What is it like in graduate school for forensic psychology?

Law libraryAfter undergrad, you’ll need at least 5 more years of school to become a forensic psychologist. You probably knew that, but let me tell you what is it like in graduate school for forensic psychology.

Your experiences in school as a teenager or young adult do not capture what it is like in graduate school for forensic psychology.

For one, during graduate school for forensic psychology (or any other subspecialty), you will only be taking about four classes per semester. It is expected that you’ll earn B’s and above in those classes. If not, you may find yourself on academic probation. C’s are not acceptable in graduate school.

Scantron tests are rare. The knowledge will typically be tested through writing lengthy papers and by completing practical tasks, such as successfully administering an IQ test upon a fellow classmate under the scrutiny of an observer. Presentations also comprise a large component of the way you will be assessed during graduate school for forensic psychology or any subspecialty in psychology.

Essentially, during undergraduate, you are a research consumer. During graduate school for forensic psychology, you are both a research consumer and producer. The amount of research you will be consuming is voluminous. The amount of reading you will be assigned to do will seem impossible. However, before you know it, you will be quickly digesting this research. Unlike an undergraduate, you’ll be expected to critique this research too.

In addition to the above, a great deal of your time in graduate school will be spent teaching undergraduate psychology courses, assisting professors with their research and providing therapy and assessment services in the graduate program’s psychology clinic.

Graduate school is hands on and good programs will offer this on-the-job training experience in addition to classroom-based work.

For example, during a five-year program, your fourth year will primarily be spent working at an outside externship providing psychology services, perhaps at a local community mental-health center. During externship, you’ll be working on your dissertation as opposed to taking many classes.

During your fifth year, most students will be matched with an internship site anywhere in the nation. While the student is on internship, he or she will be expected to be completing their dissertation.

Therefore, in that sense, the doctorate in psychology really only involves three years of in-the-classroom work. There are fewer classes to be taken per semester than undergrad, and your time will be split with on-the-job training.

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