Why should you get a bachelor’s in corrections when most corrections jobs require a high school diploma or equivalent?
The answer is simple.
If you know you want to work in the corrections industry, earning one of the best bachelor’s degrees will ensure that you start out with a higher-paying job. Plus, with a bachelor’s degree, you will have more career options.
The U.S. correctional system incarcerates more inmates per capita than any other country in the world. Corrections professionals with leadership and communication skills are desperately needed. If you are interested in working in the fast-paced environment of corrections, one of the best bachelor’s in corrections is worth your time and money.
Related Resource: What is a Bachelor’s Degree?
What is a Bachelor’s in Corrections?
A bachelor’s in corrections is typically offered as a Bachelor of Science (or Arts) in criminal justice with an emphasis on corrections. Another is a bachelor’s in correctional program support services. Corrections bachelor’s programs are typically 120 credit hours and prepare students for careers in correctional facilities and law enforcement.
The best corrections degree programs require a combination of coursework in general education, criminal justice, and corrections courses, and electives. Some bachelor’s degrees in corrections also include a required internship and a capstone project. Corrections degree classes include the following:
- Intro to Corrections
- Community Corrections
- Correctional Law
- Correctional Administration
- Probation and Parole
Many bachelor’s in corrections degrees are offered online, adding flexibility to a student’s workload. While you may not find cheap correctional officer degrees, online degrees are typically more affordable too. If you’re looking for an inexpensive criminal justice corrections degree, check out the online degree options. The average bachelor’s in corrections takes a full-time student approximately four years to complete. While admissions requirements vary per school, you need at least a high school diploma or GED to apply.
Careers for Bachelor’s in Corrections Majors
With a bachelor’s in corrections, you will have more job opportunities in the field than you would without a degree. A degree in corrections prepares individuals to work in correctional facilities or support roles such as probation and parole.
Many corrections majors decide to become corrections officers. Corrections officers are responsible for overseeing inmates who are awaiting a court date or who have been sentenced to serve time in a jail or prison. While most corrections majors plan to become corrections officers in jails or prisons, there are plenty of other career opportunities.
Many corrections majors work in law enforcement fields that are not in corrections facilities. For example, bailiffs are law enforcement officers who maintain order in courtrooms. Probation officers assist law offenders who are placed on probation. Correctional treatment specialists provide support to inmates as they reenter society. The bottom line is that a bachelor’s in corrections is the right step toward a future career in this field. Those with bachelor’s degrees have an advantage over those who don’t in job hunting.
Bachelor’s in Corrections Salary Potential
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median correctional officer salary is $47,440. However, this figure is based on correctional officers and bailiffs who hold a high school diploma or equivalent. This means that a bachelor’s degree in corrections will likely bring about correctional officer jobs along the higher end of the salary range.
The highest 10% earn more than $81,940, while the lowest 10% earn less than $32,830 (BLS). Correctional officers and bailiffs who work for the federal government earn a higher median salary ($60,540) than those who work for the state or local government ($47,000).
Corrections majors often become probation officers or correctional treatment specialists. Both of these careers typically require a bachelor’s degree. The average median salary of probation officers or correctional treatment specialists is $55,690. The highest 10% earn more than $98,510, while the lowest 10% earn less than $36,990 (BLS). While a bachelor’s in corrections is sufficient for most correctional officer jobs, some go on to earn a master’s in corrections to increase salary potential.
What are the Best Bachelor’s in Corrections?
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University of Massachusetts, Lowell
The University of Massachusetts, Lowell, also known as UMass Lowell, is one of the best national research universities out there. With five colleges and over 18,000 students, UMass Lowell has something for every student, regardless of whether they are pursuing a specific career or undecided.
UMass Lowell’s Bachelor of Science in criminal justice and criminology comes with a concentration in corrections. The program emphasizes professional courses while also providing a traditional, comprehensive liberal arts curriculum. Students must complete 120 credit hours, which include 36-60 credits in criminal justice/corrections courses. Specific courses include:
- Criminal Law
- Intro to Policing
- Intro to Corrections
- Criminal Justice Research Methods
- Crime Mapping
In addition, you will complete a capstone seminar course during your final year and maintain at least a 2.5 GPA in criminal justice coursework (an overall GPA of 2.2). UMass Lowell evaluates its applicants on a holistic basis. While higher GPAs and stronger test scores are ideal, UMass Lowell recognizes that not all great students will fit into this category. This is why they offer alternative admissions programs.
