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Best Bachelor's in Corrections Degrees

Oct 20, 2021

What is a Bachelor's Degree in Corrections?

The Bachelor's in Corrections is ideal for those who have a keen interest in the sentencing, punishment, and rehabilitation aspects of criminal justice, with graduates working as correctional officers. Other graduates may take up roles as parole or probation officers. The degree is part of the broader field of criminal justice. When the degree is completed in combination with other complementary qualifications, there is scope for the student to move into more specialist roles within the corrections system. These roles could include substance abuse and behavioral counselors or correctional facility managers.

The US has some of the highest incarceration rates globally. In 2018, the prison population was nearly 2.1 million. Despite this, job growth in the area is negative. A steady trend toward non-custodial sentencing is contributing to the negative job growth. Research is increasingly showing that incarceration has its limitations, especially as a deterrent, meaning governments are exploring other options. While there will always be a need for corrections staff within prisons, new correction models are being trialed, opening the door to some new and exciting opportunities in the field.

The Best Bachelor Degree Programs in Corrections

1. Bethune-Cookman University

Tuition Acceptance Rate Graduation Rate Financial Aid % Placement Services Career Services Accepts
$14814 84% 33% 97% Yes Yes AP Credits

2. Western Oregon University

Tuition Acceptance Rate Graduation Rate Financial Aid % Placement Services Career Services Accepts
$9768 85% 41% 95% No Yes AP / ACE Credits

3. New Jersey City University

Tuition Acceptance Rate Graduation Rate Financial Aid % Placement Services Career Services Accepts
$12414 95% 41% 94% Yes Yes AP Credits

4. Keene State College

Tuition Acceptance Rate Graduation Rate Financial Aid % Placement Services Career Services Accepts
$14568 88% 63% 97% Yes Yes AP Credits

5. Keystone College

Tuition Acceptance Rate Graduation Rate Financial Aid % Placement Services Career Services Accepts
$26070 79% 47% 92% Yes Yes AP / NCCRS Credits

6. Newberry College

Tuition Acceptance Rate Graduation Rate Financial Aid % Placement Services Career Services Accepts
$27400 63% 54% 99% Yes Yes AP / NCCRS Credits

7. Utica College

Tuition Acceptance Rate Graduation Rate Financial Aid % Placement Services Career Services Accepts
$22110 87% 54% 98% Yes Yes AP / NCCRS Credits

8. Southeast Missouri State University

Tuition Acceptance Rate Graduation Rate Financial Aid % Placement Services Career Services Accepts
$7800 86% 50% 96% Yes Yes AP Credits

9. Muskingum University

Tuition Acceptance Rate Graduation Rate Financial Aid % Placement Services Career Services Accepts
$28878 81% 53% 96% Yes Yes AP / ACE Credits

10. University of Alabama at Birmingham

Tuition Acceptance Rate Graduation Rate Financial Aid % Placement Services Career Services Accepts
$8568 74% 63% 95% Yes Yes AP / ACE / NCCRS Credits

11. University of Alaska Fairbanks

Tuition Acceptance Rate Graduation Rate Financial Aid % Placement Services Career Services Accepts
$8757 76% 35% 88% Yes Yes AP / ACE / NCCRS Credits

12. Emporia State University

Tuition Acceptance Rate Graduation Rate Financial Aid % Placement Services Career Services Accepts
$6797 85% 50% 98% Yes Yes AP / NCCRS Credits

13. Sam Houston State University

Tuition Acceptance Rate Graduation Rate Financial Aid % Placement Services Career Services Accepts
$8536 83% 54% 86% Yes Yes AP Credits

14. University of Michigan-Flint

Tuition Acceptance Rate Graduation Rate Financial Aid % Placement Services Career Services Accepts
$11860 66% 40% 96% No Yes AP Credits

15. Oakland University

Tuition Acceptance Rate Graduation Rate Financial Aid % Placement Services Career Services Accepts
$14520 83% 57% 94% Yes Yes AP Credits

