10 Affordable Online Bachelor’s in Corrections Programs

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An online correctional officer college degree prepares graduates to work with detainees and prisoners in the corrections system or help ex-offenders re-adjust to civilian life after their release. You’ll learn the procedures, laws, and regulations that govern the corrections system and gain valuable skills that can help you advance in your career and earn higher salaries.

The U.S. prison population has declined over the last decade, but with more than six million inmates and ex-offenders still in the system, the need for qualified corrections professionals remains important. The Bureau of Labor Statistics projects 4% job growth for correctional officer jobs through 2024. Additionally, the industry is changing and new opportunities are emerging for professionals who want to work in community-based programs that focus on rehabilitation. With an online correctional officer college degree, you can look forward to a wide career path with a variety of opportunities across the industry.

Online Bachelor’s in Corrections at a Glance

Fast Facts

Time to Complete Four to five years
Credit Hours 120 credit hours
Core Courses
  • Introduction to criminal justice
  • Introduction to psychology
  • Correctional systems
  • Criminology
  • Criminal law
Accreditation There is no programmatic accreditation for online bachelor’s degrees in corrections.
Additional Info There is no licensure, residency, or other unique qualifications required for admission into or graduation from this type of program.
10 Affordable Online Bachelor's in Corrections Programs
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1

University of Massachusetts-Lowell

Value Score 7.20
Average Tuition $1,454
Students Receiving Financial Aid 86%
Net Price $10,440
Graduation Rate 56%
Student to Faculty Ratio 17:1
Admissions Rate 56%
Enrollment Rate 26%
Retention Rate 26%
Percentage of Students in Online Programs 29%
Number of Online Programs 12

UMass Lowell, a public research institution, offers more than 50 degrees and certificate programs online, including the bachelor's of science in criminal justice and criminology with a concentration in corrections. The program explores the criminal justice system and teaches students to apply classroom knowledge to real-world situations. Students may complete the program fully online or in a hybrid format. Graduates with the corrections concentration work with inmates in jails and prisons and with released offenders on probation or parole.

The program requires 120 credits, including 36 credits of criminal justice courses. Tuition for this affordable online bachelor's in corrections is the same for in-state and out-of-state students. Applications are accepted on a rolling basis.


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2

Eastern Kentucky University

Value Score 6.98
Average Tuition $8,150
Students Receiving Financial Aid 74%
Net Price $9,253
Graduation Rate 45%
Student to Faculty Ratio 16:1
Admissions Rate 70%
Enrollment Rate 38%
Retention Rate 38%
Percentage of Students in Online Programs 50%
Number of Online Programs 15

EKU is nationally recognized for its innovative distance learning programs. Its bachelor's of science in corrections and juvenile justice studies is one of the few programs in the country devoted to adult corrections and juvenile justice. Coursework for the 120-credit, fully online program is delivered asynchronously, allowing students to study at their convenience. With accelerated eight-week terms and six start dates throughout the year, EKU accommodates adult students' busy schedules.

Applicants to the bachelor's in corrections online program must have at least a 2.0 GPA and must meet college readiness standards in English, reading, and math. Transfer students may bring up to 90 approved credits. All online students pay the same tuition, regardless of state residency.


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3

North Carolina Central University

Value Score 6.86
Average Tuition $3,555
Students Receiving Financial Aid 80%
Net Price $8,968
Graduation Rate 42%
Student to Faculty Ratio 16:1
Admissions Rate 65%
Enrollment Rate 21%
Retention Rate 21%
Percentage of Students in Online Programs 32%
Number of Online Programs 7

Founded in 1910, NCCU in Durham, North Carolina, is an historically black university offering dynamic on-campus and online programs, including the bachelor's of science in criminal justice with a concentration in corrections. The 120-hour program provides a solid foundation in community corrections, inmate counseling, prison management, and contemporary criminal justice issues. The synchronous courses require distance learners to log in at designated times to participate in online class discussions.

Students with an associate degree who want to earn an online bachelor's in corrections may consider the accelerated two-year program, which combines online learning with evening classes at a nearby community college. Students in the accelerated program follow a fixed curriculum comprising eight mini-sessions and one summer session.


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4

Brandman University

Value Score 6.17
Average Tuition $12,000
Students Receiving Financial Aid 70%
Net Price $9,918
Graduation Rate 42%
Student to Faculty Ratio 16:1
Admissions Rate 74%
Enrollment Rate 55%
Retention Rate 55%
Percentage of Students in Online Programs 83%
Number of Online Programs 14

Brandman's online undergraduate programs are designed to help working professionals advance their careers or begin new ones. Distance learners pursuing a bachelor's of arts in criminal justice with an emphasis in corrections delve into the complexities of the criminal mind and learn how the corrections system manages offenders. Students enhance their communication and problem-solving abilities.

