Undergraduate Degree Correspondence Programs

College in Prison: A Recipe for Success

There's no denying the numbers – politicians and the American public agree that college programs in prisons work to keep prisoners from returning to jail.There’s no denying the numbers – politicians and the American public agree that college programs in prisons work to keep prisoners from returning to jail.
There’s no denying it: college education for prisoners works. When prisoners take undergraduate correspondence programs, their chances for success improve and repeat offences are less likely.

While politicians and the American public can argue whether or not prisoners should be afforded the privilege of a higher education behind bars, all agree that college programs in prisons work, and remarkably so.

Since prisons generally don’t offer college courses, prisoners must go elsewhere to fill this need. These courses must also be paid for.

If offered through a regionally accredited school, these courses are the equivalent of college courses taken at any community college or university. The prisoner receives a study guide (which contains assignments), book, and exam request forms all via U.S. Mail. As they complete their course by mailing in lessons, they eventually submit exam requests, which trigger the examination(s) to be sent to an Education Department official who then proctors exams. Upon completion of each course, they earn college credit. Just like in regular college they can then earn an entire degree by fulfilling the degree requirements.

Prisoners can earn degrees in a number of areas. Whereas colleges and universities outside of prison offer a large number of course and degree options, those available via correspondence education are much more limited. This is why it’s important for incarcerated students to enroll in a college correspondence program that offers the degree that they are looking for. It should be noted that all that is required to enroll is a high school diploma or GED, college correspondence programs waive SAT, GRE, and competitive application requirements for incarcerated students.

In an effort to help as many of our readers as possible, we have compiled profiles of over 35 college correspondence programs which allow prisoners to enroll. But first, how to select a program.

Recommended Undergraduate Programs

In an effort to help point incarcerated students — and their family members and friends helping them — in the right direction, we at PrisonEducation.com have put together the following list of correspondence programs that we recommend. These are all a cut above the rest and can be emphatically trusted.

Out of all of these, our recommendation of Adams State University is the strongest. We love Adam State University’s correspondence program and have come to refer many incarcerated students to them. In fact, PrisonEducation.com founder Christopher Zoukis is currently enrolled in one of Adams State University’s correspondence degree programs.

Undergraduate Correspondence Programs for Prisoners


The three primary factors which should be taken into consideration are:

  1. Accreditation: When possible, take an accredited course. Accreditation acts like a seal of approval and an assurance of quality, not to mention an assurance of course transferability. In the United States there are six regional accreditation agencies. Every state and community college is accredited by one of these six accreditation agencies, which cover different geographic regions in the United States:
  2. Correspondence courses available in paper form. Distance learning is available in two forms: web-based and paper-based. Web-based courses are distance learning courses which require internet access. While the student might have a textbook, access to an online course platform is required. Web-based programs are not accessible to prisoners because prisoners lack internet access. Prisoners can only enroll in courses that can be completed entirely through the U.S. Mail, and the courses can’t have media components (e.g., DVDs, CDs, VHS Tapes, etc).
  3. Pick programs that offer various courses that lead to a degree. For the most part, students want to enroll in a program which has a significant number of correspondence courses, and these courses should lead to a degree, which the school offers via correspondence. Some correspondence schools offer courses and degrees but not all of the courses required to fulfill degree requirements. It’s important to ask about this prior to enrolling and investing their time and money into a program which won’t fulfill all their needs.