Major changes are taking place in the American correctional system. The prison system isn’t going anywhere – but in order to reduce costs and improve outcomes, many state governments are experimenting with alternatives to prison, such as community-based programs.
This means that there’s a growing need for professionals who are experts in prisoner rehabilitation and reintegration – which is, after all, the goal of the offender treatment system.
With a degree in Corrections, you’ll be well-placed to serve in a variety of capacities in the correctional system. And you’ll be ready to take advantage of job promotions and opportunities for graduate studies as well.
What kind of Corrections degree should you get?
Most Corrections degrees are concentrations housed within a Criminal Justice major. Depending on your situation, you may be able to complete your degree at a brick and mortar campus. These programs certainly have their benefits, but they aren’t the only way to complete a degree in Corrections.
Online learning has emerged as an affordable, flexible, and well-respected alternative to a traditional, campus-based education. Eager to serve the many people who simply cannot attend a traditional campus, universities have developed outstanding online programs for nontraditional students.
These programs blend the academic rigor and exceptional faculty experience of a traditional program with the convenience of online learning.
For more information on online learning, check out our ranking of the Best Online Colleges.
How much money do people make with a Corrections degree?
You won’t get rich as a corrections professional, but with the right mix of work experience and education, you’ll be be able to bring home a respectable salary.
Of course, your geographical location will play a part in your actual salary, but the US Bureau of Labor Statistics reports the median annual wage for correctional officers at $42,820 as of May 2016. Those employed in local government facilities averaged $45,950, while federal employees averaged an income of $54,310.
What can you do with a degree in Corrections?
With a degree in Corrections, you’ll gain a solid foundation in the policies, procedures, laws, and regulations governing corrections and the offender treatment system. This training will provide an open door to many career options within the correctional system.
You’ll also be ready to take on graduate studies which can lead to higher-level administrative or even teaching careers (at the college level) which come with both higher salaries and better benefits.
Here are some jobs your degree in Corrections might qualify you for:
- Correctional Officer
- Detention Officer
- Delinquency Prevention Specialist
- Treatment Specialist
- Caseworker Or Counselor
What are the requirements for a degree in Corrections?
Admission requirements vary from school to school. There is a broad distinction to be made, though, between completion degrees and programs that are available entirely online. If you’re interested in a completion program, you’ll probably need to have between 20-30 credits to transfer into the program.
If you’re transferring from a community college, you should consult the college’s online transfer guides and the Undergraduate Catalog for detailed information. Some programs even offer credit for previous life or work experience. An academic counselor or advisor can help to review your degree plan and keep you on track for graduation.
What are the best Corrections degrees?
At College Choice, we’ve searched the internet to find the best Corrections degrees. We’ve researched them for you, ranked them, and given each school a score that reflects both academic excellence and return on investment. Then we lay it all out for you in an easy-to-read format.
The College Choice score is based on a lot of numbers. Our research team weighs statistics from the Department of Education’s Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS), national reputation scores, tuition costs, and early career incomes – as well as first-year retention rates (a good indicator of program quality).
See our rankings methodology page.
University of Massachusetts Lowell
College Choice Score: 100
Average Net Price: $18,348
Located in Lowell, MA, the University of Massachusetts Lowell is a nationally recognized public research university with a reputation for providing one of the best values in higher education as well as a high return on investment. The school is a leader in online education, and their online Bachelor’s programs rank among the best in the nation, according to U.S. News and World Report.
UMass Lowell offers an online Bachelor of Science in Criminal Justice which blends a traditional liberal arts education with professional competencies. Students learn the correlations of crime and the workings of the criminal justice system – as well as how to apply this knowledge to related social problems. And UMass Lowell’s program does not neglect the critical thinking and communication skills that you’ll use no matter what career you pursue. Courses include:
- The Criminal Justice System
- Introduction to Homeland Security
- Community-Based Corrections
UMass Lowell’s online BS in Criminal Justice is a 120-credit degree program that you can either earn entirely through UMass Lowell, or as a completion degree. You’ll also have the choice to pursue the degree entirely online, or as a combination of online and on-campus courses. And tuition at UMass Lowell is the same for in-state and out-of-state students, making this an affordable program no matter where you live.
North Carolina Central University
College Choice Score: 93.64
Average Net Price: $10,835
Originally founded as the first public liberal arts institution for African Americans, North Carolina Central University is a highly-ranked master’s comprehensive university in Durham, NC. NCCU’s online Bachelor’s program provides affordable tuition, innovative teaching, impactful scholarship, and a globally diverse faculty – and it currently ranks at #130 nationally, according to U.S. News and World Report.
