Correctional officers are highly trained individuals who supervise people who have been arrested and awaiting trial. They also oversee those who have been sentenced to serve in prison, jail or other correctional facilities. In 2018, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported an annual median salary of $44,400 for Correctional Officers and Bailiffs which breaks down to almost $21.35 per hour. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, this profession is expected to see a 7% decline in employment growth between 2018 and 2028.

Every state has its own set of conditions and specific requirements for this position. However, if you believe that you have the strength and determination to perform the duties of a correctional officer then you should begin by acquiring the relevant education. A degree in Correctional Studies or Criminal Justice is the foundational step for this profession.

To help you get started, this is a list of the top 10 schools that can help you prepare for the job of a correctional officer. The schools named below are listed according to the ranking provided by Niche’s compilation of the ‘2020 Best Colleges for Criminal Justice in America.’ The criteria used to determine this ranking has been explained on their website which includes features like, academics, diversity, athletics, campus etc.

The list of schools given below portrays a clear picture of numerous criminal justice degrees or programs that are available for aspiring correctional officers. If you require further details regarding degree completion requirements, criteria for admission, curriculum overview, faculty or campus life etc., you may visit the relevant website of the college.

Featured Programs and Schools


1 – CUNY John Jay College of Criminal Justice

The CUNY John Jay College of Criminal Justice is listed as an above average public college. It has a large campus situated in Manhattan New York, with an estimated enrollment of more than 13,000 students in various undergraduate programs. This college offers various degree levels in correctional studies and criminal justice. For instance, CUNY John Jay College offers 4-year long BA and BS degrees in Criminal Justice and a 2-year long Master’s degree in Criminal Justice. Both these degree levels are among the university’s most popular majors and programs.


2 – Liberty University

The Liberty University is a large institution located in Lynchburg, Virginia. This university offers numerous accredited degree programs in Criminal Justice and the requirements of graduation are different for each degree. The university offers a certificate in criminal justice, A.A. in Criminal Justice, B.S. in Criminal Justice. A Criminal Justice minor, a minor in Homeland Security, M.S. in Criminal Justice and a PhD in Criminal Justice.


3 – University of California – Irvine

The University of California-Irvine is a public university located in Irvine, California. It has quite an enormous campus with an enrolled student population of close to 36,000, as of 2019. UCI offers multiple degrees in criminal justice under its Department of Criminology, Law and Society. The requirements of graduation vary for each degree. For instance, the students of bachelor’s degree must complete 180 credit hours in order to graduate.


4 – Florida State University

The Florida State University is one of the highest rated public universities located in Tallahassee, Florida. It has an enrollment of close to 42,000. The College of Criminology and Criminal Justice at FSU offers undergraduate programs, master’s programs, doctoral degrees, online programs and specialized study options for aspiring criminologists.


5 – Northeastern University

The Northeastern University is one of the most prestigious private universities located in Boston, Massachusetts. The School of Criminology and Criminal Justice at Northeastern University offers various major and minor programs, a PlusOne Accelerated Master’s Program, a Master’s Degree, PhD, Juris Doctor Dual Degree program and multiple experiential learning opportunities. With only 20-30 students in most criminal justice classes at the university, you can expect close and focused interactions with the faculty.


6 – Penn State University

The Penn State University offers several criminal justice degrees under its Department of Sociology and Criminology. It offers a Bachelor of Science Program, a Bachelor of Arts in Criminology, a Doctor of Philosophy and a Master of Arts in Criminology.


7 – University of Miami

The University of Miami is a very popular private university located in Miami, Florida. It has quite an enormous campus with 9 undergraduate schools and colleges. In 2019, around 2,800 undergraduate students enrolled in this university. The University of Miami offers different criminal justice degrees including a Bachelor of Science in Criminology, a Certificate in Criminology and Criminal Justice and a Master of Science in Criminology and Criminal Justice.


8 – Texas Christian University

The Texas Christian University is a well-known private university located in Fort Worth, Texas. It has a relatively large campus with an enrolled undergraduate student population of approximately 9,500. The Texas Christian University offers a Bachelor of Science degree, a minor in Criminal Justice, a Master of Science degree and a Graduate Certificate in Criminal Justice.


9 – La Sierra University

The La Sierra University is a private institution situated in Riverside, California. It has a small campus with an enrollment of 2,300 students. The La Sierra University offers a 4-year bachelor’s degree in Criminal Justice which requires students to complete 72 credit hours of course work.


10 – University of Florida

The University of Florida is one of the most reputed public universities in the U.S. Its campus is located in Gainesville, Florida. This university offers a 4-year bachelor’s degree in Criminology under its college of Liberal Arts and Sciences. The students of this degree must complete 120 credit hours to graduate.