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A specialized field within criminal justice, corrections focuses on the monitoring, treatment, and rehabilitation of offenders during incarceration, parole, and probation. Whether you enroll in a criminal justice corrections degree online or in a campus–based program, curricula explore the daily operations and functions of courts, prisons, and rehabilitation facilities and the applicable laws for dealing with offenders.

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Additionally, online corrections degrees generally offer flexible formats designed for working professionals, parents with childcare responsibilities, and others whose time commitments restrict their ability to take classes on campus.

An online corrections degree unlocks employment opportunities throughout the criminal justice system at the local, state, and federal levels. Graduates of an online corrections degree often find employment as correctional officers who maintain order in detention facilities and as bailiffs who provide security in courts of law. However, this credential can lead to a variety of professional roles outside the public sector, such as careers working in security and safety positions in private industries and businesses.

Employment opportunities and salary ranges vary according to job market conditions, educational qualifications, and years of experience. Many entry–level corrections positions do not require college–level training, but municipalities and government agencies generally mandate a bachelor’s degree. Earning a correctional officer degree online provides a pathway to better–paying jobs in managerial and supervisory roles.

Corrections Degree Program Ranking Guidelines

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We selected the degree programs based on the quality of program and range of courses provided, as well as school awards, rankings, and reputation.

Our Methodology

Here at TheBestSchools.org, we take the trust and welfare of our readers very seriously. When making our school and program rankings, our top priority is ensuring that our readers get accurate, unbiased information that can help them make informed decisions about online education. That's why we've developed a rigorous ranking methodology that keeps the needs of our readers front and center.

Our proprietary, multi-criteria ranking algorithm analyzes key data indicators — as collected by the federal government — for each school or program. What data we use depends on the focus of each specific ranking, but in all cases, our ranking methodology is impartial: Schools cannot buy better rankings at TBS.

While specific criteria under consideration can vary by ranking, there are a few data points that we value most highly. They are affordability, academic quality, and online enrollment. Below, we break down our algorithm to help you understand what you're getting when you use one of our rankings.

  • Academics
  • Affordability
  • Online Enrollment

Data Sources

The data used in TBS rankings comes primarily from the federal government, and much of it is provided by the schools themselves. We aggregate and analyze this data to build our rankings.

The Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS) is our primary source. Its data comes from annual surveys conducted by the U.S. Department of Education's National Center for Education Statistics (NCES). Every college, university, or technical school with access to federal financial aid must participate in these surveys, which include questions about enrollment, graduation rates, finances, and faculty qualifications. This is publicly available data, which you can access yourself through the College Navigator.

Additionally, because we value a personal touch and the professional experience of our staff and Academic Advisory Board, we vet all results and adjust rankings as necessary based on our collected knowledge of schools and degree programs. Depending on the ranking, we may obtain additional input from AcademicInfluence.com, subject matter experts, prior TBS ranking lists, or other sources we deem relevant to a particular ranking.

Breakdown of Our Rankings Methodology

About Our Ranking Factors

Here at TBS, we value what you value: quality education, affordability, and the accessibility of online education. These factors guide all of our program rankings.

Each of these factors are further broken down into weighted subfactors. For example, retention rates are weighted more heavily than availability of program options because they are a better indicator of student success.

We chose the following factors for our rankings because of their influence on learning experiences and graduate outcomes. However, students should always balance our rankings against their personal priorities. For instance, a learner who needs a fully online program may prioritize online flexibility more than our rankings do. Our rankings are designed to help you make a decision — not to make a decision for you.

Academics - 75%
Affordability - 15%
Online Enrollment - 10%

In all our school rankings and recommendations, we work for objectivity and balance. We carefully research and compile each ranking list, and as stated in our advertising disclosure, we do NOT permit financial incentives to influence rankings. Our articles never promote or disregard a school for financial gain.

If you have questions about our ranking methodology, please feel free to connect with our staff through contact page.

We thank you for your readership and trust.

The Best Online Bachelor’s in Corrections Degree Programs

University of Massachusetts-Lowell View School Profile $$$ Lowell, MA 54% University of Massachusetts – Lowell is regionally accredited by the New England Commission of Higher Education (NECHE), formerly known as the New England Association of Schools and Colleges Commission on Higher Education (NEASC-CIHE).

UMass Lowell offers an online bachelor’s in corrections: a BS in criminal justice. The program is available fully online and in a hybrid format. The online corrections program requires 120 credits. Students must maintain an average GPA of at least 2.2 and a program–specific GPA of 2.5 or better.

UMass Lowell offers a unique opportunity to earn a BS and an MA concurrently and at an accelerated rate; students may count two graduate classes toward both their undergraduate degree and their master’s in criminal justice. Elective options include courses in homeland security and weapons of mass destruction.

The same faculty, many of whom are actively employed in criminal justice positions, teach both online courses and on–campus courses. Online coursework is delivered asynchronously through Blackboard, and courses utilize online discussion boards. Distance learners can access course materials 24/7. Admissions are accepted on a rolling basis prior to each term. Residents of Minnesota, Kansas, and Arkansas are ineligible for UMass Lowell’s online programs. Online students pay slightly higher tuition rates than on–campus students.

Eastern Kentucky University View School Profile $$ Richmond, KY 37% Eastern Kentucky University is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC).

Located in Richmond, EKU offers an online BS in corrections and juvenile justice studies, with no on–campus requirements. Online students communicate with teachers and peers through chat, email, and discussion boards. Many students also arrange study groups on Facebook. Online students have a high level of flexibility; EKU allows distance learners to choose how many credit hours to pursue during an eight–week term.

The online correctional officer college degree program requires 120 credit hours. The curriculum blends professional and academic coursework such as rehabilitation strategies for adult and juvenile offenders, criminal justice, and ethics. Online students can access course materials 24/7 through Blackboard. Corrections students can pursue a related minor and/or an undergraduate certification.

Freshman applicants must have a high school GPA of at least 2.5, and transfer applicants must have a college GPA of at least 2.0. Transfer students may apply up to 90 previous credit hours toward the degree.

Brandman University View School Profile $$$ Irvine, CA 30% Brandman University is regionally accredited by the WASC Senior College and University Commission (WSCUC).

Brandman’s BA in criminal justice program emphasizes the scientific study of criminal behaviors in various social settings. Students earning the bachelor’s in corrections online explore the psychological profiles of criminals. Students can earn a BA in general criminal justice or pursue a concentration, such as corrections, leadership, homeland security, or victim advocacy. Brandman also offers a minor in criminal justice. These degree options prepare students for careers in law enforcement, social work, and criminal law enforcement.

Students can earn the BA in criminal justice entirely online, in a hybrid format, or through a customizable, competency–based option called MyPath. MyPath students choose how many credits to take per semester and pay a fixed tuition rate, regardless of the number of credits they complete during a term.

Applicants must have earned at least 12 college credits with a GPA of 2.0 or better. Brandman offers a four–course online program to help students complete the 12 credits required for admission.

Park University View School Profile $ Parkville, MO 41% Park University is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC).

Park’s online BS in criminal justice administration provides students with a comprehensive understanding of the U.S. correctional system. The online corrections program requires 120 credit hours, 36 of which comprise 300– to 400–level coursework.

Online criminal justice students can concentrate in law enforcement, corrections, or security. Coursework covers topics such as probation and parole, community corrections, and criminal procedures. Online coursework is delivered asynchronously and on an accelerated schedule, allowing students to complete coursework quickly and at their convenience. Park offers five start dates and flexible scheduling options for students earning their degree in criminal justice online.

Applicants must have previous college experience and may apply 90 transfer credits toward the degree. Most full–time students complete the criminal justice program in four years. Students must maintain a 2.0 GPA. Park provides free online textbooks and resources for distance learners.

Lindenwood University View School Profile $$$$ St. Charles, MO 41% Lindenwood University is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC).

