Georgetown University has announced a new program that will allow Maryland prison inmates to earn a bachelor’s degree as part of the Georgetown Prisons and Justice Initiative (PJI).
The PJI will lead the program and will select its first 25 students for the five-year program this fall. According to CNN, by the program’s end, at least 125 inmates in the state prison system will have earned degrees from Georgetown.
The private university and the Maryland Department of Public Safety and Correctional Services (DPSCS) signed a memorandum of understanding last month, which begins the process. The program builds on the PJI’s work to bring Georgetown courses to incarcerated students through its Prison Scholars Program.
“We are excited to build upon the success of the Prison Scholars Program and provide an opportunity for students to earn a college degree while incarcerated,” PJI Director Marc Howard said in a release. “A degree from Georgetown and the interdisciplinary coursework behind it will prepare our graduates to reenter their communities and the workforce with pride in their academic achievements.”
More than 150 inmates have participated in the Prison Scholars Program through credit bearing and non-credit bearing courses. The expansion of the program into Maryland is funded by a three-year, $1 million grant from the Andrew Mellon Foundation.
The bachelor degree program is modeled after the same courses on-campus students experience and brings Georgetown’s academic standards and rich history to incarcerated students.
“Our goal is to provide the same rigorous, demanding courses of study inside of the prison that make a Georgetown education world-class. Incarcerated students have repeatedly shown that they can rise to the challenge,” PJI Director of Education Joshua Miller said in the release. “Combined with Prison Scholars’ talent and unique insight, this degree program will help currently incarcerated students become future leaders in criminal justice reform.”
Students will earn a Bachelor of Liberal Arts degree. After completing core course requirements, students can tailor their degree program to one of three majors: cultural humanities, interdisciplinary social science, or global intellectual history.
Incarcerated students in the program will have access to Georgetown’s resources, including academic support, library and research assistance, and career counseling.