Corrections, formerly referred to as “penology”, is a term that describes an area of criminal justice that refers to the supervision, treatment, and punishment of individuals who have been convicted of crimes. Professionals in the corrections field typically work with convicted persons during their imprisonment, probationary, or parole periods. At the associate degree level, you will focus on laws, policies, and procedures that are relevant in a professional corrections environment. The degree is designed to prepare you for entry level positions in corrections and criminal justice.
Why an Associate Degree?
An associate degree is a great way to explore the fields of corrections and criminal justice without investing a lot of time and money. With an associate degree, you can go on to complete a bachelor’s degree if you wish. However, you don’t have to commit to the time and cost of a bachelor’s degree program up front. Associate degrees also meet the minimum requirements for many entry-level correctional positions. If you’re looking to get your foot in the door, an associate degree can help you get started with minimal time and financial costs.
Getting Into an Associate Degree Program
The admissions requirements for an online associate degree in corrections program will be simple, in most cases. Some schools might request additional materials, but you should only need the following to be eligible for the program:
- High school diploma or its equivalent
Inside a Corrections Associate Degree Program
If you are interested in an online associate degree in corrections, you can also consider criminal justice programs that offer a corrections concentration. Associate degree programs in criminal justice or corrections usually require 60 hours of course credit, which can take at least two years of full-time study to complete. Accelerated programs will take less time to complete, but may require more study and class time on a weekly basis. In an online program, your class lectures might be delivered through video conferencing or they might be pre-recorded. Most of your class assignments and projects, which might include readings, research essays, or presentations, will be delivered to the instructor via email.
The course curriculum will include some general education classes, introductory criminal justice coursework, and corrections topics. Counseling clients, case management, policing, criminology, ethics, and juvenile corrections or just a few of the classes you might take in an online corrections associate degree program. General education classes will include math and life sciences, psychology and sociology, and English and writing composition. An associate degree provides an introduction to the discipline, so you won’t find many intermediate corrections courses at this level.
What’s Next for Corrections Associate Holders?
After completing an online associate degree in corrections, you may need to go through a training academy for being hired as a corrections officer. The academy may assign you to a corrections facility for on-the-job training before you’re hired. Corrections officers work in jails and prisons and oversee those who are awaiting trial or who have already been convicted of their crime and are serving out their sentence. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics
If you wish to continue your corrections education, you may do so with a bachelor’s degree completion program. You can also transfer your credits to four-year university program in criminal justice, criminology, corrections, or other related field with the university’s approval. While an associate degree can take you far in this field, a bachelor’s degree could open more doors for you down the road.