The asynchronous format allows students to complete assignments anytime and anywhere. Online courses are available in eight-week terms, with six start dates per year, giving students with professional and personal responsibilities the flexibility to earn their degree. Applicants to Brandman's affordable online bachelor's in corrections program should have at least 12 baccalaureate-level credits from a regionally accredited institution and a 2.0 GPA.


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5

Regent University

Value Score 5.86
Average Tuition $15,900
Students Receiving Financial Aid 80%
Net Price $16,437
Graduation Rate 47%
Student to Faculty Ratio 28:1
Admissions Rate 84%
Enrollment Rate 29%
Retention Rate 29%
Percentage of Students in Online Programs 86%
Number of Online Programs 2

Regent, a private Christian research university in Virginia Beach, offers distance learners the freedom to create a class schedule that fits their busy lives. Its online bachelor's of science in criminal justice program combines critical thinking with a Christian perspective. Students who choose the corrections concentration complete 120 credits in topics such as juvenile justice issues, criminal law, criminal procedure, and the criminal justice system. Regent divides the semester into two eight-week sessions.

Transfer students may bring up to 90 credits earned from regionally accredited institution. Students earning a bachelor's in corrections online pay lower tuition rates and fewer fees than on-campus students.


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6

Western New Mexico University

Value Score 5.39
Average Tuition $3,740
Students Receiving Financial Aid 51%
Net Price $11,535
Graduation Rate 21%
Student to Faculty Ratio 16:1
Admissions Rate 100%
Enrollment Rate 33%
Retention Rate 33%
Percentage of Students in Online Programs 62%
Number of Online Programs 13

WNMU, located in historic Silver City, offers a fully online bachelor's of science in criminal justice, which prepares students for entry-level law enforcement positions at the local, state, and federal levels. The 120-credit program's concentration in corrections examines the criminal justice system and equips students with practical skills.

WNMU's well-rounded curriculum gives students a strong foundation in institutional corrections, corrections law, and social and behavioral sciences. Courses are asynchronous, enabling students to complete assignments at their convenience. The average online class size is only 18 students, and full-time students typically earn their corrections online bachelor's degree in four years. WNMU is a federally designated Hispanic-serving institution and has an open admissions policy.


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7

Lee University

Value Score 4.96
Average Tuition $14,400
Students Receiving Financial Aid 79%
Net Price $17,052
Graduation Rate 52%
Student to Faculty Ratio 17:1
Admissions Rate 85%
Enrollment Rate 45%
Retention Rate 45%
Percentage of Students in Online Programs 13%
Number of Online Programs 9

Lee University in Cleveland, Tennessee, is a Christian university sponsored by the Church of God. It offers both on-campus programs and fully online programs, including the bachelor's of arts in criminal justice with an emphasis in corrections. The program's 120 credits include general education, religion, corrections, and criminal justice requirements. The emphasis covers the juvenile and adult justice systems, criminal psychology, and the role of law in society.

Lee has an open admissions policy and offers discounted tuition to military and first responders. Applicants must have a high school diploma or the equivalent and three years of life experience beyond high school. The online bachelor's degree in corrections is delivered in an accelerated format, which enables students to earn the four-year degree in three years and four months.


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8

Cameron University

Value Score 4.79
Average Tuition $3,960
Students Receiving Financial Aid 65%
Net Price $8,283
Graduation Rate 24%
Student to Faculty Ratio 18:1
Admissions Rate 100%
Enrollment Rate 33%
Retention Rate 33%
Percentage of Students in Online Programs 46%
Number of Online Programs 3

Cameron University in Lawton, Oklahoma, provides quality education at affordable rates. The university's unique "Cameron University Guarantee" offers graduates of CU bachelor's programs additional education for free if their employers report their skills fall short.

CU's bachelor's of science in criminal justice program is ideal for students seeking careers in law enforcement or corrections. Major requirements comprise criminal justice coursework, and minor requirements focus on corrections. An associate in applied science in criminal justice may also satisfy the program's requirements for a minor. Courses are asynchronous, allowing students pursuing the online bachelor's in corrections to complete assignments at their convenience. The 124-credit, fully online program is not available to students in California, Florida, or Massachusetts.


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9

Southern New Hampshire University

Value Score 4.78
Average Tuition $30,006
Students Receiving Financial Aid 61%
Net Price $37,709
Graduation Rate 59%
Student to Faculty Ratio 30:1
Admissions Rate 91%
Enrollment Rate 22%
Retention Rate 22%
Percentage of Students in Online Programs 92%
Number of Online Programs 43

With more than 3,000 on-campus students and more than 80,000 online students, SNHU is one of the fastest-growing universities in the country. SNHU's online bachelor's in criminal justice with a concentration in corrections teaches students to think on their feet in simulated law enforcement scenarios. Coursework focuses on the intricacies of American jail and prison systems. Students learn about best practices for rehabilitating offenders, community-based supervision, and factors that lead to incarceration. The program requires a capstone research paper.

