Graduate Correspondence Programs

For the most part, prisoners are undereducated. Most lack even a high school diploma. But those who have earned a bachelor’s degree have the option of continuing their education at the master’s and doctorate levels. We’ve profiled the graduate correspondence programs available.

Graduate Studies: The Smartest Decision a Prisoner Can Make

If you are one of the very few pursuing a graduate degree while incarcerated, hats off to you! It is the toughest educational track and the most demanding. But if you are willing to put in the work, doors will open. Nothing will qualify an ex-prisoner for prestigious employment and a respectable salary like a graduate degree.

This educational level offers slim pickings, but don’t let that stop you. Take the courses you want. Guarantee their quality with recognized, authentic accreditation. Don’t cut corners when it comes to your education. You’ll only cheat yourself and reduce your chances of success upon release.


There are two factors to consider in choosing a graduate program.

  1. Ideally, the graduate school selected should be regionally accredited. 
  2. All required courses must be in a paper-based format. The program must allow the incarcerated student to take examinations proctored by their prison’s education department, and media components (e.g., CDs, DVDs, VHS Tapes) and fieldwork (e.g., being a teacher’s aide) must be able to be waived.

Unfortunately, at the graduate level of correspondence study, there aren’t many programs to pick from. With this in mind, the inmate should focus on finding a program that they can live with, even if it is not their first choice. We recommend the following correspondence graduate programs, which are accessible to prisoners:

Adams State University

    At Adams State University, you can complete a master’s degree while incarcerated. This is a great program at a school proud to provide all individuals with the opportunity for an education. They have helped thousands of prisoners across the United States. This is our favorite school at both the undergraduate and graduate levels.

    California Miramar University

      California Miramar University also appears willing to work with incarcerated students and with institutional security procedures.

      California Coast University

        California Coast University offers both master’s and doctorate degrees, a decent payment plan ($100 per month), high-quality courses, below-average tuition, and a textbook rental program. They are not regionally accredited, but their degrees seem to be respected in both the private and government sectors.

        University of South Dakota

          The University of South Dakota used to offer a number of regionally accredited master’s degrees and one doctorate degree through correspondence. Their tuition rates were at the low end of the average, and the school has been around since 1862. Not a bad track record. However, in 2012 their distance learning programs were converted to online only. In response to many letters received from disappointed incarcerated students, the school planned for a limited paper-based graduate correspondence program (5 courses) to be back in effect by January 2014.

          Graduate Correspondence Programs for Prisoners