How to Become a Forensic Psychologist in Rhode Island

Forensic psychologists apply their pacyhological expertise to both criminal and civil cases to conduct psychological assessments, determine mental competency, serve as expert witnesses, and to provide many other highly specialized services.

One notable Rhode Island forensic psychologist, Dr. Jorge Armesto, is a Parole Board Member on the State of Rhode Island Parole Board & Sex Offender Community Notification Unit. Dr. Armesto received his PhD in Clinical Psychology from the University of Massachusetts in Boston, and he completed his clinical internship at the VA Boston Healthcare System and Brockton Division/Harvard Medical School.

His post-doctorate work, however, turned to forensic psychology: he completed training in responsibility evaluations and sex offender treatment. In 2015, as a licensed psychologist in Rhode Island, Dr. Armesto had performed psychotherapy, psychoeducational testing, group therapy, aid-in-sentencing evaluations, psychological testing, and served as an expert witness in correctional, school, and community settings, such as:

  • Bethany Home of Rhode Island
  • Bridgewater State Hospital
  • Massachusetts Department of Correction
  • Massachusetts Department of Correction

If you’re ready to launch your career as a forensic psychologist in Rhode Island and provide similar specialized services, you’ll start by becoming a licensed psychologist through the Rhode Island Board of Psychology.

The Steps to Become a Forensic Psychologist in Rhode Island

For instructions on how to become a licensed forensic psychologist in Rhode Island, follow these steps:

Earn an Undergraduate Degree in Forensic Psychology
Earn a Master’s and Doctoral Degree in Forensic Psychology from an APA-Accredited School
Accumulate 3000 Hours of Supervised Experience
Submit Application for License as a Psychologist in Rhode Island
Pass the Examination of Professional Practice in Psychology (EPPP)
Begin Your Career as a Forensic Psychologist in Rhode Island
Earn 24 Hours of Continuing Education to Renew Your Rhode Island License


 

Step 1. Earn an Undergraduate Degree in Forensic Psychology

Earning a bachelor’s degree in forensic psychology is your first step toward becoming a licensed forensic psychologist. Your undergraduate degree will lay a foundation of psychological and legal theory, which will prepare you for further education and your career.

Undergraduate degree programs in forensic psychology available through schools in Rhode Island include, but are not limited to:

  • Bachelor of Arts or Science in Forensic Psychology
  • Bachelor of Arts or Science in Psychology – Forensic Psychology
  • Bachelor of Arts or Science in Mental Health – Forensic Psychology
  • Bachelor of Arts/Master of Arts in Forensic Psychology

To be accepted into these specialized programs, you will want to meet your college’s minimum admissions criteria, which will often include these requirements:

  • Hold a minimum 2.5 GPA
  • Maintain good academic standing

Undergraduate degree programs consist of 120-124 credits, including course requirements such as:

  • General education – 60 credits
  • Forensic psychology – 39 credits
  • Electives – 21 credits

Forensic psychology courses include, but are not limited to, courses such as:

  • General Psychology
  • Child Development
  • Social Psychology
  • Statistics
  • Experimental Psychology
  • Abnormal Psychology
  • Theories of Personality
  • Introduction to Criminal Justice
  • Juvenile Justice and Delinquency
  • Psychology and the Law
  • Psychology and Criminal Behavior

Once you earn your undergraduate degree in forensic psychology, you’ll be ready to apply to graduate schools.


 

Step 2. Earn a Master’s and Doctoral Degree in Forensic Psychology from an APA-Accredited School

The Rhode Island Board requires that you earn a doctoral degree in psychology in order to become licensed as a psychologist. To earn your doctoral degree, you have two options:

  • You can enroll in a terminal master’s degree which will prepare you for a doctoral degree

OR

  • You can enroll directly in a doctoral degree program that includes master’s-level cousework, since many doctoral programs accept applicants with bachelor’s degrees from accredited universities

Earning a Master’s Degree in Forensic Psychology

If you want to enroll in a terminal master’s degree in forensic psychology, you can choose from numerous degree titles, such as:

