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Online Colleges for Corrections

While corrections officers often work eight-hour days, that is the end of the career's resemblance to an office job. Their setting is a jail or prison, and the population they work with -- or "oversee" -- is of incarcerated individuals serving time for a crime. It is a career that is both serious and highly important, and it rewards hard work and responsibility.

While many of the duties in this field are taught through police academy training or hands-on experience, it would be dangerous to go into those experiences uninformed. A degree in corrections provides a critical foundation in the skills and knowledge you'll need to succeed at this career.

Best Online Colleges for Corrections

Looking for a list of the best online colleges for corrections, but don't know where to start? We evaluated 24 online schools for their corrections programs and listed the 10 best here. We looked at metrics such as graduation rate, tuition cost and the percentage of degrees that the schools awarded in the corrections field, using data from the National Center for Education Statistics' Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS). For details on this ranking system, see the bottom of the page. Otherwise, take a look at our list of the 10 best schools with online corrections degrees in the country.

1

Eastern Wyoming College

Tuition & Fees/Year Tuition and fees per year refers to the average in-state tuition and required fees for full-time undergraduates and, if applicable, graduate students as of 2016, according to the National Center for Education Statistics.
$2,568
Distance Education Participation Distance Education Participation refers to the percentage of students taking either some or all of the courses via distance education, according to the National Center for Education Statistics.
21.54%
Number of Programs Offered Number of programs offered refers to the count of degrees and certificates offered via distance education at any level as of 2016, according to the National Center for Education Statistics
8
School Type
2-year

Eastern Wyoming College, the home of the "Lancers," offers an Associate of Science in criminal justice with an emphasis in corrections program that can be completed entirely online. Students can use this program for a terminal degree or transfer to another college. Criminal law, forensic science and juvenile justice courses are included in the degree. A one-credit capstone project lets students synthesize their knowledge and skills.

Eastern Wyoming College takes the number one spot on our list of schools offering online corrections degrees for several reasons. For affordable tuition, it ranked third best out of the 24 schools we analyzed. It took the eighth spot in the metric for percentage of degrees awarded in the field in 2015, and it has an open admissions policy, which means it accepts anybody who applies for entry as long as they have a high school diploma or a GED certificate. Finally, the school placed 11th for graduation rate, putting it just about in the middle range of all 24 online colleges for corrections considered.

Accreditation:

  • Higher Learning Commission

Location:

3200 West C Street,
Torrington, Wyoming 82240-1699
2

Cameron University

Tuition & Fees/Year Tuition and fees per year refers to the average in-state tuition and required fees for full-time undergraduates and, if applicable, graduate students as of 2016, according to the National Center for Education Statistics.
$5,580
Distance Education Participation Distance Education Participation refers to the percentage of students taking either some or all of the courses via distance education, according to the National Center for Education Statistics.
46.24%
Number of Programs Offered Number of programs offered refers to the count of degrees and certificates offered via distance education at any level as of 2016, according to the National Center for Education Statistics
8
School Type
4-year

Our number two school, Cameron University, offers an Associate of Applied Science in criminal justice degree with a specialization in corrections, 100 percent online. The degree comprises general education classes, university requirements, major requirements and requirements in the area of specialization. The school has many other programs fully online, including a Bachelor of Science in criminal justice program.

Cameron University, which offers nearly 50 different degrees overall, ranked second out of 24 schools for the percentage of degrees awarded in the corrections field. It also ranked ninth on the tuition metric and 16th for graduation rate. An open-admission policy is among its numerous assets.

Accreditation:

  • Higher Learning Commission

Location:

2800 West Gore Boulevard,
Lawton, Oklahoma 73505-6377
3

Cayuga County Community College

Tuition & Fees/Year Tuition and fees per year refers to the average in-state tuition and required fees for full-time undergraduates and, if applicable, graduate students as of 2016, according to the National Center for Education Statistics.
$4,742
Distance Education Participation Distance Education Participation refers to the percentage of students taking either some or all of the courses via distance education, according to the National Center for Education Statistics.
31.69%
Number of Programs Offered Number of programs offered refers to the count of degrees and certificates offered via distance education at any level as of 2016, according to the National Center for Education Statistics
8
School Type
2-year

Part of the State University of New York (SUNY) system, Cayuga County Community College awards an Associate of Applied Science in criminal justice degree with an emphasis in corrections that can be completed entirely online. A police emphasis is offered online, too. Students that prefer both online coursework and campus classes can opt for a hybrid alternative. The program articulates with several four-year criminal justice programs at SUNY schools.

