College Prep

Our College Preparatory Program, comprising five courses in writing and math, aims to prepare students both academically and socially for college-level coursework, to establish a learning community, and to provide an opportunity for students to experience a positive shift in identity—for example, to student, scholar, academic, and community member—and a shift in their perception of their own abilities.


Liberal Arts Education

We offer 20 classes per semester in the humanities, social sciences, math, and science, as well as intensive college preparatory courses in math and english. Classes meet two to three times per week, for at least two hours per class meeting, three semesters per year.

Student-Centered Approach

Our courses are student-centered and culturally responsive. We assist instructors and tutors in maintaining these practices through trainings, syllabus consultation, and semester-long support. Over 100 volunteer instructors, teaching assistants, tutors, and guest lecturers commit to the program each semester from institutions such as UC Berkeley, San Fransisco State University, and Stanford University.

Making Learning Accessible

Students in our Associate of Arts degree and College Preparatory programs pay no fees or tuition. We provide all textbooks and school supplies free of charge; many textbooks are donated by the publishers.

Beyond the Classroom

During the semester, we offer Study Hall sessions on most evenings, allowing students to study and consult directly with our volunteer faculty and tutors.

Amplifying Student Voices

Each year, we host an annual Open Mic for students to perform creative works produced in the previous year. We also publish student writing in a semi-annual journal, Open Line.

Connecting Students to the Outside

We offer a variety of extracurricular activities to support students at San Quentin, including on-site lectures. We've recently hosted guest speakers Bryan Stevenson of the Equal Justice Initiative, Julia Angwin author of Dragnet Nation, Larissa MacFarquhar, and Alex Davies of WIRED magazine.

Our Students

The average age of our students in 2015 was 48. Our youngest enrolled student was 23 and our oldest student was 75.

Celebrating Achievement

Our graduates are celebrated each June at San Quentin, during a graduation ceremony attended by friends and family. Each student receives their Associate of Arts Degree, transferrable to any college or university, after completing 20 classes in the humanities, social sciences, math, and science. Meet 2019's graduates!



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 college preparatory courses help students to brush up on basics of writing and math, and to establish trust and comfort in the classroom setting.



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.