  • Master of Arts in Forensic Psychology
  • Master of Science in Forensic Psychology
  • Master of Arts in Criminal and Investigative Psychology
  • Master of Arts in Counseling and Forensic Psychology
  • Master of Arts in Forensic and Legal Psychology
  • Master of Arts in Psychoanalytic Studies – Forensic Psychology
  • Master of Arts in Criminal Justice – Forensic Psychology

Although each school is different, most forensic psychology master’s degree programs have minimum admissions requirements, such as:

  • Hold a bachelor’s degree from a regionally accredited institution
  • Have taken psychology, statistics, and research methods with a grade of C or higher
  • Be in good academic standing

Your master’s degree program will include between 30-60 credits of coursework and internship experience. Courses that are offered in forensic psychology master’s degree programs generally include, but are not limited to, courses such as:

  • Statistics
  • Research Methods
  • Psychopathology
  • Psychological Basis of Criminology
  • Criminal Response Assessment
  • Assessing Competency to Stand Trial
  • Forensic Evaluation and Assessment
  • Forensic Interviewing Techniques
  • Forensic Reporting
  • Ethical Issues in Forensic Psychology

You will be able to complete your internship experience in local forensic settings, such as psychiatric hospitals, trauma therapy centers, and forensic centers throughout Rhode Island.

The last component of your master’s degree will include writing a final thesis. Your thesis gives you the opportunity to conduct, analyze, and synthesize original research. This research may even be the foundation of your further doctoral research.

Doctoral Degree Programs in Forensic Psychology

To be licensed as a psychologist in Rhode Island, you will need to earn a doctoral degree in psychology. The Rhode Island Board requires that your doctoral degree be accredited through the American Psychological Association (APA). The main school that offers an APA-accredited doctoral program in Rhode Island has a campus location in the city of Kingston.

Forensic psychology doctoral programs include, but are not limited to:

  • PhD in Forensic Psychology
  • PsyD in Forensic Psychology
  • PhD in Clinical Psychology – Forensic Psychology
  • PsyD in Clinical Psychology – Forensic Psychology
  • PhD in Clinical Forensic Psychology
  • PsyD in Clinical Forensic Psychology

To be accepted into these competitive programs, you will need to meet high minimum admissions requirements, such as:

  • Hold a bachelor’s degree (or master’s degree) from an accredited institution
  • Hold a high GPA (3.2-3.5)
  • Have previous research or clinical experience in forensic psychology

Your doctoral degree program in forensic psychology will include between 70 and 100 credits of coursework, clinical work, and a dissertation. The Rhode Island Board requires that your school offer courses in the following required areas of study:

  • Professional Ethics and Standards
  • Statistical Methods
  • Research Methods
  • History and Systems of Psychology
  • Biological Bases of Behavior (Physiological psychology, comparative psychology, neuropsychology, sensation and perception, psychopharmacology)
  • Cognitive-Affective Bases of Psychology (Learning, thinking, emotion and motivation)
  • Social Bases of Behavior (Group processes, organizational and systems theory)
  • Individual Differences (Personality theory, human development, abnormal psychology)

Once you complete your coursework, you will move on to completing your clinical work and dissertation. Your clinical work, or your internship, will need to be conducted in a forensic setting approved by the APA, such as:

  • Mental health hospitals
  • Rehabilitation centers
  • Trauma therapy centers
  • Juvenile detention centers
  • Jails or prisons
  • Forensic court services

Once you earn your doctoral degree, you’ll be ready to start your post-doctoral supervised experience.


 

Step 3. Accumulate 3000 Hours of Supervised Experience

You will complete a total of two years (1500 hours each) of supervised experience, and at least one of those years (1500 hours) must be completed after you graduate from your doctoral program.

You will want to earn all 1500 hours of post-doctoral experience in a forensic setting approved by the APA.

