Associate of Arts Degree
Students at San Quentin State Prison may earn an Associate of Arts degree in General Studies by completing 61 semester units (20 classes) in the humanities, social sciences, math, and science. Most courses are introductory and lower division, and are transferable to four-year institutions. The list of course requirements is below. Many can be fulfilled by similar or related courses.
From the time of our founding in 1996, through 2019, our College Program at San Quentin operated as an extension site of Patten University—our accredited university partner. Students enrolled in credit courses were registered at, and ultimately received their degrees from, Patten. In turn, the Prison University Project was responsible for day-to-day program administration at the San Quentin extension site, along with teacher recruitment, training and supervision.
In February 2020, we were granted Candidacy for Accreditation by the Accrediting Commission for Community and Junior Colleges (ACCJC). Over the course of 2020, the Prison University Project will be transitioning our operations—as a nonprofit organization running a college program—to a fully fledged independent college with a new name, Mount Tamalpais College. We believe the impact of this transition will continue to be profound, not only for the students and faculty at San Quentin, but for our capacity to serve the field of higher education as a whole.
For more information on our current accreditation status, visit the accreditation section of our website.
Our students bring resilience, tenacity, and adaptability to the classroom. Many are the first in their family to earn a degree and, like most people in prison, come from California’s most vulnerable communities.
Our Associate of Arts degree program in General Studies provides a rigorous multi-disciplinary education through introductory courses in the humanities, social sciences, math, and science.