16. Prairie View A & M University

Tuition Acceptance Rate Graduation Rate Financial Aid % Placement Services Career Services Accepts
$10786 80% 36% 91% Yes Yes AP / NCCRS Credits

17. Minnesota State University-Mankato

Tuition Acceptance Rate Graduation Rate Financial Aid % Placement Services Career Services Accepts
$8438 63% 50% 88% Yes Yes AP Credits

18. University of Pittsburgh-Pittsburgh Campus

Tuition Acceptance Rate Graduation Rate Financial Aid % Placement Services Career Services Accepts
$19718 57% 83% 77% Yes Yes AP / ACE Credits

19. Oklahoma City University

Tuition Acceptance Rate Graduation Rate Financial Aid % Placement Services Career Services Accepts
$32594 75% 64% 99% Yes Yes AP Credits

20. Texas State University

Tuition Acceptance Rate Graduation Rate Financial Aid % Placement Services Career Services Accepts
$10581 81% 54% 76% Yes Yes AP Credits

21. Lake Superior State University

Tuition Acceptance Rate Graduation Rate Financial Aid % Placement Services Career Services Accepts
$12255 57% 51% 96% Yes Yes AP / ACE / NCCRS Credits

22. Stephen F Austin State University

Tuition Acceptance Rate Graduation Rate Financial Aid % Placement Services Career Services Accepts
$8844 68% 52% 86% Yes Yes AP / NCCRS Credits

23. Tiffin University

Tuition Acceptance Rate Graduation Rate Financial Aid % Placement Services Career Services Accepts
$26110 69% 39% 100% Yes Yes AP / ACE Credits

24. Siena Heights University

Tuition Acceptance Rate Graduation Rate Financial Aid % Placement Services Career Services Accepts
$27152 73% 47% 99% Yes Yes AP / NCCRS Credits

25. Hampton University

Tuition Acceptance Rate Graduation Rate Financial Aid % Placement Services Career Services Accepts
$28024 36% 60% 96% Yes Yes AP / NCCRS Credits

To get a more in-depth look at our school ranking methodology, please visit Study.com's ranking methodology page.

Tuition information is based on published tuition and required fees, per data by the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES).

Corrections Bachelor's Degree Concentrations

The Bachelor of Corrections degree offers students the chance to specialize in several different areas. Concentrations vary between schools; however, some of the more common concentrations include:

  • Corrections administration focuses on arming students with the knowledge and skills necessary to manage correctional and detention facilities.
  • Special populations explores the groups that may need extra security because they are susceptible to ill-treatment and how to address the ongoing concerns involved with these groups.
  • Juvenile corrections look at the challenges associated with young people in prisons or detention centers. It considers best practices for rehabilitation and alternative correction models.
  • Correctional assessment focuses on various counseling theories as they apply to corrections facilities. It also explores the development of correctional facilities and their future.
  • Community corrections and rehabilitation considers probation, parole, and rehabilitation. It also explores the concept of corrections in a community setting.

Curriculum for a Bachelor's Degree in Corrections

The curriculum for a Bachelor's in Corrections varies between schools, but generally, students are required to complete a combination of core and elective courses. Typically, core courses are completed at the start of the degree and provide students with a foundation to build on when they do their elective courses. Some schools may require students to complete an internship as part of their training.

Some of the standard courses include:

  • Foundations of corrections provides students with an understanding of corrections and its role in the criminal justice system.
  • Management of corrections focuses on effective organizational management theories, implementing policies and procedures, and leadership skills.
  • Offender rehabilitation addresses the theories and best practices relating to rehabilitation. It also considers rehabilitation in a community context.
  • Criminology explores the social aspects of criminal offending and the penal system.

How Long Does it Take to Get a Bachelor's in Corrections?

Most schools require students to complete 120 credits for the Bachelor of Corrections. This will typically take four years of full-time study. There are accelerated learning options available at some schools, allowing students to reduce the time it takes to achieve the qualification. Online programs also allow students the freedom to study at their own pace.

