concentration certificate at graduation for successful completion of coursework, field placements and a Doctoral Project that have a forensic psychology focus.

  Masters Doctoral
Degree Conferred MA PsyD
Length of Program 2-3 years 5 years
Licensure LMHC or LPC
Forensic Counselor
Psychologist
Forensic Psychologist
Sample Courses

Mental Health and Counseling in the Legal System

Consultation, Collaboration and Testimony

Criminal Behavior

Sex Offender Evaluation and Treatment

Law and Mental Health

Forensic Psychology 1: Children and Families 

Forensic Psychology 2: Adults 

Police Psychology


Frequently asked questions about the Forensic Psychology graduate degree programs


What licensure is available once I've earned a forensic degree?

Graduates of the Master's in Clinical Mental Health Counseling will receive a Master of Arts (MA) degree. Providing that the student completes all other requirements for licensure, this MA degree allows the graduate to apply for licensure as a Licensed Mental Health Counselor (LMHC) in Massachusetts. This license permits a professional to provide professional counseling and assessment services within the scope of practice defined by the regulations for Licensed Mental Health Counselors in Massachusetts. State laws about licensure and scope of practice vary by state, so applicants who do not intend to remain in Massachusetts following graduation should check the licensing requirements in the state where they intend to practice. Typically, licensure as a Master's level counselor permits a person to provide counseling services, assessment services within the scope of each state's licensure provisions (some assessment tools require a doctoral degree for independent administration and interpretation), and other professional services.

Potential applicants to other Master's level programs in other institutions should inquire as to whether or not completion of that program provides a degree that makes a graduate eligible for licensure in the jurisdiction where they intend to practice.

Graduates of the Doctoral Program in Clinical Psychology will receive a Doctor of Psychology (PsyD) degree. Providing that the student completes any other requirements for licensure, this allows the graduate to apply for licensure as a Psychologist in Massachusetts. This license permits a professional to provide psychological services within the scope of practice defined by the license, including using psychological tests and assessment instruments for which a professional must be licensed as a Psychologist in Massachusetts.

Learn more about the differences between a PsyD and a PhD program.

State laws about licensure as a Psychologist and scope of practice vary by state, so applicants who do not intend to remain in Massachusetts following graduation should check the licensing requirements in the state where they intend to practice. For application information, course information and program requirements please see the Master's program in Clinical Mental Health Counseling or the Forensic Concentration within the Clinical PsyD program.


What are the job prospects for forensic counselors and forensic psychologists in Massachusetts?

There are many highly trained licensed mental health professionals in Massachusetts. As a result, courts and attorneys tend to appoint or retain doctoral level psychologists or psychiatrists for criminal cases and for high-profile or high-stakes civil cases. That being said, the range of potential practice for Master's level licensed clinicians is broad and can include providing clinical services in adult correctional or juvenile justice settings, providing psychoeducational services and some forensic assessment services in adult and juvenile court clinics, serving within state agencies, accepting appointments as Guardian ad Litem or Court Investigators, or providing clinical services within state hospital, community hospital, residential treatment programs, or community-based outpatient providers.

Some professional services require licensure as a Psychologist or as a physician. For example, only doctoral level psychologists or physicians (e.g., psychiatrists) can provide some kinds of court-ordered evaluations such as Competence to Stand Trial, Criminal Responsibility, or Aid in Disposition evaluations conducted while a defendant is on a forensic commitment status. Only licensed psychologists can provide some kinds of clinical and forensic assessments when using psychological tests and assessment tools that are restricted to use only by licensed psychologists.

Persons with the Master's degree may also serve in administrative positions that do not require that they directly provide professional clinical services that would be beyond their scope of licensure. For example, persons with the Master's Degree may hold administrative positions in provider organizations that employ psychologists, psychiatrists or others who provide services that would not be within the scope of practice of a Licensed Mental Health Counselor. Persons with the Master's degree may also teach, conduct research, author professional papers or provide other professional services that do not involve providing clinical services outside of the scope of their licensure.

Both Master's level and Doctoral level persons can engage in private practice or other clinical or forensic services as long as those services are within the scope of practice for their specific license.


Can students in other William James College programs take forensic classes?

Yes! Students in the Clinical Mental Health Counseling (CMHC) Master's program and in the Clinical PsyD program can take classes with forensic content as elective courses. For example, CMHC Master's students who are not in the Forensic and Correctional area of emphasis can enroll in Law and Mental Health, Criminal Behavior, Sex Offender Evaluation and Treatment, Trauma Theory and Treatment, or other forensic classes. In fact, students who are not admitted to any of the graduate programs ("non-matriculated" students) at William James College can apply to take specific courses with forensic content.


Can I apply to the PsyD program after earning a Master's or will I be repeating coursework in forensics?

Successful graduates of the Master's program in Clinical Mental Health Counseling at William James College are eligible to apply to the Clinical PsyD program as "advanced standing" doctoral students. This means that you will enter as a second year doctoral student instead of a first year doctoral student. Additionally, if you remain interested in pursuing the Forensic Concentration as a doctoral student, the content of the doctoral courses required by the Forensic Concentration is taught at a doctoral level and presumes that you have greater clinical experience and exposure to ethics and law relevant to professional psychological practice, that is different in scope than counseling practice at the Master's level. Most Forensic Concentration doctoral students are also doing their placements in forensic settings (e.g., court clinics, state hospitals with forensic units or forensically committed patients, juvenile justice settings, correctional settings) while they are taking the courses required for Concentration and the course content seeks to draw upon their field placement experiences.

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