Research Outline

Higher Education Programs in CA State Prisons


To provide information on higher education programs being offered inside CA state prisons. Specifically, for each state prison, find out which programs are being offered (if any), names and types (community colleges, CSUs/State university system, or private colleges) of colleges that are offering these programs, are they degree-granting (and if so, which degrees), and the number of students enrolled. The research will be used as part of a competitive scan for a strategic plan for a nonprofit client (Prison University Project) that offers college courses inside San Quentin State Prison.

Early Findings

Degree Programs in CA State Prisons

  • West Hills College Coalinga offers ADT in Business to more than 300 inmates in Avenal State Prison (ASP) and Pleasant Valley State Prison (PVSP).
  • Lassen College offers AST in Business Administration as well as AS in Social Science (Distance Correspondence) and AA in General Studies (Distance Correspondence) in High Desert State Prison (HDSP) and California Correctional Center (CCC).
  • Chaffey College offers AS in General Business in California Institution for Women (CIW) and California Institution for Men (CIM).
  • Solano Community College operates in California State Prison, Solano (SOL), California Medical Facility (CMF) and Solano County Jails and offers ADTs in Business and Psychology (CMF) and ADTs in Political Science and Sociology (CSPS).
  • Norco College offers ADT in Sociology to inmates in the California Rehabilitation Center (CRC).

Summary of Findings

  • During the initial hour, we were able to find some degree programs offered to inmates in 10 CA state prisons. These programs were offered by 5 colleges. We were unable to find the student enrollment for most of these programs due to limited time. However, information on enrollment wasn't immediately available for most programs.