Stephen F. Austin State University
Founded in 1923, Stephen F. Austin State University offers over 120 major areas to study and serves nearly 13,000 students. A great aspect of SFA’s Bachelor of Science in criminal justice is the options to customize it. You can choose a specialization in corrections (or law enforcement or legal assistant, but since this ranking is about corrections, we will focus on that concentration.)
Additionally, you can select a minor in any other major subject area or pursue a joint bachelor’s/master’s program. The BS in criminal justice—corrections emphasis is 120 credit hours and includes courses like the following:
- Criminal Procedure I and II
- Professional Writing in Criminal Justice
- Criminal Justice Theory and Practice
- Understanding Criminal Justice Research
To fulfill the corrections specialization, you will take at least 18 credit hours in corrections courses. With a bachelor’s in criminal justice from SFA, you will be marketable for future police, courts, and corrections careers. Joining SFA’s Criminal Justice Association is also a great idea. Here you will learn about career placement while networking with other CJ majors and professionals.
If you’re looking for a top-notch university with a big-city feel, check out Washburn University. The beautiful 160-acre campus is nestled in Topeka, Kansas. Washburn offers 200+ academic programs at affordable costs, earning it recognition as a “low student debt upon graduation” school from U.S. News & World Report.
WU’s Bachelor of Criminal Justice comes with a concentrations emphasis that requires 120 credit hours with 39 credits of major requirements. Sample courses include:
- Crime and Justice in America
- Introduction to Corrections
- Correctional Treatment Strategies
- Evidence-Based Practices in Corrections
- Probation, Parole, and Community-Based Corrections
Additionally, you will complete 12 credit hours of electives and a criminal justice internship, a big perk of this program.
WU’s high-value degree in corrections prepares students for employment in federal, state, and local corrections. Because the curriculum focuses on both institutional and community-based corrections and requires an internship, graduates have no problems finding careers. If you’re interested in WU and all it has to offer, check out the admission details here.
A leading private research university, Boston University spans over 17 colleges and schools, 300+ academic programs, and serves more than 33,5000 students. BU’s Bachelor of Science in criminal justice comes with a corrections emphasis that is affordable, flexible, and can be completed through a bachelor’s-to-master’s pathway.
BU’s BS in criminal justice-corrections includes 128 credits, and the formats attract those who wish to complete the program part-time. The curriculum entails a minimum of 32 courses, including Hub requirements, major requirements, related courses, and electives. Expect to study areas such as:
- Police and Society
- Corrections: Concepts, Systems, and Issues
- Courts, Society, and Criminal Procedure
- Youth Crime Problems
As a criminal justice student at BU, you will be learning from the best. BU has been offering criminal justice education since 1973 and the first master’s degree in criminal justice in 1980. Likewise, if you are interested in eventually earning a master’s degree, you can do both with the bachelor’s to master’s pathway. You can also earn a graduate certificate in criminal justice.
Founded in 1978, Regent University is known as “America’s Premier Christian University.” Regent is consistently ranked among the top national universities and best online bachelor’s programs by U.S. News & World Report. Regent’s Bachelor of Science in criminal justice comes with a corrections emphasis and can be completed either on-campus or completely online.
Regent’s criminal justice-corrections curriculum requires 120+ hours of courses, emphasizing critical thinking, ethics, and a Christian worldview. You will study areas like criminal law, criminal procedure, criminal justice systems, and juvenile justice. The corrections concentration entails 12 credit hours in related coursework. Regent criminal justice graduates are armed with the knowledge and skills to succeed in careers like the following:
- Police and probation officer
- Border patrol and customs
- Game warden
Don’t let the fact that Regent is a private university make you think you can’t afford it. Regent offers all sorts of scholarship and financial aid opportunities to its students. Applying is pretty simple. You can submit your application at this link or if you just want more information about the program, fill out the “Request Information” form.
Purdue University Global
Purdue University Global is an accredited online university geared towards working adults. Purdue Global offers innovative online classrooms and personalized career guidance as a part of the Purdue University system. Additionally, you can earn credits from previous coursework and from professional and military experience. Purdue Global’s Bachelor of Science in corrections is a flexible online program with a solid foundation in criminal justice.
