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Forensic Psychology

Dual Degree: M.A. Forensic Psychology: Non-Licensure Track and Master of Legal Studies

  • Online
  • Full-Time, Part-Time
  • 2 Years Full-Time, 4 Years Part-Time

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics notes that psychology-related careers are expected to grow 19 percent between 2014 and 2024—much faster than the average of other occupations. With the increasing needs of the U.S. legal and law enforcement system, much of that growth may occur in the area of forensic psychology. To set themselves apart […]

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics notes that psychology-related careers are expected to grow 19 percent between 2014 and 2024—much faster than the average of other occupations. With the increasing needs of the U.S. legal and law enforcement system, much of that growth may occur in the area of forensic psychology. To set themselves apart from other candidates, professionals may wish to seek a dual degree that incorporates the foundations of law with the clinical expertise of a forensic psychology education.

To accommodate this need, The Chicago School of Professional Psychology® and The Santa Barbara & Ventura Colleges of Law® have established a dual-degree program for those interested in legal career fields—M.A. Forensic Psychology: Non-Licensure Track and Master of Legal Studies.

To ensure that students are able to complete the program in 2 years for full-time or 4 years for part-time, the prescribed courses will apply to both programs’ degree requirements.

Forensic Psychology

The field of forensic psychology can encompass many fields inside of the legal system—including corrections. Students in the M.A. Forensic Psychology: Non-Licensure Track and Master of Legal Studies program will be guided by practicing faculty as they examine how to assess the mental health of offenders, victims, law enforcement officials, and military personnel.

Master of Legal Studies (M.L.S.)

M.L.S. programs help students establish a strong foundation in law and help build practical communication skills. Gaining the experience necessary to navigate the areas where law and other fields intersect, graduates will be prepared to enter into fields including:

  • Business
  • Education
  • Health care
  • Human resources
  • Law enforcement

Dual-Degree Master’s Program

This program is offered entirely online. The format of this master’s program was designed for students who need to continue to work or take care of their families while they go to school.

Graduates of the M.A. Forensic Psychology: Non-Licensure Track and Master of Legal Studies dual-degree have the potential to find successful careers in the following areas:

  • Health care facilities
  • Public policy making
  • Nonprofit victim assistance
  • Case workers
  • Department of Children and Family Services
  • Case Manager
  • Court appointed advocate
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Ethics and Professional Issues

This course reviews standards, ethics codes, and laws applicable to the forensic mental health practitioner and scientist. Ethical and legal conflicts and dilemmas a forensic practitioner might encounter while working within the legal system are explored, as are ways to resolve such issues. The role of regulatory agencies and professional associations is reviewed. The American Counseling Association Code of Ethics is emphasized.

Clinical and Diagnostic Interviewing

This course addresses theoretical and practical issues related to clinical forensic interviewing and diagnosing that includes information gathering, effective listening, rapport building, and the assessment of mental status. In addition, the impact of culture and diversity on interviewing and diagnosing are explored.

Evaluation and Treatment of the Adult Offender

This course acquaints students with the most common adult criminal forensic evaluations conducted by forensic mental health professionals, theories associated with criminal behavior, and the various treatment modalities provided to adult offenders. Students gain a basic understanding of the legal criteria upon which criminal forensic evaluations are based, the appropriate methodology to perform competent and objective forensic assessments, the mental health services delivered to adult offenders in prison and community settings, and some of the ethical and professional difficulties that a forensic mental health professional encounter.

The M.A. Forensic Psychology: Non-Licensure Track and Master of Legal Studies program is a non-licensure program. The program does not qualify graduates to sit for the Bar Examination of any state; it does not qualify students to sit for licensure as a forensic psychologist; nor does it satisfy requirements for admission to practice law.

Please note that some positions may require a professional license or other credential for employment eligibility. The Chicago School makes no representations or guarantees about career options listed herein.

The M.A. Forensic Psychology: Non-Licensure Track and Master of Legal Studies program has a joint Capstone Project—a requirement for all dual-degree students. Designed to emphasize the student’s academic interests, the project should represent scholarship in the student’s academic field of study. Students will create an interdisciplinary project that blends their forensic psychology studies with their law and policy studies.

The project is done under the direction of a faculty member, the M.L.S. capstone advisor, as well as program faculty at The Chicago School. Students are encouraged to reach out to specific subject matter experts to provide guidance and direction.