Students complete the 120-credit online bachelor's degree in corrections at their own pace. SNHU's tuition for online programs is among the lowest in the nation, and discounts are available for U.S. service members and their spouses.


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10

Montana State University-Northern

Value Score 4.61
Average Tuition $3,953
Students Receiving Financial Aid 61%
Net Price $10,548
Graduation Rate 25%
Student to Faculty Ratio 14:1
Admissions Rate 100%
Enrollment Rate 48%
Retention Rate 48%
Percentage of Students in Online Programs 49%
Number of Online Programs 3

Picturesque Havre, Montana, is home to MSU-Northern, which offers nine fully online programs, including the bachelor's of science in criminal justice. This 120-credit program equips students with practical knowledge in law enforcement, crime prevention, conflict management, and the court system. Students examine how the prison system works and study real-world challenges in probation, parole, and juvenile detention.

Coursework for the online bachelor's degree in corrections is delivered asynchronously through the D2L learning platform. Applicants must have a high school diploma or the equivalent and at least a 2.5 GPA. MSU-Northern accepts transfer credits earned from regionally accredited institutions, both in-state and out-of-state.


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What Can I Do With a Bachelor’s in Corrections Degree?

With more than two million people in U.S. jails and prisons and another four million on probation or parole, there’s an ongoing need for corrections professionals. These professionals work with detainees awaiting trial, convicted offenders serving sentences, or ex-offenders re-entering society. This demanding career requires good communication skills, dedication, and responsiveness. Most entry-level correctional officer jobs only require a high school diploma, but an associate or online bachelor’s in corrections provides opportunities for advancement and higher salaries.

Career Paths

Parole Officer

$42,714 Avg Annual Salary
Bachelor’s degree Degree Required

Parole officers help reintroduce paroled offenders to life outside the penal system. They help place ex-offenders in temporary housing and assist with job training and placement, while closely monitoring their post-release behavior. Parole officers may need to arrange outpatient addiction meetings and drug testing as part of a parole agreement.

Projected Growth Rate 4%

Probation Officer

$41,169 Avg Annual Salary
Bachelor’s degree Degree Required

Probation officers monitor and work with individuals on probation, helping prevent them from committing new crimes. In most court systems, probation officers investigate individuals accused of fairly serious crimes and make sentencing recommendations. Probation officers also meet regularly with non-violent offenders sentenced to probation to ensure they are fulfilling the terms set by the court.

Projected Growth Rate 4%

Corrections Supervisor or Manager

$46,384 Avg Annual Salary
Associate degree Degree Required

First-line corrections managers directly supervise correctional officers who oversee detainees awaiting trial and serving jail or prison sentences. They often advance to the supervisor’s role after gaining entry-level experience. An associate degree, combined with experience, can earn an officer a promotion, while a bachelor’s degree often results in a higher salary.

Projected Growth Rate 3%

Case Manager

$38,739 Avg Annual Salary
Associate degree Degree Required

Case managers work with ex-offenders to help them stabilize and improve their lives. Case managers often team up with potential employers, doctors, and court-appointed representatives to create a treatment plan to help individuals live a productive, independent, and crime-free life. An increasing number of agencies require job applicants to hold an associate degree.

Projected Growth Rate 4%

Prison Warden

$86,681 Avg Annual Salary
Bachelor’s degree Degree Required

Prison wardens manage the day-to-day activities at correctional institutions. They ensure the safety and security of staff and inmates, establish and carry out prison policy, make financial decisions, and ensure compliance with government and legal regulations. Most begin their careers as corrections officers and rise through the ranks.

Projected Growth Rate 4%

Educational Paths for Graduates of Online Corrections Programs

Instead of immediately entering the workforce, graduates of online bachelor’s in corrections programs can enroll in law school and pursue a career as a prosecutor or defense attorney. A master’s degree also enables you to teach criminal justice at the college level or begin a specialized career such as forensic psychology. Additionally, earning a doctoral degree enables students to pursue high-level academic positions, conduct research, and work for public policy groups or consulting firms.

What Will I Learn in My Bachelor’s in Corrections Program?