Cayuga County Community College made it onto our list as a result of its third-place spot for the percentage of degrees awarded in the criminal justice corrections field. It also ranked tenth for graduation rate, out of 24 schools considered for best online colleges for corrections, and offers an open admissions policy.

Accreditation:

  • Middle States Commission on Higher Education

Location:

197 Franklin Street,
Auburn, New York 13021-3099
4

Community College of Allegheny College

Tuition & Fees/Year Tuition and fees per year refers to the average in-state tuition and required fees for full-time undergraduates and, if applicable, graduate students as of 2016, according to the National Center for Education Statistics.
$7,298
Distance Education Participation Distance Education Participation refers to the percentage of students taking either some or all of the courses via distance education, according to the National Center for Education Statistics.
31.19%
Number of Programs Offered Number of programs offered refers to the count of degrees and certificates offered via distance education at any level as of 2016, according to the National Center for Education Statistics
15
School Type
2-year

An Associate of Science in Criminal Justice and Criminology degree is available online through the Community College of Allegheny College. An emphasis in Corrections gives students the chance to learn about evidence and procedures, criminal justice law and ethics in criminal justice. Online emphases in computer forensics and law enforcement also can be pursued. The degree is just one of a dozen offered online.

The Community College of Allegheny College made the fourth spot on our list of best online colleges for corrections, largely for ranking sixth in the metric for the percentage of degrees awarded in corrections, but also for hitting the 13th spot on the tuition metric. It also scored high on the admission metric as a result of its open-admission policy.

Accreditation:

  • Middle States Commission on Higher Education

Location:

800 Allegheny Avenue
Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania 15233-1895
5

Community College of Philadelphia

Tuition & Fees/Year Tuition and fees per year refers to the average in-state tuition and required fees for full-time undergraduates and, if applicable, graduate students as of 2016, according to the National Center for Education Statistics.
$9,360
Distance Education Participation Distance Education Participation refers to the percentage of students taking either some or all of the courses via distance education, according to the National Center for Education Statistics.
22.26%
Number of Programs Offered Number of programs offered refers to the count of degrees and certificates offered via distance education at any level as of 2016, according to the National Center for Education Statistics
4
School Type
2-year

An Associate of Applied Science in Justice degree is available fully online from the Community College of Philadelphia. Students who are graduates of the Philadelphia Police or Prison Academy can receive credits toward the online degree, too. The degree requires students to complete a 'cluster' of career courses in one of the following areas:

  • Corrections
  • Corporate/Homeland Security
  • Parole/probation
  • Police

Students who obtain their degree here can transfer to one of nearly a dozen schools thanks to the Community College of Philadelphia's articulation agreements, and the college accepts all interested students through its open admissions policy. However, the school's real claim to fame is having awarded the highest percentage of corrections degrees in 2015 of all 24 schools we reviewed.

Accreditation:

  • Middle States Commission on Higher Education

Location:

1700 Spring Garden Street,
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania 19130-3991
6

Baker College

Tuition & Fees/Year Tuition and fees per year refers to the average in-state tuition and required fees for full-time undergraduates and, if applicable, graduate students as of 2016, according to the National Center for Education Statistics.
$8,640
Distance Education Participation Distance Education Participation refers to the percentage of students taking either some or all of the courses via distance education, according to the National Center for Education Statistics.
50.78%
Number of Programs Offered Number of programs offered refers to the count of degrees and certificates offered via distance education at any level as of 2016, according to the National Center for Education Statistics
31
School Type
4-year

Baker College, an independent Michigan college, offers more than 100 programs to students, including an Associate of Applied Science in criminal justice and a Bachelor of Science in criminal justice. The degree programs at Baker follow standards set by the Michigan Corrections Officers Training Council, and several of the school's classes are offered in online format. To help students learn about campus services, policies and procedures, a College Success Online class is required for all students.

