A two-year master's degree program in criminal justice and corrections is designed for graduate students interested in learning about the U.S. justice system and criminal justice theory. Many programs recommend or require students to select a particular specialization in the field, such as corrections, criminal justice administration, or juvenile corrections. Prior to graduation, student must also complete a thesis paper or project along with a work-study or internship experience at a corrections or judicial facility. In order to apply, students must hold a bachelor's degree. Previous work experience in the criminal justice field may also be helpful.
Master's Degree in Criminal Justice and Corrections
Courses in this program usually focus on advanced research methods and how they apply to specific topics in the field. Possible course topics include:
- Criminal justice organization and administration
- Juvenile justice system
- Corrections and law
- Correctional services
- Criminal procedure
- Philosophy of corrections
Popular Career Options
While one of the most popular careers related to law enforcement and corrections is a corrections officer, a master's degree also prepares individuals for more advanced positions in the field. Some of these might include:
- Correctional officer manager
- First-line supervisor
- Correctional treatment specialist
- Community supervision officer
- Correctional counselor
Career Outlook and Salary Info
Employment for entry-level corrections officers is expected to decrease at a rate of 7% between 2018 and 2028, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). The BLS reported a median salary of $44,330 for correctional officers and jailers in 2018.
First-line supervisors of correctional officers and correctional treatment specialists need either more education or more experience than correctional officers. Data from the BLS shows first-line supervisors of correctional officers earned a median salary of $63,340 in 2018, and probation officers and correctional treatment specialists saw a median salary of $53,020 that year. The BLS projected a 7% decline for first-line supervisors of correctional officers during the 2018-2028 period, while opportunities for probation officers and correctional treatment specialists were projected to increase by 4% for the same period of time.
Doctoral degree programs in the fields of criminal justice, corrections, juvenile corrections, sociology, and psychology can prepare students to become university professors in the corrections field. Such advanced degrees can also prepare doctoral candidates for careers as administrators or policy planners in the U.S. criminal justice system.
By earning master's degree in criminal justice and corrections, students gain advanced knowledge in the field and prepare for high-level careers in an increasingly competitive employment environment.