Forensic psychology involves applying psychological research and knowledge to the criminal justice system. During their training, forensic psychologists learn how to apply psychological principles to legal cases, translating that information into language the court can understand and allowing them to serve as expert witnesses.
Steps to Becoming a Forensic Psychologist in Alaska
To work as a forensic psychologist in Alaska, you must be licensed as a clinical psychologist through the Alaska Board of Psychologists and Psychological Associate Examiners. Becoming licensed would require you to successfully complete the following steps:
Step 1. Meet the Education Requirements for Licensure
Becoming licensed as a clinical psychologist in Alaska requires earning a doctoral degree in clinical psychology or psychology counseling from a regionally accredited institution. However, early stages of the licensing process require only a master’s degree (see Step 2).
Earning an undergraduate in preparation for graduate studies, and eventually post-doctorate clinical experience, all starts with a bachelor’s degree in psychology. Many online schools now also offer bachelor’s degree with a major in forensic psychology. Common programs available include:
- Bachelor’s Degree (BA/BS) in Forensic Psychology
- Bachelor’s Degree (BA/BS) in Psychology with a concentration in Forensics
- Bachelor’s Degree (BA/BS) in Criminal Psychology
After completing your undergraduate studies, you have the option to pursue either a terminal master’s degree in preparation for your doctoral studies, or a combined doctoral program that includes all master’s-level coursework.
If you choose to pursue a terminal master’s degree first, your options would include such programs as:
- Master’s Degree (MA/MS) in Forensic Psychology
- Master’s Degree (MA/MS) in Psychology with a concentration in Forensics
- Master’s Degree (MA/MS) in Criminal Justice with a concentration in Forensic Psychology
There is currently only one APA-accredited doctorate program in clinical psychology available in Alaska at a university campus located in Fairbanks.
Doctoral coursework will include the history and methodology of psychology, study of the foundations in psychology, lab work, and an internship. Examples of other areas of study include psychopharmacology (medications), the psychological aspects of crime, criminal profiling, health psychology, and social cognition.
Specialized programs in psychology and law have become an attractive option for those who plan to pursue careers as forensic psychologists. Advanced coursework in this area may include:
- Psychological assessment
- Correctional psychology
- Forensic assessment
- Forensic psychology
- Practicum in psychology
- Seminar in psychology and law
A few of the doctoral programs with a focus on clinical forensic psychology include:
- D. in Forensic Psychology
- D. in Forensic Psychology
- D. with a concentration in Forensic Psychology
- D. in Forensic Psychology/J.D.
- Joint J.D./Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology and Law
- D. in Clinical Psychology with a concentration in Forensic Psychology
- D./Ph.D. or Ph.D. with a concentration in Forensic Psychology
A forensic psychology doctoral degree often includes coursework such as:
- Psychology in the Courts
- Experimental Psychology and Law
- Treatment of Forensic Populations
- Forensic Assessment
- Adolescents in the Legal System
- Advanced Psychopathology
- Quantitative Reasoning and Analysis
- Jury Management
- Assessment in Forensic Psychology Settings
Step 2. Apply for a Psychological Associate License in Alaska
The second step to becoming a clinical psychologist in Alaska is to apply for a license as a psychological associate. This must be done after earning a master’s degree, but does not require a doctoral degree. This license provides the applicant with the ability to practice under another psychologist’s supervision.
The Alaska Board of Psychologist and Psychological Associate Examiners provides these psychological Associate licenses. The board consists of three licensed psychologists, a licensed psychological associate, and one person who has no direct financial interest in the health care industry.
Applying for a Psychological Associate license is a multi-stage process. Candidates must first submit a notarized application and plan for post-master supervision. Once the Board approves the application and the plan, the applicant is scheduled for the required examinations:
- The National Examination for Professional Practice in Psychology (EPPP)
- The State Law and Ethics Examination (see information below)
Once these exams have been passed, the board issues a temporary license that allows prospective applicants to begin their two years of post-master supervision period. Only then can the full Psychological Associate license be sought.
The board will issue a psychological associate license to a person who:
- Has a master’s degree in clinical psychology that meets the criteria established by the board (the degree must include equivalent of at least 48 semester credit hours of course work directly related to clinical psychology, and the degree must have included a practicum)
- Has two years of post-master’s supervised experience approved by the board
- Passes the board’s examinations for psychological associates
In total, an applicant for a Psychological Associate license must provide:
- A notarized application
- A nonrefundable application fee, a temporary license fee, and a state examination fee (another licensing fee will follow after successfully completing the requirements)
- Official transcripts sent directly from all undergraduate and graduate schools
- An authorization for release of records
- A Master Education Course Work Check Sheet
- A Supervised Practice Plan
- A reference letter from an immediate supervisor if he or she is a licensed psychologist, or two reference letters from licensed psychologists who hold doctoral degrees (form enclosed)
- A complete vita from the date of high school graduation to the time of application, including dates and places of residency
- Upon completion of the two-year supervision, the Statement of Supervised Experience must be submitted
- A proof of practicum
Step 3. Pass the Examination for Professional Practice in Psychology (EPPP)
Prospective clinical psychologists in Alaska must pass both the National Examination for Professional Practice in Psychology (EPPP), and the State Law and Ethics Examination.
