On May 1, 2010, an SUV laden with explosive devices was driven into Times Square. Although the detonation—and the subsequent bomb—failed, criminal investigators began putting together the pieces of the puzzle to find the person responsible for this failed bombing attempt at one of the busiest and most conspicuous areas of New York City.
It wasn’t long before police detectives called in forensic psychologists to determine the assailant’s methods, mind-set, and possible motives. Just two days later, Pakistani-born naturalized American citizen Faisal Shahzad was arrested as he attempted to board an Emirates flight to Dubai.
This high-profile case is just one of many that involved New York’s forensic psychologists working alongside detectives and crime analysts to help solve crimes by narrowing down the pool of possible suspects.
How to Become a Forensic Psychologist in New York
To become a forensic psychologist in New York, you must achieve state licensure through the State Education Department, Office of the Professions (NYSED). To earn a state license to practice as a clinical psychologist in New York, you must complete the following steps:
Step 1. Complete a Bachelor’s Degree in Forensic Psychology
For most students, the easiest path to state licensure as a clinical psychologist in New York begins with the completion of a bachelor’s degree in general psychology. A number of schools also offer bachelor’s degrees in forensic psychology.
Undergraduate degrees in psychology may be structured as Bachelor of Arts (BA) or Bachelor of Science (BS) programs, both of which offer an excellent foundation in clinical psychology.
Core courses in a bachelor’s degree in psychology or forensic psychology often include:
- Cognitive psychology
- Developmental psychology
- Abnormal psychology
- Research methods in psychology
- Psychology and the law
- Principles and methods of statistics
Fieldwork in forensic psychology or a supervised research experience in psychology is an excellent way to round out a comprehensive bachelor’s program.
Step 2. Complete a Master’s and Doctoral Degree in Clinical Psychology/Forensic Psychology
Upon successfully completing a bachelor’s degree in psychology or forensic psychology, you must focus your education on completing a doctoral degree.
You may first complete a master’s degree in clinical psychology or forensic psychology; however, many of today’s doctoral programs encompass the necessary master’s degree coursework, thus eliminating the need to complete a master’s degree before beginning your doctoral studies.
These highly competitive programs often require candidates to possess outstanding undergraduate credentials, such as a high GPA and GRE scores and a well-rounded resume. Many institutions also require candidates to submit personal essays and sit for an interview to achieve admission into the doctoral program.
The NYSED requires that the doctoral program consists of at least three years of full-time study, including seminars, tutorials, and other graduate-level coursework. The program must also include:
- Coursework in scientific and professional ethics and standards of practice, and issues of cultural and ethnic diversity;
- At least three semester hours or five graduate quarter hours in each of the following content areas:
- Biological basis of behavior
- Cognitive-affective basis of behavior
- Social basis of behavior
- Individual difference
- History and systems of psychology
- Research design, methodology, and statistics
Psychology doctoral degrees are available as both Ph.D. and Psy.D. programs; however, because Ph.D. programs are generally designed for those who wish to pursue research and scientific inquiry, Psy.D. programs are often better suited to clinical practice.
Your Psy.D. program may be designed as a:
- D. in Clinical Psychology
- D. in Clinical Psychology with a concentration in Forensic Psychology
Most programs include about 120 credits and require the completion of an empirical dissertation project. Clinical experience is often attained through community field placement.
Many doctoral degrees in forensic psychology available through schools in New York also allow you to choose an area of concentration, which may include:
- Divorce mediation
- Child maltreatment
- Juvenile/family court
- Sexual violence assessment and treatment
Joint JD/PhD Programs
Because of the relationship between forensic psychology and the judicial process, you may also choose to pursue a joint law and psychology (JD/PhD) program. These programs can take up to 7 years to complete, and graduates are eligible to sit for the bar upon graduation.
Step 3. Complete a Supervised Practicum, Field Experience, Internship, or Applied Research Project
Upon completing your doctoral program in forensic psychology, you must complete a practicum, field experience, internship, or applied research project that is two years in length, with one year defined as 1,750 clock hours.
