Whether you’re seeking a criminology or criminal justice degree, or if you’re looking to become a correctional officer, there are plenty of career options for you. First responders, probation and parole officers, correctional officers, government officials, and criminal justice administrators usually all start out with degrees in criminal justice/corrections. Correctional officers are responsible for overseeing individuals who have been arrested, while criminologists may specialize in a specific field, such as juvenile crime, murder/kidnapping, crime prevention, etc.
What kind of Corrections degree should you get?
With the rise of degree offerings in corrections and law enforcement, it can be difficult to decide which program is best for you. Should you attend online or on-campus? Should you choose a concentration? Now that you’ve made the decision to earn a degree in corrections, plenty of other decisions will follow. Luckily, we’re here to help!
Many Criminal Justice graduate programs concentrate in correctional policy and leadership. College Choice has published a ranking of the 10 Most Affordable Online degrees in Corrections below. Some of these programs include a focus on things like criminology theories, law and public policy, research analysis and methodology, psychology, ethics and liability, restorative justice, and more.
For a list of the Most Affordable Online Colleges for a Master’s Degrees, check out College Choice’s ranking.
How much money do people make with a degree in Corrections?
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, correctional officers and bailiffs make, on average, $43,510 per year. Of course, your salary will be contingent upon where you work, your experience, and your degree. Jobs in this field can be quite stressful, demanding long hours and the occasional confrontation with inmates. You should be both mentally and physically prepared for a career in corrections.
Graduates who have studied corrections and criminal justice can also expect to find jobs in law enforcement, including the FBI and CIA, as well as having research jobs and working in schools. Positions in this field are projected to increase nearly ten percent in the next few years.
What can you do with a degree in Corrections?
Earning a degree in corrections will open up many doors for graduates. Whether you wish to become a parole officer, a probation officer, a substance abuse counselor, or something else, there are plenty of options for you.
Some folks with corrections degrees choose to work with juveniles, while others go on to work in local, state, or federal corrections facilities. Jobs in this field can be both mentally and physically draining, so it’s best to be prepared before embarking on a corrections degree.
What are the best degrees in Corrections?
We’ve compiled a list of the 10 Most Affordable Online Corrections Degrees with you and your needs in mind. Here’s how we did it:
First, we located the best programs in the country as measured by reputation, student satisfaction, program quality, and return on investment. Then we looked at the bottom line – how much does it cost?
The end result is a list of schools that not only represent the best corrections education you can get and a good return on investment but also one that will fit your budget. Check out our picks below!
See our rankings methodology page.
North Carolina Central University
Average Net Price: $10,835
Located in Durham, NC, North Carolina Central is a public university that was founded in 1909. With over 80 different degree programs and more than 130 student organizations, NCCU is abuzz with academic energy. Check out the university’s affordable online Bachelor of Science degree in Criminal Justice.
This 120-credit program is offered completely online, integrating both classroom and field experiences. Required courses may include:
- Criminal Justice Theory
- Statistical Methods in CJ
- Ethics and Diversity in CJ
- Criminal Justice Practicum
- Criminal Law, Procedures, and Court Processes
Students in this program will also choose a concentration in law enforcement, corrections, juvenile justice, or computer forensics. For in-state undergraduate students, the cost per credit-hour of this program is approximately $145. If you’re out-of-state, the cost is nearly $600 per credit-hour.
The above program is perfect for those looking to pursue the following careers: law enforcement, counterterrorism, computer forensics, and corrections. U.S. News and World Report has ranked North Carolina Central University among the nation’s Top Public Schools, as well as Best Regional Universities in the South. NCCU has also been ranked among schools with the Best Online Bachelor’s Programs.
West Texas A&M University
Average Net Price: $12,022
Located in Canyon, TX, West Texas A&M University is home to mascot Thunder the Buffalo as well as more than 10,000 students. The university was established in 1910 and now offers more than 35 master’s degree programs. In fact, more and more degree programs are offered online. Check out West Texas’ online Bachelor of Science Degree in Criminal Justice—Corrections.
Offered through the university’s Department of Political Science and Criminal Justice, this program requires students to complete at least 120 credit-hours. Required courses may include:
- Writing and Research for Criminal Justice
- Correctional Systems and Practices
- Court Systems and Practices
- Introduction to Law
- Law of Corrections
- Crime in America
Many graduates of this program go on to pursue one of the following careers: Bail Supervisor, Corrections Case Manager, Correctional Officer, Customs Officer, Bailiff, Border Patrol Agent, Fire Investigator, Deputy Sheriff, etc. No matter what your goals are, this program will leave you prepared to take on the world!
