Forensic psychology amalgamates the fields of law and psychology and provides a deep pool of opportunities for finding an exciting dissertation topic. Forensic psychologists dedicate their careers to examining how human behavior functions within the scope of the law, and most graduate students pursuing this field must write dissertations before they can receive their degree. By carefully researching, brainstorming and collaborating with your academic advisor, you will be able to find a fascinating subject to base your dissertation on.

Home-Grown Terrorism

In recent years the country has seen a number of terrorist activities that took place on American soil by American citizens. The "Washington D.C. Sniper," the shootings at Fort Hood and the Boston Marathon bomber all provide a basis for developing a dissertation in forensic psychology. "NBC News" reported that the Fort Hood shooter had received a poor performance review at his previous place of employment -- an early indicator of problems brewing. The gunman Maj. Nidal Malik Hasan was an Army psychiatrist -- a fact that makes the incident all the more puzzling. Considering that Hasan along with Boston Marathon bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev and D.C. sniper John Allen Muhammad came from Islamic cultural backgrounds but seem to have had no ties to terrorist organizations, students might write about cultural differences and terrorism within this context.

Law Enforcement

Unfortunately, statistics show that alcoholism, divorce and suicide are particularly high in law enforcement when compared to other career fields. Lt. Maureen O'Hara of "Law Enforcement Today" calls the high rate of suicide "policing's dirty little secret" in her article about the New York Police Department's suicide rate in 2012. A good forensic psychology dissertation may examine how gender, race or years of experience in the department play a role in the number of suicides or within the numbers of alcoholics and divorcees.

Juvenile Murderers

Every year national news stories seem to break reports of juveniles committing murder. In August 2013 three teens shot and killed an Australian baseball player who was out for a jog along an Oklahoma roadside. This random act of violence was committed, according to the boys, because they "were bored and didn't have anything to do." An interesting dissertation topic might investigate how socio-economic environment, geographic location or race may play a part in children who commit random acts of murder. If race is a topic of your thesis, you may want to investigate if and how hate crimes play a part in juvenile homicides, as in this case where the accused are African-American and the victim is Caucasian.


According to the American Psychological Association, the ability to successfully rehabilitate prison inmates is declining. The APA states that "a combination of strict sentencing guidelines, budget shortfalls and a punitive philosophy of corrections has made today's prisons much more unpleasant--and much less likely to rehabilitate their inhabitants." An engaging dissertation could examine the rates of successful inmate rehabilitation based on specific prisons in various states that fall under certain laws with varying budgets. A graduate student could also study how gender plays a role in successful inmate rehabilitation in states with severe prison budget cuts. According to "The Guardian," there has been an 8 percent reduction in the number of female arrests by police forces in England and Wales between 2006/07 and 2010/11. A valid thesis could examine American statistics in relation to inmate rehabilitation.

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