School of Professional Psychology

Forensic Emphasis Area

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About the Forensic Emphasis Areaphoto of students in a classroom

The overarching goal of the School of Professional Psychology is to train students in the basic skills necessary to be competent within a generalist model.  The goal of the Forensic Psychology Emphasis (FPE) is to train students to develop the attitudes, knowledge, and skills required to provide effective clinical services to clients and constituents in forensic settings.  In order, to provide the highest quality services students must be well-grounded in the scholarship regarding forensic psychology.  Students in the FPE will fulfill the usual requirements for the Psy.D. in Clinical Psychology as well as take courses in more focused areas of forensic psychology.  It is expected that students’ dissertations, practice tutorials, clinical experiences, and internship activities will also be oriented toward these areas of interest.

FPE Objectives

  • To develop graduates with strong clinical skills in the area of forensic psychology.
  • To develop graduates who are skilled to work within a variety of settings, including, but not limited to: courts, prisons, state hospitals, and outpatient forensic settings.
  • To develop graduates who are critical thinkers regarding the practice and scholarship of forensic psychology.
  • To develop students who are competitive candidates for forensic internship programs.

Note: Students are first admitted into the SOPP and later may choose to participate in the FPE.


Courses, descriptions, and expectations specific to the FPE include:

In addition to all required SOPP courses, students in the Forensic Psychology Emphasis (FPE) are required to complete the emphasis-specific curriculum, as presented below.

  • Forensic Psychology: This course is designed to provide students with an introduction to forensic psychology.  As a result of completing this course, students will become more familiar with the legal and political systems and how to navigate them.  In addition, Forensic Psychology will identify problems within the legal system and how they can differentially impact the lives of individuals caught up in the system.  The objectives of this course are to: (1) provide an overview of legal and political systems and processes; (2) introduce students to criminal issues in forensic psychology; (3) introduce students to civil issues in forensic psychology; (4) highlight the relevance of legal issues for practitioners, and (5) outline legal issues of importance to clients, including client rights.
  • Forensic Assessment: The purpose of this class is to review the various types of forensic assessments in various settings and contexts. Accepted standards for specialized forensic populations are addressed. The objectives of this course are to help students learn: (1) the difference between conducting clinical and forensic evaluations; (2) the laws relevant to various legal questions they may be asked to answer in forensic evaluations; (3) about issues relevant to forensic questions and how to approach each assessment to answer the same; and (4) the impact of diversity variables on defendants’ experiences in forensic assessment
  • Forensic Intervention: This course provides an overview of culturally contextualized treatment modalities, case study analysis, forensic evaluation, and clinical conceptualization/case management practices. 

Clinical Practicum

Students in the Emphasis are expected to gain supervised exposure to a range of clients and to learn basic skills required of all psychologists throughout their practica. They are also required to complete at least one practicum in a forensic setting.  The following clinical settings represent training experiences that potentially fulfill the emphasis-specific, clinical practica requirement:

  • Center for Adolescent Services
  • Chillicothe Correctional Institution
  • Court Clinic Forensic Services
  • Dayton Municipal Court – Probation Department
  • Ohio Reformatory for Women
  • Summit Behavioral Healthcare
  • Twin Valley Behavioral Healthcare (3 Units)

Practicum slots are awarded competitively in conjunction with the sites.  If there are more students in the FPE than there are practicum slots available, it is not guaranteed that all students will be assigned to a forensic site.  As a result, it is not guaranteed that all students wanting to complete the FPE will be able to do so.

Dissertation and Advising

The Forensic Psychology Emphasis offers students the opportunity to work with SOPP faculty who have expertise within the field of Forensic Psychology in a forum focused on facilitating the student’s professional development.  Students in FPE are required to complete a professional dissertation focused on issues relevant to forensic psychology, broadly.  Forensic Psychology Emphasis faculty members review potential dissertation topics to determine if they meet this requirement. 

It is not required that a member of the FPE chair the dissertation.  If a student in FPE elects to work with a chair who is not affiliated with FPE, the chair will be the student’s primary advisor (per SOPP policy) and a faculty member who is affiliated with the emphasis will provide additional advising regarding issues related to FPE.

Emphasis Faculty

Wendy Dragon, Ph.D.

School of Professional Psychology
Clinical Associate Professor
Millett Hall 319, 3640 Colonel Glenn Hwy, Dayton, OH 45435-0001

LaTrelle D. Jackson, Ph.D., ABPP

School of Professional Psychology
Clinical Professor
Millett Hall 317, 3640 Colonel Glenn Hwy, Dayton, OH 45435-0001

Michelle S Schultz, Psy.D.

School of Professional Psychology
Clinical Associate Professor and Chair
Millett Hall, 3640 Colonel Glenn Hwy, Dayton, OH 45435-0001