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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Oct 2003
    Location
    Fairfax, VA
    Posts
    92

    Question psychology degree and FBI, any suggestions?

    Hi my name is Nick and I am new to this forum. I am a college junior majoring in psychology because it interests me and because I thought it would be good for my future goals of a career in law enforcement. My ultimate goal is to be an FBI agent but I know I am pretty far away from reaching that goal. I could graduate next Fall and go into local police the folowing spring which I have planned on doing. I am also going to apply for DEA because they have no experience requirements past a college degree. I definitely want to continue school if that is would make me more appealing to federal law enforcement agencies, but it will be difficult if I am a full-time police officer. I have thought about doing Peace Corpes to learn another language, like Arabic in Jordan. But, I know that will be difficult and I would really like to be a police officer now. I have considered either going to law school or earning my Ph.D. in psychology part-time while I am a police officer. Any thoughts about what I should do? I am 21 with little job experience but very interesting in a career in law enforcement. My first year of college was poor (1.7 GPA) because I was playing baseball and did not know my future goals then. I now have transferred and my past 2 years have been a solid 3.0 GPA. If anyone has any suggestions for me to get looked at by the FBI, DEA, Marshals, I would greatly appreciate it. Thanks a lot.
    NICK T

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Oct 2000
    Posts
    547
    Look into the U.S. Postal Inspection Service. They have recently relaxed their entry level requirements and are now, for the time being anyway, accepting college graduates with no experience.

    http://www.usps.com/postalinspectors/welcome2.htm

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Feb 2003
    Posts
    408
    I, too, was a psychology major in college. I got my MS in behavioral analysis, and was in a doctoral program in epidemiology for 2 years before working in research for CA Department of Corrections.

    I can say that you will not be able to find a doctoral program in any discipline that will permit you to attend part-time ... especially in psychology. With your being a junior right now, I am sure that you have looked at a few schools and you know how competitive PhD programs in psych are. Doctoral work in itself is a full-time job when you count research internships, comprehensive exams, and dissertation research. When I was going for my PhD, I was putting in about 100-110 hours a week between class/studying, and research obligations.

    With that said, if you are interested in LE, I would focus on those things that would help you get a position in your desired agency. You may want to look at MS programs in forensic science, or IT/IS, or even in foreign language/area studies. Some LE agencies have summer internship programs designed for people just like you (juniors about to be seniors). Look into those.

    Another fantastic option you have (in my opinion) is joining the military out of school. Since you are a junior, ROTC is not an option, but you could enlist for a couple of years (or 4 years) and get invaluable training in military intelligence, communications, military police science, foreign language, engineering ... you know ... all of those "critical skills" that the FBI loves so much. While you are in the military, you can get an MS degree as well.

    You have a number of opportunites ... I suggest you start looking into as many as you possibly can ...

    Good luck.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Oct 2003
    Location
    Fairfax, VA
    Posts
    92
    Thanks for the advice. I would think it would be pretty difficult to pursue a ph.D while a full-time police officer. But what about the profilers I hear about who have had years of police work aloing with an advanced degree in psych, soc, etc. I guess they earned these degrees before they even entered into local law enforcement. But I have considered a second degree in Spanish but I know I wouldn't be fluent without total immersion into another country. So many questions. What about law school? That can be pursued part-time right? Thanks.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Mar 2001
    Posts
    457
    I completed my bachelor's degree as a full-time police officer. In fact, I worked full-time, carried a full-time load at school, and still worked 20 hours a week completing a federal law enforcement internship. I also began law school working as a police officer. It certainly can be done. Yes, many law schools offer part-time programs.

    It sounds to me like you are trying to prep yourself to be competetive for a career in criminal profiling. Just remember, getting a job with the FBI, or any federal agency, is tough enough on its own and that profilers represent a very small percentage of all FBI agents. There's nothing wrong with having an interest in criminal psychology, but make sure your first goal is to be a law enforcement officer.

    As you map out a course of action for meeting your goals, make sure you don't get too far ahead of yourself. Sure, we'd all love to fill our resumes with multiple advanced degrees, excellent grades, years of experience in law enforcement and intelligence, and native-like fluency in half a dozen languages - but we would all burn out before we accomplished those goals. Pick the course that is right for you. If you're itching to get some law enforcement experience under your belt, maybe you should look at local agencies. Work hard, finish your degree, get good grades, keep yourself out of trouble.

    I also strongly recommend internships as a great way to improve your chances of a future in federal law enforcement. Some agencies have internship programs that aren't advertised. Make phone calls to the local offices of agencies you are interested in and see if they have something for you. The best internships are offered under the Student Career Experience Program (SCEP). The SCEP program allows agencies to non-competetively convert you into an agent upon completion of your degree. In the past, ATF, Customs, and USMS, HUD-OIG, and several others have used the program.

    Good luck!

    Geo

  6. #6
    B. Flanagan Guest
    Nick:

    I too majored in Psychology out of college. I then got hired by a local law enforcement agency and gained valuable exprience. I held the position of Police Detective fr the last 4 years. In this capacity (in the last 4 years) , I investigated over 50 sexual assault cases, narcotic cases, identity theft cases, burglaries, robberies, homicides, etc.

    I work at a local law enforcement agency, where pretty much all of us have to do everything.

    But I want to point out that while I was rotating shifts on Patrol during my early years, I continued my education and the Police Department paid for it. I got a $14000 Master's Degree education for free.

    Most agencies pay for education (I am not saying 100%, but at least 70%). You may consider this as an option. This way, you will gain experience and obtain a "free" education. Believe me it wasn't easy. however it was well worth it. I currently have been accepted into the infamous Dr. Henry Lee's Master of Forensic progam, and again the PD will pay for it.

    I too am looking for federal law enforcement. I am hoping that my experiece and advanced education may give me a little more advantage than just coming out of college and applying.

    Don't get me wrong All the more power to you if you do apply and get accpeted by a fderal agency. I just thought that I would pass on this information to you.

    B. Flanagan
    Connecticut

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Oct 2003
    Location
    Fairfax, VA
    Posts
    92
    Geodetective, are you a police officer for Washington D.C.? Because that is one of my top choices to apply, next to Fairfax County and Arlington County. I definitely want the action like D.C. would give me but I haven't lived in the city ever. I don't think it would be too overwhelming but I would be willing to give it a shot. How fast to D.C. cops get promoted to Detective, SWAT, etc?
    Flanagan, I have also heard about local LE paying for master's degrees and such but what sort of degree would be smart to pursue. My college has a master's in sociology with a concentration in deviance and criminology and that seems really interesting. Maybe?

    Thanks again everybody for your input.

    Oh! The DEA web site says that they only require a bachelor's degree. Is there any chance for a psychology major to be accepted?

  8. #8
    B. Flanagan Guest
    Nick:

    It depends on what avenue you want to pursue. I know people with Master's degrees in Criminal Justice, Public Administration, Business Administration. For a managment position (i.e. Chief of Police, etc.) I would stick to business of some sort.

    Again, it depends on what you want to do with your career. If you want to get into computer investigations, a Master's Degree in Computers would help.

    Bottom line is you have to like what you are doing (what you are studying).

    B. Flanagan
    Connecticut


 

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