Best Online Bachelor’s in Corrections Programs 2021

by TBS Staff
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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.

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.

The Best Online Bachelor's in Corrections Programs

Southern New Hampshire University true View School Profile Manchester, NH 54% 68% 93% Southern New Hampshire University is regionally accredited by the New England Commission of Higher Education (NECHE).

A private university founded in 1932, SNHU offers an online bachelor of science in criminal justice with a concentration in corrections. Students complete 120 credits online with no campus requirements.

In addition to general education courses, students complete criminal justice courses such as policing in the United States and technology in criminal justice. Some concentration courses include offender rehabilitation, correctional administration, and cultural awareness in criminal justice.

Applicants need a high school diploma or GED equivalent to qualify for admission. Students do not need to submit standardized test scores. Correctional and police officers may receive up to 12 credits toward their degree.

Eastern Kentucky University true View School Profile $$ Richmond, KY 47% 52% 45% Eastern Kentucky University is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC).

A public university founded in 1906, EKU offers an online bachelor's degree in corrections and juvenile justice studies. Students complete 120 credits or may transfer up to 90 credits into the degree.

Courses occur in convenient eight-week terms. Required courses include the juvenile justice system, perspectives in crime and delinquency, and applied criminal justice analysis. Students also take supporting courses in areas such as homeland security and psychology.

Applicants need a high school diploma or GED equivalent to qualify for admission. Law enforcement officers with completed Kentucky DOCJT training receive nine credits toward their degree.

Tiffin University true View School Profile Tiffin, OH 29% 67% 55% Tiffin University is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC).

A private university founded in 1888, TU offers an online bachelor of criminal justice in corrections. Students may apply for one of six yearly start dates.

Learners take courses such as criminal law and ethical issues in criminal justice. Required courses in the corrections major include correctional thought and practice, psychology of violence and aggression, and crisis intervention strategies.

Applicants need a high school diploma and SAT or ACT scores to apply. Adult learners (students out of high school for more than two years) do not need to submit standardized test scores.

New England College true View School Profile Henniker, NH 25% 78% 44% New England College is regionally accredited by the New England Commission of Higher Education (NECHE).

A private college founded in 1946, NEC offers a bachelor of arts in criminal justice. Students study the foundations for corrections, criminology, and ethics in four-credit, seven-week courses.

Required courses include overcoming prejudice and discrimination, introduction to criminal justice, criminal justice ethics, and issues in professional practice. The program also requires general education courses and electives.

Applicants need to send transcripts from high school or GED records and the application to begin. The school does not require standardized tests.

Best Online Bachelor's

Online Bachelor's in Corrections Programs Ranking Guidelines

We ranked these degree programs based on quality, curricula, 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.

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Featured Online Bachelor's in Corrections Programs

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.

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.

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.

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.

true Bailiff $24,265

Bailiffs maintain 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.

true Correctional Case Manager $35,715

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.

true Corrections Officer $38,000

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.

true Probation Officer/Correctional Treatment Specialist $37,500

Probation officers and correctional treatment specialists 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.

Corrections Membership Associations

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. 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. 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. 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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