The Saint Louis University Prison Program offers an associate of arts degree to people living and working in Missouri prisons. The associate of arts degree program is administered through the Saint Louis University College of Arts and Sciences.

Man plays clarinet in music class

SLU faculty deliver courses on-site at the Eastern Reception, Diagnostic and Correctional Center to both Department of Corrections staff and incarcerated people. Students complete 61 credit hours from courses that reflect the core curriculum of the College of Arts and Sciences. Students take five courses annually and can complete their associate degree in approximately four years.

The SLU Prison Program operates at no cost to participants. SLU covers the tuition for all students. The program purchases books and supplies for students and reimburses faculty for their travel to and from St. Louis, while the College of Arts and Sciences supports the salaries for faculty to teach in the program.

Students in the Prison Program receive the same instruction, in the same classes, from the same faculty members as students on the St. Louis campus.

See the Full Curriculum 

College Prep Program

Because many incarcerated men and women are not immediately prepared for college-level courses, the College Preparatory Program — offered through the Saint Louis University Prison Program — prepares them for future college experiences.

Saint Louis University Prison Program helps students advance to the Associate of Arts degree program inside the prison or prepares them to enter college upon release.

By engaging work that is deeply rooted in the humanities, students in the College Preparatory Program work with SLU faculty members to develop collaborative learning, study and research skills needed to succeed in the college classroom.

Incarcerated men and women enrolled in the College Preparatory Program take one non-credit class per university semester (two courses annually). The courses offered are in one of four areas: communication and technology, community and society, creative expression, and well-being.

Approximately 60 incarcerated students — one cohort in each of three facilities — participate in the College Prep Program.

Since 2008, the SLU Prison Program has hosted:


SLU courses.


College prep classes.


Speaker series events.


Tutoring sessions.

Prison Arts and Education

Saint Louis University’s Prison Arts and Education Program provides intellectually stimulating educational experiences for incarcerated people, prison staff and community members that foster human connection, an appreciation for the arts, and resources for positive self-expression and personal growth.

Offered through SLU’s Prison Program, Prison Arts and Education Program events enable incarcerated people and prison staff to engage in open dialogue with a diversity of professionals practicing their trade in academia or the community. These activities provide resources for self-education, self-expression and positive engagement with community.

The Inside Out Speaker Series is a series of talks, readings and programs attended by members of the Eastern Reception, Diagnostic and Correctional Center community and the SLU community. Past speakers and performances have included performances by the SLU Theater Department and the Chamber Music Society of St. Louis, poetry readings, discussions of prisons in Australia and Palestine, and debates.

The Prison Arts and Education Program also offers a series of workshops throughout the academic year. Workshops provide an opportunity for participants to work in small groups with faculty or community members on arts and humanities-based projects, including drawing, publication, art curation and literature.