The College Program at San Quentin is the central project of the Prison University Project. It provides 20 courses each semester in the humanities, social sciences, math, and science, as well as intensive college preparatory courses in math and English. Over 300 students at San Quentin are currently enrolled. All faculty in the Program work as volunteers.
The College Program at San Quentin is an extension site of Patten University, an accredited independent university in Oakland, California. Because no state or federal funding is available for prison higher education in California, the Program is supported entirely by the Prison University Project through donations from individuals and foundations.
Students in the Program pay no fees or tuition. All textbooks and school supplies are provided by the Prison University Project; many textbooks are donated by the publishers.
College Program courses are offered Sunday through Friday. All meet at least twice per week, for at least two hours per class meeting.
During the day all students hold full-time jobs inside the prison, for which they earn approximately $25/month. On average, students take two classes per semester. At this rate, most students take approximately 3½ years to complete the Associate of Arts degree. While over 100 men have so far completed their A.A. at San Quentin, many more parole before completion and continue their studies on the outside.