Application to the M.A. Forensic Psychology program is open to any person who has earned a bachelor’s degree from a regionally accredited institution and who meets other entrance requirements. Applicants will be judged on their overall ability to do graduate work.

Factors that are considered in admission are:

  • Undergraduate and any graduate coursework
  • GPA from undergraduate and any graduate schools
  • Successful work history after completion of the baccalaureate degree
  • Admission essay
  • Letters of recommendation

Generally, an undergraduate GPA of a 3.0 or higher on a 4.0 scale is required for admission. Applicants must submit official transcripts from all schools where a degree was earned. It is recommended that transcripts are submitted from all schools where credit was received to enhance their applications. Please see the application for detailed instructions and information regarding application requirements, application deadlines, and letters of recommendation.

The program also requires applicants to have successfully completed at least one (1) undergraduate course in either statistics or research methods with a grade earned of ‘C’ or better. Applicants without one of these courses must be complete them in accordance with the policies outlined in the Progression Requirements section below.

Progression Requirements

This track requires applicants to have successfully completed (with a grade earned of ‘C’ or better) at least one (1) undergraduate course in either statistics or research methods by the end of their first semester for Licensure Track students and 2nd term for online students.

Students must successfully meet this progression requirement through one of the following options:

  • A grade of “C” or higher in TCS 390 Introduction to Statistics or TCS 385 Introduction to Research Methods;
  • A grade of “C” or higher in a comparable course at the Chicago School; or
  • A grade of “C” or higher in a comparable course at another regionally accredited institution.

Applicants accepted with no previous statistics or research methods coursework will be required to register for TCS 385 or TCS 390 in their first ground semester or two online terms. All students enrolled in these tracks must meet this progression requirement by the end of their first semester for Professional Counselor Licensure Track students and 2nd term for Non-Licensure Track students. Students who do not successfully fulfill this requirement will not be allowed to register in any future coursework within the program of study until this requirement is met. Failure to register may result in the student being administratively withdrawn from the program. Extensions can be granted by the Program Chair or designee when extenuating circumstances prevent completion of the requirement in the specified timeframe. Requests for an extension must be submitted in writing to the Program Chair for consideration.

Additional Non-Licensure Track Requirements:

In additional to the admission criteria currently in place, applicants to this track should have three or more years of full-time, related, post-baccalaureate relevant work experience. Because the coursework for this track is offered via distance learning format, students within this track must have access to a computer that is less than three years old, a broadband internet connection, and the Microsoft Office Suite including Word, Excel, Outlook, and at minimum, the following computing skills:

  • A comfort with basic Internet technology
  • The ability to open and attach files from and to email
  • The ability to send and receive email
  • The ability to save documents

Applicants who do not have the required undergraduate coursework but who have sufficient relevant work experience may be granted a waiver of one or more these requirements for admission by making a request to the Department Chair or designee.

Standardized Testing

The Graduate Record Examination (GRE) is not required; however, students who have taken the exam may submit their scores to enhance their application. Scores should be sent directly to the school (GRE School Code: 1119) for consideration.

Master of Legal Studies

To be considered for admission, an M.L.S. applicant must have submitted the required application, fee, at least one letter of recommendation written by someone other than a family member or close relative, and a personal statement of at least 3 pages in length, that is double-spaced and typed in no larger than 12-point typeface, and:

  • An official transcript showing the conferral of a bachelor’s degree with a minimum cumulative GPA of 2.3 from an accredited college or university. (Those who do not meet the GPA requirement, but show an ability to succeed at graduate-level work through professional or other experience, may be considered by the Admissions Committee on a case-by-case basis. Applicants with a cumulative GPA of less than 2.0 are not eligible for admission.)
  • TOEFL scores or transcripts showing an English composition class with a grade of “C” or better may be required of students for whom English is the second language.

Official transcripts showing degree conferral with the appropriate GPA, and TOEFL scores (if required), must be submitted within 30 days of the start of the student’s first term of enrollment. Failure to submit required official transcripts by the due date will result in a student being withdrawn from the school and unregistered from all future courses.

The Chicago School is dedicated to keeping our professional degree programs accessible to anyone regardless of financial status. In addition to the scholarships that may be available, our Financial Aid Department will help provide you with information to determine what financial arrangements are right for you.

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