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Ideal for individuals aspiring to leadership roles in the correctional system, a master’s in corrections prepares students with advanced knowledge and skills to manage facilities, analyze policies, and reduce recidivism rates within prison environments. Graduates are eligible for various positions, including correctional officer, treatment specialist, probation officer, and nonprofit manager, with median salaries ranging from $53,290 to $77,030 per year.

Typically completed in two years by full-time students, these programs offer flexibility so students can progress in their own time. Costs vary by institution, averaging $20,513 annually. This list features programs renowned for their academic excellence and alignment with industry demands.

How to Choose an Online Master’s in Corrections Degree Program

Choose your area of study

Rather than being available as a standalone major, corrections is usually offered as a concentration within a master’s in criminal justice program. This degree may be offered as a Master of Arts (MA) or a Master of Science (MS).

While the corrections field is inherently specialized, you can further customize your studies by focusing on your ideal career when researching colleges. For example, those interested in correctional administration should focus on programs offering management and policy development coursework. Meanwhile, students wanting to pursue a career in rehabilitation should search for curricula that emphasize inmate programs, reentry initiatives, and therapeutic interventions.

Research schools and programs

You should only consider institutions that have been approved by a DOE-recognized regional accrediting organization, such as the New England Commission of Higher Education or Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities. These organizations evaluate schools to ensure they provide students with a high-quality education. Those who attend a school that isn’t regionally accredited may be unable to access financial aid or transfer credits to another institution if needed.

Other elements to consider include:

  • Does the program offer opportunities for hands-on experience or internships in correctional settings?
  • How does the program facilitate networking with professionals?
  • What technology platforms and resources does the program utilize for online instruction?

To learn more about any schools that you’re interested in, you can visit the school’s website, contact an admissions counselor, follow the school on social media, or attend an in-person or virtual open house.

Prepare for tests and applications

Once you have a shortlist of preferred schools, it’s time to prepare for applications and tests. Some students adopt a focused strategy, targeting one or two ideal programs, while others broaden their scope to improve their odds of acceptance.

Regardless of your approach, thorough preparation is essential. Write a compelling personal statement, gather strong recommendation letters, and ensure transcripts are up-to-date. For programs requiring GRE scores, consider enrolling in a test prep program to boost your scores.

Application requirements vary by school and program, so you should always contact an admissions counselor to ensure you have the most accurate information regarding requirements and deadlines.

Select your program

Before making your final decision, review your needs and goals again. Do you plan to attend school full-time or part-time? Are you only interested in 100% online programs, or are you fine with a hybrid program that has some in-person requirements? Some programs offer asynchronous courses, which can be completed at your own pace, while others only offer synchronous courses, which involve remotely attending lectures and completing assignments at the same time as other students — which of these two online learning formats do you prefer? Your school should accommodate your scheduling needs and learning preferences.

Determine how you’ll pay for your degree

Financing your degree can feel intimidating, but it doesn’t have to be. Many financial aid resources are available for graduate students seeking higher education — including institutional, private, and specialized scholarships and government grants. These forms of financial aid are highly preferable since they don’t have to be repaid, but federal loans are also available to bridge any financial gaps. Submit the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) each academic year to determine your eligibility for federal assistance.

Work-study programs benefit students seeking part-time employment, as they provide work experience while offsetting educational costs. For employed individuals, leverage employer-sponsored programs offering tuition assistance. This option reduces out-of-pocket expenses for employees provided they meet specific requirements, like having a certain GPA or agreeing to work for the company for a specified time after graduation.

Finally, be sure to speak to financial aid counselors at the schools you’re interested in for the most accurate and specific information about program cost.

Best 50 Accredited Online Master’s in Corrections Degree Programs


Albertus Magnus College

Saint Leo University

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How We Rank Schools

For this list, we sought graduate-level programs that offer a concentration in corrections. These programs award Master of Arts (MA) or Master of Science (MS) degrees in criminal justice or criminology, with a corrections emphasis.

We also looked for programs that could be completed fully or primarily online to ensure accessibility for students regardless of location and schedule.

We only reviewed programs that are offered by institutions with regional accreditation, which confirms that schools meet the highest standards of quality in postsecondary education. Degrees and credits from regionally accredited programs also tend to be widely transferable and highly regarded by other institutions and employers.

Once we had a list of programs that met our criteria, we reviewed them for their cost, flexibility, outcomes, reputation, and faculty. Then, we calculated an Intelligent Score for each program on a scale of 0 to 100. For a more extensive explanation, check out our ranking methodology.

What Can You Expect From an Online Master’s in Corrections Degree Program?

An online master’s in corrections program offers a specialized focus on the correctional system within the broader criminal justice context. Many of these programs are essentially master’s degrees in criminal justice, concentrating on corrections. The most innovative programs provide a comprehensive curriculum focusing on:

  • Corrections administration and management principles
  • Ethical considerations and legal frameworks specific to correctional environments
  • Rehabilitation strategies, risk assessment, and case management techniques
  • Analytical skills to evaluate policies, practices, and emerging trends in corrections
  • Research methods and evidence-based approaches to address recidivism

Coursework often covers criminal justice ethics, rehabilitation and reentry programs, risk assessment, and corrections-related legal issues. These programs can be completed in about two years by full-time students. However, it’s important to note that online programs often offer flexible timelines, allowing students to pursue their degrees at their own pace.

