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PsyD Forensic Psychology Personal Statement of Purpose Sample

My academic and life journey, to the point of submitting this application, has been challenging and I have been called upon to display exceptional determination and diligence to keep to my chosen path. My goals are very ambitious but those qualities that have brought me to this point, together with my passion for the specialty will, I am confident, bring them to fulfilment. My goals are; to make a significant contribution to improving the U.S. criminal legal system by undertaking research, acting as a consultant in trial preparations, acting as an expert witness and by passing on my skills, knowledge and passion to the next generation of specialists in this field.

My undergraduate grades were less than ‘stellar’ but I hope to add some context by way of explanation and reassurance. I was working in the financial field to pay for my studies and perhaps overstretched myself. I was also, for a period, attracted by the substantial financial rewards open to me in the financial field and was tempted to remain in it for that reason. However, my decision crystallized when I was offered promotion and was solidified at each new offer of advancement. I knew, when that first offer was made, that I had to make a choice and I chose psychology. I have never regretted the choice but do now regret devoting so much time and effort to work rather than to study.

The ambivalence that distracted me had gone when I started work for my Master’s degree as had the necessity to earn money to fund my studies. I was anyway more focused and determined and my GPA of 4.0 reflects the fact as does the award of a prize for Academic Excellence. I was also offered a fellowship in the UK which involved research into eyewitness testimony and sequential line-up presentations. I am the author/co-author of four research papers related to the specialty.  It was during my Master degree studies that an interest in psychology as it relates to the administration of criminal justice became a fascination and finally developed into a passion.

I can think of few more worthwhile pursuits than to ensure, as far as is possible, that the innocent go free and the guilty do not and to minimize failures to achieve these ends which have such dreadful results, not only for those personally involved but ultimately for society as a whole. One statistic that I found truly disturbing and which persuaded me of the great worth of work in this area was that, of the first 250 DNA exonerated cases in the US, 190 (76%) of them were the result of misidentification. I hope to investigate this phenomenon and hopefully provide answers relating to the limitations and biases of human memory. I am also aware that little research has been undertaken into the ways that individual preferences are translated into group decisions and I hope to discover how an inaccurate consensus memory might be formed by a jury and so affect, and possibly distort, their verdict.

My research experience has provided me with a good understanding of various research techniques and methods. It has also made me aware that certain characteristics are vital to supplement the technical knowledge involved. I would not be making this application if I were not sure that I have the characteristics and temperament called for in an excellent researcher. I approach problems analytically, I have determination, I look beyond the superficial, I am capable of original and creative thinking, I collaborate happily with others and am ready to confidently ‘take the lead’ where appropriate. I am especially interested in pursuing research into juror decision-making and eye-witness memory and specifically Collaborative Inhibition, Story Sampling Model of Juror Decision-making, Director’s Cut Model of Juror Decision-making and Juror Biases, Post-event Misinformation Effect and Death Qualification. I hope that my work will have an impact beyond the US and hope to be able to collaborate internationally with other experts in the specialty for the common good.

I acquired some university teaching experience in the UK when I gave a presentation on ‘Juror Bias and Death Qualification’. Although my teaching experience is limited, I have long observed and noted the techniques employed, and the character traits demonstrated, by the best of the teachers that I have encountered. An excellent teacher is a first-class communicator in all media, he/she has clear measures of success and constantly monitors that they are met, is approachable, encourages debate and, most importantly loves his subject with an unmistakable and contagious passion. I intend to emulate these teachers in my own career.

I have a number of interests and hobbies including criminology and literature, especially the works of Alighieri, Aurelius, Hawking, Nietzsche, Freud and Machiavelli. I am an art-lover with a special interest in Blake, Botticelli, da Vinci, Caravaggio, Michelangelo and Raphael. I cannot claim to be widely travelled but thoroughly enjoyed the three months spent working at the Queen Margaret University in Scotland, UK and have spent holidays in France and Switzerland. I have happily studied, worked and socialized with people of many ethnic and social backgrounds and enjoy learning about other cultures.

Any criminal justice system, no matter how well-designed, is affected to some degree by human imperfection, but this does not remove the obligation to improve the system until it is as near perfect as possible. ‘Ironing out’, as far as possible, the impact of human imperfection on that system is part of the process and is the part that I hope to beneficially affect. There are clearly so many aspects to the intersection between theory and practice in this vitally important area of life that we cannot hope to fully investigate them all in several lifetimes. I believe that it is important to identify those matters which have the greatest detrimental effect on the administration of justice and to prioritize them for investigation and action. I certainly consider that jury group ‘dynamics’ and wide variations in witness reliability as two of the major matters to be investigated with the aim of arriving at a deeper understanding of how and why things go awry.

Cultural differences are also a matter that might usefully be considered for research, sensitive though this area is. For instance it is, in certain communities, regarded as grossly impolite to disagree with someone perceived as one’s social superior even if you believe that they are mistaken in what they are saying. Such cultural norms can be disastrous in a court-room, especially when others involved may well be unaware of the cultural background giving rise to perhaps surprising or even contradictory testimony.

