Professional Certificate in Forensic Psychology Online with an Emphasis in Mental Illness Risk Management

The field of forensic psychology examines the intersection between human behavior and the law. SDSU's College of Extended Studies has partnered with SDSU's Homeland Security Graduate Program to launch this comprehensive, online Professional Certificate in Forensic Psychology with an emphasis in Mental Illness Risk Management, specifically designed for individuals in law enforcement, fire and rescue, emergency management, and community organizing. It's also ideally suited for those interested in forensic psychology, homeland security, public safety, and disaster-response humanitarian assistance.

About This Certificate
In recent years, it has become increasingly clear that interactions between emergency responders and the public they serve are becoming more difficult, frequently because of cultural differences and mental health challenges. Resulting miscommunication all too often leads to fatal altercations, and yet our emergency professionals receive little if any training in how to understand and mitigate these issues.

This certificate places special emphasis on the challenges emergency responders face in working with disabled and immigrant populations. It offers proven tools to boost resilience in both emergency professionals and civilians in the wake of natural disasters and other community traumas. It also enables community leaders and organizers to appreciate the community-oriented goals of law enforcement, helping to build trust and social capital on both sides, with the goal of generating real solutions.

Enrolling in the Program
Enroll in the program at any time, even before registering for a course. It’s free, and offers many benefits:

  • Secure your curriculum (should the requirements change in the future).
  • See upcoming courses when you log into your student account.
  • Track your progress.

Enrolling in a program doesn’t mean you’re registered for courses. You still must register and pay for each course you wish to take.


Program Highlights

  • Fully online
  • Five eight-week courses
  • Instructors are all content specialists with real-world experience
  • Complete in as few as six months or take up to two years

Who Will Benefit
This certificate program would be beneficial for those pursuing promotion, seeking Law Enforcement Officer (LEO) training, planning to enter graduate programs in forensic psychology, or simply wishing to expand their knowledge base. It may also fulfill continuing education unit (CEU) requirements. This curriculum is recommended for:

  • Law enforcement professionals
  • Fire and rescue professionals
  • Other first responders
  • Emergency managers
  • Community organizers
  • Forensic nurses
  • Forensic social workers
  • Corrections personnel
  • Parole and probation workers
  • Military police
  • Victim advocates
  • Elected Officials
  • Counselors
  • Pastors
  • Attorneys
  • Students

Certificate Requirements
To earn the Professional Certificate in Forensic Psychology, you must successfully complete two (2) core courses and three (3) electives within two (2) years.

Core Courses
Introduction to Mental Health
Introduction to Forensic Psychology

Elective Courses (choose three)
Cyber Psychology
Correctional and Police Psychology
Cross-Cultural Adaptation and Counter-Terrorism
Challenges & Psychological Components for Active Shooter Identification
Immigration Psychology

Coming Soon
Mental Health Resilience for First Responders
Disaster-Related Emotional Resilience for Survivors and First Responders

For more information email

Courses are expected to begin in Spring 2019.


2018 Summer2018 Fall2019 Spring
FPSY 0001 Introduction to Forensic Psychology

This course is intended to introduce students to the wide-ranging field of forensic psychology and is designed to consider the relationship between psychology and the law by showing how psychological research and theory can inform the legal process. This course will examine the position and responsibilities of forensic psychologists in police work, criminal investigation, investigative behavioral analysis, threat assessment, eyewitness identification, school bullying, mental defenses and competency issues, sexual abuse issues, juvenile forensics and death penalty cases, and jury selection.

Course Date(s)

FPSY 0002 Introduction to Mental Health

This course is intended to introduce students to the wide-ranging field of clinical psychology and is designed to consider the relationship between mental health and law. The purpose of this course is to introduce you to the major psychological disorders as we have defined them, and provide you with an overview of their primary symptoms and psychological theories. We will also discuss diagnostic issues, methods used to study psychopathology, and the major perspectives at work in psychology today.

Course Date(s)

FPSY 0003 Correctional and Police Psychology

In this course you will be learning about the intersection of mental health, the practice of psychology and two major forensic fields. By the end of the course you will have learned about many topics in both forensic fields including:
Police Interviews, Domestic Violence, Use of Force, Suicide and Law Enforcement, Cops in Trouble, Restorative justice, Peer support, Complex Trauma and Grief, Critical incidents, Psychological Disorders involved in crime, Types of Forensic Evaluations inmates in jail undergo, Family Crimes, Malingering, Sex Crimes, Stalking and Harassment, Death Penalty, Crime Victims and Gangs.

Course Date(s)

FPSY 0004 Cross-Cultural Adaptation and Counter-Terrorism

Terrorism has prevailed in human society from the earliest times of our existence. Terrorism, today with all its sophistication, presents a significant problem to the security and growth of nations all over the world. The first responders and communities need to enhance their knowledge and skills through advanced education about the cultural context of the terrorism.

