Finding a Higher Calling in Prison
Perhaps the most praiseworthy form of higher education that an incarcerated student can enroll in are religious-oriented college correspondence courses.
Religious-oriented courses are the same as traditional college correspondence courses, but with an additional focus on religion. They provide prisoner-students a true college education, but with a religious emphasis.
Religious college courses cover everything from college-level English, mathematics, social sciences, and other regular general education development courses, in addition to religious courses as the focus of the major. Course assignments still must be submitted, examinations still must be proctored, and degree requirements still must be fulfilled prior to graduation.
If you know an inmate who wants a college education and to go into the ministry (either while still in prison or post-release), religious college correspondence courses can be a great selection. They will certainly help to mentally lift the prisoner out of the hateful and damaging environment they currently reside in and, upon matriculation, will earn them a place at the table in any community church.
The two factors to consider when selecting a religious college correspondence program are the program’s accreditation and the method of course delivery.
- Accreditation for religious colleges is the same as accreditation for non-religious colleges. Within reason, any correspondence program selected should be regionally accredited by one of the following six legitimate accreditation agencies (note that the Western Association of Schools and Colleges has two different divisions listed):
- Western Association of Schools and Colleges, Accrediting Commission for Senior Colleges and Universities
- Western Association of Schools and Colleges, Accrediting Commission for Community and Junior Colleges
- Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, Commission on Colleges
- Northwestern Commission on Colleges and Universities
- North Central Association of Colleges and Schools, The Higher Learning Commission
- New England Association of Schools and Colleges, Commission on Institutions of Higher Education
- Middle States Association of Colleges and Schools, Commission on Higher Education
- In addition to these regional accreditation agencies, religious correspondence schools that are accredited by the Association for Biblical Higher Education, Commission on Accreditation are also of the utmost quality.
- As with traditional college correspondence programs, course delivery is also a concern. Any correspondence program that an incarcerated student enrolls in should offer courses in a paper-based format so that all of the materials can be mailed to them at the prison, and the prisoner-student then can mail back all of their assignments. The incarcerated student also has to be able to take their examinations at their prison, with their education department handling exam proctoring.
Recommended Religious College Programs
In an effort to help our readership make the best selections, we recommend the following list of religious college correspondence programs. These programs are all top-tier and prisoner-friendly. We’ve personally had interactions with all three and have come to respect not only the programs themselves but those who operate them. It’s clear that these schools care about educating prisoners and furthering ministries everywhere.
Hobe Sound Bible College is not regionally accredited; however, it is accredited by a reputable religious accreditation agency, and they express willingness and enthusiasm for educating prisoner-students. They even offer a discounted rate of $75 per course for inmates compared to the standard rate of $320 per course. This places Hobe Sound Bible College well below the average rate for tuition. Hobe Sound Bible College offers a number of programs, some leading to certificates and others to bachelor’s degrees. If funding is a major consideration and a religious degree is what you seek, Hobe Sound Bible College might be right for you.
Moody Bible Institute is a world-renowned religious institution of higher education. On its reputation alone, a degree from Moody Bible Institute will open doors. Accredited by both authentic regional and religious accreditation agencies, Moody offers a multitude of programs, some leading to certificates and others to bachelor’s degrees. They offer five-month financing plans at a minimum of $1,000. The only aspect that gives pause is the requirement that upon matriculation one must transfer in 8 credits for the associate degree and 15 credits for a bachelor’s degree.
Religious College Correspondence Programs for Prisoners
- American Institute of Holistic Theology
- Amherst Theological Seminary
- Andrews University
- Arlington Baptist College
- Catholic Distance University
- Christian Bible College and Seminary
- Christian Leadership University
- Freedom Bible College & Seminary
- Global University
- Hobe Sound Bible College
- Holy Trinity Orthodox Seminary
- Landmark Bible Institute
- Moody Bible Institute
- PMI Center for Biblical Studies
- St. Petersburg Seminary and Yeshiva