If you have an interest in law, criminal justice, and serving your community, an online correctional officer college degree may be for you. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the number of correctional officer jobs is projected to grow by 4% between 2014 and 2024.
The following guide discusses what you can expect to learn should you decide to pursue an online bachelor's in corrections. It also contains information about your potential career prospects and type of salary you can expect to earn after you graduate.
What are the Best Online Bachelor's in Corrections Programs?
University of Massachusetts-Lowell Lowell, MA
ADMISSIONS RATE 57%
GRADUATION RATE 56%
ONLINE ENROLLMENT 21%
RETENTION RATE 86%
DEFAULT RATE 7%
UMass Lowell offers an online bachelor's in corrections as an extension of its nationally ranked undergraduate criminal justice program. Students gain a thorough understanding of criminality and corrections while acquiring a broad education in the liberal arts. All coursework can be completed online, with no on-campus visits. Students may customize their degree through electives; available minors include English, history, business, economics, political science, and psychology. The program features unique classes that focus on the technological end of criminal justice, including crime mapping, statistics, and data analysis. Of the 120 required credits, 36 to 60 must be in criminal justice coursework. Students must maintain a 2.2 overall GPA and a 2.5 GPA in major courses. Most instructors teach asynchronously.
Regent University Virginia Beach, VA
ADMISSIONS RATE 84%
GRADUATION RATE 49%
ONLINE ENROLLMENT 66%
RETENTION RATE 80%
DEFAULT RATE 5%
Founded in Virginia Beach by famous televangelist Pat Robertson, Regent delivers its online correctional officer college degree through a Christian worldview. Students in the bachelor’s in criminal justice program explore criminal law, criminal procedure, and criminal justice. The program emphasizes ethics, juvenile delinquency, and distinguishing elements of the American legal system. Core requirements include several classes in Bible studies, and the university’s weekly chapel is available to online students. Online students are assigned peer mentors. Most of the accelerated, eight-week courses are delivered asynchronously. Regent accepts up to 90 transfer credits, and its tuition is among the lowest in the nation.
Southern New Hampshire University Manchester, NH
ADMISSIONS RATE 92%
GRADUATION RATE 58%
ONLINE ENROLLMENT 88%
RETENTION RATE 61%
DEFAULT RATE 8%
Online students at SNHU choose from more than 200 career-focused degree programs, including a bachelor's in corrections online program. The university offers the degree as one of six concentrations in its acclaimed bachelor's of science in criminal justice program. Corrections students navigate the complexities of the U.S. penal system; they study policy, procedure, law, and modern issues. Requirements include a culminating capstone experience, in which students produce a research paper suitable for presentation. Most classes are delivered asynchronously. Students may transfer up to 90 credits toward the 120-credit degree. Discounted tuition is available for U.S. service members and spouses of those on active duty.
Lee University Cleveland, TN
ADMISSIONS RATE 85%
GRADUATION RATE 52%
ONLINE ENROLLMENT 13%
RETENTION RATE 79%
DEFAULT RATE 12%
Located in Cleveland, Tennessee, Lee's bachelor's of arts in criminal justice program provides an overview of crime and punishment in the United States. Students explore the theory and application of justice, partner with their local community, and complete a research project and a proposal for reducing crime. Concentrations are offered in corrections and criminology and juvenile justice. Students must complete 15 credits of religious instruction. Coursework includes both asynchronous and real-time elements, such as video, lectures, and discussions. Classes run in seven-week, accelerated sessions, and students have 24/7 access to course materials. Applicants should have a high school diploma and at least three years of life experience beyond high school.
Eastern Kentucky University Richmond, KY
ADMISSIONS RATE 71%
GRADUATION RATE 41%
ONLINE ENROLLMENT 21%
RETENTION RATE 74%
DEFAULT RATE 13%
EKU boasts one of the largest criminal justice departments in the nation, and it offers an online bachelor’s in corrections and juvenile justice program. The 120-credit program is available entirely online in accelerated eight-week sessions. Distance learners are not required to visit the Richmond, Kentucky, campus, and students may customize the degree using electives, certificates, and minors to suit their academic and professional goals. Courses are delivered asynchronously; students can log on anytime. Transfer students may bring up to 90 credits, but students must earn at least 30 credits through EKU. All online students pay the same tuition rate, regardless of residency.
