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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 officers, administrators, treatment specialists, probation officers, and bailiffs, with median salaries ranging from $49,100 to $58,860 per year.

Typically completed in two years for full-time students, these programs offer flexibility so students can progress in their own time. While costs vary by institution, averaging $19,749 annually, this list features programs renowned for academic excellence and alignment with industry demands.

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

Choose your area of study

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 curriculums that emphasize inmate programs, reentry initiatives, and therapeutic interventions. You can research schools and programs that align closely with your career goals by cultivating a targeted approach early on.

Research schools and programs

To further identify schools that align with your career goals, you should prioritize curriculum relevance, accreditation status, and the availability of your preferred learning format. 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?

You can find most of this information on university websites, but don’t hesitate to attend a virtual open house or contact an admissions counselor for further details.

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 for increased acceptance opportunities.

Regardless of your approach, thorough preparation is essential. Begin by familiarizing yourself with each program’s specific requirements and deadlines. 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.

Select your program

Upon receiving acceptance letters, reassess the most critical factors from your research to select the program that best aligns with your goals.

Revisit your initial research on curriculum relevance, accreditation, and preferred learning formats. It may also be helpful to visit faculty profiles to review credentials and expertise — after all, learning from enthusiastic and well-qualified instructors can make a significant difference in your educational experience. You should also consider the overall cost of attendance for each program, weighing tuition, fees, and living expenses against available financial aid opportunities, scholarships, or assistantships.

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.

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.

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. This accreditation confirms that schools meet the highest standards of quality in secondary education. Degrees and credits from regionally accredited programs also tend to be more 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 for 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 curriculums, 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.

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 cost of an online master’s in corrections varies widely by institution but averaged $19,749 for the 2020-2021 academic year.

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

As an online student, you’ll likely benefit from some savings compared to traditional on-campus programs. You can easily avoid expenses like commuting and campus housing, and many programs offer the flexibility students need to maintain employment while pursuing their degree.

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 programs 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.

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