Lindenwood’s BA in criminal justice explores the U.S. criminal justice system. Students analyze the fundamentals and extent of criminal activity in the country. Available concentrations include legal studies, probation and parole corrections, juvenile corrections, and law enforcement. Students concentrating in law enforcement can further specialize to prepare for police training.

The program is offered fully online and in a hybrid format. Students residing near St. Charles, Missouri, can apply for internship opportunities through local police stations and corrections facilities. Missouri residents are invited to participate in field trips to hear seminars and visit criminal justice agencies.

The program prepares students for correctional officer jobs in settings such as police offices, federal agencies, and courts. Students earning the criminal justice degree online choose between traditional and accelerated formats, the latter of which students complete in 15 to 24 months. Criminal justice students can dual–major in forensics, which does include some on–campus lab requirements. Distance learners can access course materials 24/7 through Canvas.

North Carolina Central University View School Profile $$ Durham, NC 43% North Carolina Central University is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC).

NCCU offers an online BS in criminal justice that provides students with a deep understanding of the American justice system and its agencies, personnel, and historical foundations. NCCU’s criminal justice program is certified by the Academy of Criminal Justice Sciences, an international association that supports professional and scholarly activities in criminal justice. Students pursue careers in areas such as law enforcement, counterterrorism, homeland security, and computer forensics. Corrections students can concentrate in juvenile justice, corrections, law enforcement, or computer forensics.

Most full–time students complete the criminal justice online program in four years, but students who accelerate their coursework graduate in as few as two years. Online coursework is delivered through Blackboard. Students can also pursue the 120–credit degree in a hybrid format, which combines online coursework with field–based classes and internships.

Applicants must have a high school diploma or GED and must have earned a minimum 2.5 GPA. While online classes are primarily asynchronous, some professors requires students to log on at specific times. NCCU offers multiple start dates throughout the year, and applications are accepted on a rolling basis.

Bemidji State University View School Profile $$ Bemidji, MN 44% Bemidji State University is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC).

BSU offers an online BS in criminal justice degree completion program. Students complete general criminal justice coursework before pursuing a specialization in corrections, victimology, tribal justice, or law enforcement. Graduates pursue careers in law enforcement and corrections within public and private agencies.

Students complete the equivalent of their final two years through BSU. Applicants to the online criminal justice degree completion program must have completed at least 24 credits from another institution or have participated in the Minnesota Transfer Curriculum (MnTC) program, which allows students to complete general courses through any institution in the Minnesota State Colleges and Universities system. Because institutions in the system have agreed upon a core curriculum required for any degree, each school in the system accepts credits in the MnTC.

The online BS in criminal justice is delivered asynchronously. Distance learners have 24/7 access to coursework through the D2L Brightspace learning platform. All online students pay the same tuition rate, regardless of residency, and distance learners are eligible for financial aid and scholarships.

Southern New Hampshire University View School Profile $$$$ Manchester, NH 59% Southern New Hampshire University is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC).

SNHU, a nonprofit, private institution, offers a BS in criminal justice with a concentration in corrections. The program helps students understand changing correctional protocols and the recent trend toward lighter sentences and more community–based service. In light of the evolving correctional landscape, the program emphasizes practices for the rehabilitation and reintegration of criminal offenders into society.

Students gain a foundation in procedures, policies, laws and regulations, and the offender treatment system. The program culminates in a capstone research paper. Graduates who have earned their bachelor’s in corrections online pursue careers in areas such as correctional administration, correctional case management, and public safety.

Online students have 24/7 access to course materials and discussion boards. Although the program has no in–person requirements, New Hampshire residents are encouraged to participate in an internship program. Students complete coursework at their own pace, in eight–week terms. SNHU accepts up to 90 transfer credits.

Lee University View School Profile $$$ Cleveland, TN 49% Lee University is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC).

Based in Cleveland, Tennessee, Lee offers an online BA in criminal justice with an emphasis in corrections. Each program at this Christian liberal arts school requires 15 credit hours in religious foundations and principles. All transfer students must complete a global perspectives seminar and a biblical and theological foundations for benevolence course.

