Distance Learning for Inmates: St. Cloud State University

St. Cloud State University’s Pathways Program for Incarcerated Students offers individuals the opportunity to earn an Associate Degree or take college courses for personal growth and development.

The Center for Continuing Studies works with the SCSU faculty to make a number of correspondence courses available.  These courses cover the same content as the on campus and online versions.  Students receive assignments and other course materials through the mail and communicate with faculty by mail.  Please check the link below for a current list of correspondence courses available.  Image courtesy stcloudstate.edu

Students can choose to pursue and Associate Degree entirely in the correspondence format.  Students who choose to do so must understand that using this format lengthens the time needed to earn the degree and may involve taking correspondence courses at other institutions to fill gaps in our offerings.   

Students who are admitted to the University through Pathways for Incarcerated Students become part of St. Cloud State University’s long-standing tradition of excellence and opportunity.

  • Degree Options
  • Program Support and Student Resources
  • How to Apply

The Pathways Program for Incarcerated Students offers two degree options:

  • The Associate in Arts degree is intended to provide a broad liberal arts and sciences background. AA programs require completion of the general education program and additional credits to total at least 60 semester credit hours. The AA program may serve as the foundation for a bachelor's degree.
  • The Associate in Elective Studies degree program provides students the unique opportunity of designing their own program of study. The AES requires the completion of 60 semester hour credits, with no more than 30 credits in any one discipline. This degree is considered a terminal degree that does not lead to a bachelor’s degree, but may be a good option for those seeking education purely for personal development. Students wishing to complete an associate’s degree and continue on to a bachelor’s degree should choose the Associate in Arts program.

Credits earned from other accredited colleges and universities may, upon approval, be applied toward the student’s SCSU degree program.

What Can I do with an Associate Degree?
An associate degree is an academic degree awarded by many community colleges, junior colleges, and some bachelor degree seeking institutions. It is roughly the equivalent of the first two years of a four-year program. An Associate of Arts degree is specifically intended to transfer to a four-year college, where students then declare a major in their area of interest and work toward a bachelor's degree.

According to a study done by the Texas Department of Criminal Justice, the national rate of recidivism for inmates is 60%. This rate dropped to 13.7% for associate degree holders, 5.6% for bachelor degree holders, and 0% for those with a master's degree.

The degrees offered through the Pathways Program for Incarcerated Students can be used as a stepping stone to further education or solely as a means for personal growth and development.

Most students require at least one semester to make arrangements to take classes. Students and their families should follow this checklist to make sure everything is in order before attempting to register:

  • Secure funding
  • Obtain all approvals from your correctional facility prior to applying. Be sure to meet with the education director/advisor at your facility before applying.
  • Complete and submit the St Cloud State Application (PDF)
  • Submit the $20.00 non-refundable application fee. Checks are to be made payable to St. Cloud State University.
  • Request official transcripts from previous institutions (including High School, GED, and previous colleges)

Please make sure to send all materials and transcripts directly to the Pathways Program at the address below:

Center for Continuing Studies

Brown Hall 115K

St. Cloud State University

720 Fourth Avenue South

St. Cloud, MN 56301

Attn: Pathways Program

Contact Information

Pathways Program for Incarcerated Students
Center for Continuing Studies
St. Cloud State University
720 4th Avenue South
St. Cloud MN 56301

Office: (320) 308-6020

Fax: (320) 308-5041

ccsga@stcloudstate.edu