Best Master’s in Corrections Administration Programs

A master's in corrections administration program can help enhance your career and salary options. See which schools stand out.
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Updated on July 20, 2023
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Earning a master's in corrections administration and criminal justice can be a practical way for working professionals to enhance their career options and boost their earning potential.

Whether they work as police officers, as public policy advocates, or simply want to change their career path, individuals can enroll in a flexible and affordable online master's program in corrections administration and criminal justice.

These online master's programs often give degree-seekers the opportunity to complete coursework while keeping up with professional and personal responsibilities.

Additionally, full-time students can complete these master's tracks in just 15 months. Throughout these programs, students tackle coursework that can help enhance their leadership skills and deepen their criminal justice knowledge.

And while the true program cost of a graduate degree can seem expensive, online students cut costs on campus-based fees and travel all while expanding their job options in the future. Those weighing whether they should attend graduate school and go into debt may feel comfortable knowing that the best programs are relatively generous with awarding aid.

Continue reading to see which schools offer the best master's in corrections administration programs and which programs mirror your academic and career goals.

Our Top Pick

The University of Alabama at Birmingham — Birmingham, Alabama

Why It's #1: The University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB) ranks as the No. 1 school on our list for the Best Master's in Corrections Administration Programs. This flexible and affordable online degree holds a relatively high admission rate of 74%, with a graduation rate of 63%. In addition to in-state graduate tuition of $8,100, online students save on campus-based fees and travel costs. Already a relatively affordable option, 95% of UAB students receive financial aid.

Read Our Rankings Methodology

Popular Online Corrections Administration Programs

Learn about start dates, transferring credits, availability of financial aid, and more by contacting the universities below.

Best Accredited Master's in Corrections Administration Programs

Rankings compiled by the BestColleges Ranking Team

We use trusted sources like Peterson's Data and the National Center for Education Statistics to inform the data for these schools. BestColleges.com is an advertising-supported site. Featured or trusted partner programs and all school search, finder, or match results are for schools that compensate us. This compensation does not influence our school rankings, resource guides, or other editorially-independent information published on this site. from our partners appear among these rankings and are indicated as such.

BestColleges.com is an advertising-supported site. Featured or trusted partner programs and all school search, finder, or match results are for schools that compensate us. This compensation does not influence our school rankings, resource guides, or other editorially-independent information published on this site.

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#1 Best Master’s in Corrections Administration Programs

University of Alabama at Birmingham

  • Birmingham, AL
  • 4 years
  • Online + Campus

100% Online | Self-Paced Classes

Average Cost per Credit
In State | $555 per credit
Out of State | $555 per credit

Credits to Graduate
30 or 36

Program Information
Program Accreditation | N/A

The University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB) is a public research institution that offers a master's in criminal justice that students can complete entirely online. An ideal option for students needing flexibility, degree-seekers can choose from thesis and non-thesis tracks and complete core classes such as foundations of digital forensics, restorative justice, and investigating online crimes.

Prospective students must hold a bachelor's degree and submit an application with official transcripts, three letters of recommendation, and a statement of purpose outlining academic and career goals.

Average Undergrad Tuition
In-state
$8,568
Out-of-state
$20,400
Average Graduate Tuition
In-state
$8,100
Out-of-state
$19,188
Retention Rate
83%
Acceptance Rate
74%
Students Enrolled
22,080
Institution Type
Public
Percent Online Enrollment
59% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges
#2 Best Master’s in Corrections Administration Programs

Lewis University

  • Romeoville, IL
  • 4 years
  • Online + Campus

100% Online | Self-Paced Classes

Average Cost per Credit
In State | $600 per credit
Out of State | $600 per credit

Credits to Graduate
36

Program Information
Program Accreditation | N/A

Lewis University is an Illinois-based private institution that offers a 100% online master's in criminal justice. This flexible option can be a good choice for working students. First responders can receive a 20% tuition discount.

Throughout this 36-credit program, students complete coursework pulled from one of two academic concentrations: criminal justice or security studies. Core classes for both include criminal procedure, criminal law, and criminology.

Prospective students must hold a bachelor's degree from an accredited institution with a minimum 3.0 GPA.