U.S. News and World Report ranked West Texas A&M University thirtieth among the nation’s Top Public Schools. The university also made it on the list of Best Regional Universities in the West, as well as ninth overall on the Best Online Bachelor’s Programs ranking.
Eastern Kentucky University
Average Net Price: $12,255
Located in Richmond, KY, Eastern Kentucky University was founded in 1906 and is now home to over 14,000 students. Its flexible programs and affordable degree options make this school a great choice. Now, Eastern Kentucky offers affordable online degrees for those who can’t attend classes on-campus. Check out the university’s Online Corrections and Juvenile Justice Studies Bachelor’s Degree.
This 120-credit degree program can be completed entirely online. The cost per credit-hour is approximately $410. Each term lasts for eight weeks. Required courses may include:
- Female Offenders
- Delinquency Interventions
- Exploring the Death Penalty
- Living and Working in Prison
- The Offender in the Community
- School-Based Interventions for At-Risk Youth
This program is perfect for those interested in one of the following careers: corrections officer, corrections administrator, detention officer, probation officer, parole officer, and treatment specialist. The university also offers a Master’s Degree in Justice, Policy, and Leadership.
All EKU Online students pay the same tuition regardless of residency status. U.S. News & World Report has ranked Eastern Kentucky University among the Top Public Schools in the country. The school was also highly ranked among other regional universities in the south.
Bemidji State University
Average Net Price: $14,334
Located in Bemidji, MN, this public state university offers over 65 undergraduate majors and more than 10 graduate programs. Bemidji State University, home of the beavers, serves students from all around the globe. Over 80 percent of students receive some financial aid. Now, students can pursue an online Bachelor of Science degree in Criminal Justice.
This 48-credit program is offered through Bemidji’s Department of Criminal Justice. It’s ideal for those looking to learn more about the corrections field. Required courses may include:
- Corrections and Penology
- Community Corrections
- Social Psychology
- Multicultural Psychology
- Race and Ethnic Relations
Criminal justice majors can choose from one of the following areas of emphasis: victimology, tribal justice, law enforcement, or corrections. All students must also participate in a directed group study prior to graduating.
Bemidji State University is known for its commitment to serving native populations and preserving the environment. Bemidji offers in-state or reciprocity tuition rates to all eligible and qualified students. Some of the university’s most unique majors include aquatic biology, Indian studies, and industrial model-making. It’s no surprise that the university has been named a top-tier Midwest university by U.S. News and World Report.
Average Net Price: $16,789
Located in Cleveland, TN, Lee University is a private university that’s affiliated with the Church of God. Founded in 1918, Lee is now home to over 5,000 students. With rolling admissions and affordable degree programs, more and more are choosing Lee. In fact, the university now offers a variety of distance programs. Check out Lee’s BA/BS in Criminal Justice with an Emphasis in Corrections.
Students in this program must complete at least 120 credit-hours. Required courses may include:
- Community Trauma Management
- Physiological Psychology
- Abnormal Psychology
- Drugs and Behavior
- Law and Society
Lee’s unique approach will blend your faith into the curriculum. In fact, you’ll learn a faith-based approach in how to care for victims of crime and those who are affected directly or indirectly by the practices of the criminal justice system.
U.S. News and World Report has ranked Lee University among the Top 50 Best Regional Universities in the South. It’s also one of the Best Colleges for Veterans as well as one of the Best Value Schools. In fact, Lee University offers a variety of scholarships and financial aid packages to eligible students.
Average Net Price: $17,837
Founded in 1978, this private Christian research university is located in Virginia Beach, VA, and is home to over 3,800 students. The university offers over 125 graduate and undergraduate areas of study on campus and online. Now, interested students can earn an online Bachelor of Science in Criminal Justice with a concentration in Corrections.
In this 120-credit program, you will focus on issues of juvenile justice, criminal law, criminal procedure, and criminal justice systems. Offered through Regent’s College of Arts and Sciences, required courses may include:
- Comparative Criminal Justice Systems
- Human Anatomy and Physiology
- Theories of Criminal Justice
- Criminal Evidence
- Criminal Law
Regent offers many scholarships and financial aid packages for students. In fact, 88 percent of Regent students receive aid. Part-time students enrolled in an online program can expect to spend $425 per credit-hour. For full-time students, the cost is $395 per credit-hour.
Regent University topped the list of Best Online Bachelor’s Programs in Virginia by U.S. News & World Report in 2018. Not to mention, five university faculty members have been named Fulbright Scholars! Students can learn from the best with the flexibility to work from anywhere in the world.
