Area Adviser: Dr. David Hansen
Under the dual sponsorship of the Department of Psychology and the College of Law, the Law-Psychology Program at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln has been recognized since its inception in 1974 as a leading program in training scholars who are engaged in basic and applied research and writing on psycho-social issues and problems related to the law. The program is the world's oldest, on-going integrated program in psycholegal studies. It remains unique in the breadth of potential training. Students may specialize in virtually any area of psycholegal studies, with one important exception. The Program does not offer training in the forensic/behavioral sciences designed to lead to careers in the FBI, the Secret Service, or other, similar law enforcement agencies.
Law-Psychology students may focus their studies in psycholegal areas such as jury behavior, eyewitness identification, children's decision making, domestic violence, sexual harassment, discrimination, forensic assessment, threat assessment, criminal responsibility, juvenile justice, the admissibility of scientific evidence in litigation, and so on. They also may focus on less-studied topics. Students may choose from the following combination of degrees in both law and psychology: JD-Ph.D., Ph.D.-MLS (the MLS, or masters of legal studies, is a 33-credit-hour program in which a student receives foundational training in substantive law, legal process, and the legal system), or JD-MA. These degree tracks ensure that Program students will possess at least master's level knowledge in the "other" field. The Program is primarily research oriented, and graduates are trained to work in academic positions at universities; in research and public interest organizations (e.g., Federal Judicial Center, National Center for State Courts, policy institutes); or in trial consulting organizations. Some graduates (especially those in the JD-MA track) do pursue more applied or practice-oriented careers.
The length of the Program depends upon the student's track. At a minimum, students must plan for four years of graduate training (for the JD-MA track); most students, regardless of the track, leave the campus for employment opportunities within six years. Students in good standing with the program can expect to receive funding for their entire training period, usually as teaching or research assistants.