Average Undergrad Tuition
In-state
$33,270
Out-of-state
$33,270
Average Graduate Tuition
In-state
$14,400
Out-of-state
$14,400
Retention Rate
84%
Acceptance Rate
64%
Students Enrolled
6,359
Institution Type
Private
Percent Online Enrollment
43% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes Higher Learning Commission
#3 Best Master’s in Corrections Administration Programs

Sam Houston State University

  • Huntsville, TX
  • 4 years
  • Online + Campus

100% Online | Self-Paced Classes

Average Cost per Credit
In State | $320 per credit
Out of State | $320 per credit

Credits to Graduate
36

Program Information
Program Accreditation | N/A

Established in 1879, Sam Houston State University (SHSU) is a public institution that offers a master's in criminal justice. In this 100% online program, students tackle a 36-credit curriculum that covers courses such as critical analysis of justice administration, research methods and quantitative analysis, and emergent issues in criminal justice leadership.

Prospective students must submit an application with official transcripts, three letters of recommendation, and a personal essay discussing their professional history and career goals. Applicants must hold a minimum 3.0 GPA.

Average Undergrad Tuition
In-state
$5,856
Out-of-state
$15,984
Average Graduate Tuition
In-state
$5,765
Out-of-state
$13,361
Retention Rate
75%
Acceptance Rate
83%
Students Enrolled
21,558
Institution Type
Public
Percent Online Enrollment
53% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges
#4 Best Master’s in Corrections Administration Programs

Suffolk University

  • Boston, MA
  • 4 years
  • Online + Campus

On Campus | Scheduled Classes

Average Cost per Credit
In State | $1,340 per credit
Out of State | $1,340 per credit

Credits to Graduate
30

Program Information
Program Accreditation | N/A

Founded in 1906, Suffolk University is a Boston-based private research institution that offers a master's in crime and justice studies that students can complete in just three semesters. Throughout this 30-credit curriculum, students complete core classes such as quantitative analysis, research methods, and crime and communities. Degree-seekers can also choose academic concentrations in victim advocacy and youth crime and justice.

Applicants to this master's track must submit an application with a professional resume, official transcripts, and two letters of recommendation. Prospective learners also include an essay outlining academic and career goals.

Average Undergrad Tuition
In-state
$39,814
Out-of-state
$39,814
Average Graduate Tuition
In-state
$39,267
Out-of-state
$39,267
Retention Rate
77%
Acceptance Rate
84%
Students Enrolled
7,169
Institution Type
Private
Percent Online Enrollment
13% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes New England Commission on Higher Education
#5 Best Master’s in Corrections Administration Programs

Eastern Kentucky University

  • Richmond, KY
  • 4 years
  • Online + Campus

100% Online | Self-Paced Classes

Average Cost per Credit
In State | $611 per credit
Out of State | $611 per credit

Credits to Graduate
30

Program Information
Program Accreditation | N/A

Eastern Kentucky University (EKU) offers a 100% online master's in criminal justice policy and leadership. This program tackles criminal justice topics with a concentration in corrections and offers the theoretical and practical skills necessary for career advancement. Core classes include topics such as criminology theory, intelligent leadership, and advanced justice administration.

Prospective EKU students must hold a bachelor's degree from an accredited institution with a minimum 3.0 GPA. In addition to a completed application, applicants submit two letters of recommendation. Individuals not meeting GPA requirements can submit GRE scores to demonstrate grad school readiness.

Average Undergrad Tuition
In-state
$9,266
Out-of-state
$19,338
Average Graduate Tuition
In-state
$9,900
Out-of-state
$13,950
Retention Rate
75%
Acceptance Rate
94%
Students Enrolled
14,980
Institution Type
Public
Percent Online Enrollment
44% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges
#6 Best Master’s in Corrections Administration Programs

Saint Leo University

  • Saint Leo, FL
  • 4 years
  • Online + Campus

100% Online | Self-Paced Classes

Average Cost per Credit
In State | $635 per credit
Out of State | $635 per credit

Credits to Graduate
36

Program Information
Program Accreditation | N/A

Saint Leo University is a Florida-based private institution that offers a master's in criminal justice program ideal for working professionals looking to expand their career options and earning potential. Degree-seekers can complete an academic concentration in corrections while completing core classes such as ethical issues in criminal justice administration, public policymaking in criminal justice, and leadership application in criminal justice.

