Prescott College - Colleges of Distinction - Colleges of Distinction
Prescott College
"Prescott College is for adventurous, engaged learners seeking to immerse themselves in an intense...

Prescott College

Prescott, Arizona

An Adventure in Learning

Prescott College offers students who are serious about taking ownership of their education a wealth of unique opportunities to explore and realize their potential. Prescott College is a dream come true for environmentalists, outdoor enthusiasts, aspiring writers, artists, or anyone who wants to make a difference and experience the world during college rather than just reading about it.


Student Profile

Fall 2016 Enrollment
350 undergraduate students
75% of undergrad students are full time
43% male — 57% female
98% of students are from out of state

Faculty Profile

2016-2017 Academic Year
66 full-time faculty
49 part-time faculty
9 to 1 student/faculty ratio

Residence Life

Fall 2016
94% of first year students live on campus
72% of all students live on campus

School Location

Prescott, Arizona—set in central Arizona in the historic city of Prescott, 90 miles northwest of Phoenix.

High-Impact Practices

Read more about the importance of High-Impact Practices 

First-Year Seminars and Experiences X
Common Intellectual Experiences X
Learning Communities  
Writing-Intensive Courses X
Collaborative Assignments and Projects X
Undergraduate Research X
Diversity/Global Learning X
Service Learning, Community-Based Learning X
Internships/Coops/Practicums X
Capstone Courses and Projects/Senior Experience X


71% of students began in Fall 2015 and returned in Fall 2016 (full time, first time freshmen)


49% of students graduated in 6 years


Nonresident aliens 1%
Hispanic/Latino 7%
Black or African American 1%
White 71%
American Indian or Alaska Native 4%
Asian 1%
Native Hawaiian or other Pacific Islander 0%
Two or more races 7%
Race and/or ethnicity unknown 8%


Prescott College is a small private liberal arts college with a strong emphasis on experiential education and environmental and social responsibility.

Academic Programs

Adventure Education; Arts and Letters; Education/Teacher Certification (Elementary, Secondary); Environmental Studies; Humanities; Cultural & Regional Studies; Human Development.

More Distinctions

  • Prescott College is an evolving experiment in rejecting hierarchical thinking for collaboration and teamwork as the cornerstone of learning. This is an educational institution that puts students at the center in everything it does and is.

  • Prescott College is driven by a philosophy of experiential education or “learning by doing” and a mission to graduate society’s leaders for the 21st century who will be needed to solve the world's growing environmental and social problems.

  • Students are empowered at Prescott, especially because faculty view students as co-creators of their educational experience rather than as consumers.

  • At Prescott College the combination of field-based and interactive classroom learning encourages a bond between people and the College places a high value on students being functioning and contributing members of the College community. Students opinions matter and they have many ways to be involved in the life of the College and in every aspect of running the College.

Every student has the opportunity to design their own degree program from the ground up and in every course a student negotiates a learning contract with his or her professor that covers what they expect to learn and how they will be evaluated.

Tailored Education

  • The Southwest is seen as a classroom at Prescott. Students use the region as an educational tool in a number of ways, including participating in expeditionary courses, studying at a field station, and developing community partnerships. Students in all disciplines—arts and letters/humanities, environmental studies, outdoor/adventure education, education, human development, and cultural and regional studies—integrate classroom learning and real-world experience.
  • The Kino Bay Center for Cultural and Ecological Studies in Sonora Mexico is Prescott College’s field station on the shores of the Gulf of California, one of the most remote and unexplored seas in the world today. At the field station, students have quality educational opportunities and engage in cooperative research. Throughout the academic year, courses are held at the Kino Bay Center in academic areas such as marine studies, resource conservation and management, cultural studies, Latin American studies, and writing.
  • Through the college’s partnership with local schools, Prescott students can obtain hands-on experience in educational settings such as public, private, Waldorf, Expeditionary Learning Outward Bound, and other charter schools. Prescott students assist classroom teachers, design lessons, observe classroom dynamics, and tutor individual students, all while immersed in an active school setting.
  • The Wilderness Orientation Program—a three-week, backcountry excursion for all incoming students to the Resident Degree Program—welcomes new students to Prescott College, guiding them through the philosophies and processes of the college by using experiential education, community building, and self-direction in the remote, natural environment of the Southwest. On average, 90 percent of first-year and transfer students participate in this program, which builds lifelong friendships. Other options are offered to incoming students who are unable to hike.
  • Prescott College’s Jenner Farm is a thirty-acre experimental agroecology farm dedicated to education, demonstration, and research. Located fifteen miles north of Prescott, the farm gives students in agroecology a chance to experiment with water irrigation technologies, drought-tolerant and adapted crops, specialty crops, and fertility-generating rotations.


