Parole officers supervise and provide assistance to criminals who have been released from jail, with the ultimate goal of helping these offenders successfully re-enter society. The most relevant field for parole officer training is criminal justice, and degree programs are available across the country.
Top Ten Criminology Schools*
The best ten criminology schools are listed below, with information on tuition costs and the types of degrees offered:
|University/College||Location||Institution Type||Degrees Offered**||Tuition and fees (2015-2016)***|
|University of Maryland at College Park||College Park, MD||4-year, Public||Bachelor's, Master's, Doctoral||$9,996 in-state, $31,144 out-of-state|
|University at Albany--SUNY||Albany, NY||4-year, Public||Bachelor's, Master's, Doctoral||$8,996 in-state, $22,116 out-of-state|
|University of Cincinnati||Cincinnati, OH||4-year, Public||Bachelor's, Master's, Doctoral||$11,000 in-state, $26,334 out-of-state|
|University of Missouri--St. Louis||St. Louis, MO||4-year, Public||Bachelor's, Master's, Doctoral||$9,394 in-state, $23,812 out-of-state|
|Pennsylvania State University--University Park||University Park, PA||4-year, Public||Bachelor's, Master's, Doctoral||$17,514 in-state, $31,346 out-of-state|
|University of California--Irvine||Irvine, CA||4-year, Public||Bachelor's, Master's (online), Doctoral||$13,252 in-state, $37,960 out-of-state|
|Florida State University||Tallahassee, FL||4-year, Public||Bachelor's, Master's, Doctoral||$6,507 in-state, $21,673 out-of-state|
|Michigan State University||East Lansing, MI||4-year, Public||Bachelor's, Master's, Doctoral||$13,560 in-state, $36,360 out-of-state|
|Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey--Newark||Newark, NJ||4-year, Public||Bachelor's, Master's, Doctoral||$13,597 in-state, $28,987 out-of-state|
|CUNY John Jay College||New York, NY||4-year, Public||Bachelor's, Master's, Doctoral||$6,810 in-state, $13,920 out-of-state|
Sources: *U.S. News & World Report, **School websites, ***National Center for Education Statistics
College Selection Criteria
Students should consider the following when choosing a parole officer school:
- Internships or on-the-job training may help to better prepare students for a career as a parole officer, so students should research each program's offerings in that area.
- Understanding the minds of criminals is essential to being an effective parole officer. Students should consider choosing a school with reputable psychology professors.
- The curricula typically cover topics in criminal law and the court system as well as psychology and the social sciences.
- Most programs incorporate both a physical training and self-defense portion. Some bachelor's degree programs offer internships. Additional training could be required beyond these academic studies.
Bachelor of Science in Criminal Justice
A bachelor's degree in criminal justice is often preferred by employers of parole officers. This 4-year program starts with many of the same foundational topics covered at the associate level, but then it continues on to upper-division courses and electives that delve deeper into the subject area. Students may have the option to choose a parole officer or corrections concentration. Topics covered may include incarceration alternatives, juvenile justice system, criminal justice research methods and law. Internships may be available or required for this degree program.
Continuing Education Information
A master's-level criminal justice program is designed to help students develop advanced critical-thinking skills and compete for leadership positions. Emphasis is placed on public policy, law formation, justice systems and law enforcement. Courses may focus on issues like criminal profiling, sex offenders and domestic violence. Students can also learn to support and counsel victims.
Students interested in working as a parole officer will likely complete a degree in criminal justice. There are a number of programs available that cover relevant topics, and those that offer internships or other experiential education may better prepare students for a career than those without. Continuing education is available as well, as are opportunities to choose a particular concentration.