Accreditation for Bachelor's in Corrections Degrees

Accreditation ensures that the program offered by a school meets specific quality standards. An accredited school has undergone an independent assessment where the program's contents, the way the content is delivered, and the evaluation methods have been reviewed. Accreditation ensures that the programs offered by schools are comparable to other similar programs at other schools. Accreditation may be completed at a regional and national level.

Students must attend an accredited school if they plan to apply for financial aid, as accreditation is a requirement.

Some professional authorities will not allow students who have not attended an accredited school to obtain licensure or certification in that field.

Corrections Licensure & Certification

There is no national requirement for licensure and certification among corrections staff. The American Correctional Association (ACA) administers three correctional certifications: certified correctional officers, certified correctional supervisors, and certified correctional executives. All three are voluntary. To acquire certification, satisfactory job performance at the certification level is a requirement. There are also set reading materials and the successful completion of an examination. To maintain certification, evidence of continuing education is required.

Although there is no national certification requirement for probation officers, many jurisdictions require certification as part of their hiring process. This certification is usually done at a state level, but the various states' requirements are similar. Some states require probation officers to attend a set number of hours of instructor-led training and an equal number of computer-based training hours before sitting an examination. Positions as Juvenile Probation Officers are most likely to require certification of this nature.

Should I Get a Bachelor's Degree in Corrections?

A Bachelor in Corrections is the ideal qualification for students who have a keen interest in the punishment aspect of criminal justice and are looking to work in the field. An additional interest in rehabilitation is needed when considering a career as a probation or parole officer. For those already working in the area, the degree is the key to opening the door to promotion.

Students need to be aware that correctional facilities are often stress-filled environments, so those working in the field need good stress management skills. Other common aptitudes of students looking to work in corrections should include:

  • Good Judgement
  • Self-discipline
  • Interpersonal skills
  • Negotiation capabilities
  • Ability to maintain boundaries

There are several additional requirements to work in corrections. Many positions have a requirement that the applicant is a US citizen. Applicants must be of good moral character and have never been convicted of a federal offense. Corrections officers must be drug-free and willing to submit to random testing throughout their tenure,

Students with a demonstrated ability to work in high-pressure environments would be an ongoing asset.

What Can I Do With a Bachelor's Degree in Corrections?

Most schools offer financial aid to students. The details of the financial aid packages available and how to apply for them are available from the financial aid office at the respective school or on their web page.

The most common career pathway for students with a Bachelor of Corrections is within the Department of Justice as a corrections officer. Working as a probation or parole officer are also popular career choices for graduates. Other graduates use the degree to launch a career in law enforcement as police officers or detectives. For graduates who have a qualification in addiction, counseling, or mental health, there are additional possibilities within corrections facilities as specialist officers working with inmates. The demand for individuals with this skillset is high given the increasing number of prisoners with issues of this nature.

The recent government emphasis on illegal immigration and national security has increased awareness of Homeland Security, with some graduates pursuing careers with this agency. Homeland Security is also responsible for several detention facilities, with graduates active in staffing these facilities.

How to Become a Corrections Officer

Corrections officers supervise the inmates in correctional facilities, enforce the rules, and ensure order is maintained. An increasing number of inmates with substance abuse or mental health issues has increased the demand for corrections officers with specialist training in these areas. Prison officers may also be involved in transferring and searching prisoners. Part of the job entails reporting incidents that occur over their shift, scheduling appointments for prisoners, and arranging work details.

Although the minimum requirement to become a corrections officer is a high school diploma, most facilities prefer a college education. Those with a college degree are most likely to advance to supervisory positions or to have the opportunity to work with special populations. There are several other requirements that must be met.

According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, the number of jobs available as corrections officers is expected to decline by 7% between 2019 and 2029, making a degree in corrections significant in a competitive labor market. Correctional officers receive an average annual salary of $50,130, with California, New Jersey, and Rhode Island offering the best salaries. The states employing the most correctional officers are Texas, New York, and California.

If considering a career as a federal prison officer, there are additional requirements that have to be met.

