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In need of career/education guidance (forensic psych)


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Hello! I’m hoping I can get some guidance/advice on what direction I should head in next.

I recently graduated in December 2021 with my B.A. in forensic psychology. I was originally under the impression that I absolutely needed a doctorate in order to do what I want to do. I do know that in order to be a legitimate forensic psychologist, this absolutely is the case (I am based in the U.S.). However, I have no idea if there is another potential route.

I thought maybe I would pursue a LMHC or LSW, but I have no interest in counseling/therapy/treatment. My main interest is analysis (e.g., evaluation and assessment, diagnosis). Within the intersection of psychology and law, this would be responsibilities such as record review, interviewing, collateral contacts, and neuropsychological/psychological testing.

Is this something that could be accomplished with only a M.A./M.S.? If so, what would the process be? What additional certification would I need? After applying to only one doctor of psychology program, I have realized how woefully unprepared I was. I’ve not had much guidance (if any) throughout this entire process/the entirety of my B.A. program. My academic advisor and the career center at my school were pretty useless when it came to informing me of what I should have been doing during my program (e.g., research, internship, finding a mentor, etc). Now I feel really overwhelmed with the sheer amount of information I’ve been ingesting by researching everything by myself. It almost feels like I’m starting all over even though I’ve already obtained my undergraduate degree. 

I would love to obtain a PsyD or PhD. However, if it isn’t a mandatory requirement to do what I want to do, then I definitely want to explore my other options first (if there are any). Any information or advice anyone can provide will be so immensely appreciated. This obviously isn’t completely specific to forensic psychology, so I’d love feedback from really anyone who can offer some. Thank you if you’ve read this far! 


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I think in order for us to be more helpful, we have to understand what you want to do with the degree. Even if it's at the ideal level - what kind of work environment do you see yourself in, doing what kind of work and with what kind of population.

At the broad level, to work in forensic psychology you need the basic clinical psychology credentials and then specialize in forensic. There is also professional boarding you can do in forensic after a clinical doctorate, and there is a similar professional boarding path in neuropsychology. Both of these are prestigious and can open many doors in forensic work, but you must keep in mind that both require a lot of time and resource investment to get to that level. 

A master's level license doesn't seem really compatible with what you want to do. For the most part, you will need a doctoral level degree.

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What might be helpful, if you can do it, is to go to work as an RA or Lab Manager in a lab that does the kind of work that interests you.  This would give you the experience you are currently missing for a future Masters or Phd/PsyD application, and allow you to explore what the options are specific to your field. You could network with clinicians and researchers and see what they have degree-wise, and get their input on where the field is going. Best way to find out what it takes is to get inside :)


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