Campus Ministries  
Choral groups  
Concert band  
Dance X
Drama/theater X
International Student Organization X
Jazz band  
Literary magazine X
Marching band  
Model UN  
Music ensembles  
Musical theater  
Pep band  
Radio station  
Student government X
Student newspaper X
Student-run film society  
Symphony orchestra  
Television station  

At Prescott College students can explore the border between the United States and Mexico, work in a charter school, and conduct research at the college’s own marine research center or pursue any of the countless other experiential learning opportunities spread across the innovative interdisciplinary curriculum.

Learn by doing

  • Since its founding in 1966, the college has been driven by a philosophy of experiential education and a mission to graduate society’s leaders for the twenty-first century, leaders who will be needed to solve the world’s growing environmental and social problems. Independent-minded students with a sense of adventure will find that Prescott College offers a uniquely challenging educational experience based on close collaboration with the faculty. At Prescott College the undeniable common denominators that have endured the test of time have been commitments to authentic adventure and travel, field-based activities, and experiential learning in its simplest and purest form: learning by doing.
  • Actively shape your education. Students are empowered at Prescott, especially because faculty view students as co-creators of their educational experience rather than as consumers. Prescott stresses self-direction within an interdisciplinary curriculum. Every student collaborates with faculty advisers in the design of their own degree program and in every course, students negotiate a learning contract with their professors, which covers what students expect to learn and how they will be evaluated.
  • Professors who engage, guide, and mentor. Small class sizes, a student to faculty ratio of seven to one, and a high level of interaction between students and faculty are characteristic of Prescott. Almost every class at Prescott has a strong experiential learning component that takes students out of the classroom, so much so that there are more vans on campus than classrooms.
  • Bring learning to life. Every student must complete a senior project/capstone experience. Senior projects have ranged from writing novels to developing classes to starting schools. One student co-founded a nonprofit organization that places the pets of families suffering from domestic violence with specially trained foster families. The Ripple Project helps match student interests with community needs to develop meaningful senior projects, including facilitating collaborations with organizations such as AmeriCorps.
  • Prepare to make a living making a difference. Research often happens under the mentorship of faculty or community experts. For many years now, students have engaged in research on the fire, woodlands, and riparian ecology of the Southwest, working alongside environmental studies faculty member Lisa Floyd-Hanna. Fire ecology classes have worked with Prescott National Forest Service researchers on several projects, including examining core samples of Ponderosa pines to understand how local fire cycles changed after settlers populated the region. Another project included observing the results of the reduced occurrence of ground fires, which help replenish nutrients, and studied the risk of the catastrophic crown fires that spread along treetops. Snow and avalanche studies, border studies, and film making for social change are a few of the many interesting subjects students might find themselves studying at Prescott.



Arts/fine arts  
Computer literacy  
English (including composition) X
Foreign languages  
Sciences (biological or physical)  
Social science  


Size 2-9 10-19 20-29 30-39 40-49 50-99 100+ Total
Number of Classes 61 71 0 0 0 1 0 133

When your college experience begins with a three week backpacking trip in the wilderness of the southwest a strong sense of community and fellowship is almost sure to follow.