With a history of more than 100 years, this time-honored school made our list of best online colleges for corrections for its number four ranking in terms of percentage of degrees granted in the field. It also boasts an open-admission policy, a small but crucial detail that helped it secure the sixth spot on our list.

Accreditation:

  • Higher Learning Commission

Location:

1050 West Bristol Road,
Flint, Michigan 48507-5508
7

Montana State University-Northern

Tuition & Fees/Year Tuition and fees per year refers to the average in-state tuition and required fees for full-time undergraduates and, if applicable, graduate students as of 2016, according to the National Center for Education Statistics.
$5,329
Distance Education Participation Distance Education Participation refers to the percentage of students taking either some or all of the courses via distance education, according to the National Center for Education Statistics.
48.54%
Number of Programs Offered Number of programs offered refers to the count of degrees and certificates offered via distance education at any level as of 2016, according to the National Center for Education Statistics
6
School Type
4-year

A fully online Bachelor of Science in criminal justice degree can be completed at Montana State University-Northern. Earning such a degree can lead to a career in homeland security, juvenile corrections or police services. In this criminal justice degree program, the following topics are covered:

  • American Criminal Law
  • Introduction to Corrections
  • Police Organization and Behavior

Additionally, an online minor in criminal justice can be completed at the school.

Montana State University ranked on our list for its number eight rating on the tuition metric, the third best score of all the schools included in this list. It also took the tenth spot on the metric for percentage of degrees awarded in the field -- not as impressive as its affordable tuition, but certainly still worth mentioning.

Accreditation:

  • Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities

Location:

300 West 11th Street,
Havre, Montana 59501
8

Northeast Community College

Tuition & Fees/Year Tuition and fees per year refers to the average in-state tuition and required fees for full-time undergraduates and, if applicable, graduate students as of 2016, according to the National Center for Education Statistics.
$3,165
Distance Education Participation Distance Education Participation refers to the percentage of students taking either some or all of the courses via distance education, according to the National Center for Education Statistics.
35.04%
Number of Programs Offered Number of programs offered refers to the count of degrees and certificates offered via distance education at any level as of 2016, according to the National Center for Education Statistics
18
School Type
2-year

At Northeast Community College, a fully online Associate of Arts in criminal justice degree with an emphasis in corrections is offered. A minimum of 60 credits is necessary to complete the degree, which includes eight courses specifically in corrections. Two elective courses round out the program.

This school made our list of top online colleges for corrections for its fifth place spot, out of 24, for lowest tuition. Only one other school on this list had more affordable tuition than Northeast Community College. The college also performed well on the graduation metric, garnering a sixth-place spot out of the 24 schools considered, and aced the admissions rate metric due to its open admissions policy.

Accreditation:

  • Higher Learning Commission

Location:

801 East Benjamin,
Norfolk, Nebraska 68702-0469
9

Southern New Hampshire University

Tuition & Fees/Year Tuition and fees per year refers to the average in-state tuition and required fees for full-time undergraduates and, if applicable, graduate students as of 2016, according to the National Center for Education Statistics.
$30,386
Distance Education Participation Distance Education Participation refers to the percentage of students taking either some or all of the courses via distance education, according to the National Center for Education Statistics.
91.98%
Number of Programs Offered Number of programs offered refers to the count of degrees and certificates offered via distance education at any level as of 2016, according to the National Center for Education Statistics
109
School Type
4-year

A fully online Bachelor of Science in criminal justice degree with a concentration in corrections is offered through Southern New Hampshire University, or SNHU. Criminal law, policies, procedures and regulations form the foundation of this degree, but students also learn about evidence-based practices and programs used within corrections facilities. Other concentrations available in the online criminal justice degree at SNHU include:

  • Criminology
  • Homeland Security & Counterterrorism
  • Human Services
  • Legal Studies & Advocacy
  • Police Administration & Operations

SNHU scored an impressive second-place ranking for graduation rate, the best score of any of the online schools for corrections included on this list. For percentage of degrees awarded in the field, it garnered the number five spot. Although the school does not have an open admissions policy, it still admitted more than 90 percent of all applicants to its programs in 2015.

