Corrections officers take responsibility for people who are awaiting trial or who have been incarcerated. While some employers only require corrections officers to hold a high school diploma, many follow the lead of the Federal Bureau of Prisons, which stipulates all corrections officers must hold a bachelor's degree. Programs are available online leading to bachelor's and master's degrees with corrections concentrations.
A bachelor's degree is usually required in order to work as a corrections officer. Many bachelor's and master's degree programs in corrections are available in a fully online format, and topics may include the penal system, law enforcement techniques, parole and probation. A master's degree may not be required, but might help graduates advance to administrative positions. Students will need Microsoft Office software.
Bachelor's Degree in Corrections
Most online bachelor's degree programs in corrections are degree-completion programs. Applicants must hold a high school diploma or GED and must have achieved a 2.0 GPA in all previous college coursework. Students may transfer credit from all previous college courses in which they achieved a grade of 'C' or better. Program graduates have received training in the history and philosophy of corrections, management principles and the relationships of corrections systems with the community.
Program Information and Requirements
Depending on the school and the number of transfer credits applied, students are able to complete this bachelor's degree completion program in 18-24 months. Delivered entirely online, there are no in-person requirements for this degree program. Students access their classes by various methods, including viewing live classroom sessions, which are recorded and may be viewed at a later time. Assignments and communication take place by way of discussion boards, operating under a course management system such as Blackboard.
Technical requirements include a computer with Internet access and either Windows XP or Mac OS X. Particular versions of Web browsers may also be recommended. Microsoft Office is required and some courses may call for Microsoft Media Player or Apple QuickTime.
Bachelor's Level Corrections Courses
General education courses in the humanities, natural and applied sciences, and social sciences may be required. In addition to core courses in the field of criminal justice, students typically take a number of specialization courses in corrections.
Introduction to Corrections
With an emphasis on the different methods and approaches to the application of corrections strategy to society, alternative tactics are examined. This course also presents a historical survey of correctional practices, up to and including present day.
This is an overview course of the history of protection, security and loss prevention. Topics include the threat environment, the security industry, accident prevention and risk analysis.
Focusing on the function and application of parole and probation as parts of the corrections system, this course examines the ramifications such practices may have on the outside community.
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projected that job opportunities for bailiffs would increase five percent from 2014-2024. Over the same period, job opportunities for corrections officers and jailers were predicted to grow by four percent (www.bls.gov). Both of these projections were slower than the average for all occupations. The BLS reported median annual salaries of $41,670 for bailiffs and $40,530 for corrections officers and jailers.
In general, corrections officers and bailiffs must undergo a training period in the field or at an appropriate law enforcement academy. Proficiency with firearms may also be a qualification requirement. Advancement in the profession generally comes with time on the job and with continued education. Information on career opportunities and training is available through the Federal Bureau of Prisons.
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Master's Degree in Corrections Overview
Building on previous training, education and on-the-job experience, an online master's degree program with a specialization in corrections prepares professional corrections officers to advance to administrative or supervisory positions and manage correctional facilities or private security companies. Prerequisites always include a bachelor's degree from an accredited institution. In some cases, a 2.0 GPA precludes any entrance exam requirement. Other programs may mandate GRE or MAT scores for admittance.
Program Information and Requirements
Depending on the number of courses undertaken at any one time, students are able to complete this online master's degree program in as little as 18 months. Courses are delivered entirely online and there is no in-person component. In conjunction with purchased textbooks, students participate in the program through a course management system, such as Blackboard. Usually, students are required to login to the virtual classroom a certain number of times each week. Communication and completion of assignments are accomplished via discussion boards and e-mail.
Technical requirements include a computer with Internet access; DSL or cable is preferred. Minimum requirements may also exist for Web browsers and computer operating systems. Student computers should be equipped with Microsoft Office, Adobe Acrobat Reader and Adobe Acrobat Flash Player.
Master's Level Corrections Courses
Typically an online master's degree program in corrections consists of 48 credits. In addition to specialization courses in corrections, there are usually a certain number of foundation courses that deal with fundamental principles and theories of the criminal justice system.
Focusing on the history of incarceration, punishment and corrections in the United States, this course discusses the structure, effectiveness and theory of institutional corrections. Imprisonment, prison life and the nature of prisoners are among the topics examined in this course.
Community Corrections and Re-entry
This course investigates the de-institutionalizing process of prisoners. Among the subjects explored is the effectiveness of community corrections programs, such as community services agencies, treatment programs, work-release programs and the entire process of re-entry into society.
In the contexts of politics, society and the law, correctional practices and trends in the United States are examined. Of particular focus is the use of the corrections aspect of the criminal justice system as a tool of social control.
Membership in such organizations as the American Correctional Association and the American Jail Association presents opportunities for individuals to take professional development and technology courses. Such courses can lead to executive or administrative positions. A variety of courses leading to various certifications and designations are also available, as are opportunities to attend conferences and participate in the formulation of new and effective corrections policies.
Online programs in corrections provide students with knowledge of the criminal justice system, applicable management methods and community programs. Both bachelor's and master's degree programs are available, and professional development courses can be taken through a number of associations.