2022-2023 Catalog 
    Oct 04, 2023  
2022-2023 Catalog [ARCHIVED CATALOG]

Doctor of Philosophy in Psychology, Public Policy and Law

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School: California School of Forensic Studies

Modality(ies): Online (with two weekend residencies)

Calendar(s): 8-week term

CIP Code: 42.2812

Program Description/Overview

The Doctor of Philosophy, Psychology, Public Policy, and Law is designed for public and private health and safety professionals who have earned a Master’s degree and who want to enhance their skillset and advance their careers or consultancies. The doctorate provides opportunity to deep dive into the psychology of violence and of the laws related to it in a variety of sectors - such as criminal justice systems, social services, security, and media - in national and international contexts. Graduates serve in law enforcement, security, humanitarian organizations, government agencies, human resource and compliance departments, and in private consultancies.


This program offers six (6) concentrations as follows:

  1. Conflict Resolution and Peace Studies: Designed for students interested in gaining a greater understanding of conflict dynamics and in obtaining evidence-based knowledge and skills to support conflict resolution in multiple contexts.
  2. Criminal Behavior: Designed for students interested in understanding offenders from a motivational, psychological, and social perspective. Designed to enhance the knowledge base for students aspiring to law enforcement, correctional, investigative or consulting careers.
  3. Forensic Linguistics: Designed for students is interested in gaining a foundational understanding of the application of science to language in the context of criminal and civil law. Courses particularly target linguists, educators, investigators, forensic mental health professionals, and lawyers.
  4. Forensic Victimology: Designed to support those who want a deeper understanding of victim-offender dynamics to aid in safety planning and civil and criminal investigations.
  5. Professional Protection & Security Management: Designed for those seeking to enhance their ability to lead in a variety of security and critical incident contexts.
  6. Trial Consulting: Designed for students interested in working alongside attorneys in criminal or civil actions and applying behavioral science to legal proceedings, or in applied research designed to enhance the pursuit of justice.

Program Learning Outcomes/Goals

The PhD in Psychology, Public Policy and Law supports students to attain the following program learning outcomes:

  1. Psycho-Legal Knowledge:
    1. Describe major concepts in mental health law.
    2. Examine the intersections between psychology and the criminal and civil legal sectors.
    3. Critically assess psycho-legal constructs and their impact on forensic practices and public policy.
  2. Forensic Practice:
    1. Apply knowledge of psychology and law to a variety of forensic contexts.
    2. Evaluate the bio-psycho-social and cultural bases of conflict and violence.
    3. Demonstrate skills associated with competent forensic practice. 
  3. Applied Research:
    1. Conduct psycho-legal research that advances just solutions to national and international social challenges.
    2. Assess the impact of culture, diversity and worldview on the adoption and enforcement of laws and public policy related to conflict and violence.

Credit Units

Total Credit Units: 60

Total Core Credit Units: 42

Total Elective Credit Units: N/A

Total Concentration Credit Units: 18

Emphasis/Concentration/Track Requirements

Students choose six courses from one of the concentration options.

Curriculum Plan

8-Week Calendar

Term 8 (7 units)

Term 9 (7 units)

Term 10 (7 units)


Students from all concentrations join in a residency lab where they present a project (case study, program evaluation, etc.) to demonstrate practice skills.

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