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College in Prison

One of the most innovative projects facilitated by the Institute for Prison Teaching and Outreach is the “College in Prison” program, which allows TCNJ students the opportunity to take courses taught by TCNJ faculty alongside inmates.

These courses vary widely in topic, from prison culture to urban sociology to the “war on drugs.” The student body of these courses is just about evenly split between college students and inmates, who learn together. While the environment mirrors that of an average college classroom, the unique perspectives shared by both groups creates an enhanced atmosphere of learning that can be replicated in few other places.

Through funding from NJ STEP, the inmates receive course credit and are held to the same standards as with any course offered on campus.

Students who have taken these courses, whether they are living behind bars or in the dorms, have reported positive experiences and changed perceptions about their counterparts. Click here for some testimonials from students or check out the articles published in TCNJ Magazine and The Journal for Prison Education and Reentry.

The next course will be LIT 270 – The Utopian Tradition in Western Literature at Northern State Prison. Click here to view more information on this course.  Enrollment is limited and by permission of the instructor. If you are interested in taking this course, please email Prof. Robertson (, explaining your interest in and hopes for this course.

Additionally, thanks to funding and collaboration with NJ STEP, the Institute offers college courses for inmates only that can be applied towards an Associate Degree in Business Management. Upon release, these inmates will be in a good position to continue in higher education and again become productive members of society.