Georgetown Begins Bachelor’s Degree Program at Maryland Prison
Georgetown University launched its new degree program for incarcerated students in Maryland, beginning classes in person on Feb. 14. Twenty-five students were accepted into the inaugural cohort of the program, located at the Patuxent Institution in Jessup, Md.
The program creates a significant higher education opportunity for people incarcerated in Maryland and is expected to enroll 125 students over the next five years. Students will earn a Bachelor of Liberal Arts from Georgetown, gaining the formal education that will help prepare them for success in the future.
“This degree program is a model for how universities can bring transformative education opportunities into prison and support second chances,” said Marc Howard, director of the Georgetown Prisons and Justice Initiative. “We are proud and excited to welcome this talented group of students into the classroom.”
In partnership with the Maryland Department of Public Safety and Correctional Services (DPSCS), Georgetown launched a statewide admissions process in the fall of 2021. More than 300 people from across the Maryland prison system applied for the program. Those accepted from other facilities were transferred to the Patuxent Institution in late December.
For the students, the program is a rare and welcome opportunity to continue their education, become part of an academic community, and achieve their personal and professional goals.
“My main goal is just to continue to evolve, to continue to see what life has to offer me,” said student Rasheed Edwards. “I think that this Georgetown program is going to take me further in life, take me to places I didn’t even think were possible for me. It’s giving me a chance to change my trajectory in life.”
The program will operate on an annual admissions calendar and will accept a second group of 25 students this year.
DPSCS Secretary Robert Green said the department welcomed the opportunity to create a new path toward a bachelor’s degree within the correctional system.
“An education from Georgetown will have a long-term positive impact on the students and prepare them to contribute positively to their communities in the future,” Secretary Green said.
Georgetown Academics in Prison
The 120-credit interdisciplinary program is offered through the Georgetown College and modeled after undergraduate degree offerings on Georgetown’s main campus, with an emphasis on the liberal arts. After completing the degree’s core requirements, students will be able to choose from three majors – cultural humanities, interdisciplinary social science, and global intellectual history – and tailor their studies with electives. It will take most students about five years to complete the degree.
Each semester, students will take two four-credit classes with Georgetown faculty and will also have access to additional academic support and guest lectures. They are currently taking introductory classes in writing and philosophy.
The program is funded by a $1 million grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation to the Georgetown Prisons and Justice Initiative, donors including Georgetown alumnus Damien Dwin, and the Department of Education’s Second Chance Pell experiment.
The program expands Georgetown’s Prison Scholars Program, which has offered credit-bearing courses at the D.C. Jail since 2018. Georgetown President John DeGioia said the bachelor’s degree program represents the university’s commitment to education as a transformative opportunity.
“This new Bachelor of Liberal Arts program is an expression of our University’s deeply held values — our commitment to education, service, and the common good — and we are honored to welcome these 25 new students as members of our Georgetown community,” DeGioia said.
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