Forensic Mental Health Graduate Programs Online

This article will primarily focus on graduate programs in forensic mental health counseling. Read on to find out what you may expect to learn in such a program, and what these programs expect of their incoming students. Schools offering Mental Health Counseling degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

Common Courses in Forensic Mental Health

Graduate programs in forensic mental health may be offered as forensic psychology, forensic behavioral health, or forensic mental health counseling programs and lead to a master's degree or PhD. A master's program can be completed entirely online and culminates in either a capstone project or an internship, while a PhD program consists of academic and research courses followed by a practicum or internship and a dissertation. PhD programs often require in-person components, such as labs, field experiences, and residency requirements.

Research Design and Methods

These courses outline the process and guidelines one generally has to follow when conducting research in this field. This can include some of the basics of research, including formulating your research questions and/or hypotheses. You may also look at how to control variables and collect and analyze your data, and you can be given the chance to design and evaluate experiments.


Here you may examine the causes, symptoms, and other effects of mental illness and/or mental health issues, taking into consideration the predominate theories of the field and current literature. Some programs may allow you to get more in-depth and examine the changes that can occur over a lifetime. The goal is that this class will allow you to understand and work through differential diagnoses and determine the correct treatment(s) for patients.

Clinical Assessment

A course like this is generally designed to give you an understanding of the methods and practices you may use when doing an assessment. This can include instruments you may use, such as tests or surveys, and potential shortfalls. You may also be given an peek into the sociocultural and/or economic contexts that may influence mental health, and analyze why some populations are more at risk than others.

Psychotherapy Methods

These courses are usually meant to give you an introduction to the methods, theories, and expected outcomes of psychotherapy. You may learn about the most prevalent schools of thought and how each approaches psychotherapy. You may also be given opportunities to work through mock-sessions using the methods you learn about in class.

Developmental Psychology

Here the aim is to give you a better understanding of how psychological health and expectations can change over a person's lifetime and even how this can affect a person's family. You likely will analyze the prevalent theories and contemporary literature on the subject. You may focus on the spectrum of what is normal, rather than what is abnormal, and how development may differ depending on a person's culture or environment.

Group Counseling

A course focusing on group counseling can give you tools and methods to work through a group counseling session. You can also learn how to build and develop a group for counseling purposes, and manage changes and events that may happen during group sessions. You may be expected to participate in role-playing or work your way through hypothetical situations to prepare to work with clients.


A class like this will likely focus on the controversies that exist in the field and may give you the chance to analyze these debates. These conversations may look at legal procedures, the idea of confidentiality, and informed consent. Given that this career choice may involve being an expert witness in trials speaking to the mental health of individuals, courses can take a particular focus on the ethics in this situation.

Getting in to Graduate Programs in Forensic Mental Health

You will generally need a bachelor's degree with at least a 3.0 GPA; some programs may also ask that you have a proficient foundation in psychology or another related field. This can generally be backed up by the transcripts you are also asked to submit. Much of the time you will be asked to submit transcripts from all of your postsecondary education. You may also have to write up a letter of intent, which can outline why you want to enter the program, what your goals are, and how you can contribute to the program. There is also generally an expectation that three letters of recommendation be sent to the school, usually from academic or professional sources.

In short, when applying you should be ready to argue why you would be an excellent addition to the program. You can generally also expect to look more in depth into the clinical side of mental health than you may have during your undergrad education.

To continue researching, browse degree options below for course curriculum, prerequisites and financial aid information. Or, learn more about the subject by reading the related articles below:

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