Bachelor’s in Corrections Program Guide

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July 28, 2021

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The U.S. correctional system incarcerates more people per capita than any other nation in the world. Statista reports that, as of June 2020, the U.S. incarcerates 655 per 100,000 people. This segment of the population requires skilled professionals for supervision, enforcement, advocacy, and rehabilitation.

An on-campus or online bachelor's degree in corrections leads to careers in the correctional system and law enforcement. Graduates secure roles as probation and parole officers, correctional officers, and correctional treatment specialists. Some pursue police academy training. With experience, this degree can lead to supervisory positions in correctional facilities and advancement in police departments.

Between 2019 and 2029, the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects 4% job growth for probation officers and correctional treatment specialists, about as fast as the average rate for all occupations. The BLS also reports that qualified candidates should experience plentiful job opportunities.

Should I Get a Bachelor's in Corrections?

Most bachelor's in corrections programs require 120 credits and take four years of full-time study to complete.

Individuals interested in the criminal justice system, particularly the correctional system and law enforcement, often find that a bachelor's degree in corrections leads to challenging and rewarding careers. Graduates may pursue roles protecting various portions of the population, enforcing regulations, and helping offenders reenter society.

Between 2019 and 2029, the BLS projects 3% employment growth for protective service occupations, resulting in about 95,200 new jobs. Candidates with a bachelor's degree in corrections experience the best job prospects.

Some positions can result in stress overload. Whether preventing violence in correctional facilities or patrolling dangerous neighborhoods, these roles require emotionally stable individuals with strong interpersonal skills, empathy, perceptiveness, and resilience.

Most bachelor's in corrections programs require 120 credits and take four years of full-time study to complete. Some online programs offer accelerated coursework that can lead to a degree in as little as 18 months. In addition, many programs offer a bachelor's in criminal justice with a concentration in corrections.

What Will I Learn in a Corrections Bachelor's Program?

Corrections bachelor's programs provide the foundational skills and knowledge graduates need to work in correctional facilities and law enforcement. Typical coursework includes correctional law, ethics in criminal justice, correctional administration, and probation and parole. Students may also choose from different electives, such as domestic violence or substance abuse intervention.

Students also learn about case management for individual offenders, how to respond in specific situations, and community-based approaches to reducing recidivism rates. Many programs culminate in a capstone project and a final practicum. Most schools also offer internship opportunities, providing invaluable hands-on experience.

Concentrations

Juvenile Corrections

Juvenile corrections focuses on juvenile offenders, including delinquency and rehabilitation. This concentration appeals to students interested in working with minors and in juvenile correctional facilities.

Community Corrections

This concentration focuses on the two main types of community corrections supervision: probation and parole. Students learn how to supervise offenders and explore community resources that help facilitate community reentry and rehabilitation.

Corrections Administration

This concentration appeals to individuals interested in pursuing supervisory roles in correctional facilities. Students learn about team leadership, diversity, and other necessary management skills for this population.

Special Populations

This concentration focuses on the specific needs of the diverse populations found within correctional facilities. Specific groups may include the elderly, sexual offenders, or inmates with physical or mental challenges.

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

Graduates with a bachelor's degree in corrections may work in prisons, jails, juvenile correctional facilities, and other similar institutions. These professionals often pursue careers as probation or parole officers, correctional treatment specialists, wardens, and correctional officers.

Other graduates enter police academy training and proceed to careers in law enforcement. These individuals find employment as police officers, detectives, investigators, and Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) agents. Some may also pursue careers with community service organizations. A large percentage of graduates work for local, state, or federal governments.

Popular Career Paths

Correctional Treatment Specialist

Correctional treatment specialists provide support to inmates in an effort to reduce recidivism and help them successfully reenter society. They do this, in part, through educational and training programs.

Correctional Officer

Correctional officers supervise inmates, enforce regulations, and keep order in correctional facilities. They may escort prisoners, search cells and inmates for contraband items, and write reports. Correctional officers working in federal prisons may need a bachelor's degree.

Prison Warden

Prison wardens carry the responsibility of managing a correctional facility. They implement procedures and protocols, facilitate operations, and monitor both staff and inmates.

Probation Officer

Probation officers supervise and provide support for law offenders placed on probation. They may connect individuals with community resources, such as educational or substance abuse support, and work with courts and law enforcement agencies.

Police Officer

Police officers enforce the law, protecting people and property. Some pursue careers as criminal investigators, detectives, and FBI agents. Candidates must graduate from a state-approved training academy.

Popular Continuing Education Paths

How Much Money Can I Make With a Bachelor's in Corrections?

Salaries for individuals with a bachelor's degree in corrections vary based on the position, employer, and experience level. According to the BLS, probation officers and correctional treatment specialists earn a median annual wage of $55,690, with the top 10% earning more than $98,510. Police officers bring in a median annual salary of $67,290, while detectives earn $86,940.

Frequently Asked Questions About Bachelor's in Corrections Programs

How much does it cost to get a bachelor's in corrections?

The National Center for Education Statistics reports the average undergraduate tuition is $9,349 for public schools, $35,807 for nonprofit private schools, and $14,957 at for-profit private schools for the 2019-2020 academic year. Several factors affect these costs, including online or on-campus learning and state residency.

Are corrections degrees worth it?

Yes. For individuals interested in law enforcement and the correctional system, a corrections degree leads to many exciting and rewarding positions in these fields. Degree-holders find increasing job prospects and advancement opportunities.

What are the ranks in corrections?

While titles vary by state, most correctional systems consist of about seven ranks. These include correctional officer, sergeant, lieutenant, captain, major, deputy warden, and warden.

Do correctional officers make more than police officers?

Generally, no. According to the BLS, correctional officers earn a median annual salary of $47,410, while those who work for the federal government earn $60,540. Police officers earn a median annual wage of $65,540.

What's the difference between a bachelor's in corrections and a bachelor's in criminal justice?

A bachelor's in corrections concentrates on the correctional system that incarcerates, supervises, and rehabilitates offenders. A bachelor's in criminal justice includes the correctional system as well as law enforcement and the court system. Many criminal justice programs offer several concentrations, including corrections, homeland security, and crime scene investigation.

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