What Can I Expect from an Online Master’s in Corrections Program?

Online programs provide the same level of academic quality as on-campus programs and offer several advantages. By eliminating the need to commute to campus, online programs will give you more time for work, family, and other responsibilities outside of school. Also, online programs allow you to attend a college outside your area without the cost and inconvenience of relocating. There are many online master’s in corrections programs to choose from, so it’s essential to research your options to find the best match for your career goals and personal preferences.

Available concentrations

If you already know exactly what you want to do in this field after you graduate, you should look for a program that allows you to focus your studies on this specialty. Some of the most common concentration options for a master’s in corrections include:

  • Administration and Management: Focuses on managing a general prison population on the federal, state, local, or private level.
  • Juvenile Corrections: Provides information about the structure of the juvenile justice system and the various treatment methods available for juvenile offenders.
  • Correctional Assessment: Students learn how to evaluate and improve criminal rehabilitation programs.

Common degree curriculum

An online master’s in corrections program exposes you to all sides of the criminal justice system, including legal issues, technology, and sociology. Some colleges allow you to complete this degree program entirely online, while others may require labs, practicums, or capstone projects to complete on campus. Some of the specific courses you will likely encounter in this program include:

  • Substance Abuse and Addictions: Focuses on how drugs and addiction affect the criminal justice system and the types of treatments that are available.
  • Current Issues in Corrections: Provides an overview of the legislative process and the laws currently affecting the U.S. correctional system.
  • Comparison of Correctional Systems: Teaches students about different correctional systems worldwide. Topics may include international human rights laws, legal standards, and rehabilitation treatments.
  • Community Corrections: Provides insight into the types of community-based correctional options that are available, including house arrest, boot camps, and treatment centers.
  • Criminology: Teaches students about the various criminological theories and how they apply to understanding criminal behavior.

Certification and license preparation

In addition to your master’s degree, you should consider earning professional certifications to further bolster your resume and advance your career. The certification programs offered by the American Correctional Association and American Jail Association are especially well-regarded in this industry.

Program accreditation

Only apply to schools 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 the faculty and curriculum of postsecondary education institutions to ensure they offer students a high-quality academic experience. If your school doesn’t have regional accreditation, you may be unable to access financial aid or transfer credits to another institution if needed. Also, many employers will only consider your degree legitimate if you graduated from a regionally accredited school.

Program completion timeframe

Online master’s in corrections programs typically require 36 credit hours of coursework, allowing most full-time students to graduate within two years. Part-time students may need up to five years.

It’s also worth noting that cohort-based programs require you to attend classes and complete courses simultaneously as other students. If you would like to earn your master’s in corrections as quickly as possible, avoid cohort-based programs — instead, look for a program that offers asynchronous courses, which can be completed at your own pace.

Employment Outlook for Master’s in Corrections Graduates

Compared to most other fields, corrections offers relatively low pay, and there isn’t much job growth expected in this industry over the next decade (in fact, some occupations related to corrections are expected to see negative growth). That makes earning a master’s degree especially important.

Indeed, while a master’s degree typically isn’t required for entry-level corrections jobs, furthering your education offers plenty of career benefits. Low growth means finding employment opportunities in this field may be challenging — a graduate degree will allow you to stand out from your peers and get hired more quickly. Also, workers with a master’s degree earn an average salary of $1,661 per week, while those with a bachelor’s earn $1,432. Over a year, that’s a difference of nearly $12,000.

However, you should adjust your salary expectations according to where you plan to work. Areas with a higher cost of living tend to offer higher pay. For example, probation officers and correctional treatment specialists earn an average salary of $97,300 in California but just $38,180 in Mississippi.

Job Title Job Description Median Yearly Salary Projected Growth Rate (2022 – 2032)
Corrections Officers and Bailiffs Corrections officers oversee arrested individuals who are awaiting trial or serving jail time. Bailiffs help guard courtrooms and other courthouse areas and escort inmates in and out of the courtroom during hearings. $49,610 -7%
Probation Officers and Correctional Treatment Specialists Probation officers provide rehabilitation services and monitor the behavior of parolees and probationers. Correctional treatment specialists provide services similar to probation officers, but they typically take more of a psychological approach by administering questionnaires and counseling. $59,860 3%

Professional organizations

In addition to looking good on your resume, joining professional organizations will provide you with access to valuable educational and networking opportunities. Some of the top organizations for those with a master’s in corrections include:

Financing Your Online Master’s in Corrections Degree

Online programs tend to be more affordable than on-campus programs, but you still may need help paying for your degree. Fill out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) to see what’s available. It will determine your eligibility for grants and loans provided by the federal government.

Student Finance Resources and Guides

In addition to federal aid, you may be eligible for financing opportunities offered by your school, employer, nonprofit organizations, and private companies. The resources listed below will help you understand your financial aid situation and save as much money as possible.

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Interested in a degree?

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