Prospective online students can apply online and must include official academic transcripts showcasing a minimum 3.0 GPA. Individuals with a sub-3.0 GPA must include a personal essay outlining career goals.

Average Undergrad Tuition
In-state
$23,100
Out-of-state
$23,100
Average Graduate Tuition
In-state
$7,296
Out-of-state
$7,296
Retention Rate
69%
Acceptance Rate
72%
Students Enrolled
10,912
Institution Type
Private
Percent Online Enrollment
72% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges
#7 Best Master’s in Corrections Administration Programs

Southern New Hampshire University

  • Manchester, NH
  • 4 years
  • Online + Campus

100% Online | Self-Paced Classes

Average Cost per Credit
In State | $627 per credit
Out of State | $627 per credit

Credits to Graduate
36

Program Information
Program Accreditation | N/A

Southern New Hampshire University (SNHU) is home to a substantial catalog of online programs, including a 100% online master's in criminal justice. This 36-credit program offers an asynchronous delivery, and students can choose from concentration options in advanced counterterrorism and public safety administration. 

Core classes include topics such as critical issues in the criminal justice system, ethical leadership in criminal justice, and assessing organizational performance. Before graduation, students complete a degree-culminating capstone project.

SNHU does not require the submission of GRE/GMAT scores. Those with a GPA less than 2.75 can receive conditional admission.

Average Undergrad Tuition
In-state
$30,756
Out-of-state
$30,756
Average Graduate Tuition
In-state
$18,810
Out-of-state
$18,810
Retention Rate
65%
Acceptance Rate
88%
Students Enrolled
113,514
Institution Type
Private
Percent Online Enrollment
94% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes New England Commission on Higher Education
#8 Best Master’s in Corrections Administration Programs

Coppin State University

  • Baltimore, MD
  • 4 years
  • Online + Campus

On Campus | Scheduled Classes

Average Cost per Credit
In State | $351 per credit
Out of State | $646 per credit

Credits to Graduate
36

Program Information
Program Accreditation | N/A

Established in 1900, Coppin State University is a public, Baltimore-based historically Black university that offers a master's in criminal justice. Students can choose from specializations in areas including administration, correctional counseling, and criminal justice planning and research.

Throughout this 36-credit program, students complete core classes, including a survey in criminal justice administration, advanced criminology, and research methods. Before graduation, degree-seekers submit a thesis project or complete a comprehensive exam.

Applicants must hold a bachelor's degree from an accredited institution and submit three letters of recommendation along with their application.

Average Undergrad Tuition
In-state
$4,648
Out-of-state
$11,045
Average Graduate Tuition
In-state
$6,192
Out-of-state
$11,394
Retention Rate
70%
Acceptance Rate
28%
Students Enrolled
2,724
Institution Type
Public
Percent Online Enrollment
45% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes Middle States Commission on Higher Education
#9 Best Master’s in Corrections Administration Programs

Adrian College

  • Adrian, MI
  • 4 years
  • Online + Campus

On Campus | Scheduled Classes

Average Cost per Credit
In State | $600 per credit
Out of State | $600 per credit

Credits to Graduate
33

Program Information
Program Accreditation | N/A

Established in 1859, Michigan's Adrian College is home to a master's in criminal justice that prioritizes both classroom-based and experiential learning. This 33-credit program allows for thesis and non-thesis tracks, and students complete core classes such as a civil liberties seminar, advanced community policing, and advanced corrections.

Applicants to Adrian's criminal justice master's program must hold an undergraduate degree with a cumulative 3.0 GPA. Prospective students submit a completed application and official transcripts, a statement of purpose, and three letters of recommendation.

Average Undergrad Tuition
In-state
$36,834
Out-of-state
$36,834
Average Graduate Tuition
In-state
$18,600
Out-of-state
$18,600
Retention Rate
64%
Acceptance Rate
56%
Students Enrolled
1,828
Institution Type
Private
Percent Online Enrollment
3% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes Higher Learning Commission
#10 Best Master’s in Corrections Administration Programs

Wilmington University

  • New Castle, DE
  • 4 years
  • Online + Campus

100% Online | Self-Paced Classes

Average Cost per Credit
In State | $500 per credit
Out of State | $500 per credit

Credits to Graduate
36

Program Information
Program Accreditation | N/A

Delaware's Wilmington University offers a 100% online master's in administration of justice. Degree-seekers can choose from three specializations — criminal behavior, homeland security, and leadership — and complete a 36-credit curriculum. Core classes include topics such as criminological theory, criminal justice ethics, and technology for modern policing. 