Accreditation:

  • New England Association of Schools and Colleges, Inc.

Location:

2500 North River Road,
Manchester, New Hampshire 03106-1045
10

Eastern Kentucky University

Tuition & Fees/Year Tuition and fees per year refers to the average in-state tuition and required fees for full-time undergraduates and, if applicable, graduate students as of 2016, according to the National Center for Education Statistics.
$8,150
Distance Education Participation Distance Education Participation refers to the percentage of students taking either some or all of the courses via distance education, according to the National Center for Education Statistics.
49.68%
Number of Programs Offered Number of programs offered refers to the count of degrees and certificates offered via distance education at any level as of 2016, according to the National Center for Education Statistics
41
School Type
4-year

The online Bachelor of Science in corrections & juvenile justice studies degree available from Eastern Kentucky University, or EKU, is one of the few in the country to focus strictly on juvenile justice and adult services, according to the school. Other online corrections programs available at EKU include the:

  • Undergraduate Professional Certificate in Correctional Intervention Studies
  • Undergraduate Professional Certificate in Youth Services
  • Master's Degree in Justice, Policy & Leadership

EKU makes our list in part thanks to its multiple online corrections programs listed above, but it had other positive qualities as well. The university ranked seventh for graduation rate and ninth for the percentage of degrees it awarded in the field in 2015-16, both high scores out of the pool of 24 schools we analyzed.

Accreditation:

  • Southern Association of Colleges and Schools

Location:

521 Lancaster Avenue,
Richmond, Kentucky 40475-3102

Degree Overview: Corrections

Corrections work is demanding and often dangerous, so online colleges for corrections have a big responsibility: creating programs that provide students with the skills and knowledge they need to successfully navigate this challenging environment. Continue reading this section to find some of the possible coursework that may be available and the skills graduates might have learned by completing their degree program.

Online Corrections Courses

Online education for corrections is designed to prepare students for the rigors of the field. While schools may focus on different areas when creating a curriculum, the following are examples of coursework that is commonly available across these programs.

  • Criminal justice research: Crime statistics are a vital part of the criminal justice field because decisions about policy and staffing are made based on this data. This course is meant to familiarize students with the methodologies criminal justice researchers use, and it might describe how to perform tasks such as develop theories, collect and interpret data, and accurately identify crime patterns.
  • Criminology: Criminology classes provide an overview of the nature of crime, as well as what causes it. Specific coursework may cover antisocial behavior, victimization and the psychological theories that explain crime. In addition, students may learn about specific types of crime, including property, violent and public order crimes.
  • Corrections theory: In order to portray a broad view of incarceration in the United States, professors who teach corrections theory may cover topics such as prison life, philosophies about crime and punishment, inmate rights, institutional management, education programs in correctional facilities, and correctional staffing.
  • Probation and parole: The work of criminal justice professionals does not necessarily end when an inmate leaves the walls of a prison. This course explores how the probation and parole systems work to keep people safe while reintegrating inmates back into their community. Specific class topics may include treatment theory, the work of parole and probation officers, juvenile services and determinate sentencing.
  • Correctional leadership: Those who are interested in rising through the ranks of the corrections profession may gain an understanding of what management positions are like by taking this class. Topics explored can include corrections management trends, staffing, and the laws and regulations people in the field must follow.

Career-Related Skills to Develop

In order to work with people who have been incarcerated, professionals need a variety of specific skills, which may be obtained through online education for corrections. Below are some of these skills that students may want to prioritize developing during the course of their studies.

