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UCF’s Florida Prison Education Project is Expanding, Students Will be Able to Get a Degree Online


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Students will graduate with bachelor's degrees in technical communication, criminal justice or hospitality. Photo: Flickr Creative Commons

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A UCF program that offers face-to-face continuing education classes to incarcerated students in Orlando is expanding to include online classes. Students will be eligible to receive college credits for the classes.  

Florida Prison Education Project Director Keri Watson says students will need to go through an admissions process to take the online classes.

Watson says once a student is accepted they’ll use a secure online system to work toward a bachelor’s degree in technical communication, criminal justice or hospitality. 

“We want to also look at the needs-the employment needs of Central Florida-we have a large tourism obviously. We feel like those are all areas that could be helpful for our incarcerated students to help with re-entry when they’re released.”

Watson says virtual classes will allow faculty to reach incarcerated students at five additional prisons in Central Florida-including the first female incarcerated students at Lowell Correctional Institution.

The program currently offers incarcerated men continuing education classes at the Central Florida Reception Center in Orlando. 

“Florida has the third largest prison system-number of people incarcerated in the country-and if we don’t expand access to higher education we’re not doing anything to help people when they’re released. It’s proven over and over again that education reduces recidivism.”


Watson says the expansion is possible through a $60,000 dollar grant from the Laughing Gull Foundation

Since 2017, the program has offered 14 courses to 180 male students at the Central Florida Reception Center.

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Danielle Prieur

About Danielle Prieur

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Danielle Prieur grew up listening to her grandfather’s stories of swimming across the Detroit River from Canada and many other adventures. She’s been into storytelling ever since. She studied journalism at Northwestern University. She covers local and breaking news and is a backup host for "All Things ... Read Full Bio »

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