Prospective Wilmington students must hold a bachelor's degree from an accredited institution and can apply online. Applicants must submit official transcripts from past schools and participate in a program planning conference with admission officials.

Average Undergrad Tuition
In-state
$11,430
Out-of-state
$11,430
Average Graduate Tuition
In-state
$8,784
Out-of-state
$8,784
Retention Rate
60%
Acceptance Rate
Not provided
Students Enrolled
14,730
Institution Type
Private
Percent Online Enrollment
75% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes Middle States Commission on Higher Education

How We Rank Schools

Each year, the BestColleges Ranking Team evaluates hundreds of programs to produce our annual Best Master's in Corrections Administration ranking. In 2022, the team sourced the most recent data available from the Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System and College Navigator, both of which are hosted by the National Center for Education Statistics. We identified 10 schools that qualify for our ranking list based on the following criteria.

  • Each school must be an accredited public or private, nonprofit institution.
  • Must offer a master's degree program in the given subject.
  • Must submit an annual report to the National Center for Education Statistics.

To ensure the accuracy and quality of our final ranked list, the ranking team reviewed each qualifying school to ensure it met the criteria for our ranking, and then applied our proprietary ranking methodology to identify the best schools offering this program in the nation. Each school is ranked based on a formula measuring academic factors (60%) and affordability (40%).

The BestColleges Ranking Team is made up of contributors from our data science and product management teams. These contributors operate independently from the editorial team. All BestColleges school rankings are produced by the ranking team and are free of editorial influence. Read our Editorial Policy and Standards to learn more.

BestColleges' Ranking Factors

Should I Get a Master's in Corrections?

A master's degree in corrections equips its graduates for specialized leadership and policy roles in several correctional and criminal justice-related professions. While each corrections degree establishes its own curriculum, students in all programs learn about crime control strategies and prevention, correctional law, and principles and procedures for correctional management. Some programs offer specialized concentrations that emphasize facility administration, community corrections and rehabilitation, or the treatment of juvenile offenders, substance abusers, or other special populations.

Students may earn a master's in either an online or campus-based format. Online programs often appeal to working professionals exploring a career change or promotion into an administrative position. The flexibility of distance learning degrees may also draw in law enforcement and correctional personnel who need to maintain their work schedules while seeking an advanced degree to move up in rank. A traditional campus-based degree may attract students coming directly out of an undergraduate program who have already decided on career goals in a correctional specialization where a master's degree can boost their chances for advancement.

Students in on-campus programs benefit from personal mentoring and advising from faculty. They may also have more opportunities for collaborative research and informal interaction with other students in their cohort. As students near their graduation date, they should take advantage of their school's career placement services. If possible, they should find an internship or independent research project to gain applied experience. Whatever the delivery format, a corrections master's degree provides a competitive advantage in the workforce that translates into broader career prospects and greater financial rewards.

What Can I Do With a Master's in Corrections?

Correctional workers find employment in police departments; local, state, and federal prisons; the court system; and private correctional facilities. Because of these challenging work environments, most employers look for correctional specialists who possess good organizational and negotiation skills as well as physical and emotional strength. Although each state and branch of government establishes its own hiring standards, college degree holders generally move into correctional positions with higher salaries and managerial responsibility. While entry-level positions may not require graduate training, a master's degree in corrections opens up greater opportunities for career advancement. Most supervisory and administrative positions require a corrections or criminal justice master's degree.

As the head administrators of correctional facilities, wardens hire, train, and manage all staff. They also implement prison policies, ensure compliance with governmental and legal regulations, and maintain the security, safety, and appropriate treatment of inmates and personnel. A master's degree provides many of the managerial skill sets required for this position.

Median Annual Salary: $80,818*

The specific duties performed by police officers and detectives differ by the type of employer and specific job requirements. Educational requirements range from a high school diploma to a postsecondary degree; a master's degree opens up greater professional opportunities and higher salaries. Criminal investigators, detectives, and federal agents often pursue graduate degrees to advance in rank.

