To work as a probation/parole officer in the state of WI, what is the best degree to obtain?

I would love to work as a probation/parole officer in the state of WI, but I am unsure what degree to get. I have been told by multiple agencies (and found online) that a Bachelors in Criminal Justice, Psychology, or Social work would get me a job in corrections, but I want to know what degree would be best. I don't want to get a degree to find out I could have gotten a more specialized degree.

It would be best if someone with a job in corrections, preferably in WI would answer, but any useful answer is welcome. As I said, I called several places and looked online but did not get a specific answer.



I am considering Kaplan, but they are regionally accredited by a comittee that is part of CHEA, which means I can transfer credits to any UW school, but being as I will be staying home with a child soon, online is easier than daycare.

3 Answers

  • 8 years ago
    Favorite Answer

    Just as an everyday person, I would think that either a criminal justice degree or social work degree would help one to prepare for a job as a probation/parole officer. A criminal justice degree sounds more specialized for the job of a probation/parole officer, though a social work degree would allow for some clinical internships with people who have various types of issues. I'm sure that the job of a probation/parole officer (and/or social worker) can be very stressful and emotionally draining as well as perhaps dangerous, at times. It seems as though a lot of "social work" jobs require a master's degree (MSW).

    Just an fyi that a bachelor's in psychology is basically a liberal arts degree with some psychology courses :) However, a master's in psychology would be more practice-based. In addition, most licensed psychologists need a doctoral (Ph.D. or Psy.D.) degree in order to possibly get a job.

    Please AVOID those private overly priced For-profit schools (such as kaplan, everest, sanford brown, ashworth, devry, ITT tech, strayer, U of P, brown mackie, argosy, capella, westwood, american public university, keiser and others) as they are merely out to "make a profit" (and their course credits usually do NOT transfer to other schools). Please instead consider the more affordable state/public university (or local community college and then transfer to a state uni) as long as the program is accredited within the industry.

    This government site has more general info re: various types of careers: and can search.

    U.S. colleges:

  • 5 years ago

    Actually there are NO states that require a college degree to become a police officer. Some departments require a degree, but this would be an individual department requirement. But there are not any states that require a degree in order to become a certified peace officer. In fact most agencies don't even require one. Most of the ones that do are federal agencies. You need to ask about a specific department, or better yet go to their website, if you want to know their requirements. There are literally thousands of different agencies in this country, all with different requirements. In my department we do not require a degree, in fact technically our minimum requirement is a GED. But you will find most of the people who end up actually getting hired have either a college degree or military experience, or both. The only thing we require a degree for is advanced promotions, deputy chief, chief, etc. A degree will help immensely with the lower promotions, but is still not a requirement. This is how the vast majority of agencies are. Those who seem to think that "most" police agencies in the U.S. require a degree are incredibly misinformed.

  • 8 years ago

    I'm in Texas but I'm also going to be a probation officer hopefully and heard that Criminal Justice is the best degree for a parole/ probation officer....

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