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Clear evidence


UCO’s new master’s degree in forensic psychology is popular with graduate students.

Kevan Goff-Parker October 3rd, 2012

After the University of Central Oklahoma received official approval in August to offer students its new master’s of arts degree in forensic psychology, it didn’t take a crime scene investigator to discover the graduate program is a popular choice.

“We’ve had a tremendous number of applications,” said Robert D.

Mather, associate professor of experimental psychology and the forensic psychology graduate program coordinator. “Law enforcement wants graduates that are highly trained in rigorous scientific training, and this forensic psychology degree will help fill a very specific need in the law enforcement community.”

UCO’s master’s in forensic psychology is a non-clinical program that can lead to careers in criminal investigation and intelligence analysis.

Mather said UCO already had some students working toward the new degree. The master’s program is still changing in response to students’ needs.

“We get to do a lot of cool stuff and our graduate students benefit from conducting controlled experiments,” he said. “We have a variety of different tools and methods, but a lot of techniques used in law enforcement aren’t rooted in psychology, and law enforcement operates best when it is worked systematically and rooted with observable data.”

The graduate program also includes collaborative curriculum with the UCO Forensic Science Institute, which is strategically located on the university’s campus across the street from the Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation facility. The FSI features an evidence recovery training bay, a 165-seat auditorium, classrooms and the AT&T Digital Evidence and Cyber-Security Laboratory.

Mark R. McCoy, associate professor with the FSI and the School of Criminal Justice, teaches classes on digital evidence and digital forensics in the FSI’s digital forensic law laboratory. These courses focus on data recovery and gathering evidence from digital media devices, including mobile phones and laptops.

“With technology changing so rapidly, we have to keep up,” McCoy said. “Most people don’t know we can recover deleted data, and we usually find some form of digital evidence in all types of crimes, from murders to rapes and more.

“Our graduates need to know the fundamentals about how computers operate, how to write data to media and how data is stored on discs, plus be able to explain in court how you recovered the data and evidence of a crime.”

Several students expect to complete the graduate degree in 2013, and there is currently a waiting list for students who want to join the forensic psychology program.

 
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