Median Annual Salary: $62,960*

These professionals assist in the rehabilitation of people placed on probation or released on parole. They help offenders meet the conditions of their release and avoid repeat incarceration. Most positions call for a bachelor's degree but educational requirements vary by the jurisdiction. Advancement to supervisory positions usually requires a master's degree.

Median Annual Salary: $51,410*

Correctional officers work with individuals awaiting trial or offenders who have been sentenced to serve time in prison. Bailiffs work in courtrooms, maintaining safety and order before, during, and after court proceedings. While hiring regulations differ by state jurisdiction and type of correctional facility, employment in the federal prison system requires at least a bachelor's degree.

Median Annual Salary: $43,510*

These professionals work directly with inmates in correctional facilities planning and implementing services, counseling individually and in group sessions, and providing input on release decisions. They help inmates cope with behavioral issues and enter job training, GED, or college credit programs. This position requires a bachelor's degree, but many correctional counselors have a master's and specialized training.

Median Annual Salary: $42,150*

Sources: Bureau of Labor Statistics and PayScale

How to Choose a Master's Program in Corrections

You have to do your homework when choosing the right master's program to fit your academic and personal needs. Each school differs in its graduation requirements and program characteristics. Make sure to choose an accredited school and pay attention to its overall ranking and reputation. As you look at various programs, compare degree requirements and credit hours and find out if the program offers any concentrations in specific subareas that match your career goals.

Students enrolled full time in a master's program may finish all degree requirements in two years. Some online programs may be completed in 18 months or less, although part-time students may need three or more years to complete their degree. Students who need to work and/or manage family responsibilities while going to school may prefer the flexibility offered by an online or hybrid program. A thesis or fieldwork requirement may also lengthen the time needed to complete a master's degree.

Tuition costs vary substantially between public and private schools. While in-state students usually pay less tuition than those from out-of-state, some online programs offer the same tuition rate regardless of residency. The school's location also contributes to the cost, so remember to budget for transportation, lodging, and meals. While online programs may prove more affordable than campus-based degrees, they often charge technology fees in addition to tuition and sometimes require travel to campus a few times a year for workshops. Students looking at traditional brick-and-mortar schools should find out if they offer graduate fellowships, work-study placements, or other opportunities for employment.

Accreditation for Master's Programs in Corrections

When choosing a master's degree in corrections, students should pay attention to a school's accreditation status. Accreditation determines eligibility for federal financial aid and the acceptance of transfer credits. Graduate programs and some employers give preference to applicants from accredited institutions. Technical, vocational, and for-profits often seek out national accreditation. These schools often offer less stringent admissions requirements and inexpensive tuition. Colleges and universities offering bachelor's degrees and above typically seek out regional accreditation, which requires higher professional and academic standards.

In addition to these two kinds of institutional accreditation, some schools obtain specialized accreditation for programs and degrees within a particular field of study. Programmatic accreditations currently do not exist for correctional programs, although the Academy of Criminal Justice Sciences (ACJS) grants programmatic accreditation for bachelor's and master's degrees in criminal justice. While ACJS accreditation enjoys wide recognition, the absence of this credential has little bearing on the quality of a master's degree in corrections.

Master's in Corrections Program Admissions

The earlier you begin applying, the greater your chances of success. Start by researching program requirements, credit hours, and specializations. You can begin to apply to schools six months or more before your intended start date. Some programs, especially online degrees, offer rolling admissions throughout the year. Many on-campus programs request GRE scores, while some online degrees do not consider them. If required, take the GRE in late summer or fall before you begin the application process.

Prerequisites

  • Check

    Bachelor's degree=

    Almost all graduate corrections programs require a bachelor's degree, and they usually accept undergraduate majors in law, criminal justice, criminology, sociology, psychology, and other related fields in the liberal arts and sciences.
  • Check

    Professional Experience:

    Online programs often consider an applicant's professional experience in law enforcement or corrections, while a campus-based master's degree in corrections that will attract recent high school graduates without work experience may place more weight on academic performance.
  • Check

    Minimum GPA:

    A GPA of 3.0 is usually required, but some programs consider a lower GPA if grades show steady improvement from ninth grade through senior year.