Potential courses you’ll take in an online master’s in corrections program

  • Criminal Justice Ethics in Corrections: Frequently a core requirement, this course focuses on ethical dilemmas faced by correctional professionals. Students explore ethical theories, codes of conduct, and practical scenarios to develop a solid moral compass in managing incarcerated individuals and organizational decision-making.
  • Rehabilitation and Reentry Programs: Common in most modern curricula, this course centers on evidence-based practices to reduce recidivism rates. Learners study various rehabilitation programs, assess their effectiveness, and explore strategies for successful inmate reintegration into society, including education, vocational training, and community support.
  • Risk Assessment and Case Management: This course emphasizes the importance of individualized offender management. Students acquire skills in conducting risk assessments, developing case plans, and implementing strategies to address the specific needs and risks associated with different types of offenders, ensuring public safety while promoting rehabilitation.
  • Corrections Administration: In this course, students delve into the managerial aspects of correctional facilities. They learn about policy development, budgeting, staff management, and strategies to improve institutional operations and inmate rehabilitation.

What Can You Do With an Online Master’s in Corrections Degree?

Career outlook

Individuals with an online master’s degree in corrections can pursue diverse career paths. They may excel as correctional administrators, probation officers, or parole officers. Opportunities also exist in policy analysis, where graduates can contribute to shaping and reforming correctional policies. Nonprofit organizations focused on criminal justice reform and advocacy provide another avenue. Additionally, graduates may find roles in education, training, or consulting within the criminal justice system. The broad skill set acquired in an online master’s in corrections program equips professionals for impactful roles dedicated to improving and reforming the criminal justice landscape.

Here are some job opportunities for individuals with this academic credential:

  • Probation officer or correctional treatment specialist — Assist criminal offenders through the rehabilitation process while they are on probation or parole.
    • Median annual salary: $61,800
    • Projected employment growth (through 2032): 3%
    • New job openings projected: 7,400 annually
  • Correctional officer or bailiff — Correctional officers guard prisoners, while bailiffs provide security in courtrooms.
    • Median annual salary: $53,290
    • Projected employment growth (through 2032): -7%
    • New job openings projected: 30,900 annually
  • Social or community service manager — Oversee operations and secure funding for programs that support public well-being.
    • Median annual salary: $77,030
    • Projected employment growth (through 2032): 9%
    • New job openings projected: 16,000 annually

Online Master’s in Corrections Degree Frequently Asked Questions

How do I apply to an online master’s in corrections degree program?

To apply for an online master’s in corrections degree program, you’ll need to meet the general admission requirements, which typically include:

  • A bachelor’s degree from an accredited institution
  • Submission of official transcripts
  • Letters of recommendation
  • Personal statement or statement of purpose
  • Resume detailing relevant experience in criminal justice or a related field
  • Minimum GPA requirements (often 3.0 or higher)

Once you’ve gathered the necessary documents, submit your application through the institution’s online portal. For specific admission criteria and guidance, it’s advisable to speak directly with an admissions counselor at the institution of your choice. They can provide program-specific requirements and offer personalized assistance throughout the application process.

How much does an online master’s in corrections degree cost?

The average annual tuition for a graduate degree is $20,513, but the exact cost of an online master’s in corrections varies widely by institution.

Several factors influence these costs at online universities, including:

  • Institution reputation and ranking
  • Program duration and credit requirements
  • Technology and online platform fees
  • Additional charges for resources, books, or materials
  • Residency or on-campus requirements, if any

How long does it take to earn an online master’s in corrections degree?

Earning this degree typically takes two years for full-time students. However, online students often have different completion times than their in-person counterparts. This difference is usually because many online students choose part-time enrollment for added flexibility, which generally extends the program duration.

The number of required credits can also influence the length of the program. Most programs require students to complete 30 to 36 credits to be eligible for graduation, although some schools may require more. Generally speaking, the more credits required, the longer it will take to graduate.

Is an online master's in corrections degree program worth it?

An online master’s in corrections program can be a worthwhile investment. The curriculum, designed to address contemporary issues in corrections, provides comprehensive knowledge applicable to real-world scenarios. Graduates are well-equipped for leadership roles, influencing policy and contributing to the reform of correctional systems.

The flexibility of online learning accommodates professionals already working in the field, allowing them to enhance their skills without interrupting their careers. The networking opportunities facilitated by online programs are beneficial for individuals wishing to connect with peers and experts globally.

As the demand for skilled professionals in corrections continues to rise, this degree enhances career prospects, offering a pathway to roles such as correctional administrator, policy analyst, and rehabilitation program manager. Ultimately, this degree’s worth depends on your individual career goals and commitment to contributing positively to the criminal justice landscape.

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