Students earning their online correctional officer college degree through Lee complete 120 credit hours comprising a criminal justice core, general education coursework, religious foundations classes, and general electives. Coursework in the fully online program is delivered through Moodle, and most students earn the degree in four years. Distance learners have 24/7 access to course materials. All classwork is asynchronous and assigned weekly. Tennessee residents can earn the degree as a hybrid–intensive program, which includes two weekends of on–campus instruction per term.

Applicants must have a high school diploma or GED and must have earned at least a 2.0 GPA. Transfer applicants with at least 16 previous credit hours must also have a 2.0 GPA. Applicants who do not meet Lee’s GPA requirement may be admitted on academic probation.

Tiffin University View School Profile $$$$ Tiffin, OH 33% Tiffin University is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC).

Tiffin’s online bachelor’s of criminal justice in corrections degree focuses on the rehabilitation, advocacy, and safety of citizens inside and outside of the criminal justice system. The curriculum includes classes in probation, parole, crisis intervention, and case management and prepares students for careers advocating for adults and juveniles and managing criminals.

Tiffin students earning their bachelor’s in corrections online focus on the relationship between corrections and the criminal justice system as a whole. Students gain foundational knowledge in legal issues, history, and social work. Graduates with an online corrections degree from Tiffin pursue careers in child protective services, juvenile and adult probation, and court administration.

Online coursework is delivered asynchronously through Moodle, and online course materials are available 24/7. Tiffin recommends online students log on daily to check for announcements. Online classes are delivered in seven–week sessions, with six start dates throughout the year. Distance learners have access to the library and downloadable textbooks. Freshman applicants must have a high school diploma or GED and a GPA of 2.25 or better. Transfer applicants must submit college transcripts and have a GPA of at least 2.0.

West Texas A & M University View School Profile $$ Canyon, TX 44% West Texas A&M University is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC).

WTAMU offers a BA and a BS in criminal justice online. Each degree covers constitutional rights, probable cause, criminology, and terrorism. WTAMU’s BS track focuses on the science behind criminal behavior, and the BA includes requirements in foreign language and criminal justice theory.

All criminal justice students complete an internship; the program director matches each student with a criminal justice agency according to the student’s interests. The online correctional officer college degree prepares students for careers as state troopers, probation officers, detectives, and emergency managers.

The fully online program is delivered asynchronously. While students are not required to log on at specific times, they can participate in real–time discussions with professors and classmates. Texas residents can pursue the BA or BS degree as a hybrid program. Freshman applicants must have a high school diploma or GED, a minimum GPA of 2.0, and SAT or ACT scores that correspond to their high school graduating rank. Transfer applicants with 12 to 23 credits must have a cumulative GPA of 2.5 or higher, while transfer applicants with 24 or more credits must have a GPA of 2.25.

University of Maine at Fort Kent View School Profile $$ Fort Kent, ME 38% University of Maine at Fort Kent is regionally accredited by the New England Commission of Higher Education (NECHE), formerly known as the New England Association of Schools and Colleges Commission on Higher Education (NEASC-CIHE).

UMFK offers a BS in public safety administration with available concentrations in corrections, forensics, law enforcement, criminal justice, and homeland security and emergency management. The program covers the identification and investigation of public safety issues.

Students who concentrate in criminal justice or corrections pursue careers as dispatchers, police officers, customs agents, and border patrol agents. All students in UMFK’s online corrections program complete at least one internship. UMFK partners with the Maine Criminal Justice Academy, the Maine Emergency Management Agency, and the Federal Emergency Management Agency to provide internship opportunities for students.

Applicants must have a high school diploma or GED and a GPA of at least 2.0. UMFK recommends, but does not require, that undergraduate students complete their associate degree in criminal justice prior to enrolling at the bachelor’s level. All credits earned through UMFK’s AS program count toward the BS degree.

New England College View School Profile $$$$ Henniker, NH 43% New England College is regionally accredited by the New England Commission of Higher Education (NECHE), formerly known as the New England Association of Schools and Colleges Commission on Higher Education (NEASC-CIHE).