The main APA-accredited postdoctoral residency program in Rhode Island is as follows:

  • Brown University Clinical Psychology Training Consortium, Postdoctoral Fellowship Program – Providence


 

Step 4. Submit Application for License as a Psychologist in Rhode Island

Once you’ve completed all 3000 supervised experience hours, you’ll be ready to submit your application for a Rhode Island psychologist license by examination. Your application will serve two main purposes, and an optional third purpose:

  1. It will allow the Board to approve you to take the national licensing exam
  2. When you pass the exam, it will allow the Board to issue your license
  3. If you apply for a temporary permit, the Board will issue you a two-year permit, so you can work as a licensed psychologist before you pass the national licensing exam

To complete your application, submit the following documents and materials:

  • Application for License as a Psychologist/Temporary Permit
  • $230.00 application fee ($350.00 for Temporary Permit) payable to General Rhode Island Treasurer
  • Recent, 2×2 photograph of yourself
  • Official doctoral transcripts send directly from accredited school
  • Supervised practice forms (pages 11-12 of application)
  • Pre-Doctoral and Post-doctoral supervised practice forms (page 13 of application)

You can mail all application materials to the Board at their mailing address, which is as follows:

Rhode Island Department of Health
Board of Psychology, Room 104
3 Capitol Hill
Providence, RI 02908-5097

Once the Board receives your application, it will approve you to sit for the national licensing examination.


 

Step 5. Pass the Examination of Professional Practice in Psychology (EPPP)

The last step you need to take before you can earn your license is passing the Examination of Professional Practice in Psychology. The EPPP is offered by the Association of State and Provincial Psychology Boards (ASPPB).

When the Board notifies ASPPB that you are eligible to take the EPPP, you will be able to register for the EPPP, pay the $600 exam fee, and schedule your examination with Pearson VUE.

Pearson VUE test centers are located in cities in and near Rhode Island, including cities such as:

  • Warwick
  • Worcester
  • Wellesley
  • Boston

This 225-question exam will contain questions on various psychological domains, including domains such as:

  • Biological Bases of Behavior
  • Cognitive-Affective Bases of Behavior
  • Social and Cultural Bases of Behavior
  • Growth and Lifespan Development
  • Assessment and Diagnosis
  • Treatment, Intervention, Prevention, and Supervision
  • Research Methods and Statistics
  • Ethical, Legal, and Professional Issues

To pass this exam, you will need to earn a score of 70% or higher.

To complete the last step of your license application process, send your official examination scores to the Board directly from ASPPB. When the Board receives your passing scores, it will issue your Rhode Island psychologist license.


 

Step 6. Begin Your Career as a Forensic Psychologist in Rhode Island

As a forensic psychologist, you may eventually opt to establish an independent practice of your own, or pursue jobs with existing firms, law offices, court systems or with state and local departments of human services where you could be assigned to work in correctional facilities or for probation authorities.

Forensic psychologists generally look for jobs in Rhode Island’s top mental health hospitals, rehabilitation centers, and police departments, which include, but are not limited to:

  • QuarterLine Consulting Services – Newport
  • Providence Police Department – Providence
  • Rhode Island State Police – North Scituate
  • Warwick Police Department – Warwick
  • Rhode Island Department of Corrections – Cranston
  • Hasbro Children’s Hospital: Forensic Psychiatry Division – Providence
  • Butler Hospital – Providence
  • Landmark Medical Center Behavioral Health- Woonsocket
  • Providence Center Community Support Services – Providence
  • Children’s Friend and Service – Providence
  • NRI Community Services Inc. – Woonsocket
  • Rhode Island Hospital: Behavioral Health Unit – Providence
  • Bradley Hospital – Riverside
  • Child and Family Services of Newport – Middletown
  • Gateway Healthcare Hunt Street House – Central Falls
  • Gateway Healthcare – Pawtucket

Once forensic psychologists have gained job experience, many often begin their own independent firms where they offer consulting services to police departments and courts.


 

Step 7. Earn 24 Hours of Continuing Education to Renew Your Rhode Island License

To continue working as a licensed forensic psychologist, you will need to renew your license by June 30th of even-numbered years.

To renew, you will need to complete 24 hours of continuing education, which you can earn through attending workshops, courses, seminars, or conferences sponsored by any of the following organizations:

  • American Psychological Association
  • Rhode Island Psychological Association
  • Rhode Island State Nurses Association
  • Rhode Island Medical Society
  • American Psychology Association (APA) approved post-doctoral programs in psychology

Once you complete all 24 hours of continuing education, you can renew your license online with the Rhode Island Department of Health.

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