Schools for Aspiring Youth Probation Officers: How to Choose

A youth probation officer needs a solid understanding of both the criminal justice system and youth advocacy's role in justice. Associate's, bachelor's and master's degree programs, as well as certificate programs, provide the background necessary to succeed as a youth probation worker.

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Individuals entering the youth probation field have certificate and varying degree program options from which to choose; a few programs deal exclusively with youth work and advocacy, but most cover diverse aspects of criminal law and social sciences. Classes at the associate's and bachelor's degree levels may discuss addiction, gang intervention and correctional institution management, while criminal justice programs at the master's level are designed for students who plan to go to law school or pursue careers in policy research.

Ten Schools with Criminal Justice Programs

The following list includes a number of public and private schools that offer criminal justice programs.

College/University Location Institution Type Degrees Offered Tuition* (2015-2016)
George Washington University Washington, DC 4-year, Private Associate's, Bachelor's Undergraduate $50,435
Ohio University Athens, OH 4-year, Public Associate's In-state Undergraduate $11,548; Out-of-state Undergraduate $20,512
Florida State University Tallahassee, FL 4-year, Public Bachelor's, Master's, Doctoral In-state Undergraduate $6,507; Out-of-state Undergraduate $21,673;
In-state Graduate $9,684; Out-of-state Graduate $24,116
Miami Dade College Miami, FL 4-year, primarily associate's, Public Certificate, Associate's In-state Undergraduate $2,834; Out-of-state Undergraduate $9,661
Mesa Community College Mesa, AZ 2-year, Public Certificate, Associate's In-state Undergraduate $2,046; Out-of-state Undergraduate $7,830
Idaho State University Pocatello, ID 4-year, Public Certificate, Associate's, Bachelor's In-state Undergraduate $6,784; Out-of-state Undergraduate $20,182
CUNY John Jay College of Criminal Justice New York, NY 4-year, Public Associate's, Bachelor's, Master's In-state Undergraduate $6,810; Out-of-state Undergraduate $13,920;
In-state Graduate $10,130; Out-of-state Graduate $18,720
Los Angeles City College Los Angeles, CA 2-year, Public Certificate, Associate's In-state Undergraduate $1,220; Out-of-state Undergraduate $6,810
University of Akron Main Campus Akron, OH 4-year, Public Associate's, Bachelor's In-state Undergraduate $10,509; Out-of-state Undergraduate $19,040
City College of San Francisco San Francisco, CA 2-year, Public Certificate, Associate's In-state Undergraduate $1,598; Out-of-state Undergraduate $7,554

Source: *National Center for Education Statistics (NCES)

Find schools that offer these popular programs

  • Corrections Admin
  • Corrections, Probation, and Parole
  • Criminal Justice and Safety Studies
  • Criminal Science
  • Forensic Science
  • Juvenile Corrections
  • Law Enforcement Administration
  • Police Science and Law Enforcement
  • Securities Services Mgmt
  • Security and Theft Prevention Services

School Selection Criteria

There are several things to consider when choosing a program in this field.

  • Students should confirm whether they can transition from an associate's degree program to a bachelor's degree program, or whether a school offers a minor or concentration in juvenile crime or juvenile justice.
  • Seek out opportunities to gain practical experience by working with young people or taking classes in family violence and counseling.
  • Review the school's record for graduates successfully employed in your desired career field to ensure that employers recognize the school's program.
  • Some schools offer interview and resume preparation assistance to help graduates secure employment.

Certificate Program in Corrections or Criminal Justice

Professionals in the justice system might consider getting a certificate, which generally requires fewer classes than a degree program. Some certificate programs focus on policy change in the juvenile justice system.

Associate's Degree in Criminal or Juvenile Justice

Associate of Arts degree programs are often geared towards students who plan to transfer to a four-year institution and offer more liberal arts classes. General education classes in psychology, writing, statistics and other subjects are usually included.

Bachelor of Science in Criminal or Juvenile Justice

Four-year programs may have specific focuses, including corrections, sociology, criminology or youth advocacy. Some programs offer a specialization in juvenile justice. Students may complete internships or practicums while studying delinquency causes and prevention, as well as gang intervention. They may also take research-oriented classes in courts and social policy, sociological ethnography, social deviance, cybercrime and criminological theory.

Master of Science in Criminal Justice

Students who pursue this degree are often interested in pursuing social change within youth corrections programs. Students who want to combine research with practical training might consider a joint bachelor's and master's degree program. Master's degree students may take more seminar-style classes and study topics such as ecology of crime, law and chemical dependency, criminal thought, penology and risk analysis.

Aspiring youth probation officers can earn a certificate, associate's, bachelor's or master's degree in criminal justice or corrections. They should make sure the program and qualifications they pursue are sufficient for their desired career; those with bachelor's and master's degrees may have more opportunities for employment and advancement.

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