The EPPP is a computerized exam administered via a machine in Anchorage, although applicants may take the test at any Prometric Test Center within the United States, US territories, or Canada. The test may be taken up to twice a year, and includes multiple choice questions that are a combination of pre-test items and scored questions.
The State Law and Ethics Examination is a written test administered separately from the EPPP. This test is administered in Juneau, Fairbanks, and Anchorage. The test may be taken up to four times per year. Schedules for the examination can be found at the board’s website.
Step 4. Gain Supervised Professional Experience
After completing a doctoral program and satisfying exam requirements, the Alaska Board of Psychologist and Psychological Associate Examiners requires that Clinical Psychologist license applicants complete at least one year of post-doctoral supervised experience approved by the board, or a total of 1500 hours.
Each week of this experience must include at least one hour of direct supervised experience dealing with a patient or client. A psychologist licensed in the state of Alaska must provide this supervision.
Step 5. Apply for a Clinical Psychologist License in Alaska
The Alaska Board of Psychologist and Psychological Associate Examiners will issue a psychologist license to a person who has earned a doctorate degree, has not engaged in dishonorable conduct, has one year of post-doctoral supervised experience approved by the board, and has completed the National Examination for Professional Practice in Psychology (EPPP) and the State Law and Ethics Examination.
In Alaska, clinical psychologists may apply for:
- Licensure by Credentials
- Licensure by Examination
- A psychologist Courtesy License
Courtesy licenses are only approved for thirty days with one 12-month period, and may only be granted once in a person’s lifetime.
Licensure by examination described herein is the standard route for new applicants. Applications may be downloaded from the board’s website here.
Licensure by Credentials:
This licensure requires that the applicant already be licensed or certified as a psychologist by another state. In addition, the individual must:
- Submit an application
- Submit proof of continued competence
- Submit a credential review fee
- Hold a doctoral degree with a primary emphasis in psychology
- Pass the National Examination for Professional Practice in Psychology, and the State Law and Ethics Examination (explained above)
- Have one year of post-doctoral supervised experience approved by the Board
- Be a diplomate in good standing of the American Board of Professional Psychology
Licensure by Examination:
To apply for a psychology license by examination, applicants must submit:
- Notarized application
- Fees (subject to change)
- Authorization for Release of records
- Supervised Practice Plan
- Official transcripts sent directly from all undergraduate and graduate schools attended
- Doctoral Course Work Check Sheet
- Five reference letters, one of which must be from the applicant’s doctoral committee membership; two from licensed psychologists, members of the American Psychological Association, or diplomates of the American Board of Professional Psychology; and two from other persons who are unrelated to the applicant
- A complete vita from the date of high school graduation to the time of application, including dates and places lived
- A Statement of Supervised Psychological Experience
- If the applicant has ever held a license to practice psychology in another jurisdiction, report of license status must also be submitted
- Proof of an APP-accredited internship or one that is in accordance with state statues
Further information can be found within the board’s licensing application website.
Step 6. Maintain your License
Psychologists in Alaska must renew their licenses every two years, and continuing education is a key component of the renewal process. This helps ensure that psychologists keep their skills and knowledge as up-to-date as possible.
Psychologists renewing their license must earn 40 or 20 hours of continuing education for each year of the licensing period, depending on their license number. These hours of continuing education may include the following activities:
- Non-academic continuing education provided by the APA or other mental and behavioral health professional associations.
- Academic credit earned at a university of college. One quarter-hour of credit is equal to ten hours of continuing education, and one semester-hour of credit is equal to 15 hours.
Continuing education hours may also be satisfied by activities such as individual study, ethics training, acting as a discussion leader or instructor, or publishing and/or presenting papers.
To renew a license, applicants must mail a signed and dated application form that includes a professional fitness questionnaire, the payment of a licensing renewal fee, and documentation for the continuing education hours.
Continuing education opportunities for forensic psychologists in Alaska may be found through a variety of state and national professional associations and organizations. These include:
- Alaska Psychological Association
- American Board for Forensic Psychology
- International Association for Correctional and Forensic Psychology
- American College of Forensic Psychology
- American Academy of Forensic Sciences