NEC offers a fully online BA in criminal justice with an emphasis in institutional and community–based corrections. This specialization focuses on the legal and policy–driven programs established for those reentering society after incarceration. Classes explore methodologies and techniques used to support individuals transitioning back into society.

Students are prepared to work as intermediaries between incarcerated individuals and society. The program provides a foundational understanding of probation and parole systems, and students explore the responsibilities of corrections professionals. Graduates with NEC’s online correctional officer college degree secure positions as probation and parole officers, community corrections case managers, and correctional officers.

Online students can watch lectures and complete classwork asynchronously and must meet weekly assignment deadlines. While students are not required to log on at scheduled times, they must log on at least twice during the first week of each term. Terms are divided into seven–week sessions, with multiple start dates throughout the year. Most students complete the program in four years. Freshman applicants must have a high school diploma or GED. NEC does not require standardized test scores. Transfer students may bring up to 90 credits.

Adams State University View School Profile $$$ Alamosa, CO 25% Adams State University is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC).

Based in Alamosa, Colorado, Adams State offers a BA in sociology with an emphasis in corrections and criminology. Students earning the bachelor’s in corrections online at Adams State learn about criminology, constitutional rights, and the responsibilities of corrections professionals. Courses include skills for behavioral sciences, comparative juvenile justice, and current issues in criminal justice administration.

The 120 required credits comprise criminology, sociology, corrections, and general education courses. Students also complete a three–credit internship at a criminal justice agency. Online students can access course materials 24/7 through Blackboard and are encouraged to communicate using chat rooms and discussion boards. Online courses are taught by the same professors as their on–campus counterparts, and distance learners are subject to the same policies, graduation requirements, and deadlines as on–campus students.

Applicants must submit a high school transcript or GED scores and ACT or SAT scores. Adams State accepts transfer credits on a case–by–case basis; program advisors review transfer applications to determine whether prior classwork is applicable to Adams State’s degree requirements.

Regent University View School Profile $$$ Virginia Beach, VA 36% Regent University is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC).

Regent’s BS in criminal justice with a concentration in corrections prepares students for careers at the local, state, federal, and international level. Graduates pursue correctional officer jobs such as parole officer, detective, border patrol agent, and game warden.

In 2014, U.S. News & World Report ranked Regent’s program as one of the top 15 online bachelor’s degree programs in the U.S. The curriculum covers juvenile justice and delinquent behavior, criminal law, criminal procedures, and criminal justice systems. Students explore types of crime, parties to crime, and criminal defense. Students also learn to navigate the trial process, including sequencing and appeals. All classwork, program objectives, and teaching staff are the same for online, on–campus, and hybrid programs.

Students pursuing the fully online correctional officer college degree can access lectures, course materials, tests, and homework assignments 24/7. Distance learners have access to online tutoring, an online peer mentorship program, and weekly chapel. Regent’s online library includes 10,000 audiovisual items and more than 150,000 microforms. Freshman applicants must submit high school transcripts or GED scores.

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The Advantages of a Corrections Education

While many jobs in corrections do not require an undergraduate degree, a growing number of positions list a bachelor’s in corrections or criminal justice as the minimum educational credential for applicants. A bachelor’s provides a competitive advantage to anyone seeking employment as a correctional officer, probation specialist, or security manager. A bachelor’s degree can also lead to administrative positions in institutional corrections facilities.

Supervisory positions such as a prison wardens, federal agents, or security managers, while usually filled by bachelor’s degree holders, increasingly require graduate–level training. Although relatively few graduate programs focus specifically on corrections, several institutions offer master’s and doctoral degrees in criminal justice with correctional concentrations.

Both undergraduate and graduate programs offer concentrations in expanding subfields such as juvenile corrections, community corrections and rehabilitation, and corrections administration. Graduates of these programs possess specialized skills that broaden their marketability and increase salary prospects. Corrections officers, FBI agents, and other law enforcement personnel who have earned graduate–level degrees usually receive higher salaries, accelerated promotion in rank, and more rapid career advancement into administrative roles.

