Correctional Studies Degree Programs with Class Information

Diploma and certificate programs in correctional studies are good for entry-level positions or career advancement. Bachelor's degree programs are also available to students looking to enter managerial positions.

Essential Information

Correctional personnel are charged with supervising individuals who have been arrested, are awaiting trial or have been convicted of a crime. Educational options in correctional studies include diploma, certificate and bachelor's degree programs. Many of these programs can be found in distance learning formats and include criminology, behavioral science and public administration coursework designed to help students develop the skills they'll need to obtain entry-level positions or take on management roles within this field.

Correctional Studies Diploma

The two-year program leading to a diploma in correctional studies provides the knowledge and real-world experience needed to work in a detention center or corrections center. This complex field requires a student to understand psychology and human interactions, and a diploma program will present these necessary concepts. A high school diploma or equivalent is required for admission to the program. Many diploma programs are available as distance-learning courses. Those already employed in a correctional job are almost guaranteed acceptance to the program and, in many cases, experience can help reduce the number of credits required for graduation. Background checks are also required. Common course topics include:

  • Sociology
  • Speech
  • Psychology
  • Criminology
  • Weight training

Correctional Studies and Administration Certificate

A certificate in correctional studies can be earned in less than a year. Skills in management and supervision of others can be gained from this course of study. Students also learn of the legal practices and policies in correctional facilities and focus on professional communication. Participants who earn a certificate may transfer their credits to a bachelor's degree program in corrections. To qualify for program admission, students should have previously spent approximately two years in undergraduate study at a university. An interview is also required for admission to the certificate program. Common course topics include:

  • Legal issues
  • Behavior management
  • Incident management
  • Health issues
  • Communications

Bachelor of Science in Correctional Studies

Students interested in adding to their current skills in corrections can go on to earn a bachelor's degree in correctional studies. Qualified individuals are in high demand and compensation is higher for those with a higher level of education. Many correctional studies bachelor's programs are available online. Applicants must hold a high school diploma or equivalent. An application and fee are required for enrollment along with official transcripts and test scores. Common course topics include:

  • Race and community
  • Criminology
  • Principles of corrections
  • Statistics
  • Behavioral sciences

Popular Career Options

The primary positions for those with a diploma in correctional services are in lower-security facilities, such as group homes and jails. Job options can include:

  • Youth worker
  • Parole officer
  • Customs officer
  • Probation officer

Entry-level positions in corrections are also available for those who earn a certificate in correctional studies. Jobs can be found in youth homes, group homes, correctional centers or jails. Possible job titles include:

  • Youth worker
  • Correctional officer
  • Group home agent

With a bachelor's degree in correctional studies, most students are eligible for advanced level positions. Possible positions include those listed below:

  • Federal corrections officer
  • Manager of corrections
  • Federal case worker
  • Manager of youth work
  • Probation officer

Employment Outlook and Salary Information

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projected that job openings for correctional officers and jailers would grow by 4% between 2014 and 2024 ( Correctional officers and jailers made a median annual salary of $40,530 as of 2015, per the BLS, and first-line supervisors of these officers earned a median of $59,720 that same year. The projected employment growth for probation officers and correctional treatment specialists is 4% for 2014-2024; these professionals earned a median salary of $49,360 in 2015, according to the BLS.

Continuing Education Information

For those who wish to advance their career into management or leadership roles, master's degrees are available in criminal science and correctional education. The criminal science degree focuses on crime prevention and law, while the correctional education degree is concerned with counseling, administration and education. For those who choose this route, future employment in law enforcement and law would be a possibility.

For students interested in careers as correctional officers or bailiffs, a diploma or certificate program in correctional studies is a good place to start. Individuals already in the field may chose to use these programs to advance their career or decide to pursue a bachelor's degree to qualify for a managerial position.

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