Aspiring parole officers in California have multiple educational options. They could enroll in the associate's and bachelor's degree programs of 2-year colleges and 4-year universities in the state. Master's and doctoral programs also exist for individuals who want to prepare for advancement opportunities.
Some enrollees could transfer their credits to higher degree programs. Internships and field experiences allow for hands-on learning. Upper-level degree programs consist of considerable research, and students may be required to complete a thesis project.
American River College
Sacramento is home to American River College (ARC), which serves more than 31,000 students. The Sacramento Regional Public Safety Training Center (SRPSTC) is part of ARC and it offers a variety of pre-service and in-service training programs for individuals already working in law enforcement, as well as programs for those seeking entry into this field. Students pursuing training at the SRPST, which is on the McClellan campus of ARC, can also enroll in and receive credit for courses taken at the main campus in Sacramento.
Prospective probation officers who earn the Associate in Science in Administration of Justice have the option to transfer to a 4-year degree program in a related field. Transfer option requirements differ slightly, but both the traditional and transfer programs require the successful completion of courses like community relations, juvenile delinquency, and correctional services introduction.
California State University - Fullerton
There are several schools in the California State University System, and this campus in Fullerton enrolls more than 36,000 students. Cal State Fullerton has a Bachelor of Arts (B.A.) in Criminal Justice, and completion of this program may prepare prospective parole officers with the ability to communicate with a varied group of people, manage a diverse caseload, and monitor parolees. This program also aims to provide students with some knowledge of the justice system and an understanding of criminology. Students are required to complete a 21-unit criminal justice core curriculum, general education courses, and at least 12 units of elective coursework, such as women and crime, gangs, the judicial process, and juvenile justice.
California State University - Long Beach
California State University's Long Beach campus administers both an undergraduate major and minor in criminal justice, as well as a Master of Science (M.S.) in Criminology and Criminal Justice. The 120-unit Bachelor of Science in Criminology and Criminal Justice program includes instruction in writing, criminal law, criminology, research methods, and corrections practices. Students pursuing degrees in other disciplines may supplement their program with the undergraduate minor in criminal justice, which requires a minimum of 22 units of coursework related to corrections, criminal law, policy, ethics, and justice writing.
For those interested in professional advancement or careers in education, research, or leadership in the field of criminal justice, there's the M.S. in Criminal Justice program that provides students with the opportunity to expand their knowledge of the law, courts, ethics, research methods, and professional writing skills related to criminal justice.
City College of San Francisco
This community college in San Francisco enrolls more than 34,000 students in its certificate and associate degree programs. Student can pursue an Associate of Science in Administration of Justice or a 1-year Certificate of Accomplishment in Administration of Justice. Individuals who have earned associate or baccalaureate degrees in other areas may supplement these credentials with the certificate in administration of justice for entry into this field, while the 2-year degree program may provide opportunities to pursue further study or employment in the fields of corrections, law enforcement, or probation. These programs may provide sufficient training to sit for the civil service examination required for those seeking a position as a parole officer in California.
East Los Angeles College
East Los Angeles College (ELAC) in Monterey Park has more than 37,000 students and offers certificates and associate degrees, including programs in administration of justice. The certificate of achievement program has 7 different possible areas of emphasis, including law, sociology, basic police academy preparation, and chemical dependency specialist. Additionally, skills certificates can be earned in subjects related to law enforcement, like fingerprinting, supervisory training, traffic investigator, and custody assistant officer. The associate's degree program in administration of justice includes courses such as offender profiling, patrol procedures, corrections, and criminal law. To gain field experience and interact with fellow students, students can participate in the school's Administration of Justice Club on campus.
San Diego State University
More than 30,000 students are enrolled in courses and programs at this branch of the California State University System, which is located in San Diego. Through the School of Public Affairs, students can pursue a Bachelor of Science (B.S.) in Criminal Justice that has general education and core classes, as well as a practicum requirement that can be completed through an internship, study abroad, or service learning experience. The Master of Science in Criminal Justice is offered through a collaboration between the Department of Sociology and the School of Public Affairs. This degree program may be appropriate for students wishing to pursue leadership roles in criminal justice agencies, to teach at community colleges, or to embark on a career as a researcher or policy analyst. An additional option for prospective parole officers seeking an advanced degree is the program leading to the Master of Public Administration with a concentration in criminal justice administration.
