Forensic psychologists are experts in psychology and the law, often working side-by-side with federal, state, and local law enforcement to investigate Maryland’s most dangerous criminals.
As a forensic psychologist, you will be prepared to offer investigative services to federal and state prisons, homeland security, mental health institutions, local police forces, state courts, and more.
For example, forensic psychologist Dr. Frank Sacco, who was interviewed by CNN on the issue of school shootings, has served as an FBI consultant in the Behavioral Science Unit on such topics as:
- School shooters
- Threat assessment
- Domestic violence
- Internet sexual exploitation of children
Along with this, he has served as a qualified expert in child and family mental health over 100 times in Massachusetts’ juvenile and federal courts.
His education and experience led him to write two books, Why School Anti-Bullying Programs Don’t Work and Clues Your Child is Bullied, And What To Do, which are shifting the way experts view bullying.
Steps to Becoming a Forensic Psychologist in Massachusetts
If you’re ready to begin your career as a forensic psychologist in Massachusetts, you’ll begin by becoming licensed as a psychologist through the Massachusetts Board of Registration of Psychologists.
To become a forensic psychologist in Massachusetts, follow these steps:
Step 1. Complete an Undergraduate Degree in Forensic Psychology
Forensic psychology degree programs blend coursework in psychology and criminal justice.
Through these programs, you will develop expertise in the evaluation and treatment of offenders, victimology, crisis intervention, psychopathology, research methods, judicial programs, and more.
You’ll start your education in forensic psychology by enrolling in a bachelor’s degree. Degrees include, but are not limited to:
- Bachelor of Science or Arts (BS/BA) in Forensic Psychology
- Bachelor of Science or Arts (BS/BA) in Psychology – Forensics
- Bachelor of Criminal Justice (BCJ) – Forensic Psychology
Along with general education courses, your degree program will consist of:
Criminal Justice Core
- Introduction to Criminal Justice
- Criminal Law
- Research Methods
- Quantitative Analysis
Forensic Psychology Core
- Crisis Intervention Strategies
- Psychology of Violence and Aggression
- Psychology of Sex Crimes
Forensic Psychology Electives
- Adult Forensic Assessment
- Consultation and Testimony
- Sex Offender Evaluation
Finally, you will complete an internship or field education requirement and a senior project.
Once you’ve graduated with your bachelor’s in forensic psychology, you will be prepared to apply to doctoral programs in the field.
Step 2. Complete a Doctorate Degree in Forensic Psychology
For your graduate studies, you will get to choose from among varying doctoral degree programs in forensic psychology, including:
- Law and Psychology JD/PhD
- PsyD in Clinical Psychology – Forensic Psychology
- PhD in Clinical Psychology – Forensic Psychology
- PhD in Forensic Psychology
- PsyD in Clinical Forensic Psychology
To enroll in programs like these, you will likely be expected to meet minimum admissions requirements.
Although each school is different, most doctoral programs in forensic psychology have admissions criteria such as:
- Hold a bachelor’s degree from an accredited university
- Hold a high grade point average
- Have strong letters of recommendation
- Have high graduate record examination scores
The Massachusetts Board requires that your doctoral program be accredited or approved by one of the following organizations:
- Commission on Accreditation (CoA) of the American Psychological Association (APA)
- Association of State and Provincial Psychology Boards
- National Register of Health Service Psychologists
For reference, Massachusetts is home to seven APA-accredited clinical psychology programs, in cities such as:
Finally, the Massachusetts Board requires that your doctoral program provide you with core courses in five substantive areas, including:
Biological Bases of Behavior
- Physiological psychology
- Comparative psychology
Cognitive Affective Bases of Behavior
Social Bases of Behavior
- Social psychology
- Group process
- Issues of cultural diversity
- Personality theory
- Human development
- Abnormal psychology
Racial/Ethnic Bases of Behavior
- Cross-cultural psychology
- Psychology and social oppression
- Racism and psychology
Once you complete your courses, internship hours, and dissertation requirements, you will be ready to complete your post-doctoral hours of supervised experience.
Step 3. Earn 1600 Hours of Supervised Experience
Once you’ve completed your education, you will be prepared to meet the professional experience requirements, which consists of 1600 clock hours of supervised experience within no less than 10 months.
Finally, you will want to strive to complete these hours in a forensic setting, such as:
- Department of Corrections
- Trauma Therapy Center
- Victim Therapy Center
- Police Departments
Along with this, you will want to complete your supervised experience hours at an APA-accredited institution. APA-accredited internship programs in Massachusetts include, but are not limited to:
- Carson Center for Adults and Families – Westfield
- Family Medical Center Devens – Ayer
- University of Massachusetts Center for Counseling and Psychological Health – Amherst
- Worcester State Hospital – Worcester
- Community Healthlink Youth and Family Services – Worcester
- Massachusetts Treatment Center in the Department of Correction Forensic Health Services – Bridgewater
Step 4. Submit Full Application for Examination and Licensure Packet
Once you’ve completed your education and supervised experience hours, you’ll be ready to submit your application packet.
When you submit this application packet, you will be applying to take the national and state licensing exams and to receive your Massachusetts psychology license.