NCCU offers an online Bachelor of Science in Criminal Justice with a concentration in Corrections which is certified by the Academy of Criminal Justice Sciences. The program provides a broad-based understanding of the criminal justice system, as well as the theoretical and practical issues related to corrections. And online students at NCCU gain experience in hands-on experience that puts theory to practice. Classes include:
- Introduction to Corrections
- Jail Policy and Practice
- Correctional Counselling
NCCU’s online BS in Criminal Justice is a 120-credit program which can be completed as a four-year degree or – for those with an AAS degree – as a completion degree. The program includes 35 credits of Core Criminal Justice courses and 12 credits in the Corrections concentration. NCCU’s program blends serious affordability and convenience with the quality of an ACJS-certified program.
Eastern Kentucky University
College Choice Score: 93.60
Average Net Price: $12,255
Located in Richmond, KY, Eastern Kentucky University is a mid-sized, comprehensive public university that is committed to making higher education possible for all students. With high-quality programs in a variety of areas, students at EKU experience small classes and a range of student supports that help them succeed. U.S. News and World Report ranks EKU’s online Bachelor’s program at #115 nationally.
Eastern Kentucky University offers an online Bachelor of Science in Corrections and Juvenile Justice Studies for both seasoned professionals and those just beginning in the field. EKU’s program focuses on rehabilitation and proven best practices, blending academic and professional preparation. Students in EKU’s online programs also have the option to pursue a minor or an undergraduate certificate that will complement their major program. Courses include:
- Community Corrections
- The Juvenile Justice System
- Criminal Justice
EKU’s online BS in Corrections and Juvenile Justice Studies is a 120-credit program which you can complete entirely online or as a completion degree (you’ll need to complete at least 30 credits at EKU). EKU Online delivers courses in eight-week terms and on personalized graduation plans, so you’ll be able to move through courses as quickly as you’d like. And EKU’s supportive learning environment means that online learning isn’t an isolating experience.
College Choice Score: 93.08
Average Net Price: $17,837
Located in Virginia Beach, VA, Regent University is a private, Christian research university with a mission to develop Christian leaders. Regent University has been offering online degrees since 2003 and prides itself on its rigorous, flexible, and affordable online programs. Their online programs are some of the most affordable among Christian colleges, making faith-integrated higher education available to students nationwide.
Regent University offers an online Bachelor of Science in Criminal Justice with a concentration in Corrections that prepares students for careers in local, state, federal or international law enforcement organizations. Taught from an explicitly Christian worldview, Regent’s program provides a broad understanding of criminal justice with a focus on topics specific to corrections, like juvenile justice and criminal law. Courses include:
- Criminal Investigation
- Juvenile Justice
- Criminal Evidence
Regent University’s online BS in Criminal Justice-Corrections degree is a 120-credit program which can be completed entirely online. Online learning at Regent University offers exceptional quality and flexibility – at a reasonable tuition rate. And you’ll have plenty of opportunity to interact with students and faculty. In fact, you’ll find yourself connected to a community of online learners pursuing degrees from a range of backgrounds, cultures and experiences.
West Texas A&M University
College Choice Score: 88.00
Average Net Price: $12,022
Located in the small town of Canyon, TX, West Texas A&M University is a public university and a member of the Texas A&M System. Traditionally serving the communities of West Texas and the Texas Panhandle, West Texas A&M is now home to a robust online program that offers high-ranking degrees in a number of areas. U.S. News and World Report ranks their online Bachelor’s program at #9 nationally.
The Department of Political Science and Criminal Justice at West Texas A&M offers an online Bachelor of Arts or Science in Criminal Justice with an emphasis in Corrections. This affordable program is ideal for students wanting to examine important questions facing society and make a difference in the criminal justice system. The curriculum covers ethics, the rights of people accused of a crime, and the justice system – in classroom and real-world settings. Courses include:
- Introduction to Criminal Justice
- Correctional Systems and Practices
- Law of Corrections
West Texas A&M’s BA or BS in Criminal Justice-Corrections is a 120-credit degree program that can be completed in a hybrid format – with most courses available online. The Criminal Justice major includes 66 hours of credits, with 27 credits in the Corrections emphasis. Students learn from top-notch faculty who are experts in their fields, and online students at West Texas A&M benefit from a range of supports that will keep you on track to complete your degree on time.
Southern New Hampshire University
College Choice Score: 86.67
Average Net Price: $34,984
Located in Manchester, NH, Southern New Hampshire University is a private university which U.S. News and World Report currently ranks as the #1 most innovative school in the country. SNHU has pioneered alternative modes of delivery, making their high-quality programs as accessible as possible to students on campus and online.
Southern New Hampshire University offers an online Bachelor of Science in Criminal Justice with a concentration in Corrections. The 100 percent online curriculum addresses the continuum of services provided in corrections, including community-based supervision, and the social factors that lead to incarceration. Students in SNHU’s program learn essential Criminal Justice theory as well as current issues and evidence-based practices for rehabilitating offenders. Courses include:
- Offender Rehabilitation
- Community-based Corrections
- Correctional Administration
Southern New Hampshire University’s online BS in Criminal Justice-Corrections is a 120-credit degree program which is available entirely online. As part of the degree requirements, students create a capstone-based research paper – and internships are also a possibility. SNHU is a leader in online learning, and students in the school’s programs benefit from expert instruction, affordability, and flexibility. Courses are delivered in six eight-week terms throughout the year, which allows you to set the pace for your degree program.