North Carolina Central University Durham, NC
ADMISSIONS RATE 66%
GRADUATION RATE 42%
ONLINE ENROLLMENT 8%
RETENTION RATE 80%
DEFAULT RATE 16%
NCCU's online bachelor's in corrections is certified by the Academy of Criminal Justice Sciences. The program combines web-based instruction with field experience. Students can complete all coursework online, with no visits to Durham, North Carolina. Students complete core classes in criminal justice before beginning coursework in the corrections concentration. Instructors post weekly assignments to Blackboard, and course materials are available 24/7 so students can complete work according to their schedule. Students must enroll in a senior seminar. Online students have access to resources such as tutoring, advising, career help, and the library. NCCU does not offer credit for work experience.
Tiffin University Tiffin, OH
ADMISSIONS RATE 93%
GRADUATION RATE 38%
ONLINE ENROLLMENT 29%
RETENTION RATE 62%
DEFAULT RATE 12%
Based in Ohio, Tiffin's online bachelor’s of criminal justice in corrections program focuses on the evaluation and treatment of offenders. Students gain foundational knowledge in the U.S. criminal justice system and acquire an understanding of management, history, and social work as it relates to crime and criminals. The program delves into topics such as population management, theory, policy, parole, and societal reintegration. Students with prior college experience can complete the online corrections program in as few as 18 months. Asynchronous class formats and several start dates per year allow students to accelerate their learning. Class sizes are small, typically with fewer than 15 students, and online students pay a reduced tuition rate.
Adams State University Alamosa, CO
ADMISSIONS RATE 64%
GRADUATION RATE 27%
ONLINE ENROLLMENT 39%
RETENTION RATE 53%
DEFAULT RATE 15%
Adams State offers a unique online bachelor's in corrections: a bachelor's in sociology with a criminology emphasis. Students take 12 credits in criminology, studying criminal behavior, the mindset of law-breakers, the justice system, juvenile delinquency, and correctional systems. The program requires an internship. Of the 120 required credits, about 30 are electives, allowing students to further customize their degree. Most classes are delivered asynchronously. Students must earn at least 30 credits through Adams State and must maintain a 2.0 GPA throughout their studies. The university grants credit for work or life experience using the prior learning assessment tool.
Brandman University Irvine, CA
ADMISSIONS RATE 75%
GRADUATION RATE 0%
ONLINE ENROLLMENT 62%
RETENTION RATE 0%
DEFAULT RATE 4%
Brandman was founded to provide educational opportunities to military families, and the Irvine, California, institution has long been a leader in online education. The university offers an online bachelor’s in criminal justice with a corrections concentration. The program emphasizes applied criminology, and students explore mental health issues, gangs, and alternative sentencing. Coursework has a large sociology component and includes a social sciences capstone. Brandman's courses are designed to fit the lives of working professionals. Most coursework is delivered asynchronously through Blackboard. Applicants must have 12 or more transferable credits and a 2.0 GPA. All distance learners pay the same tuition rate, regardless of location.
Montana State University-Northern Havre, MT
ADMISSIONS RATE 100%
GRADUATION RATE 26%
ONLINE ENROLLMENT 21%
RETENTION RATE 61%
DEFAULT RATE 13%
Students in MSUN's online bachelor's of science in criminal justice gain a well-rounded liberal arts education and a deep understanding of the American justice system. Graduates enter police forces, correctional officer roles, and advanced education programs. The degree is offered entirely online through the Desire2Learn platform. Coursework explores federal, state, and local correctional systems and issues related to sentencing, probation, parole, and juvenile justice. The curriculum comprises about 33 general education credits and 42 major credits. Students must add a minor and must maintain a 2.25 GPA throughout their studies. MSUN allows students to complete an independent study worth up to 9 credits.
What Will I Learn in an Online Corrections Program?
Online corrections programs don't all have the same curriculum. For example, some schools may offer a specialization that is particularly well suited for you, while others may have a relatively limited range of classes. Before you choose where to pursue your bachelor's in corrections online, you should look into the courses offered and make sure the curriculum meets your educational and employment goals.