How to Become a Probation Officer

Probation officers work either in correctional facilities or the community. They are involved in the rehabilitation process of inmates. Generally, a bachelor's degree is required to work as a probation officer. It is becoming more common for probation officers to have training in psychology, counseling, addictions, or mental health. This is considered a bonus when looking for employment due to the high number of offenders with addiction or behavioral or mental health issues.

Part of a probation officer's role involves meeting regularly with released inmates and helping them reintegrate into society. This may include visiting the workplaces and homes of their clients to ensure they are adhering to their release conditions.

The US Bureau of Labor Statistics has predicted 4% job growth for probation officers between 2019 and 2029. California, Texas, and New York employ the most probation officers, while Alaska, Montana, and Wyoming are among the states that employ the least. Probation officers have an average annual salary of $59.910, with California, New Jersey, and New York paying the highest salaries.

What Other Kinds of Corrections Degrees Are There?

A Bachelor's in Corrections is the exception rather than the norm. Most schools offer this qualification as a Bachelor of Criminal Justice specializing in Corrections. Criminal Justice incorporates all aspects of the criminal legal system, including the investigation, prosecution, and sentencing of criminals. Students attending a school offering a program of this nature are likely to receive a broader understanding of the criminal justice system before specializing.

Aspects of corrections are also incorporated into law enforcement studies, although this is only a small part of the training in that area.

Associate Degrees in Corrections

Although associate degrees are not usually offered in correction, the fields of criminal justice and criminology offer associate degrees with students then able to specialize in corrections. Associate degrees typically require the student to complete 60 credits. This usually takes a student two years of full-time study to achieve. One of the main advantages of pursuing an associate degree is it provides an excellent introduction to the field. This is especially helpful to students who are unsure if corrections are the right field for them. Most associate degrees allow students to transfer the credits they accrue towards a bachelor's degree.

Master's Degrees in Corrections

A Master's in Corrections will usually require a student to complete between 30-40 credits. This would normally take two years of full-time study. Like the bachelor's degree, the master's degree may be framed as a Master's in Criminal Justice specializing in Corrections. Similar concentrations are available for post-graduate students, with most programs comprising a combination of core and elective courses. Many of the programs have course components that allow the students to work in the field. A master's degree is often a prerequisite to leadership and management positions.

Doctoral Degrees in Corrections

A Doctorate in Corrections will normally take a student between five and seven years. The doctorate program is predominantly research-based, with a thesis being the final outcome. The initial part of the program usually requires the student to study advanced courses in corrections. While completing their doctorate, most students have teaching obligations within the school. Doctorate graduates usually pursue careers in research or become teachers. Some graduates may work in government as analysts developing and implementing new corrections policy.

Certificates in Corrections

Many of the states' Correctional Councils require their correctional officers to complete a Certificate in Corrections. This is typically available at community colleges and able to be achieved by attending night classes. Students must complete courses that include law enforcement, corrections, legal issues, correctional facilities, client relations, and growth. This requirement is usually waived if the student has completed 15-semester credits of college courses in criminal justice, psychology, sociology, counseling, law enforcement, or a degree in criminal justice.

Financial Aid & Scholarship Information for Bachelor's in Corrections Degrees

Most schools offer financial aid to students. The details of the financial aid packages available and how to apply for them are available from the financial aid office at the respective school or on their web page.

Each state also makes financial aid available to students. The eligibility criteria and dates for applications are available at the respective state agency.

Federal financial aid is available based on need. It is awarded in the form of grants, loans, and work-study programs. The first step for students is to complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). Students should apply as soon as possible, as it can take some time to process applications.

A number of scholarships are available to students studying for a Bachelor's in Corrections. The Correctional Peace Offices Foundation awards several $1,400 scholarships to students whose parents or grandparents have served as corrections officers. The Fallen Heroes Scholarship Award|http://www.fallenheroes.org/} is made to the children of fallen firefighters undertaking undergraduate study. The scholarship is awarded based on merit.

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