The NYSED recognizes a university-approved experience (provided it is not part of your dissertation or thesis requirement) as meeting the requirement for one year, provided it integrates psychological knowledge and application. In other words, one year of approved experience may occur while in your doctoral program.
Some of the APA-approved internship institutions in New York include:
- AHRC New York City/Family and Clinical Services – New York City
- Bronx VA Medical Center/Psychology Program – Bronx
- Green Chimneys Children’s Services/Clinical Services – Brewster
- Long Island Jewish Medical Center/Psychological Services – Glen Oaks
- Mount Sinai Hospital/Adolescent Health Center – New York City
Step 4. Apply for a Clinical Psychologist License in New York
Once you have completed all requirements for licensure, you must submit an application for licensure, which includes submitting the following documents to the NYSED:
- Licensure fee of $294
- An application for licensure (Form 1)
- Form 2 (must be submitted by your university)
- Form 4 (verifies your 1,750 hours of experience to be eligible for examination; must be submitted by your supervisor and approved by the Department)
Step 5. Pass the Examination for Professional Practice in Psychology (EPPP)
After you have applied for licensure, you must take and pass the Examination for Professional Practice in Psychology (EPPP) with a score of at least 75. You cannot take the examination until you have submitted your application documents.
After the NYSED has determined your eligibility, they will send you a notice of eligibility to the Professional Examination Service (PES), the company that administers the EPPP. You can learn more about the EPPP here.
Step 6. Begin a Forensic Psychology Career in New York
Your New York license as a clinical psychologist and a doctoral degree in forensic psychology will prepare you to work throughout New York in any number or locations, such as:
- Rehabilitation centers
- Mental health centers
- Court systems (criminal, civil and family courts)
- Federal and local law enforcement agencies
- Government agencies
- Private practice
- Universities and colleges
Just a few of the forensic psychologist practices throughout New York include:
- Forensic Psychology Group, New York City
- The New York Center for Neuropsychology and Forensic Behavioral Science, Brooklyn Heights, New York, Great Neck
- Center for Forensic and Clinical Psychology, New York City
- The Institute for Forensic Psychology, New York City
Resources for New York Forensic Psychologists
- New York State Psychological Association
- American Psychological Association
- Eastern Psychological Association
- Westchester County Psychological Association
- Hudson Valley Psychological Association
- New York Association of Black Psychologists
- Suffolk County Psychological Association
Forensic Psychologist Salary Information for New York
The New York State Department of Labor (DOL) reported that the number of forensic psychologists in the state is expected to increase by 6.2% between 2012 and 2022. Job growth is expected to be even higher in these regions:
- Hudson Valley 4%
- Capital Region 5%
- New York City 4%
Many of New York’s forensic pathologists work with the state’s Department of Corrections. As of 2015, more than 9,000 of New York’s prison inmates received services from the Office of Mental Health according to spokesman Ben Rosen.
The state is revamping its provision of mental health care to inmates being released after Daniel St. Hubert stabbed two children in Brooklyn nine days after being released from state prison without mental health counseling or medication for his mental illness.
The Office of Mental Health now provides psychiatric help to discharged inmates who have been deemed seriously mentally ill:
- Psychiatric medication (two-week supply and prescription for refill)
- A case manager
- A grant to cover the cost of medication while their application for Medicaid is pending
With the help of forensic psychologists, this program is expected to both improve the mental health of these individuals and help to reduce the likelihood that they will commit crimes after their release.
Salaries for New York’s Forensic Psychologists
The New York State Department of Civil Service offered a starting salary of $57,703 to forensic psychologists in 2015. After their initial service, those in the position of associate psychologist – forensic mental health earned $85,635 a year. Forensic psychologists who served in the downstate or mid-Hudson areas also received supplemental pay:
The New York State Department of Labor reported that the median salary for forensic psychologists in the state was $82,870 in 2015. Experienced professionals earned an average of $102,330, while those starting out averaged $54,280. Forensic psychology salaries varied greatly throughout the state in 2015:
Forensic Psychologist Salaries in New York’s Metropolitan and Rural Areas
Shown below for comparative purposes are salary statistics for forensic psychologists throughout New York as reported by the US Bureau of Labor Statistics in 2014: