Alumni with a Bachelor of Liberal Arts

Since 1972, Villanova University has offered the only degree granting program in Pennsylvania for incarcerated individuals.

The Villanova Program at State Correctional Institution – Phoenix (SCI Phoenix) is one of the oldest continuously running degree-granting prison education programs in the United States. Eligible individuals have a chance to attain a Bachelor of Arts in Liberal Studies, gaining the same critical thinking, life-long learning and moral reflection skills that are hallmarks of a traditional, on-campus Villanova education.

The program has a transformative impact on the students it serves. Alumni who return to their families and communities often flourish—obtaining jobs and using their education to give back to the community. In addition to low recidivism, Villanova researchers and professors at SCI Phoenix cite community building, social capital and political participation as additional benefits of the program, allowing alumni to develop relationships and become engaged democratic citizens—whether they remain incarcerated or re-enter society.


To obtain a degree, prospective students must apply, pass an enrollment exam, and then successfully complete 120 credits for a bachelor’s. 

The application process can be initiated at any time and the only prerequisite is a high school education or GED. If you or a friend or family member would like information on how to apply, access the pre-application form and email the program.

Eight classes are held twice a year—in the fall and spring—in a wide variety of disciplines, including arts, theology, sciences, languages and sociology. The coursework is rigorous, and classes are taught by professors from Villanova University and adjunct professors from other institutions. Core curriculum requirements for students at SCI Phoenix are consistent with those required of students taught on main campus. The goal of the program is to create a genuine college experience for each student.

Many individuals who are released prior to completion of their degree will be eligible to continue their education with Villanova University for no charge. If a student is released after attaining at least 60 credits, they can continue to take courses with Villanova to earn a bachelor’s degree. These courses are currently offered through Villanova’s remote learning, which also lends students a laptop computer to use for their schoolwork while taking classes online.


Kate Meloney, Director, SCI Phoenix Prison Program



Once a Wildcat, always a Wildcat. All alumni of the Villanova Program at SCI Phoenix are part of the Villanova alumni community and considered members of the Villanova University Alumni Association. Graduates have access to networking and career services through the Career Center, and there is a SCI Phoenix chapter in VUAA with its own board of alumni—creating a shared space for graduates of the program even during their incarceration.