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Corrections Degree Salary Information

While many corrections positions require only a high school diploma or associate degree, candidates with a specialized bachelor’s degree have more career options and job opportunities.

Bailiff
A bailiff maintains order in a courtroom, escorting witnesses, defendants, and jury to assigned areas. They call court to order, guard sequestered juries, and maintain order during trials. Police officers often serve as bailiffs, and bachelor's degree holders receive higher pay and perform expanded duties. Salary based on experience:
  • Entry Level: $22,400
  • Mid-Career: $23,640
  • Experienced: $25,240
  • Late Career: $25,780
Case Manager
Correctional case managers facilitate the rehabilitation of inmates and probationers. They connect clients with social services, halfway houses, drug treatment facilities, and job training programs. Most positions require a bachelor's degree, and many case managers have earned a master's in social work or a related degree. Salary based on experience:
  • Entry Level: $30,380
  • Mid-Career: $32,460
  • Experienced: $36,280
  • Late Career: $43,740
Corrections Officer
Corrections officers supervise offenders in incarceration facilities, ensure adherence to the rules and regulations, maintain order, and guard inmates as directed by court sentences or criminal law procedures. Most corrections officers hold specialized certification and/or bachelor's-level training. Salary based on experience:
  • Entry Level: $35,000
  • Mid-Career: $39,000
  • Experienced: $37,000
  • Late Career: $41,000
Probation Officer/Correctional Treatment Specialist
These professionals help rehabilitate individuals released on probation or parole, working with offenders to fulfill the conditions of their release. This position requires a bachelor's degree in corrections, criminal justice, or a related field. Salary based on experience:
  • Entry Level: $35,000
  • Mid-Career: $36,000
  • Experienced: $39,000
  • Late Career: $40,000

Source: PayScale

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Choosing an Online Corrections Degree Program

Choosing the right online corrections degree requires some preliminary research. Before applying to a school, you should compare tuition rates, course delivery formats, and graduation requirements. If you plan to continue working or must manage family or other commitments, you should select a program that offers flexible scheduling or part–time enrollment options.

Fully online degrees often feature asynchronous formats, allowing you to progress at your own pace and access class materials at your convenience. Other programs rely on a fixed synchronous schedule or use a hybrid format that combines online and campus–based classes. Make sure you investigate all program costs and whether the program requires any on–campus residencies. Additionally, most schools offer more affordable tuition rates to in–state students.

Program Cost
The cost of earning a criminal justice corrections degree online varies considerably across institutions. In-state residents typically pay less tuition than those who live out of state, although some programs charge the same flat rate to all students. Military service and law enforcement personnel may benefit from reduced tuition. In addition to tuition, most schools charge technology fees for distance learning courses.
Transfer Policies
Many public community colleges — and an increasing number of public and private four-year institutions — participate in articulation agreements that enable the seamless transfer of associate degree credits to a bachelor's program. Keep in mind that most regionally accredited four-year schools do not accept transfer credits from schools without regional accreditation.
School Size and Type
Local community colleges may offer smaller classes, lower tuition, and courses that easily transfer to four-year schools. Larger schools may feature more specialized course offerings, concentrations, and support services for distance learners. Additionally, public institutions typically offer more affordable tuition, while online programs at private schools may offer more personalized advising and support.
Program Length
A criminal justice corrections degree — whether online or on campus — generally requires approximately 120 credits and four years of full-time study. Some accelerated online programs can be finished in 2-3 years. Students enrolled in an online bachelor's in corrections typically complete 50-60 credits of general education classes, 30-35 credits of foundational and required courses in the corrections major, and the remaining credits in electives.
On–Campus Requirements
Some online programs may include an in-person residency that requires learners to attend one or more on-campus meetings. Before enrolling in a program with a residency requirement, students should make sure they can devote the time and resources necessary to fulfill these obligations.

Accreditation for Online Corrections Degrees

As you explore online corrections degrees, it’s important to consider accredited schools. Accreditation determines your ability to transfer credits and receive federal financial aid, and it may influence how graduate schools or prospective employers evaluate your degree.

Most degree–granting institutions seek either national or regional accreditation from independent accrediting agencies. For example, the Higher Learning Commission is a regional accrediting body that reviews a school’s academic standards. Many four–year institutions hold regional accreditation, the more prestigious and popular designation. Technical, vocational, and for–profit schools usually receive national accreditation.

Some schools also obtain specialized programmatic accreditation for fields of study in addition to regional or national accreditation. For instance, the Academy of Criminal Justice Sciences awards programmatic accreditation to a small group of high–quality master’s programs in criminal justice, but no programmatic accreditation currently exists for undergraduate corrections or criminal justice programs. While specialized accreditation may indicate program quality, students should focus on the overall institutional accreditation of the schools offering correctional programs and give priority to regionally accredited colleges and universities.

The U.S. Department of Education (ED) and the Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA) each play a different role in overseeing accreditation of colleges and universities. The ED formulates national educational policy and administers federal financial aid programs, while CHEA coordinates postsecondary accreditation for its 3,000 member institutions and promotes standards of academic quality. Both regional and national accreditation associations — and some programmatic accreditors — receive approval from the ED or the CHEA to conduct institutional program reviews.

The accreditation process considers several variables, including curriculum quality, faculty reputation, student services, and financial integrity. Students can find current directories of all accredited schools through the ED database and theCHEA website.

Corrections Concentrations

Some online corrections programs offer learners the opportunity to explore a focused area of study within the major. Students may choose a concentration of related courses that align with their personal interests and career goals. Concentrations can equip learners with specialized skills and knowledge that may provide advantages in the job market or for graduate school admissions.

Corrections Administration
This concentration examines the policies and procedures for the administration of correction and detention facilities in federal, state, local, and private settings. Students explore issues related to managing offender populations, organizational leadership theory and applications, corrections operations, and staff roles and supervision. Coursework includes managing special populations, community corrections, risk assessment, and contemporary challenges.
  • Careers This Concentration Prepares For: Prison warden; manager of correctional facility
Special Populations in Corrections
In the contemporary corrections environment, special groups of prisoners require specific scrutiny because of distinctive needs and susceptibility to ill treatment. This concentration explores the policies and best practices for special prison populations including the elderly, females, juveniles, racial minorities, prisoners held in isolation, sexual offenders, prisoners vulnerable to sexual assault, inmates with mental or physical challenges, and those with serious medical conditions.
  • Careers This Concentration Prepares For: Corrections officer; prison warden; manager of correctional facilities; corrections officer supervisor; correctional counselor; correctional social worker
Juvenile Corrections
Coursework introduces students to the characteristics of juvenile offender populations and the structure and operations of youth correctional facilities, including juvenile detention facilities, juvenile halls, and community-based and residential treatment facilities. Students explore the roles of juvenile corrections officers, probation officers, and juvenile correctional counselors. The courses include alternative treatment options for juveniles and best practices for rehabilitation.
  • Careers This Concentration Prepares For: Juvenile correctional officer; juvenile correctional counselor; juvenile probation officer
Community Corrections and Rehabilitation
Designed for students interested in working in community corrections, this concentration explores the policies and practices of probation and parole. Topics include the theory and practice of community corrections, policy and procedure for the supervision of criminal offenders, and offender rehabilitation and treatment options. Coursework also explores challenges of working with special populations, such as youths, sex offenders, and substance abusers.
  • Careers This Concentration Prepares For: Probation officer; parole officer; correctional treatment specialist
Correctional Assessment
The field of correctional assessment requires an understanding of counseling theories and methodology as they apply to community or institutional corrections, as well as the skills and best practices for supervision of special populations. This concentration introduces students to the history, development, and future of the Correctional Assessment and Intervention System and the Juvenile Assessment and Intervention System.
  • Careers This Concentration Prepares For: Correctional officer; correctional counselor; correctional case manager

How Long Does It Take to Get a Degree in Corrections?