To summarize: I have an excellent grounding in Psychology and Forensic Psychology; I have significant research experience; I have some teaching experience; I have demonstrated determination and diligence in my academic achievements to date (barring my initial faltering). However my main recommendation is a genuine fascination and passion for the specialty and a determination to be a ‘leading player’ in the field for the benefit of many.

Sample 1st Paragraph for Masters in Forensic Psychology

I would like to be able to work for the federal government and assist in the apprehension, prosecution, and/or conviction of criminals accused of the most heinous crimes via the most accurate and up to date forensic and legal means. Victims of violent crimes often cannot speak for themselves and thus need us, as the representatives of justice to utilize whatever means necessary, albeit legal to bring their perpetrator(s) to justice. I want to assist in assuring that all processes and procedures are followed to the letter, no detail left un-noticed to prevent any possibility of a criminal going free on a technicality or the wrong person being convicted in error. I believe in justice and I believe in our system, despite its flaws.

Forensic Psychology Personal Statement of Purpose, Sample 1st Paragraph

It was always my intention to ‘make a difference’ with my life rather than merely to ‘make a living’. Since my earliest days, I have been very interested in how the mind works and the wide differences between individual reactions to similar situations and challenges. Since I discovered that Psychology exists at the age of eight, I have wanted to study it. I have never wavered in this decision and have never regretted it. An initial goal of helping distressed adults, probably in private practice has changed over time as I became increasingly fascinated by the criminal mind. I have undertaken significant private study in this specialism and feel that I can maximise my utility to society by acquiring the skills and knowledge necessary to work as a Forensic Psychologist. I am particularly interested in working with young people in trouble in order to help them to understand and overcome the urge to offend.

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Sample of My Work in Forensic Psychology

Sample 1st Paragraph Forensic Psychology Masters, Child Sexual Abuse, Applicant from Singapore

A young woman in Singapore, I now hold a BA in Psychology as well as a Diploma in Early Childhood Studies. I hope to earn the MSC Degree in Forensic Psychology at Manchester University so as to prepare myself for a long career fighting violence against children and helping the victims to heal. My central professional goal is to develop a special focus on the sexual abuse of children, how to prevent, detect, and disclose it when it occurs, in addition to supporting and assisting the victims.

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The Humanitarian Side of a Master´s in Forensic Psychology

Many forensic psychologists go into this field so they can help people. They´re interested in the well-being of human beings. So much so, that the field almost grabbed them and pulled them in. Humanitarian work is similar.

Some psychologists knew they would like to travel and help individuals from developing countries right from the beginning. Others have fallen into by accident or got a taste for doing voluntary work during their first degree or later, and prefer to carry out their humanitarian work closer to home.

Lisa McKay is an Australian and has two master´s degrees: one in Forensic Psychology and another in International Peace Studies. However, she had no plans to go into humanitarian work during her psychology studies.

Lisa spent time in lots of different countries when she was growing up, but she didn’t have a clear vision of working internationally when she decided to do a masters in forensic psychology. She chose it because she found the field interesting.

Lisa had almost finished studying psychology for six years when it became clear that she wanted to go into humanitarian work. At that point in her life, she didn’t know if her job was going to be primarily in the psych field or not, because she was also so interested in human rights, advocacy and community development programs.

However, while Lisa didn’t have a clear “career plan”, the experience she gained in the fields of stress and trauma during her forensic psych internships (in a prison and with the police) stood me in very good stead in her subsequent jobs. This is how she moved into humanitarian work.

So how did Lisa get international work as a forensic psych graduate? She simply spent some time in the Philippines, volunteering for local non-profit organizations, working on her first novel, and looking for jobs or internships in humanitarian work.

Four or five months after Lisa arrived in Manila, after applying for many different positions all over the world, she was accepted into a Canadian government internship program called CANADEM.

As part of this program, the OSCE Mission to Croatia offered Lisa a six-month position with them as a stress management and communication skills trainer for their staff. This was a volunteer position with the organization, but the Canadian government gave her a modest stipend that covered living expenses.

After her time in Croatia, Lisa returned to Australia. But by this time, she knew that she wanted to work in the humanitarian field.

She had also learnt that further training in peace studies, international relations, or conflict resolution was necessary for success. She decided to do the Notre Dame program. It’s an excellent program, and they offer a full scholarship to every masters student they accept.

While Lisa was happily studying for her master´s in International Peace Studies, she met the President of the Headington Institute.

He saw potential in Lisa´s background and experiences and decided that she would be a great fit for the Institute. The Headington Institute provides psychological and spiritual support to humanitarian workers all over the world.

She signed a contract with them and moved to LA to work with the Institute as the Director of Training and Education Services, before finishing her degree at Notre Dame. She stayed with the Institute for almost seven years, and then moved to Laos.