Our college program at San Quentin State Prison provides 20 intellectually rigorous courses each semester in the humanities, social sciences, math, and science, as well as intensive college preparatory courses in math and English. Our courses are student centered and culturally responsive, and we assist instructors and tutors in maintaining these practices through trainings, syllabus consultation, and semester-long support. Students pay no fees or tuition. All textbooks and school supplies are provided by our program and through donations from publishers.
In contrast to widely-available correspondence courses available at a cost at most prisons, our courses are in-classroom and discussion-based, and offer transferable credits.
Our AA Degree program at San Quentin State Prison has been an extension site of Patten University—our accredited university partner—since the founding of the program. Students enrolled in credit courses are registered at Patten just as if they were enrolled at its main campus, in Oakland. The Prison University Project takes primary responsibility for teacher training and program administration at the San Quentin extension site.
In July of 2018, our students were informed that Patten University would close. Patten has since entered a "teach-out" period to allow a smooth transition for enrolled students. In part as a result of the planned closure of Patten, our program is in the process of applying for independent accreditation.