College Choice Score: 86.64
Average Net Price: $16,789
Located in Cleveland, TN, in the foothills of the Appalachian mountains, Lee University is a private, Evangelical Christian university affiliated with the Church of God denomination. Currently one of the largest Christian universities in the country, U.S. News and World Report ranks Lee University as one of the top 50 regional schools in the South – and their online programs have also garnered national acclaim.
Lee University offers an online Bachelor of Arts or Bachelor of Science in Criminal Justice with an emphasis in Corrections. Designed with working adults in mind, Lee’s program offers online students faith-integrated expertise that will develop key knowledge, values, and ethical considerations. Graduates are prepared to be successful managers and leaders in the criminal justice system or to move on to graduate studies. Courses include:
- Drugs and Behavior
- Community Trauma Management
Lee University’s online BS in Criminal Justice-Corrections degree is a 120-credit degree program with 27 credits in the Criminal Justice major and 24 credits in the Corrections emphasis. You should plan to complete at least 25 percent of the degree at Lee University, but the entire degree is available online. Lee’s program is designed to be compatible for both brand new students and transfer students who may be bringing a completed associate’s degree into the program.
Bemidji State University
College Choice Score: 82.31
Average Net Price: $14,334
Located on the western shores of Lake Bemidji in Minnesota, Bemidji State University is a small, public university and a member of the Minnesota State Colleges and Universities System. Built upon a core philosophy of environmental stewardship, community service, and global understanding, U.S. News and World Report ranks Bemidji State at #32 among regional public universities in the Midwest.
Bemidji State University offers an online Bachelor of Science in Criminal Justice with an emphasis in Corrections. This generalist program provides a broad-based understanding of the US Criminal Justice system as well as a more concentrated look at the theory and practice of corrections. Degree requirements include a combination of course work, internships, and special research projects – so you’ll be ready for job promotion and graduate school. Courses include:
- Corrections and Penology
- Community Corrections
- Principles of Criminal Justice Supervision
Bemidji State University’s online BS in Criminal Justice-Corrections degree is a completion degree with 48 credits in the major, including 25 credits in the Corrections emphasis. You’ll need to have completed at least 24 semester credits to begin this online degree completion program. Bemidji State’s excellent program will prepare you for a wide range of careers in law enforcement, corrections, or other public and private agencies – without breaking your bank.
College Choice Score: 81.00
Average Net Price: $20,972
Located in Tiffin, OH, Tiffin University is a private university that has transitioned from traditional program delivery to a blend of online and campus-based courses targeting both working adults and traditional students. The school ranks among the top 100 regional universities in the Midwest, according to U.S. News and World Report, and offers accredited, affordable online programs in several disciplines.
Tiffin University offers an online Bachelor of Criminal Justice with a major in Corrections which equips students to handle the largest facets of the criminal justice system. With a strong foundation in legal issues, management, history, social work, and counseling, students in the Corrections major gain the latest perspectives on issues like offender reentry and offender motivation. On graduation, you’ll be ready to reflect and act on theory and policy in a variety of workplaces. Courses include:
- Correctional Thought and Practice
- Juvenile Justice System
- Probation, Parole, and Community Relations
Tiffin University’s online BCJ in Corrections is a 121-credit program with 33 credits in Criminal Justice and 33 credits in the Corrections major. Online courses at Tiffin University offer a high level of flexibility, being delivered in two seven-week terms in each of six semesters throughout the year. And online students at Tiffin learn from faculty with experience in the correctional environment, bringing to the classroom their professional practice experiences.
New England College
College Choice Score: 74.91
Average Net Price: $27,640
Located in the town of Henniker, NH, New England College is a small, private university with a deep commitment to hands-on learning, blended with civic and community engagement. The school has a strong traditional program on their New Hampshire campus, but in recent years has expanded their reach through a wide range of online degrees at the Associate’s and Bachelor’s level. U.S. News and World Report ranks their online Bachelor’s programs at #107 nationally.
New England College offers an online Bachelor of Arts in Criminal Justice with a Concentration in Institutional and Community-Based Corrections. The program, which is 100 percent online, focuses attention on the legal and policy-driven programs established for offenders reentering society. Students also gain a foundational understanding of probation and parole systems and examine the various responsibilities of corrections professionals.
- Legal and Policy Issues in Corrections Administration
- Law Enforcement Supervision, Management, and Leadership
- Community-Based Corrections
New England College’s online BA in Criminal Justice – Institutional and Community-Based Corrections degree is designed to be completed either entirely online at NEC or as a completion degree. NEC has a very generous transfer policy, allowing up to 90 credits to be brought into the program – and online students enjoy a wide range of student supports that make the learning experience manageable. And with seven start dates per year and accelerated, seven-week courses, you’ll be able to finish as quickly as possible.