Not all undergraduate programs in corrections take the typical four–year time frame to complete. Several factors affect the length of time needed to complete a degree. Online programs, in particular, provide students with a great deal of flexibility. Asynchronous delivery formats allow students to move through coursework at their own pace, completing degree requirements in as few as two years full time or in five or more years part time.

Distance learners who opt for part–time studies because of work or family commitments — or those who must drop out for a term or two — take more time to finish their degree. For students who can handle the fast pace, accelerated online programs that deliver courses in five– or eight–week terms shorten the amount of time needed to complete all requirements. Additionally, some schools award credit for life or work experience, which can reduce the time needed to graduate and the total required number of credits, as well as decrease the overall cost of the degree.

Courses in an Online Bachelor’s in Corrections Program

While all online bachelor’s in corrections programs prepare students for careers in the field, the curriculum differs from school to school. Some programs involve a comprehensive exploration of the entire criminal justice system, while others emphasize corrections–specific coursework. Some programs focus on an even narrower area of the field, such as juvenile justice. Only, a handful of corrections programs require an internship; most emphasize knowledge of concepts and theory over hands–on experience.

Topics common to most corrections programs include incarceration, criminal and corrections law, and probation. Both comprehensive and focused corrections programs require coursework in disciplines with real–world applications, including individual and social psychology, sociology, mathematics, and writing.

Foundations of Corrections
This introductory course presents students with an overview of the U.S. correctional system and its relationship to the court and criminal justice system. The course connects the major theoretical approaches addressing retribution, deterrence, and rehabilitation to current practices and applications in corrections. Learners in this course explore policy models and best practices for correctional professionals.
Community Corrections
This course examines the various aspects of community–based corrections: probation, parole, halfway houses, boot camps, and other intermediate sanctions. Students analyze assessment and supervision models, alternative approaches to traditional incarceration, and the debate of treatment versus punishment. The course introduces students to current controversies, including the use of paraprofessionals, case management overload, and privatization.
Offender Rehabilitation
This course provides in–depth analysis and critique of evidence–based offender treatment programs. Topics include rehabilitation program models, risk assessment, treatment methodology, treatment options, and evaluation of outcomes. Students evaluate the various models used by correctional professionals in family intervention, counseling, self–help programs, community service, probation, and other practices.
Special Populations in Corrections
The management of special offender populations (e.g., racial minorities, females, the elderly, sexual offenders, and inmates with mental or physical challenges) has emerged as a major challenge facing correctional professionals. This course explores appropriate models of punishment and treatment for these groups through the lens of cultural competency, diversity policies, and the law. Using case studies, students address why these groups should be monitored, how they are vulnerable, and how they are underserved.
Management of Correctional Facilities
This course introduces students to organizational leadership theory, policies, and practices for the operation of correctional facilities. Designed especially for students interested in administrative positions, the course covers management models for staffing, security, safety, and treatment. The course places special emphasis on the challenges of managing special offender populations.
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Corrections Membership Associations

American Probation and Parole Association
The only professional association representing probation and parole personnel working with adult and juvenile offenders, APPA seeks to reduce recidivism by strengthening the community corrections industry. The membership includes educators, public policy advocates, activists, and private citizens interested in criminal and juvenile justice.
International Association of Correctional Training Personnel
ACTP enhances public safety and advocates for the humane treatment of offenders by promoting excellence in the training of corrections professionals, trainers, training administrators, and educators. Members receive discounted registration for the Annual National Training and Performance Conference, a subscription to the association's quarterly journal, and access to training webinars.
American Jail Association
The only national association that focuses exclusively on issues related to the operations of local correctional facilities, AJA provides certifications for jail managers, jail officers, and correctional trainers in addition to training seminars and its annual conference and jail expo.
Academy of Criminal Justice Sciences
A leading organization in criminal justice and corrections, ACJS advances research and policy analysis in the field by sharing data, best practices, and training opportunities. The Academy reserves a special membership category for corrections professionals encouraging research and theory development relating to community and institutional corrections.
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