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.
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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.
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.
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.
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
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
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!
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.
Frequently Asked Questions
A degree in corrections is worth it if for no other reason than it equips you to provide services to individuals who need guidance and direction to turn their lives around. There is some measure of job security, too – there will always be a need for competent correctional workers. A degree in this field gives you options, too. While most graduates work in a correctional setting like a jail, you will also have the necessary skills to work in adjacent fields, like in criminal courts as a bailiff. Correctional jobs also offer excellent benefits and retirement – a distinct advantage of getting a degree in this field.
In-state tuition for a bachelor’s in corrections at a public university averages less than $10,000 per year, according to the Education Data Initiative. Tuition at a private university is much more, at an average of nearly $39,000 per year for tuition and fees. Tuition and fees aren’t the only costs related to getting an undergraduate degree, though. You should also factor in room and board, books, necessary supplies, and costs of getting to and from school if you don’t live on campus. As an in-state student living on campus, you can expect to spend more than $104,000 getting your degree.
You can find scholarships for your corrections degree from many different sources. If you’re in high school, check with your guidance counselor for leads on any scholarships specific to this field. If you’re in college, the financial aid office can assist you with finding aid. Likewise, you can search for relevant scholarships online and apply for general scholarships, such as those based on need or merit.
A bachelor’s degree in corrections requires about four years of full-time studies. Most programs require about 120 credits, so you’ll need to take 12-15 credits (four or five classes) each spring and fall. Taking summer classes and/or an additional class each spring and fall can reduce the time needed to graduate by a semester or even a year.
No, studying corrections is not considered hard. This major has few science and math requirements and usually doesn’t have many research and writing requirements, either. However, all college degrees require a lot of work and dedication to do well. Though the work might not be hard, getting a corrections degree will be time-intensive.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, correctional officers and bailiffs make around $49,000 per year. New workers in this field might earn less – around $28,290 per year. More experienced workers can make more than $82,500 per year. Your level of experience heavily influences the salary potential, so the more experience you gain, the more money you’re likely to make. Certifications, training, and completing other continuing education opportunities can also help increase the pay for correctional workers. The pay also depends on where you work. For example, the pay at large penitentiaries is often higher than at small county jails.
According to ZipRecruiter, the highest-paying corrections job is transportation officer, with a salary range of up to $102,000 per year. Another high-paying job in this field is correctional program officer, which pays up to $91,000 per year. Correctional security officers ($62,000 per year), jail officers ($56,000 per year), and detention officers ($55,000) are among the other highest-paying careers in this field.
The most common career is to become a corrections officer. However, a bachelor’s degree in corrections allows you to pursue many criminal justice-related careers:
• Juvenile Corrections Officer
• Probation Officer
• Correctional Treatment Specialist
With additional education, training, and experience, you can pursue supervisory and management positions, such as night captain or prison warden.
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. You might consider joining one of the following:
• American Correctional Association
• Correctional Leaders Association
• Association of State Correctional Administrators