Admission Materials

  • Check

    Application:

    Each application requires documentation, including recommendations, a personal statement, and transcripts.
  • Check

    Transcripts:

    Request official transcripts from the registrar's office of each undergraduate school you attended. Ask to have these sent directly to your intended graduate program before the application deadline. Most schools charge a small fee for preparation and mailing.
  • Check

    Letters of Recommendation:

    Some schools request as many as three recommendations. Ask faculty members who know you well enough to write positively about your qualifications. Make sure to give your recommenders ample time to write before the application deadline.
  • Check

    Test Scores:

    While many graduate schools request GRE or GMAT scores, some programs focus on overall academic performance and recommendations. Some correctional programs, especially online programs, may not require standardized tests.
  • Check

    Application Fee:

    In general, expect to pay between $50 and $75 for each application you submit. Students who demonstrate financial hardship may request a fee waiver.

What Else Can I Expect From a Master's Program in Corrections?

Each corrections degree establishes its own distinctive curriculum and requirements. Some corrections and criminal justice master's programs offer students the opportunity to choose a concentration in a focused area of study. A concentration helps students develop a specific set of skills and the specialized knowledge that best aligns with their career plans.

Concentrations Offered for a Master's Degree in Corrections
Concentration Description Careers
Corrections Administration and Management This concentration provides students with the conceptual framework and pragmatic understanding of issues related to managing an offender population in federal, state, local, and private correctional facilities. Students examine organizational leadership theory and applications, corrections operations, staff roles, and supervision in detention facilities. Coursework includes community corrections, managing special populations, risk assessment, and contemporary challenges. Prison warden, manager of a correctional facility
Juvenile Correction Services Coursework focuses on the characteristics of juvenile offender populations and the structure and operations of youth correctional facilities, camp facilities, detention facilities, juvenile hall, and community-based and residential treatment facilities. Students examine the roles of juvenile corrections officers, probation officers, and youth correctional counselors, and evaluate alternative treatment options and best practices for rehabilitation. Juvenile correctional officer, juvenile correctional counselor, juvenile probation officer
Community Corrections and Rehabilitation This concentration explores the two main types of community corrections: probation and parole. Topics include the theory and practice of community corrections; policy and procedure for the supervision of criminal offenders in the resident population; and offender rehabilitation and treatment options. This concentration also emphasizes the challenges of working with special populations, such as youth, sex offenders, and substance abusers. Probation officer, parole officer, correctional treatment specialist
Correctional Assessment Coursework introduces students to best practices in correctional assessment. Students learn how to apply counseling theories and methodology to community and institutional corrections as well as how to supervise special populations. This concentration includes a summary of the history, development, and future of the Correctional Assessment and Intervention System and the Juvenile Assessment and Intervention System. Correctional officer, correctional counselor, correctional case manager
Special Populations in Corrections This concentration focuses on specific groups of prisoners that need the most external scrutiny because of distinctive needs and susceptibility to ill-treatment. Students examine policies and best practices for special prison populations including the elderly, females, racial minorities, juveniles, sexual offenders, prisoners held in isolation, prisoners vulnerable to sexual assault, inmates with mental or physical challenges, and those with serious medical conditions. Corrections officer, prison warden, manager of correctional facilities, corrections officer supervisor, correctional counselor, correctional social worker

Courses in a Master's in Corrections Program

Requirements for a corrections degree vary by school, but most programs share some common features. Students enrolled in a master's degree in corrections usually take courses that explore the management of detention facilities and prisons, the treatment of special populations, correctional law and policy, community corrections, and rehabilitation. Many programs require a thesis or field placement.

This beginning course required of all master-level students analyzes the correctional system and its relationship to other aspects of the criminal justice system. Students connect philosophical arguments for retribution, deterrence, and rehabilitation to contemporary applications. The course emphasizes policy analysis and decision-making models for various correctional settings and best practices for correctional professionals.

An essential course for all correctional professionals, this seminar covers the legal rights and obligations of corrections agencies and personnel and the legal rights and obligations of the inmate, probationer, and parolee. Students examine statutory criminal law and its application to law enforcement and the criminal courts in the U.S.

