Corrections professionals ensure safety and order in courthouses and prisons and are an essential part of the criminal justice system. Students pursuing a bachelor’s in corrections online explore pressing criminal justice issues, such as youth corrections and corrections policy. After graduating from an online correctional officer college, degree holders are equipped to maintain order and help with rehabilitation, the fastest-growing job sector in the corrections field.
Choosing a 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.
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Online Bachelor’s in Corrections Degree Program Ranking Guidelines
We selected the degree programs based on the quality of program and range of courses provided, as well as school awards, rankings, and reputation.
The Best Online Bachelor’s in Corrections Programs
1 University of Massachusetts – Lowell
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.
The University of Massachusetts is regionally accredited by the New England Association of Schools and Colleges (NEASC-CIHE).
2 Eastern Kentucky University
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.
Eastern Kentucky University is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACS).
3 Brandman University
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.
Brandman University is regionally accredited by the WASC Senior College and University Commission.
4 Park University
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.
Park University is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC).
5 Lindenwood University
St. Charles, Missouri
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.
Lindenwood University is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC).
6 North Carolina Central University
Durham, North Carolina
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.
North Carolina Central University is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACS).
7 Bemidji State University
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.
Bemidji State University is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC).
8 Southern New Hampshire University
Manchester, New Hampshire
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.
Southern New Hampshire University is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACS).
9 Lee University
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.
Lee University is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACS).
10 Tiffin University
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.
Tiffin University is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC).
11 West Texas A & M University
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.
West Texas A&M University is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACS).
12 University of Maine at Fort Kent
Fort Kent, Maine
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.
The University of Maine at Fort Kent is regionally accredited by the New England Association of Schools and Colleges (NEASC-CIHE).
13 New England College
Henniker, New Hampshire
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.
New England College is regionally accredited by the New England Association of Schools and Colleges (NEASC-CIHE).
14 Adams State University
Based in Calamo, 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.
Adams State University is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC).
15 Regent University
Virginia Beach, Virginia
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.
Regent University is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACS).
Online Bachelor’s in Corrections Careers
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.
- Probation Officers and Correctional Treatment Specialist: These law enforcement professionals assist inmates and individuals on probation or parole with their rehabilitation. They conduct interviews, perform evaluations, outline resources such as job training programs, testify in court regarding their charge’s progress, perform drug tests, and maintain case files.
- Median Annual Salary: $50,160
- Projected Growth Rate: 6%
- Correctional Officer: Correctional officers ensure order and safety in prisons. They supervise inmates, perform inspections and searches for contraband, and escort inmates to court and other facilities.
- Median Annual Salary: $42,820
- Projected Growth Rate: -7%
- Bailiff: Bailiffs maintain security for the entire courthouse. Judges rely on bailiffs to maintain order inside courtrooms. Bailiffs guard the jury, ensure courtroom rules are followed, and handle documents.
- Median Annual Salary: $42,670
- Projected Growth Rate: -2%
Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics