Graduate Certificate Programs in Corrections Management
Criminal justice professionals and college graduates who hold at least a bachelor’s degree and who are interested in working in corrections management can cultivate the knowledge and skills required for work in this field by completing a graduate certificate program. These programs are non-degree, academic programs that consist of a small cluster of master’s-level courses that take less time to complete and are more affordable than full master’s programs. Graduate certificate programs in corrections management are offered by accredited colleges and universities, often by schools, divisions, and/or departments that also have master’s programs in corrections management, criminology, and/or criminal justice.
In fact, in addition to providing qualified students with job-oriented training in corrections management and conferring an academic credential that can lead to career advancement in the field of corrections and criminal justice, these programs give students an opportunity to earn graduate credits that may be applied to further graduate studies, if and when a student opts to pursue a master’s degree in a related area of study.
Corrections Management Explained
Correctional facilities and the policies governing the treatment of criminal offenders who are incarcerated are integral parts of the American justice system that require knowledgeable leaders and administrators who have training in operations, budgeting, and personnel management, law and public policy, and ethical practices for the treatment and rehabilitation of prisoners. Corrections management encompasses this body of knowledge and skills and refers to professionals who are responsible for overseeing correctional facilities, including but not limited to jails, prisons, detention centers, rehabilitation and reentry programs, and probation and parole agencies.
In addition to criminal justice experience, corrections management professionals typically have training in theories of criminology, incarceration, and rehabilitation; legal and social discourse surrounding crime and punishment; contemporary issues regarding criminal justice and its administration; and the practical concerns of corrections officers, managers, supervisors, and program directors, including budgeting, human resource management, community relations, and operations and facility management. Thus, the role of corrections management professionals is to ensure that local, state, and federal correctional facilities and programs are being run safely, effectively, and in compliance with public policies, laws, and ethical norms.
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Identifying and Classifying Graduate Certificate Programs in Corrections Management
Corrections management graduate certificate programs are generally offered by colleges and universities that have graduate degree programs in criminal justice and/or related fields of study. These programs typically consist of four or five courses that may overlap with master’s program curricula but that focus narrowly on the knowledge and skills required to work in the field of corrections management. Admission to these programs requires a minimum of a bachelor’s degree, although professionals who hold a master’s or doctoral degree and who are interested in studying corrections management are also eligible for these programs.
While some graduate certificate programs in criminal justice offer courses that explore aspects of corrections management, graduate certificate programs in corrections management generally carry formal designations that indicate their curricular focus. Common names for these programs include graduate and postbaccalaureate certificate programs in corrections management and/or leadership.
Corrections Management Graduate Certificate Coursework
Course names and specific curricular requirements vary by school and by program. However, most corrections management graduate certificate programs require students to take one or two courses that provide an overview of the American criminal justice system and of the prevailing theories regarding the incarceration and rehabilitation of offenders. In addition, these programs generally include several additional required or elective courses that cover topics in public management, prison and jail administration, data-driven decision-making, community relations and professional communication, public policy analysis, and/or contemporary issues in criminal justice, such as addiction and substance abuse, restorative and community justice, and alternative sentencing.
The list below provides an overview of the types of courses that commonly comprise a graduate certificate program in corrections management and/or leadership.
- Community Justice in the 21st Century
- Criminal Justice Organizational Management
- Ethical Decision-Making for Criminal Justice
- Foundations of Corrections
- Law and Social Control
- Mental Illness and the Criminal Justice System
- Policy Analysis in Criminal Justice
- Prison and Jail Administration
- Restorative Justice Programs for Drug Offenders
- Sentencing and Punishment
Online Graduate Certificate in Corrections Management
Online graduate certificate programs are programs that utilize distance learning technologies to provide all or most of their required coursework via a secure internet connection and learning management systems (LMSs) that are designed to facilitate online instruction. Online programs offer the same type of training and instruction as traditional, campus-based programs without the inconvenience of having to travel to a campus for classes. These programs give students and working professionals a more convenient and flexible option to earn a graduate certificate in corrections management than campus programs, and they also provide access to graduate studies for students who do not live or work within commuting range of a school offering a graduate certificate program in the field.
Many graduate certificate programs offer all of their instruction online and do not require students to attend any campus-based sessions. However, some online programs require students to attend a limited number of campus visits. GraduateCertificates.com classifies programs that are 100% online and programs that are primarily online (i.e., programs that do not require more than three campus visits per year) as online programs. Programs that require four or more campus visits are classified as blended or hybrid programs. While blended/hybrid programs may be a viable option for students who live near the school offering the program, they are typically not a practical option for students who do not live within commuting distance to the campus.
It is important to note that not all online programs are alike. In addition to campus visits, the method of online instruction that a program uses can also be an important practical consideration. Some online instruction is synchronous, which means that it takes place in real time. Live lectures and virtual class sessions that require students to be logged on to a program’s LMS while they are taking place are examples of synchronous instruction. As these programs are still designed for working professionals, most synchronous sessions take place in the mid to late evening depending on the time-zone in which the student lives.
In contrast, asynchronous instruction is online instruction that does not have a real-time component. Pre-recorded lectures and class sessions that can be streamed by logging on to a program’s LMS at any time of the day on any day of the week are examples of asynchronous instruction, as are assignments that can be completed at a student’s convenience, provided they are submitted by their due date. All programs utilize asynchronous instruction for reading materials and other course assignments, but not all programs have required synchronous sessions. While asynchronous instruction offers more scheduling flexibility, it may not be ideal for all students, especially those who learn best through direct interactions and live discussions, or for students who struggle with time management. Synchronous instruction is less flexible, but it provides more structure, which some students may prefer.
Examples of Online Graduate Certificate Programs in Corrections Management
Below is a list of accredited, non-profit schools that offer online graduate certificates in corrections management. This list is intended to provide examples of the options available to students interested in earning their graduate certificate in corrections management and/or leadership.
Arizona State University (ASU) offers an online Graduate Certificate in Corrections Management through ASU Online and the university’s Watts College of Public Service and Community Solutions. The program consists of five courses that confer 15 graduate credits, all of which are eligible to be transferred to ASU Online’s Master of Arts (MA) in Criminal Justice degree program. The graduate certificate program requires students to hold a bachelor’s degree from an accredited college or university and does not require students to attend any campus visits. For more information on the program, visit ASU Online at asuonline.asu.edu.
The University of Oklahoma (OU) offers an online Corrections Management Graduate Certificate program through OU Extended Campus and the university’s College of Professional and Continuing Studies. The 12-credit program consists of four master’s-level courses that can be completed as part of a master’s degree program at OU or as a stand-alone graduate certificate. The credits completed in the certificate program can be applied to an online Master of Science (MS) in Criminal Justice program offered by OU Extended Campus if a student decides to pursue a master’s degree at a later date. The certificate program is designed for professionals working in corrections, probation and parole, and rehabilitative services fields who hold a minimum of a bachelor’s degree. It does not require students to attend any campus visits. For more information on the program, visit OU’s College of Professional and Continuing Studies at pacs.ou.edu.
The University of Central Florida (UCF) offers an online Corrections Leadership Graduate Certificate program through its College of Community Innovation and Education and UCF Online. The program’s 12-credit curriculum consists of four courses that overlap with UCF’s Master of Science (MS) in Criminal Justice program, two of which are core requirements and two of which are electives that are selected from a slate of online graduate courses that cover topics in community justice, ethics and leadership, policy analysis, criminology, and other areas relevant to corrections management. The UCF program requires applicants to hold a minimum of a bachelor’s degree and does not require any campus visits. For more information on the program, visit UCF at www.ucf.edu.
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