Shared experiences and a shared sense of purpose

  • At Prescott College the combination of field-based and interactive classroom learning encourages a bond between people, and the college places a high value on students being functioning and contributing members of the college community. Students’ opinions matter, and there are a number of ways for students to be involved every aspect of running the college.
  • Surrounded by 1,408,000 acres of national forest and more than 796 miles of trails, Prescott College is a haven of natural beauty. Students can participate in a number of outdoor activities, including rock climbing, hiking, mountain biking, and nearby canoeing, rafting, kayaking, and snow skiing. Students tend to be environmentally conscious and show a deep appreciation for nature.
  • The Crossroads Center, a twenty-two-thousand-square-foot teaching and learning space on Prescott’s campus, is the hub of the campus. The center features a college library that fully integrates technology and research functions, a campus cafe and catering services, a conference facility with an outdoor amphitheatre and a five hundred-person auditorium, social spaces, quiet spaces, and classrooms. The center demonstrates environmental responsibility and economic feasibility with a solar plant on the roof and retaining walls made from recycled concrete.
  • The college, set in the historic city of Prescott, is located in the Bradshaw Mountains of central Arizona, at an altitude of 5,400 feet. Students will enjoy the area’s benevolent climate and interesting geology, highlighted by lakes and granite formations. Prescott began as a mining town in the 1800s and is now a thriving arts community, home to galleries, dance studios, and events such as the Prescott Bluegrass Festival, the Prescott Film Fest, and a folk arts fair.
  • In an hour-long drive, students can visit the Grand Canyon; the red rocks of Sedona; the old mining town of Jerome; and the cities of Flagstaff, Phoenix, and Tucson.


Coed dorms X
Men’s dorms X
Women’s dorms X
Apartments for married students  
Apartments for single students  
Special housing for disabled students X
Special housing for international students  
Fraternity/sorority housing  
Cooperative housing  
Theme housing  
Wellness housing X
Other housing options  

Having successfully negotiated the challenge of designing and pursuing their academic program and their goals for their educational experience. Prescott students are well prepared for the challenges of life after graduation.

A challenging education

  • Prescott alumni go on to exciting and unique careers. Many feel empowered to launch their own businesses. Alumni Kent Madin and Linda Svendsen, founders of Boojum Expeditions, offer “uncommon adventure travel,” leading trips in Mongolia, Tibet, China, Argentina, Venezuela, and Yellowstone. Alumnus Dustin Tester started Maui Surfer Girls, an instructional surfing school for girls and women in Hawaii. Kim Reynolds co-founded the dZi Foundation, dedicated to promoting the health, culture, and welfare of indigenous mountain communities



314 Total Applicants
215 Total Admissions
47 Total Freshmen Enrollment

68.47% of applicants admitted

Admissions Deadlines for 2017-18 Admission

Rolling admission? Yes

Priority date: Mar 1


Very Important
Rigor of secondary school record
Application Essay

Academic GPA
Standardized test scores
Extracurricular activities
Volunteer work
Work experience
Level of applicant’s interest

Character/personal qualities

Freshmen Profile Fall 2016

  25th Percentile 75th Percentile
SAT Critical Reading 480 620
SAT Math 440 580
SAT Writing    
SAT Essay    
ACT Composite 21 28
ACT Math 19 24
ACT English 20 28
ACT Writing    


Net Price Calculator 


Tuition $28,976
Fees $1,635
Total $30,611
Room and Board (on campus) $7,700
Estimated Total On Campus $38,311


Average Financial Aid Packages 2016-17 estimated

$23,691 First year students
$15,202 All undergrads

Financial Aid Breakdown 2016-17 estimated

64.7% on average, the percentage of need that was met
9% of financial need students that had need fully met

$15,202 Average need-based scholarship or grant award
$4,576 Average need-based loan

Experience: The Heart of Education

At Prescott College, the term “student engagement” has a special meaning. It’s not just about students engaged in civic activities or service learning, although they are. It doesn’t refer to the wide variety of internship...

From Senior Project to National Policy

While teaching assistant for a Marine Studies course at the College’s Kino Bay Center, Naomi Blinick ’09 participated in ongoing sampling of bycatch from shrimp trawlers in the region. Now the Mexican government is overhauling...

Kino Bay Center for Cultural and Ecological Studies

The Kino Bay Center for Cultural and Ecological Studies is Prescott College’s field station on the Sonoran shores of the Midriff Island Region of the Sea of Cortez. The region boasts incredibly rich, diverse and...

HUB Keeps Local Bike Riders Rolling

It’s a quiet Tuesday afternoon on the Prescott College campus on Grove Avenue in Prescott, but the shed behind the Student Services building is teeming with mechanics. Although cars surround them, most of these mechanics...

Get a free sample of the Colleges of Distinction 2017 guidebook!

Subscribe to receive a free sample of the Colleges of Distinction 2017 guidebook with:

– Must-Read Advice

– College Checklist

– 330+ School Profiles

Plus, we'll send you 3 critical checklists for college-bound students!

You have Successfully Subscribed!