  • Problem solving: Corrections professionals work in an environment that can be chaotic. They must have the problem solving skills to assess situations as they arise and make sound decisions about how to handle them in a timely manner.
  • Monitoring: Workers should have strong monitoring skills in order to keep their eyes on what's going on in a correctional facility. Whether they are taking head counts of inmates or ensuring that people are not breaking the rules, corrections personnel must be eagle-eyed to maintain order.
  • Negotiation: It's common for conflicts to arise among inmates in correctional facilities, and workers must be able to de-escalate potentially dangerous situations. In order to do this, they should work on their negotiation skills so they can help people resolve their differences.
  • Discipline: The corrections field is stressful and dangerous, but corrections workers cannot let that unsettle them, at risk to themselves and their charges. Professionals in this field should have the discipline needed to control their anxiety and emotions, maintaining a professional demeanor no matter what happens.
  • Teamwork: Corrections officers must be able to support each other and work together to deal with the day-to-day duties of the job, as well as respond to emergencies. A strong sense of teamwork is essential for creating that camaraderie.

Corrections Specializations

Corrections is a demanding profession that needs highly-skilled and knowledgeable workers. In order to sharpen their skills, as well as climb up the ladder of their careers, workers can earn professional certifications. Below are a few of the credentials people in the field can earn.

  • Offered though the American Correctional Association, the Certified Corrections Professional is earned by completing a self-study program sponsored by the organization. In addition, candidates must successfully complete a proctored exam that lasts four hours.
  • The Certified Correctional Health Professional from the National Commission on Correctional Health Care can be earned by registered nurses, mental health workers and physicians who work in correctional settings.
  • The National Sheriffs' Association has a jail officer certification for professionals who have expertise in jail operations, personnel management, liability, basic training, correctional law, and planning and preparation.
  • Correctional trainers can earn a certification from the American Jail Association, which requires passing the organization's exam.

Corrections Career Outlook

People in corrections and criminal justice careers are responsible for keeping everyone safe -- whether they are inside or outside of a correctional facility setting. In addition to handling people who have already been incarcerated, these professionals work to help prevent crime, as well as reduce the chances of people reoffending after their release.

First-Line Supervisors of Police and Detectives
Average Salary Average salary refers to the 2016 mean salary for all U.S. workers in this job, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics
$88,400
Projected Job Openings Projected job openings refers to the estimated number of job openings from 2014-2024, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics
43,000
Projected Job Growth Projected job growth refers to the estimated rate of increase in the number of jobs in this profession from 2014-2024, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
4.2
Entry-level Education This refers to the typical entry-level education needed to obtain a position in a particular job, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2016
High school diploma or equivalent

During a criminal investigation, the buck stops with those in first-line supervisors of police and detectives careers, as these professionals take a supervisory role over the activities of police officers. Some of the daily duties of this job include training new staff on police procedure; managing budgets and monitoring police department expenditures; designing and updating departmental policies and procedures; selecting supplies and issuing them to personnel; and investigating allegations of staff misconduct and taking disciplinary measures as needed. In addition, first-line supervisors are involved in the safe transfer and release of prisoners. Specific job titles include police lieutenant or sergeant, commanding officer and detective supervisor.

Criminal Justice and Law Enforcement Teachers
Average Salary Average salary refers to the 2016 mean salary for all U.S. workers in this job, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics
$67,040
Projected Job Openings Projected job openings refers to the estimated number of job openings from 2014-2024, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics
6,800
Projected Job Growth Projected job growth refers to the estimated rate of increase in the number of jobs in this profession from 2014-2024, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
21.4
Entry-level Education This refers to the typical entry-level education needed to obtain a position in a particular job, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2016
Doctoral or professional degree

Criminal justice and law enforcement teachers are responsible for training the next generation of the justice system. These professionals create lesson plans for their courses; administer tests and homework assignments that are designed to monitor student progress; facilitate classroom discussions; evaluate, select and order textbooks for courses; supervise student internships; and keep abreast of developments in their subject area. They may also be involved in research related to criminal justice and law enforcement, which entails creating parameters for a study and executing them; compiling and analyzing data; and sharing study results in academic journals and meetings.