  1. Introduction to Criminal Justice: This course details the impact of crime in the U.S., what constitutes crime, and society’s role in criminal justice. Students learn about the relationship between law enforcement, corrections, and the judicial process.
  2. Introduction to Psychology: This introductory course focuses on human behavior and how the mind works. It teaches students how to evaluate research and prepares them for the more advanced concepts covered in upper-level courses.
  3. Correctional Systems: Students explore social problems, trends, and challenges in the U.S. correctional system. They learn about offender custody and management, prison life, and parole.
  4. Criminology: This class examines the different causes and types of crime and teaches learners how to research and compile crime information. Students may also learn how to use crime mapping and crime analysis tools.
  5. Criminal Law: This course traces the history and evolution of criminal law in the U.S. It examines the law from the points of view of prosecutors, defense attorneys, judges, and defendants.

Employment Outlook for Bachelor’s in Corrections Graduates

Bachelor’s in Corrections Salary

As with most occupations, corrections professionals are likely to earn more money as they gain experience on the job. The table below features data from PayScale and illustrates the average annual earnings for corrections industry employees at different stages of their careers. Salary also varies based on an individual’s employer and geographic location.

Median Salary by Experience
Job Title Overall Median Salary Median Salary for Entry-Level Employees Median Salary for Mid-Career Employees Median Salary for Late-Career Employees
Corrections Officer $38,679 $34,000 $39,000 $48,000
Parole Officer $42,714 $40,000 $40,000 $61,000
Prison Guard $44,500 $30,000 $35,000 $50,000
Juvenile Probation Officer $46,384 $35,000 $42,000 $45,000
Corrections Supervisor/Manager $46,384 $40,000 $39,000 $51,000

Accreditation for Online Bachelor’s in Corrections Degrees

Accreditation demonstrates that colleges and universities meet minimum education quality standards. Institutions that undergo rigorous self-evaluation and review can receive regional or national accreditation from organizations recognized by the U.S. Department of Education (DOE) and the Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA). Students can search through the DOE’s and CHEA’s online databases to verify an institution’s accreditation status.

Regionally-accredited institutions are generally degree-oriented, state-owned, and/or nonprofit schools. It is easier for students to transfer credits between institutions that are regionally accredited. Alternatively, nationally-accredited institutions typically work with vocational programs, technical programs, or schools with a religious affiliation. Online colleges must meet the same strict criteria as their traditional brick and mortar counterparts to earn regional or national accreditation.

Some fields also feature programmatic accreditation, which signifies that a program’s curriculum meets certain industry standards. However, no programmatic accreditation is available for online corrections programs. Nonetheless, it is important to verify that any school you are considering has institutional accreditation.

Financing Your Online Bachelor’s in Corrections Program

A program’s cost is a major factor to consider when choosing a college. However, you may discover that distance learning is a more affordable way to earn an online correctional officer college degree. Whether a program is online or on-campus, it is prudent to investigate financial aid opportunities to save money. The first step to determining if you are eligible for federal grants or loans is to complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) form. Additionally, veterans and U.S. service members (as well as their spouses and dependents) may have access to education-related military benefits. Working professionals may also qualify for employer tuition reimbursement. The tables below lists some of the scholarships available to students pursuing a bachelor’s in corrections online.

Scholarships for Online Corrections Bachelor’s Degree Programs

Corrections Scholarships

Dennis R. Martin Scholarships $1,000

The Middle Atlantic States Correctional Association awards two scholarships to criminal justice students attending accredited institutions who plan to pursue corrections careers.

Scholarship Deadline: April 15

Eligibility Requirements: Applicants must be a current MASCA member or the spouse or child of a member.

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Susan C. Cranford Memorial Scholarship $1,000

The Texas Corrections Association awards this scholarship to women pursuing a criminal justice degree.

Scholarship Deadline: January 1

Eligibility Requirements: Applicants must be female students pursuing a criminal justice degree at an accredited college or university.

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Ben S. Meeker Academic Scholarship Up to $1,000

The Federal Probation and Pretrial Officers Association awards this scholarship to a full-time college junior or senior studying criminal justice, psychology, social work, or a related field.

Scholarship Deadline: September 1

Eligibility Requirements: The parents or guardians of applicants must be active or honorary members of the Federal Probation and Pretrial Officers Association. Applicants must also demonstrate a commitment to a career in probation, pretrial services, parole, or criminal justice.

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Martin Luther King, Jr. Scholarship Award $2,000

The American Correctional Association awards this scholarship to a minority student who has career plans in criminal justice, corrections, or law enforcement and is working toward a college degree or graduate training.

Scholarship Deadline: June 1

Eligibility Requirements: Applicants must be enrolled full-time in an accredited four-year college.

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Correctional Education Association Scholarship Up to $500

The Correctional Education Association scholarship benefits students enrolled in an undergraduate or graduate course in correctional education or a course that aims to improve the delivery of correctional education programs or services.

Scholarship Deadline: January 1

Eligibility Requirements: Applicants must be a member of the Correctional Education Association for at least two years before applying; they must also maintain CEA membership status for two years after accepting the award.

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