Through the Bachelor of Science in Corrections, you will gain the knowledge and skills necessary to become a correctional professional. Emphasis is placed on research-based practices and analytical skills. The program is 180 quarter credits with seven discipline-specific outcomes:
- Criminological theory
- Research methods
You will complete a capstone project during your senior year. Purdue Global corrections graduates are ready to pursue careers in criminal justice agencies such as:
- Adult or juvenile corrections facilities
- Community based organizations
Purdue Global also offers accelerated master’s degree programs that are worth checking out. If you’re interested in Purdue University Global, you can apply online. Make sure to submit all your previous education and experience since Purdue features a generous transfer policy.
Ferris State University
Founded in 1884, Ferris State University is known as a mid-sized university with quality academic programs and a whole lot of them! FSU offers degrees ranging from associates to doctoral, all spanning seven colleges. FSU’s Bachelor of Science in criminal justice-corrections is perfect for students who want to work in institutional settings, probation/parole, or other social service agencies.
FSU’s criminal justice-corrections program is a well-rounded degree that focuses on:
- Interpersonal communication
- Crisis intervention
- Special deviant populations
- Ethical issues in criminal justice
- Correctional institutions
This program includes Michigan Correctional Officer’s Training Council (MCOTC) certification for students who wish to work at a county jail in Michigan. Additionally, an internship is required.
As an FSU criminal justice-corrections major, you will enjoy small classes taught by professionals. You will also have access to plenty of networking resources to ensure a job right after graduation. To graduate, you need to earn at least 60 credits from FSU and maintain at least a 2.0 GPA. If you’re interested in applying to FSU, check out the admission details here.
California State University-Fresno
California State University—Fresno (also called Fresno State University) currently ranks #5 nationally for social mobility. If you’re looking for an affordable correctional officer degree, look here. Fresno’s Bachelor of Science in criminology-corrections option is one of the best corrections degree programs at an affordable cost.
Fresno’s criminology-corrections program provides a strong foundation for working with offenders in institutional and community-based agencies. The program entails 120 credit hours divided into general education requirements, major requirements, and electives. Corrections degree classes include ones like:
- Psychology of Criminality
- Criminal Justice Systems
- Ethics and Gender Issues in Criminal Justice
- Criminal Justice Organization and Management
Fresno State University’s Department of Criminology provides both undergraduate and graduate programs to prepare its students for professional careers. Criminology-corrections graduates are qualified to apply for jobs in the following settings:
- Law and state law enforcement agencies
- Federal prisons
- Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation
If you are interested in Fresno State’s BS in criminology-corrections, check out admission details here.
Farmingdale State College
Part of the State University of New York, Farmingdale State College is a top-ranking public university in the nation. SUNY Farmingdale offers 46 degree programs, including 40 bachelor’s degrees. The Bachelor of Science program in criminal justice: police, courts and corrections is among the best corrections degree programs in the country.
SUNY Farmingdale’s corrections program is well-rounded and blends coursework in many areas:
- Patrol operations
- Homeland security
- Courts and the judiciary
- Probation and parole
- Privacy law
- Civil rights and liberties
- Law enforcement administration
- Leadership and ethics
This program aims to produce graduates who hold expertise in criminal justice agency operations and practices.
SUNY Farmingdale’s criminal justice program requires 123 credits, which includes a senior capstone project. Graduates are eligible to work in an array of careers. SUNY Farmingdale reports that typical employment opportunities include:
- Police and sheriff’s patrol officers
- Transit and railroad police
- New York detectives/criminal investigators
- New York state probation office
- Correctional treatment specialists
If you see yourself at SUNY Farmingdale, check out this page for additional information and application details.
West Texas A&M University
Founded in 1910, West Texas A&M University boasts a handful of awards, including the safest school in Texas and one of the Top 10 in the nation (YourLocalSecurity.com). If you’re looking for an affordable online corrections degree program, WTAMU offers both a Bachelor of Science and Bachelor of Arts in criminal justice-corrections that are worth checking out.
