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.
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 Degree 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 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.
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).
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.
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.
Security officers monitor the overall security of a property. They guard and protect premises by preventing theft and property destruction, and they confront dangerous behavior and safety violations. Officers with a bachelor's degree typically move into supervisory positions managing security staff.
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.
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.
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.
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 by Experience for Corrections Careers
|Job Title||Entry Level
|Case Manager, Social Services||$35,000||$36,000||$39,000||$40,000|
|Probation Officer/Correctional Treatment Specialist||$31,000||$40,000||$52,000||$51,000|
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 particular 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.
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.
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
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
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.
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.
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 Membership Associations
American Correctional Association:
Established in 1870 as the National Prison Association, ACA serves as both a professional association and an accrediting body for the corrections industry. Members receive complimentary subscriptions to ACA publications, invitations to networking opportunities, and discounts on continuing education courses, conferences, and other professional development programs.
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.