Date of Award


Document Type

Doctoral Research Project

Degree Name

Doctor of Psychology (PsyD)



First Advisor

Julie S. Costopoulos, Ph.D.

Second Advisor

Robyn Tapley, Psy.D.

Third Advisor

Scott A. Gustafson, Ph.D.

Fourth Advisor

Robert A. Taylor, Ph.D.


Burnout is described as having three components: emotional exhaustion, depersonalization, and feelings of ineffectiveness (Maslach et al., 1997). Burnout is considered a major occupational hazard due to the consequences for the afflicted and the population they work with (Leka & Jain, 2012) including low quality care, job dissatisfaction, absenteeism, and high turnover rates (Maslach et al., 2001). Previous research has identified some occupations and settings which are linked to high rates of burnout, including psychologists (Rodriguez & Carlotta, 2017) and those working in a high stress field, such as police officers (Vazquez et al., 2021), corrections officers (Herlickson, 2010) or those working with serious mental illness (Warlick et al., 2021). Additional research has found that pursuing higher education, such as attending graduate school, is also associated with higher levels of burnout (Allen et al., 2020). However, no previous research explored burnout in graduate students studying forensic psychology. This population likely experiences high rates of burnout because of their involvement in two settings with documented relationships to burnout. The present study aimed to close this gap in the literature and understand how gender, grit, locus of control, history of childhood trauma, and vicarious trauma distress relate to burnout by surveying graduate students studying forensic psychology (N = 98). Measures used include a demographic questionnaire, questionnaire related to forensic exposure and distress, The Oldenburg Burnout Inventory (OLBI), Rotter I-E Locus of Control Scale, The Grit Scale, and Childhood Trauma Questionnaire-Short form (CTQ-SF). Results indicated that having high vicarious trauma distress and an external locus of control was most predictive of burnout. Possessing low grit was also predictive of burnout. Occupational, professional, and personal supports to target these variables and reduce burnout, plus limitations and directions for future studies are discussed.

Available for download on Tuesday, May 12, 2026