University of Massachusetts Lowell
Average Net Price: $18,348
This public research institution is located in Lowell, MA and offers a variety of affordable degree options across six unique colleges. Home to mascot Rowdy the River Hawk and over 17,000 students, UMass Lowell is among the top 200 research universities in the US. Now, students can pursue an online Bachelor of Science in Criminal Justice and Criminology.
This 120-credit program is offered through UMass Lowell’s Division of Online and Continuing Education. Students in this program can choose whether or not to pursue a thesis. Required courses may include:
- Advanced Seminar on Weapons of Mass Destruction and Terrorism
- Technology and the Criminal Justice System
- Criminal Justice Management
- Criminal Mind and Behavior
- Gender, Race, and Crime
Undergraduate criminal justice majors at the University of Massachusetts Lowell may enroll in a BS/MA program to complete both degrees in five years. The cost per credit-hour for online undergraduate students is approximately $380.
U.S. News and World Report has ranked UMass Lowell as the fourteenth best Online Graduate Criminal Justice Program in the nation. UMass is also ranked among the nation’s Top Public Universities and thirteenth in the US for intellectual property generated.
Average Net Price: $20,972
Located in Tiffin, OH, this private university was founded in 1888 and is now home to over 4,500 students who bleed green and gold. Tiffin is home to three schools, including the School of Arts and Sciences, School of Business, and School of Criminal Justice and Social Sciences. With a variety of degree programs, students can now pursue an online Bachelor of Criminal Justice Corrections major.
With no application fees and flexible start dates, this program is ideal for students looking for an affordable program. The BCJ program at Tiffin focuses on the following:
- Relationship of the field of corrections to the broader criminal justice system
- Evaluation and treatment of offenders in community supervision, custodial, and community-based facilities.
Students will take two 7-week terms per semester to complete the degree program. TU alumni have gone on to serve in the following agencies: Federal Bureau of Prisons, Federal Probation Offices, County Sheriff’s Offices, Department of Rehabilitation and Corrections, Department of Youth Services, and more.
Ninety percent of Tiffin University students receive financial aid. With small class sizes and flexible start dates, it’s no wonder so many choose Tiffin. In fact, U.S. News and World Report included Tiffin on its ranking of Best Regional Universities in the Midwest.
Average Net Price: $22,183
This private, liberal arts university was founded in 1827 and is located in St. Louis, MO. With over 130 degree programs and students from all around the globe, Lindenwood is home to a sea of innovators and go-getters. Interested in law enforcement and corrections? Check out Lindenwood’s online BA program in Criminology and Criminal Justice.
Offered through Lindenwood University’s School of Sciences, this program offers an active Criminal Justice Student Association and a partnership with St. Louis County and Municipal Police Academy. Required courses may include:
- Policing in America
- Criminal Law and Procedure
- Women, Crime, and the Law
- Race, Crime, and Punishment
- Research Methods for Criminology and Criminal Justice
The school also offers a Criminology and Criminal Justice BA with an emphasis in Law Enforcement. Graduates of this program often seek careers in the legal field, public administration, law enforcement, corrections including probation and parole, juvenile delinquency, government, and more.
Lindenwood’s online degree programs are tailored for those who work part-time or full-time and who would have difficulty traveling to campus. In fact, the university has been ranked among schools with the Best Online Bachelor’s Programs. LU also offers a variety of scholarships and financial aid packages for eligible students.
New England College
Average Net Price: $27,640
This private college is located in the small town of Henniker, NH. Home to mascot Patty the Pilgrim and just a few thousand students, New England College offers small class sizes and convenient, affordable degrees. Interested in the law and justice system? Check out NEC’s Bachelor of Arts degree in Criminal Justice with a Concentration in Institutional and Community-Based Corrections.
This 120-credit BA degree program can be completed 100 percent online. Whether you’re interested in becoming a Probation/Parole Officer, Correctional Officer, Community Corrections Case Manager, or something related, this program will help prepare you. Required courses may include:
- Law Enforcement Supervision, Management, and Leadership
- Legal and Policy Issues in Corrections Administration
- Community-Based Corrections
- Restorative Justice
The cost per credit-hour for this program is $405. Additionally, NEC offers a 10 percent tuition savings for veterans, Reservists, Guardsmen and their spouses, as well as dependents of disabled or deceased veterans.
U.S. News and World Report has ranked New England College among the nation’s Best Regional Universities in the North. The college also ranks among the Best Online Bachelor’s Programs, as well as Best Online MBA Programs. It’s no wonder so many choose NEC for their degrees!