The main difference between a Bachelor of Science or Bachelor of Arts in criminal justice is that a BS includes additional math/science classes and a BA includes foreign language and art classes. Both programs entail 120 credit hours and require major courses such as:
- Court Systems and Practices
- Crime in America
- Correctional Systems and Practices
- Writing and Research for Criminal Justice
- Law of Corrections
You will also complete an internship and capstone during your senior year. While you can complete WTAMU’s criminal justice-corrections programs on campus, you can also earn them online. U.S. News & World Report ranks WTAMU’s online bachelor’s degrees among the best in the nation! If you’re ready to learn more about what WTAMU has to offer, check out this link.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is a corrections officer?
A corrections officer is a law enforcement officer, responsible for enforcing rules in prisons or jails. Corrections officers are in charge of inmates who are awaiting trial or have been sentenced to serve time in the facility. They maintain security in the facility and supervise daily activities.
Do I need a degree to get a job in corrections?
You can get a job in corrections with at least a high school diploma or equivalent. Many correctional officer jobs provide on-the-job training without any post-high school degrees; however, a bachelor’s in corrections will give you experience and allow you to work in federal prisons.
How long does it take to become a corrections officer?
You may be wondering how to become a corrections officer. The answer to that question depends on which educational path you pursue. Requirements for becoming a corrections officer vary by state, but a few common criteria remain the same:
- You must be at least 18 years old
- You must have a valid driver’s license
- You must clear a thorough background check
- You must have excellent communication skills
A bachelor’s degree in criminal justice with a corrections emphasis will take you approximately four years to complete.
Whether or not you pursue a bachelor’s degree, when hired at a correctional facility, you will complete a corrections officer academy, which is typically ten weeks.
Is corrections a good career?
Working in corrections can be a good career because of the decent pay, health and retirement benefits, and job stability. However, working in corrections also comes with some risks. Since jails and prisons operate 24/7, you may be required to work day or night, weekends, or holidays. Additionally, working in corrections can be stressful and even dangerous. The job requires that you be alert, resilient, and in control.
What can you do with a bachelor’s degree in corrections?
A bachelor’s degree in corrections allows you to pursue many criminal justice-related careers. The most common career is to become a corrections officer; however, that is not the only career. Many corrections majors work in the following criminal justice fields:
- Juvenile corrections
- Supervisor/management positions
- Probation officers
- Prison warden
- Correctional treatment specialists
How much can I make in corrections?
The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that the median correctional officer salary is $47,440. This data is based on all correctional officers and bailiffs, and the entry-level education is a high school diploma or equivalent. A bachelor’s degree in corrections will increase your salary potential (and career choices).
Correctional officers’ salary varies from state to state, and states like California, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, and New Jersey report the highest-paid correctional officers’ salaries–$71,000-$81,000 (BLS).
Are there professional organizations for corrections officers?
Professional organizations can be helpful to those who currently work or want to work as corrections officers. Professional organizations are great for networking, resources, and new training opportunities.
The following organizations are ones that corrections majors should consider joining:
- American Correctional Association
- Correctional Leaders Association
- Association of State Correctional Administrators
Top Searched Programs:
Check out more of the best corrections degree programs from these top searched schools:
At Tiffin University, you can pursue either an online or on-campus Bachelor of Criminal Justice-Corrections. Tiffin’s program arms students with a strong background in criminal justice while focusing on offender reentry and population management strategies.
If you’re looking for an online corrections degree program, check out Rasmussen University’s criminal justice degrees. Rasmussen offers an online criminal justice bachelor’s degree that is flexible and affordable.
At Maryville University, you will find a bachelor’s in criminal justice/criminology that is offered both on campus and online. Maryville’s interdisciplinary approach to crime and hands-on experiential learning requirements make this program effective.
Southern New Hampshire University
Southern New Hampshire University features a low-cost criminal justice/corrections major that is completely online. SNHU’s BS in corrections online is perfect if you’re concerned about cost and flexibility.
University of the District of Columbia
The University of the District of Columbia’s Bachelor of Arts in crime, justice, and security studies is worth checking out. This comprehensive program prepares students for careers in law enforcement, paralegal work, corrections, public policy research, and other careers in the criminal justice system.
University of Oklahoma
At the University of Oklahoma, you will find a Bachelor of Science in criminal justice, which is “a fast-paced, accelerated program designed to accommodate working adults.” This program can be completed in as little as 18 months, although most students finish in two to three years.
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