Forensic science and forensic psychology are two distinct disciplines. Although the two are often thought of as one, each of these sciences has its own educational requirements, fields of study and career applications.
According to Michigan State University, which offers a forensic science master's program, forensic science focuses on applying scientific processes and methods to criminal or public matters.
Although often confused with police psychology or criminal psychology, forensic psychology focuses on an accused person's ability to stand trial or to participate in his own defense.
Many forensic scientists work in crime laboratories in the areas of forensic chemistry, forensic biology and criminalistics.
Forensic psychologists can be employed in large police departments or other type of law enforcement agency that has a behavioral science unit.
Contrary to popular belief, forensic psychology does not usually involve psychological crime scene reconstruction, psychological profiling or the tracking of serial criminals such as rapists and murderers.
Job opportunities in forensic psychology are limited for two main reasons: many police departments cannot afford to hire full-time forensic psychologists, and the behavioral science unit of the FBI (Federal Bureau of Investigation) will provide this type of service, without cost, to law enforcement agencies.
- Photo Credit Image by Flickr.com, courtesy of Matthew Hine
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