Read Six New Reports in the “Understanding the Landscape of Higher Education in Prison” Series

July 17, 2021

The Understanding the Landscape of Higher Education Prison Survey was designed as a confidential follow-up to respondents to the 2020 Annual Survey of Higher Education in Prison Programs. The response rate to the follow-up survey was 45.8% (n = 60). Data from the two surveys were combined to provide descriptive statistics about the programs participating in the Landscape Survey, including programs with higher education institutional affiliations and/or affiliations with prison, jails, or detention centers. The survey aimed to illuminate program demographics, program funding, use of technology, student enrollment, and program data collection and evaluation, and the associated challenges and opportunities.


  • Program admission varied, but most commonly included applications, written essays, and/or interviews
  • The most common technology across programs was a computer lab, or computers within the prison classroom
  • Student enrollment was widely dependent on type of program and association with affiliated academic institutions with a median enrollment of 80
  • A majority of associated faculty instructors were classified as adjunct or faculty at the affiliated academic institution
  • The average leadership team was comprised of 3 members
  • A growing number of programs had paid staff members who identified as formerly incarcerated
  • FAFSA proved to be a barrier to student access to tuition
  • Program success was most commonly determined by program completion or graduation