Designed specifically for students interested in administrative roles in corrections, this course presents the organizational framework, policies, and practices for jail management and the operation of correctional institutions. Students learn how management models impact staffing, security, safety, and treatment. The course places special emphasis on issues related to managing special offender populations.

This course prepares students for professional roles in community-based corrections, including probation, parole, boot camps, halfway houses, and other intermediate sanctions. Themes covered include assessment, treatment, supervision practices, probation and parole evaluation, effectiveness of shock or short-term incarceration, issues related to electronic monitoring and home confinement, and the treatment versus punishment debate.

An emerging challenge facing correctional professionals concerns the management of special populations and racial groups. This course examines law, cultural competency, and diversity policies in relation to appropriate models of punishment and treatment for these groups. Students analyze case studies of several special populations, addressing why they should be monitored and how they are underserved or particularly vulnerable.

How Long Does It Take to Get a Master's in Corrections?

A master's degree in corrections requires 30-40 credits, and most full-time students can complete the program in two years. However, the length of time needed to finish a degree ultimately depends on the program requirements and the number of courses completed each term. Some students can maintain continuous enrollment, while others who must handle work or family responsibilities may choose to attend part time or take time off for a semester or two, extending the time needed to complete the degree.

Program format and specific requirements can impact program length. Some courses have prerequisites that must be taken in a specific order. A thesis requirement or fieldwork may lengthen the amount of time needed to finish the degree. Online degrees usually allow students the flexibility to progress through courses at their own pace, but some cohort-based programs require a fixed schedule.

How Much Is a Master's in Corrections?

For many students, paying for a master's degree in corrections represents a major challenge. Costs vary considerably based on the type of school, program features, and location. The National Center for Education Statistics reports the average graduate tuition for public colleges and universities at $11,303 and $25,817 for private, nonprofit schools. While public institutions usually cost less than private institutions, some private schools offset costs by offering financial aid or tuition discounts.

Although tuition and fees for out-of-state schools cost more than in-state rates, online programs at private schools sometimes offer the same tuition rate to both in-state and out-of-state students. In addition to expected costs for tuition, books, and supplies, students attending campus-based programs must budget for transportation, housing, and meals. While online students save on travel and lodging, they often have to pay technology fees.

Whatever your personal circumstances, investigate all possibilities for financial assistance and make sure to submit your Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) to qualify for federal aid. Many graduate programs offer specialized scholarships, fellowships, research grants, military benefits, or work-study awards. Working professionals planning to return to school should check with their employer about tuition remission benefits that may finance their degree in exchange for a commitment of continued employment.

Certifications and Licenses a Master's in Corrections Prepares For

Widely recognized for its professional certification program, the American Correctional Association (ACA) awards several levels of credentials for corrections professionals. ACA offers specialized certifications in adult corrections, juvenile justice, security threat groups, and health care.

The Jail Manager Certification Commission and the American Jail Association promote professionalism and effective management practices for those working in local correctional facilities. They administer three voluntary certification programs: certified jail officer (CJO), certified jail manager (CJM), and certified correctional trainers (CCT). Certification requires renewal after four years.

The professional certification program offered by the National Institute for Jail Operations provides certification training based on a legal-focused curriculum for detention and jail officers, administrators, and sheriffs.

NSA, in cooperation with the Texas A&M Engineering Extension Service Corrections Academy, oversees several training programs in criminal justice-related professions. Its Jail Certification Program for jail officers, supervisors, administrators, and sheriffs offers three levels of certification: jail officer, jail supervisor, and jail executive. These designations establish standards of professional competency in liability, correctional law, jail operations, and personnel management.

The National Commission on Correctional Health Care administers the CCHP program for all professionals working in the field of correctional health, including administrators and mental health and support staff. Eligibility differs for each type of certification. The basic CCHP credential requires a general exam; advanced certifications for registered nurses, physicians, and mental health providers require specialty examinations.

Resources for Graduate Corrections Students

National Institute of Corrections

Users of this site find resources for state and local correctional training programs, a searchable library and online help desk, and statistics on the corrections industry. It offers several publications, including the 50 State Report on Public Safety.

Federal Bureau of Prisons

Correctional professionals, researchers, and students can access current data on inmate populations and research on issues such as drug treatment, equity and diversity, prison management, and recidivism. It also provides resources for victims, witnesses, and former prisoners.