The Cross-Cultural Adaptation and Counter-Terrorism course teaches on how to be a competent counter terrorism strategist by learning the cultural sensitivities and eliminating the biases through the understanding of the formal concepts of culture and cross-cultural adaptation, comparative cultural patterns, and interaction among different cultures. This course further coaches on the nuances involved in defining terrorism and learning the effectiveness of counter terrorism tools and techniques by studying the examples of the international terrorist movements such as Al-Qaeda and ISIS with proper political and cultural context in South Asia and the Middle East as well as domestic terrorism and home-grown violence in the U.S.A. and Europe.

Course Date(s)

Sobhya Agha

Program Instructors include:

Sobhya Agha is an adjunct faculty at the Department of Homeland Security at San Diego State University. She completed her bachelor’s degree in computer science, a master’s in criminology, and a master’s in homeland security. Agha worked as a project officer in Pakistan with the police department's “Prevention of Honor Killings and Violence against Women” project, funded by the United Nations Development Program, UK Aid, and the United Nations Office for Project Services. She managed 23 district human-rights cells and their officers, carrying out capacity-building training of police personnel; conducting public awareness campaigns; and, along with local police, intervening to protect honor killing, rape, and domestic violence victims. During that time, the project saved 27 potential victims of honor killings. In 2016, she completed terrorism and homeland security specialist training from the California Specialized Training Institute; and received the Amy K. Christensen Outstanding Diplomacy Security Award. Agha is a member of Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), Crises Mappers (International Humanitarian Technology Network), Women in International Security (WIIS), Ocean Beach Women’s Club (OBWC), Arts Council of Pakistan, and International Sindhi Women Organisation. Agha can read, write and speak Sindhi, English, and Urdu; speak Hindi; and read, write, and comprehend Arabic. She will teach Cross-Cultural Adaptation and Counter-Terrorism.

Anthony Ewing holds a Bachelor of Science degree in criminal justice from California State University-Sacramento; a master’s degree in criminal justice from Kaplan University, and recently began doctoral studies in forensic psychology at Walden University. He worked for the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation as a correctional officer and parole agent, and is a Certified POST Academy instructor, specializing in crisis intervention and mental health behaviors. Ewing teaches criminal justice courses at Kaplan/Brightwood College. He will co-teach Correctional and Police Psychology.

Dr. Melissa Kastner-Treisman obtained her doctorate degree in clinical forensic psychology (Psy.D.) from Alliant International University. She has worked in a variety of clinical and forensic psychiatric settings including Vista Balboa Crisis Center, Richard Donovan Prison, and Juvenile Hall (Juvenile Forensic Services). She additionally published a dissertation regarding police psychological screening measures and has spoken in invited lectures regarding correctional and police psychology. Currently, Dr. Kastner-Treisman works for a private forensic psychologist in San Diego as a psychological assistant performing a variety of psychological assessments for criminal and clinical cases. She will co-teach Correctional and Police Psychology.

Dr. Jessica Mueller received her doctorate degree in clinical forensic psychology (Psy.D.) from Alliant International University, San Diego, where she received the Outstanding Doctor of Psychology Award. She has presented at several conferences and lectured on methods of terrorist recruitment and online radicalization as well as emotional response following acts of terrorism. Her other research interests include cyberpsychology — specifically the impact of social media and internet use on mental health. She currently works for the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR). She will teach Cyber Psychology.

Captain Michael Owen is a veteran whose decorations include the Navy & Marine Corps Commendation Medal with combat distinguishing device, Navy Achievement Medal with combat distinguishing device, and the Combat Action Ribbon. He is the president and executive director of VETality Corp., a nonprofit organization based out of San Diego, Calif., dedicated to educating, training, and assisting in the employment of veterans nationwide. Owen is currently pursuing a doctorate in strategic security (D.S.S.) through National Security Policy Studies. He will teach Active Shooter and Psychological Challenges.

Sara Roldan, manager of the Forensic Lab at San Diego State University, holds an M.S. in Homeland Security from SDSU, with the focus of her studies on inclusion and mental health. In addition to being an inclusion advocate, she has taught a wide variety of classes including psychology, multicultural treatment, developmental psychopathology, and special education. She is the co-founder and director of intercultural communication at the Palimpsest Aurora Consortium in San Diego, whose mission is to mitigate the strain of mental illness and to enhance community policing through improved communication with disabled and minority populations. She is currently pursuing her doctorate in clinical psychology from the Chicago School of Professional Psychology. Her research includes perceived barriers to traveling abroad, culture shock and reverse culture shock, and factors influencing bias and inclusion in various settings. The unifying themes across her career are inclusion, intercultural communication, mental health, and resiliency. Roldan is faculty co-director of the program and will co-teach Introduction to Forensic Psychology and Introduction to Mental Health​.

Dr. Katherine Turner is the director of Resilience, Training, and Interventions for Countering Violence, Homeland Security Projects. She is also a co-founder and director of the Palimpsest Aurora Consortium, whose mission is to mitigate the strain of mental illness and to enhance community policing through improved communication with disabled and minority populations. Dr. Turner has taught a wide variety of classes including introduction to forensics, clinical psychology, multicultural treatment, and developmental psychopathology, and has won awards for both outstanding teaching and advising. She is faculty co-director of the program and will co-teach Introduction to Forensic Psychology and Introduction to Mental Health.