- Research Methods for Criminal Justice: Students in a research methods for criminal justice course learn how to conduct social science research and how these methodologies can be applied to contemporary criminal justice issues.
- Judicial Administration: A judicial administration course covers various sectors of the tribunal hierarchy with respect to jurisdiction and administration. Students learn about the phases of civil and criminal litigation.
- Juvenile Justice System: This course focuses on how the processes of the justice system differ between juvenile offenders and adults. Topics include due process standards, youth classifications, and suitable types of punishment.
- Criminal Law: A course in criminal law serves as an introduction to the legal, philosophical, and social origins of the development of the criminal code. Particulars may include different parties to crimes, specific crimes, and elements of the defendant's perspective.
What can I do with an Online Corrections Degree?
Graduates with an online bachelor's in corrections can look forward to many options for employment after they earn their degree. Depending on what type of work a prospective employee is seeking, this field can also be relatively lucrative. The following chart provides descriptions and median salaries for parole officers, corrections officers, probation officers, public safety officers, and police officers. Students may want to compare the different positions available in their particular region.
A parole officer is tasked with helping offenders who are released before their full sentence is served, helping individuals re-acclimate themselves to the outside world. Officers may be responsible for helping parolees secure housing, job training, and employment. A parole officer must also monitor the behavior of parolees to ensure that they don't violate their parole.
Median Salary: $42,548
A corrections officer typically works in a jail or prison and is responsible for many day-to-day tasks. This involves monitoring inmate behavior, enforcing rules, and meting out punishment for violations. Alternatively, a corrections officer may aid in the rehabilitation of prisoners by arranging for resources, such as education, counseling, and work opportunities.
Median Salary: $38,679
A probation officer works with criminal offenders to help them avoid further illegal activity. They work closely with judges, law enforcement officers, and accused/convicted suspects. They play a role in maintaining public safety by preventing dangerous individuals from exiting the criminal justice system.
Median Salary: $41,299
Public Safety Officer
A public safety officer's tasks usually include patrolling a particular area or protecting property or individuals. Professionals in this field should be capable of maintaining calm in high-stress situations and experts in crisis management and threat de-escalation. Public safety officers should also be attentive and have strong communication skills.
Median Salary: $40,106
A police officer serves a community by responding to incidents, intervening and deterring crime. They must have good observational skills and be able to document their observations and interactions with suspects and victims; officers often testify in court and share these observations and interactions. Police officers also participate in community outreach programs.
Median Salary: $50,794
Job Outlook and Salary
The BLS projects that the number of available jobs for correctional officers will grow by 4% between 2014 and 2024. For this reason, many students choose to earn an online correctional officer college degree. Job growth and availability are compelling reasons to select a degree in a particular field of employment, but students should be aware that other factors can also alter their expected salary.
Individuals with an online bachelor's in corrections can pursue employment in several fields, and the particular positions and industries they choose to work in will influence their earning potential. The geographic location where they live and work also affect their wages.
|Employment, 2014||Projected Employment, 2024|
Salary Growth by Experience
In most cases, the more experience one gains in a particular field, the more money they make. The field of corrections is no exception to this rule. Employers often conclude that a professional who has worked in corrections for some time has better learned how to respond to various situations; experienced workers have useful skills and knowledge that serve as assets to an organization or community. The following table lists the median salaries for various experience levels for corrections officers, probation officers, and police officers.
To determine the best online bachelor's in corrections programs, we looked at the most important factors prospective students, mainly common predictors of future success and a school's commitment to online programs. This boils down to admissions rate, student loan default rate, retention rate, graduation rate, and the percent of students enrolled in online classes. All data points are taken from information provided by colleges and universities to the National Center for Education Statistics.
Each factor is weighted evenly in order to give an objective view and determine the best online bachelor's in corrections programs. To calculate our rankings, we looked at a school's ranking when organized by a single factor, and then averaged each category's ranking to find an overall score: Admissions Rate (20%) + Default Rate (20%) + Retention Rate (20%) + Graduation Rate (20%) + Percent of Students Enrolled in Online Classes (20%) = Final score.