San Francisco State University
The School of Public Affairs and Civic Engagement at this San Francisco-based school offers 2 options for students seeking criminal justice programs. The undergraduate major and minor in criminal justice studies gives students a chance to pursue a program that incorporates 4 areas of emphasis: administration of justice, crime and delinquency, legal studies, and working with diverse communities. Students in both the major and minor programs are required to choose a number of courses from each subject area. The addition of general education, foundation courses, and a field experience offer students an interdisciplinary approach, while also providing practical training. The criminal justice studies minor requires up to 20 units of coursework.
San Jose State University
Situated in the northern California city of San Jose, this school has approximately 30,000 students. Through the justice studies department, students hoping to receive training to become parole officers can enter the B.S. in Justice Studies or M.S. in Justice Studies programs. There are also 3 undergraduate minors in legal studies, human rights, and justice studies. The B.S. program requires the completion of 120 units, whereas the 30-unit M.S. program is available for students seeking higher learning for professional advancement. The master's degree program has a thesis and non-thesis option.
Santa Ana College
The Criminal Justice Academies at this Santa Ana school provides a number of programs for current law enforcement personnel, as well as those seeking entry into this field. This academy offers short-term courses like physical fitness for law enforcement applicants and pre-employment preparation for law enforcement, which are both 3-unit courses and may apply to a degree program at this school.
This school's Associate in Science in Administrative Justice for Transfer with Criminal Justice Option program requires 27 units of core classes, such as corrections, criminal law, street gangs, and community relations. Those who successfully complete the associate degree program may be eligible for transfer to a 4-year university or to apply for positions within California's criminal justice system. Additionally, for those seeking a shorter program that may qualify as pre-service or in-service training for jobs in law enforcement, there are 5 certificate programs.
University of California - Davis
The sociology department at the Davis campus of this university has several options for prospective parole officers seeking academic, practical, and ethical preparation for careers in this field. The Bachelor of Arts in Sociology can be pursued in 1 of 4 areas, including law and society. The 73-unit law and society emphasis aims to provide students seeking entry into the fields of corrections, parole, or law enforcement.
At the graduate level, there's a Ph.D. in Sociology, which may qualify applicants to pursue leadership positions in the field of parole or to embark on a career as an educator or researcher in this field. Areas of specialization may include justice and society, law, deviance, and criminology.
Parole officers are typically required to have a bachelor's degree in criminal justice, social work, or a related area. However, the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR) noted that an associate's degree plus relevant work experience would suffice.
To be considered for employment by the CDCR, prospective parole officers generally are required to be at least 21 year old and pass a background and drug check. Additionally, a training program through the state must be completed before becoming a parole officer.
Many schools in California grant degrees that are applicable to a career as a parole officer. Read on to compare the details of the ten largest schools that offer parole officer-related degree programs, and explore the tuition rates in the school-comparison table.
School Comparison: At a Glance
|School Name||School Type & Location||Parole Officer Degree Programs Offered||Undergraduate Tuition & Fees (2018-2019)|
|American River College||2-year, public; large suburb||Associate in Science in Administration of Justice||$1,104 in-state; $8,712 out-of-state*|
|California State University - Fullerton||4-year, public; large suburb||Bachelor of Arts in Criminal Justice||$6,886 in-state; $18,766 out-of-state*|
|California State University - Long Beach||4-year, public; large city|| Bachelor of Science in Criminology and Criminal Justice,
Master of Science in Criminology and Criminal Justice
|$6,798 in-state; $18,678 out-of-state*|
|City College of San Francisco||2-year, public; large city|| Associate of Science in Administration of Justice,
Certificate of Accomplishment in Administration of Justice
|$1,696 in-state; $10,372 out-of-state*|
|East Los Angeles College||2-year, public; small city||Associate in Arts in Administration of Justice||$1,220 in-state; $7,746 out-of-state*|
|San Diego State University||4-year, public; large city|| Bachelor of Science in Criminal Justice,
Master of Science in Criminal Justice and Criminology,
Master of Public Administration: Criminal Justice Administration
|$7,488 in-state; $19,340 out-of-state*|
|San Francisco State University||4-year, public; large city||Bachelor of Arts in Criminal Justice Studies||$7,260 in-state; $19,140 out-of-state*|
|San Jose State University||4-year, public; large city|| Bachelor of Science in Justice Studies,
Master of Science in Justice Studies
|$7,796 in-state; $19,676 out-of-state*|
|Santa Ana College||2-year, public; large city||Associate in Science in Administration of Justice for Transfer - Criminal Justice Option||$1,160 in-state; $8,960 out-of-state*|
|University of California - Davis||4-year; public; small suburb|| Bachelor of Arts in Sociology: Law and Society,
Doctor of Philosophy in Sociology
|$14,402 in-state; $43,394 out-of-state*|
Source: *NCES College Navigator