To apply, submit the following documents and materials:
- Application Form
- Official Transcripts
- Academic Program Director Form
- Three Professional/Ethical Forms
- Internship Program Director Form
- Advanced Practicum Supervised Experience Form
- Post-Internship Supervisor Form
- Supervised Experience Form
- $150 Application Fee
Once you’ve compiled all of the necessary documents, you can mail them to the Board’s address:
The Commonwealth of Massachusetts
Division of Professional Licensure
Board of Registration of Psychologists
1000 Washington Street, Suite 710
Boston, MA 02118
Once the Board receives your application, you will be notified within 60 days of your eligibility sit for the national and state licensing examinations.
Step 5. Pass National and Massachusetts State Licensing Examinations
Once you are approved by the Board to take these examinations, you will receive by mail or email the registration forms and instructions for scheduling both the EPPP and your jurisprudence examination.
You will need to take both exams within three years of being approved by the Board. If you wait longer than three years to take the exams, you’ll have to go through the application process again.
Examination for Professional Practice in Psychology (EPPP)
Once you are approved to take the Examination for Professional Practice in Psychology, you will be able to:
- Register for the exam with the Association of State and Provincial Psychology Boards
- Schedule your test date and time with Pearson VUE
The exam will cover various aspects of your doctoral education, including:
Biological Bases of Behavior
- Drug classification
- Behavioral genetics
- Elements of cognition
- Research-based theories of intelligence
Social and Cultural Bases
- Social-contextual issues
- Impact of race/ethnicity
- Causes and manifestations of oppression
Pearson VUE exam centers are located in cities within and near Massachusetts, including:
- Waltham, MA
- Wellesley, MA
- Boston, MA
- Worcester, MA
- Warwick, RI
- Concord, NH
- Springfield, MA
- Wethersfield, CT
To pass this exam, you will receive a score higher than 500. When you receive your results, you can have your scores transferred immediately to the Massachusetts Board.
Massachusetts Jurisprudence Examination
After you pass the EPPP, you will be approved to take the Massachusetts Jurisprudence Examination.
The Psychology Jurisprudence Book includes the specific laws which the jurisprudence exam will cover, such as laws concerning:
- Protection of disabled persons
- Elder abuse
- Duty to provide records
- Registration and licensing of psychologists
- Mental health commitment
- Care and treatment of sexually dangerous persons
- Board of Registration of Psychologists regulations
Once you pass this examination, the Massachusetts Board will issue you your psychologist license.
Step 6. Become a Designated Forensic Professional (DFP)
In Massachusetts, if you want to work as a forensic professional in the public sphere, you must go through one last step: receiving your designated forensic professional (DFP) certification.
This certification is only necessary for psychologists who want to engage in public sector forensic work, which includes:
- Performing court-ordered forensic evaluations which require DFP status
- Performing or reviewing specialized risk assessments
- Supervising one or more DFP candidates as a supervisor
- Serving on the Forensic Service CQI committee
To receive this certification, you will need to already hold a psychology license from the Massachusetts Board.
With your license, you will then:
- Apply to the Massachusetts Department of Mental Health: Forensic Psychologist Licensing Board
- Undergo two years of training
- Pass a written examination covering Massachusetts forensic mental health statues, mental health case law, and standards of practice for performing forensic evaluations
- Submit mid-training and final reports
- Submit Verification of Completion of Training
Once you complete your training, the Committee will recommend to the Assistant Commissioner that you should be certified as a DFP, and you will be notified within 10 working days of the decision.
You will then be a Designated Forensic Professional with the Massachusetts Department of Mental Health.
If you stop performing public sector forensic work, you will be placed on inactive status.
Step 7. Begin a Forensic Psychology Career in Massachusetts
Once you’re a licensed forensic psychologist in Massachusetts, you’ll be able to apply for forensic psychology jobs, such as:
- Forensic Clinician
- Forensic Psychology Consultant
- Probation Counselor
- Victim Assault Therapist
- Forensic Psychological Evaluator
- Criminal Profiler
Organizations throughout Massachusetts that may hire forensic psychologists include, but are not limited to:
- Massachusetts Department of Mental Health
- Baintree Rehabilitation Hospital
- Child and Family Psychological Services, Inc.
- The Justice Resource Institute
- Massachusetts Department of Correction
- Massachusetts State Police
- Massachusetts Psychological Association
Step 8. Complete Continuing Education to Renew Your Massachusetts License
To continue assuring high standards of psychology services, the Board requires all licensees to earn on-going continuing education credits before they may renew.
Thus, to renew your license, you will earn a minimum of 20 continuing education hours during each two-year licensing cycle.
With your renewal form, you will submit verification of your continuing education credits along with a $270.00 renewal fee.
You can earn continuing education credits through attending conferences, taking courses, or attending workshops that are accredited by organizations such as the APA.
For courses, seminars, or workshops, you will document each hour of continuing education you earn, including information such as:
- Title of program
- Number of hours spent in program
- Name of the Board-recognized entity that sponsored the program
- Date of the program
APA-accredited sponsors of continuing education in Massachusetts include, but are not limited to:
- Adcare Educational Institute – Worcester
- American Academy of Clinical Neuropsychology – Boston
- Behavioral Health Network – Springfield
- Boston Graduate School of Psychoanalysis – Brookline
- Division on Addictions – Harvard Medical School in Medford
- Massachusetts Psychological Association – Wellesley
Along with this, you may also earn up to 10 hours of continuing education credit through publishing a book, a chapter of a book, or an article. If you’ve done this, you will document:
- Title of the book
- Date of publication
- Names of co-authors