First-Line Supervisors of Correctional Officers
Average Salary Average salary refers to the 2016 mean salary for all U.S. workers in this job, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics
$65,100
Projected Job Openings Projected job openings refers to the estimated number of job openings from 2014-2024, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics
15,300
Projected Job Growth Projected job growth refers to the estimated rate of increase in the number of jobs in this profession from 2014-2024, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
3.1
Entry-level Education This refers to the typical entry-level education needed to obtain a position in a particular job, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2016
High school diploma or equivalent

First-line supervisors of correctional officers are responsible for coordinating and supervising the work of jailers and corrections officers. The specific job duties of this position include maintaining employee work schedules; performing roll calls of corrections officers; enforcing procedures and policies of a corrections facility; searching inmates and their cells for contraband; responding to escapes; and training employees. Professionals in first-line supervisors of correctional officers careers require a variety of skills, such as strong communication abilities that allow them to effectively supervise their employees, handle inmates and coordinate with administrators in charge of a jail or prison. Other required skills include instruction, time management, writing and critical thinking skills.

Correctional Officers and Jailers
Average Salary Average salary refers to the 2016 mean salary for all U.S. workers in this job, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics
$46,750
Projected Job Openings Projected job openings refers to the estimated number of job openings from 2014-2024, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics
143,000
Projected Job Growth Projected job growth refers to the estimated rate of increase in the number of jobs in this profession from 2014-2024, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
3.7
Entry-level Education This refers to the typical entry-level education needed to obtain a position in a particular job, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2016
High school diploma or equivalent

Correctional officers and jailers work to maintain the law and order inside of a correctional facility by overseeing the activities of those who are awaiting trial or have been sentenced to serve time. These professionals are required to report inmate misconduct, handle prisoner disputes, conduct contraband searches, complete head counts to ensure all inmates are present, and process people into the facility. Correctional officers and jailers careers are dangerous, so people who pursue these jobs should have the physical strength needed to subdue inmates if necessary. In addition, written and verbal communication, problem solving and monitoring skills are desirable in this job.

Child, Family, and School Social Workers
Average Salary Average salary refers to the 2016 mean salary for all U.S. workers in this job, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics
$47,510
Projected Job Openings Projected job openings refers to the estimated number of job openings from 2014-2024, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics
92,500
Projected Job Growth Projected job growth refers to the estimated rate of increase in the number of jobs in this profession from 2014-2024, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
6.2
Entry-level Education This refers to the typical entry-level education needed to obtain a position in a particular job, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2016
Bachelor's degree

When children and families need services to help them improve their physical and emotional well-being, they may receive the help they need from people in child, family, and school social workers careers. These social workers may assist people with adoptions; find foster homes for children who have been abused or abandoned; help clients get financial assistance and other services; and arrange medical or psychiatric tests. Professionals who work in schools may help young people with problems such as truancy, teenage pregnancy and bad behavior, as well as assist educators on how to deal with students who have these issues.

Sources and Methodologies

Methodology

To be included in these rankings, all colleges had to meet the following criteria for the specific subject being ranked:

  1. Offer an undergraduate degree (either associate or bachelor's) in that subject online
  2. Have awarded at least one degree or certificate in that subject in 2014-15

Once we had our list of schools for each subject, we ranked them on five criteria:

  1. In-state tuition, National Center for Education Statistics, 2015
  2. Graduation rate, National Center for Education Statistics, 2014
  3. Accessibility, based on the admissions rate, National Center for Education Statistics, 2014
  4. Program prominence, based on how many of the degrees and certificates awarded in 2014-15 were in this particular subject, National Center for Education Statistics, 2015
  5. Related subjects, based on the number of similar topics for programs in relevant CIP codes that are offered at any level, National Center for Education Statistics, 2015

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  43. http://www.aca.org/ACA_Prod_IMIS/ACA_Member/Professional%20Development/Certification/ACA_Member/Certification/Certification_Home.aspx?hkey=90e28de0-4b27-4056-bdb3-f3e74fbe11ff
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Sources and Methodologies