National Reentry Resource Center

The NRRC provides publications and webinars to support correctional and supervision practices that reduce recidivism. It publishes a reentry services directory that includes employment and housing assistance, mentoring services, substance abuse treatment, and victim support.

RAND Correctional Education Project

Administrators, researchers, and students use the evidence gathered here to evaluate educational programs for incarcerated adults and juveniles. The project provides an archive of downloadable publications, research reports, blog posts, and statistics presented in multimedia and infographic formats.

Professional Organizations in Corrections

Joining a professional association offers invaluable benefits to graduate students preparing to enter an increasingly competitive job market. Your membership gives you the chance to network with experienced practitioners and specialists. You can learn about new developments in corrections from industry leaders and top authorities. Correctional organizations, like those listed here, host conferences and workshops, sponsor scholarship and grant programs, and provide an array of career resources including job banks. Many offer free or discounted membership to students.

American Correctional Association

As the oldest and one of the best-known professional associations in corrections, the ACA promotes the interests of correctional professionals at every level and institutional setting. It also sponsors one of the major correctional credentialing programs.

International Association of Correctional Training Personnel

Established in 1974, IACTP represents correctional trainers, training administrators, and educators from the adult and juvenile justice fields. It sponsors an annual conference, quarterly webinars, and a certificate training program.

National Criminal Justice Association

This national advocacy group supports policy interests in all areas of criminal justice, including law enforcement and corrections. NCJA lobbies for effective criminal justice policy and funding for justice assistance programs. Students may apply for a discounted membership rate.

American Jail Association

AJA supports correctional workers employed in local institutional settings. It sponsors an annual training conference and administers certifications for jail personnel. AJA offers a discounted membership rate to full-time students not currently employed in the corrections field.

American Probation and Parole Association

APPA extends membership to community corrections professionals, service providers, and others interested in parole and probation who share the goal of reducing recidivism. Student members receive discounts on training institutes and complimentary subscriptions to APPA publications.

Frequently Asked Questions About Corrections Administration Programs

Is a master's in corrections administration worth it?

Earning a criminal justice master's in corrections administration can enhance career options, boost earning potential, and is definitely worth it. Ideal for working professionals, these programs lean on theoretical and practical skills that often lead to graduates securing leadership roles.

In addition to the flexibility of online programs, full-time students often graduate in as few as 15 months, adding another cost-saving benefit. Further, online learners inevitably save money by avoiding campus-based fees and the cost of traveling to campus.

Earning a criminal justice master's in corrections administration is often a flexible and affordable option for working professionals and can help graduates secure numerous positions. These programs often lead to senior positions and leadership roles in areas such as law enforcement, public policy, and security and corrections.

Whether individuals seek roles as prison wardens, police chiefs, or public policy advocates, online programs allow them to complete academic requirements while keeping up with personal and professional obligations. Standout online programs utilize an interactive platform that utilizes group work, videos, and self-guided coursework.

Upon completing their resume-boosting master's in criminal justice and corrections administration, graduates still have access to various continuing education that can enhance their careers. Whether they pursue a Ph.D. in criminal justice or a law degree, the growth opportunities are seemingly endless.

Continuing education options include Ph.D. programs, additional master's-level work, and graduate certificates that allow students to hone a particular set of skills. Graduate certificates in this field can cover topics such as criminal justice leadership, security management, homeland security, and corrections management.

Earning potential after completing a master's in criminal justice and corrections administration can vary. Completing a master's is a common pathway for individuals wanting to enhance their earning potential and career options, but elements like geographic location and professional experience play a significant role in determining how much you can earn.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, correctional officers earn a median income of nearly $48,000 per year, as of May 2021. Additionally, correctional treatment specialists earn over $60,000 annually, and police officers earn about $66,000 per year.

The highest-paying jobs for graduates with a master's in criminal justice and corrections administration are often leadership, management, and supervisory positions. According to Payscale, the average base salary for prison wardens exceeds $90,000 per year, as of April 2022.

Alongside the benefits of earning a master's degree, top earners typically rely on professional experience to enhance their earning potential. Additionally, earning professional credentials and completing graduate certificate programs can further expand job options and how much individuals can earn.

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