Forensic psychology bridges social scientific principles with various stages of the U.S. justice system. Courts rely on forensic psychologists to determine a defendant’s competence to stand trial, analyze criminal trends, rehabilitate inmates, and more.
Forensic psychologists maintain high ethical and scientific standards while working alongside detectives, prison officials, and trial attorneys, among other professionals. As such, your path to working towards a career in forensic psychology in Minnesota will require extensive education and supervised employment.
A prominent forensic psychologist currently practicing in Minnesota is Katheryn Cranbrook, who practices both independently and with the Minnesota State Court. Cranbrook, who examined an autistic teenager in a recent murder-plot trial, graduated with a degree in clinical psychology from the Massachusetts School of Professional Psychology in 1997.
Steps to Becoming a Forensic Psychologist in Minnesota
The Minnesota Board of Psychology is responsible for licensing all psychologists in the state. To become a licensed forensic psychologist in Minnesota, you must undergo the following process:
Step 1. Complete your Course of Study Leading to a Doctoral Degree in Psychology
To become a forensic psychologist, you must hold a doctorate-level degree. But, to obtain admission to doctorate programs, you must first complete a bachelor’s degree program in psychology. There are several schools in Minnesota that offer undergraduate degrees specifically focused on forensic psychology.
Options available through colleges in Minnesota include:
- Bachelor of Arts (BA) in Forensic Studies
- Bachelor of Arts (BA) in Forensic Psychology
- Bachelor of Arts (BA) in Applied Psychology — Forensic Psychology
- Bachelor of Science (BS) in Investigative Forensics
- Bachelor of Science (BS) in Forensic Psychology
- Bachelor of Science (BS) in Criminal Justice — Forensic Psychology
Undergraduate programs will provide you with base-level knowledge in several areas of psychology including:
- Social Psychology
- Abnormal Psychology
As you progress further into these programs, you will have the option to take more forensic psychology-specific courses on topics such as:
- Cultural psychology
- Psychological disorders
- Psychological inquiry
- Sociological impacts on criminality
Step 2. Complete Graduate and Post-Graduate Study
Completion of your bachelor’s degree program will allow you to begin seeking admission at some doctoral-level programs. Many schools offering forensic psychology programs provide both master’s- and doctoral-level coursework, allowing you to complete both levels of education at the same college or university. However, some schools require you to obtain a master’s degree before applying to their programs.
Examples of master’s degrees related to forensic psychology include:
- Master of Arts (MA) in Forensic Psychology
- Master of Arts (MA) in Forensic Mental Health Counseling
- Master of Science (MS) in Forensic Psychology
- Master of Science (MS) in Criminal and Investigative Psychology
Admission to doctoral programs in psychology is highly competitive. After you have submitted your application, schools will review, among other factors:
- Your educational background in math, psychology, and sciences
- Your undergraduate GPA
- Your letters of recommendation
- Your application essay and your general career goals
- Your past research experience
- Your writing, including prior thesis work or past publications
- Your GRE and GPA scores
Doctoral programs offer courses that are taught by practicing psychologists with strong educational and professional credentials. Examples of course titles you may choose from could include:
- Forensic Assessment in Civil Court
- Theories of Criminal Behavior
- Criminal Behavior
- Performance-Based Assessment of Personalities
- Ethical Issues and Professional Responsibilities in Forensic Psychology
- Psychology and the Legal System
- Personality, Theory and Research
- Psychology in the Courts
- Assessment in Forensic Psychology Settings
- Children and Adolescents in the Legal System
- Evaluation and Treatment of Offenders
The Minnesota Board of Psychology requires that you obtain the equivalent of three graduate quarter credits in each of the following areas:
- Social bases of behavior
- Theories of measurement
- Scientific methods
- Cognitive-affective bases of behavior
- Biological bases of behavior
In addition to your coursework, you must also complete an approved internship of 2,000 hours under a licensed or license-eligible psychologist. You must complete at least 20 hours of work per week and the internship must be completed within 24 total months. Additionally, you must meet face-to-face with your supervisor for one to two hours per week, depending on your total weekly hours.
The American Psychological Association (APA) approves the following internships in Minnesota:
- Canvas Health, Psychological Services
- Hennepin County Medical Center, Department of Psychiatry
- University of Minnesota Medical School, Department of Pediatrics
- Hazelden Betty Ford Foundation
- University of Minnesota, Student Counseling Services
- Children’s Hospitals and Clinics of Minnesota, Psychological Services
- University of St. Thomas, Counseling and Psychological Services
- Federal Medical Center
- Minneapolis VA Health Care System, Mental Health Service Line
Doctoral degrees related to forensic psychology vary from school to school. Examples of degrees you may obtain include, but are not limited to:
- D. in Forensic Psychology
- D. with a concentration in Forensic Psychology
- D. in Clinical Psychology with a concentration in Forensic Psychology
- D. in Forensic Psychology
- D./Ph.D. or Ph.D. with a concentration in Forensic Psychology
- Law and Psychology J.D./Ph.D. program
Step 3. Complete an Internship and Post-Doctoral Supervised Employment
Once you have completed your doctoral degree program, you must complete one year of postdoctoral employment under the supervision of a fully licensed and practicing psychologist in Minnesota. Your work must involve psychological principles and must include documented hours working in the following areas:
- Report writing
- Staff meetings
- Patient care conferences
- Training sessions
- Direct client contact
Step 4. Pass the PRE and EPPP Exams
To become a Licensed Psychologist (LP) in Minnesota you must pass both the Examination for the Professional Practice in Psychology (EPPP) and the Professional Responsibility Examination (PRE) given by the Minnesota Board of Psychology.
