Obtaining a bachelor’s degree in prison

The 120-credit interdisciplinary program is offered by Georgetown College and is modeled after undergraduate degree offerings at the main Georgetown campus, with an emphasis on the liberal arts. The program expands Georgetown’s Prison Scholars program, which has offered DC Jail credit courses since 2018.

Students take two four-credit courses with Georgetown faculty each semester and also have access to additional academic support and guest lectures. After completing the basic degree requirements, students can choose from three majors—Cultural Humanities, Interdisciplinary Social Sciences, and Global Intellectual History—and tailor their studies with elective courses. It will take about five years for most students to graduate.

For students, the program is a rare and welcome opportunity to further their education, become part of an academic community, and achieve their personal and professional goals.

“My main goal is just to keep evolving, to keep seeing what life has to offer,” student Rasheed Edwards said. “I think this Georgetown program is going to take me further in life, take me to places I didn’t even think were possible for me. It gives me a chance to change my life trajectory.

Georgetown President John J. DeGioia said the bachelor’s degree program represents the university’s commitment to education as a transformative opportunity.

“This new Bachelor of Liberal Arts program is an expression of our university’s deeply held values ​​– our commitment to education, service, and the common good – and we are honored to welcome these 25 new students as Fellows. of our Georgetown community,” DeGioia said.

A man wearing a mask holds a book and chats with two other men wearing masks in a prison
PJI Director of Education Joshua Miller (left), assistant professor of philosophy, answers students’ questions about their Plato readings.

Georgetown Prisons and Justice Initiative

Under the leadership of government and law professor Marc Howard, the Georgetown Prisons and Justice Initiative works in prisons, communities and on campuses to address the crisis of mass incarceration while recognizing humanity in each.

The bachelor’s degree program builds on the university’s racial justice efforts and social justice work in local communities—guided by Georgetown Catholic and Jesuit tenets of faith that do justice and people for others.

Launched in 2021, the Racial Justice Institute pushes the boundaries of knowledge about race, equity, and action. Since 2001, the Center for Social Justice Research, Teaching & Service has promoted and integrated research, teaching, and community service by collaborating with diverse partners and communities in the DC, Maryland, and Virginia area.

Georgetown’s Bachelor of Liberal Arts program is funded by a $1 million grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation to the Georgetown Prisons and Justice Initiative, donors including Georgetown alumnus Damien Dwin and Experience Second Chance Pell from the Ministry of Education.

The program accepted a second batch of students this year. With the release of Syed and another student, 48 students are currently pursuing their bachelor’s degree.


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