Correctional Officer Schools and Colleges in the U.S.

A degree in criminal justice or a closely-related field can prepare students for a career as a corrections officer. These programs offer coursework across all area of criminal justice.

Correctional officers oversee prisoners at local, state and federal institutions. The level of education required varies according to the employer and position desired, and programs for correctional officers are offered at undergraduate and graduate levels.

10 Correctional Officer Schools

Below is a list of ten schools that offer programs for aspiring correctional officers including certificate programs as well as higher-level degree options in criminal justice.

College/University Location Institution Type Degree Types In-State, Undergrad Tuition (2015-2016)*
Miami Dade College Miami, FL 4-year, primarily associate's, Public Associate's, Certificate $1,323
College of Southern Nevada Las Vegas, NV 4-year, primarily associate's, Public Associate's, Certificate $2,805
University of Washington-Tahoma Tahoma, WA 4-year, Public Bachelor's $11,905
Iowa State University Ames, IA 4-year, Public Bachelor's $7,736
Texas State University-San Marcos San Marcos, TX 4-year, Public Bachelor's, Master's, Doctor $9,348
University of Pittsburgh-Greensburg Campus Greensburg, PA 4-year, Public Bachelor's $13,382
St. Petersburg College Clearwater, FL 4-year, primarily associate's, Public Associate's, Bachelor's $3,352
Florida State College at Jacksonville Jacksonville, FL 4-year, primarily associate's, Public Associate's, Bachelor's, Certificate $2,830
Northeastern University Boston, MA 4-year, Private not-for-profit Bachelor's, Master's, Doctor $45,530
New Mexico State University Las Cruces, NM 4-year, Public Associate's, Bachelor's, Master's $6,094

Source: *NCES College Navigator, school websites

School Selection Criteria

Criminal justice officers enforce rules, inspect facilities and aid in rehabilitation. Prospective students should know that the level of education required can vary by employing agency, and addition training is usually required upon hiring.

  • Length is a consideration when choosing a program. Certificate and associate's degree programs can generally be completed in two years or less, while bachelor's degree programs typically last four years, followed by an additional 1-2 years for a master's degree.
  • Students should take into account their career goals. Those seeking entry-level employment in corrections might find that a certificate or associate's degree program meets their needs, while students looking for corrections officer management or administration positions may opt for a more advanced degree.
  • Aspiring corrections officers also might select a school or college based on the specializations it offers. Bachelor's and master's degree programs in criminal justice - the common major for prospective corrections officers - often allow students to choose from areas of concentration, such as juvenile corrections or corrections management.
  • Students should consider what state they want to be a correctional officer in. Oftentimes, students must attend a school located in the state in which they wish to pursue their career.

Program Overviews

Criminal justice and related degree programs include coursework in criminology, law and ethics, criminal law and historical perspectives on crime. Other courses may focus on more specific aspects of criminal justice, such as corrections, juvenile justice or policing. Some programs incorporate experience into the curriculum in the form of co-ops or internship requirements.

When deciding which school is the best fit, students must consider career goals and which degree level fits those goals. Regardless, there are a number of different programs across the country that can provide the necessary skills and education for almost any corrections-related career.

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