The EPPP exam is given by the Association of State and Provincial Psychology Boards. The exam consists of 225 items, 175 of which are scored. According to the EPPP website, exams may vary in difficulty, but scores are adjusted based on the number of difficult questions.
To take the EPPP exam in Minnesota, you complete a form found on the Minnesota Board of Psychology website and submit a $150 fee. Once you have been approved to take the EPPP, uou may take practice exams offered by the EPPP website.
Minnesota requires psychologists to complete a Professional Responsibility Examination (PRE) to receive full licensure. The PRE will test you on your understanding of the Statutes and Rules of the Board of Psychology, as well as psychology practice regulations. The material you will be tested on can be found in the Minnesota Board of Psychology Psychology Practice Act Booklet. You must score a minimum of 70% on the 60-question exam to pass the test.
Step 5. Finalize your License with the Minnesota Board of Psychology
After you have passed your exams, you must submit an application for full licensure to the Minnesota Board of Psychology. You must have your application notarized and include a $500 fee with your submission. You are also encouraged to contact your past supervisors, as the board will contact them asking them for information.
Step 6. Begin your Career as a Forensic Psychologist in Minnesota
Once you have obtained your license to practice psychology, you may begin your career in forensic psychology. Forensic psychologists work in Minnesota’s courts, correctional facilities, state police departments, prisons, and more.
Here are just some of the careers you may choose to pursue as a forensic psychologist in Minnesota:
- Forensic psychologist
- Forensic clinician
- Research specialist
- Assessment psychologist
- Consulting forensic examiner
- Substance abuse counselor
Gary L. Fischler & Associates, PA, based in Minneapolis, is an example of a psychology practice offering forensic psychology services. The practice is home to several experienced forensic psychologists who offer services such as expert witness testimony to attorneys, human resources departments, law enforcement departments, and more.
Step 7. Maintain your Minnesota Psychologist License
Psychology licenses in Minnesota are valid for two years from the date they are issued. You will have until the last day of the month to renew your license once your two-year period has passed.
Forensic Psychologist Salary Information for Minnesota
The US Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that the Minneapolis-St. Paul-Bloomington area had the sixth highest number of forensic psychologists of any metropolitan area in the country in 2014. In addition, the Mankato-North Mankato area had the third highest concentration of these types of jobs in the country.
The numbers of highly paid forensic psychologist positions in Minnesota is expected to grow by 6.3% between 2012 and 2022 according to the state’s Department of Employment and Economic Development. This agency projects job growth to be even higher in certain regions of Minnesota:
- Southeast Minnesota: 1%
- Northwest Minnesota: 2%
- Seven County Minneapolis-St. Paul: 7%
- Central Minnesota: 7%
In addition to their work serving as expert witnesses in custody cases, consulting with law enforcement, and advising employers on the risks of hiring individuals with personality disorders, many forensic psychologists in Minnesota work with mentally ill inmates.
The Security Hospital at St. Peter is home to seriously mentally ill patients including sex offenders, but the facility only has 400 beds. With a limited number of beds for the mentally ill in Minnesota, many of these individuals end up in jail.
In 2014, Sheriff Rich Stanek told MinnPost.com that between 25% and 30% of the inmates in the Hennepin County jail suffer from diagnosed and undiagnosed mental illness, and the situation is comparable in jails throughout Minnesota.
A 2015 Legislative Report from the Minnesota Department of Human Services (DHS) described efforts to address this problem. The State Legislature directed the DHS to convene a working group in partnership with the National Alliance on Mental Illness of Minnesota to address issues relating to mentally ill individuals that come in contact with the justice system. This should result in closer contact with forensic psychologists and better treatment options for the mentally ill.
Salaries for Forensic Psychologists Throughout Minnesota
A level 3 psychologist for the Minnesota Human Services Department specializing in forensic evaluations earned between $57,629 and $85,712 in 2015. According to the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development, the median salary for a forensic psychologist in Minnesota was $70,658 in 2015.
The median salary for these professionals varied greatly throughout the state that year:
- Minneapolis-St. Paul: $73,445
- Rochester: $72,842
- Saint Cloud: $72,322
- Duluth-Superior: $69,930
- Southeast balance of state: $69,763
- Grand Forks: $59,363
- La Crosse: $59,301
- Mankato-North Mankato: $56,805
- Northwest balance of state: $56,264
- Northeast balance of state: $51,605
- Fargo-Moorhead: $39,104
Shown below for comparison is data from the US Bureau of Labor Statistics on the salaries of forensic psychologists throughout Minnesota as of 2014: