PVCC Higher Education in Prison Program

women graduating from college

The Higher Education in Prison Program offers opportunities for incarcerated learners to transform their lives thorough participation in quality post-secondary education programs.  The program provides opportunities for learners to earn a transfer associate degree that leads to post-release success. 

The Higher Education in Prison Program offers an Associate of Science degree in General Studies to incarcerated students at Fluvanna Correctional Center for Women (FCCW), Buckingham Correctional Center (BCC), and Dillwyn Correctional Center (DCC). 


Through a partnership with the Virginia Department of Correctional Education and the Virginia Department of Corrections, the program was established in 2006 with classes starting at Fluvanna Correctional Center for Women.

men studying in a classroomIn the summer of 2017, college-level courses were offered at Buckingham Correctional Center, a facility housing men. In 2019, PVCC was selected to take part in the Second Chance Pell Experiment. In fall 2021, the program was expanded to an additional location, Dillwyn Correctional Center, another facility housing men. In the spring of 2022, the program offered college-level classes at the three correctional facilities serving approximately 75 students.

To date, over 100 students have earned associate degrees.

What We Do

Students in the program pursue the Associate of Science degree in General Studies which prepares them for transfer to a four-year college or university to complete a bachelor’s degree. The degree program consists of 63 credit hours of instruction allowing students to design a curriculum that meets their individual transfer degree goals. Classes such as English composition, information literacy, humanities, life sciences, economics, business, and mathematics are offered, among others. One-hundred percent of the instruction is delivered in a classroom-based, face-to-face format at the correctional facilities.

men studying in a classroom togetherPVCC faculty use a combination of instructional methods including lecture, discussion, and small group work to engage the students.  All students have access to all PVCC library materials. Research requests are handled by PVCC librarians working with Department of Corrections librarians. Each semester, PVCC faculty, advisors and administrators hold academic advising sessions for all new and currently enrolled students at the correctional facilities. In each advising session, students meet one-on-one with a PVCC representative to discuss academic and career goals as well as progress and future plans.

Contact Program Coordinator Julie Olive at jolive@pvcc.edu to learn more.