Prescott College - Colleges of Distinction - Colleges of Distinction
Prescott College
Prescott College seeks self-motivated, adventurous learners who thrive in an interdisciplinary environment, driven to...

Prescott College

Prescott, Arizona

Prescott College offers experientially centered undergraduate and graduate degrees both on campus and via distance learning. Collaboration is emphasized over competition and interdisciplinary inquiry proceeds alongside professional skill development. Its courses are problem-based and solution-oriented; students work together to solve both local and global issues and help shape a more environmentally sustainable and socially just world. Each student can choose to be evaluated through grades and/or a holistic assessment of their competencies as they complete their individualized programs of study. Through strong community connections and project-based learning, each student is deeply engaged in direct applications of their knowledge and skills. All students work and learn alongside expert practitioners, forming mentor relationships that build their professional networks. Students are encouraged to think critically and act ethically with sensitivity to the human community and the biosphere alike.


Undergraduate students can pursue a B.A., B.S., or B.F.A. Students work closely with individual graduation committees to design their own degree plans, pulling from seven study areas: adventure education; arts and humanities; cultural and regional studies; environmental studies and sustainability; interdisciplinary studies; psychology, counseling, and human development; and education.


Undergraduate students can begin graduate coursework as undergraduates to accelerate the completion of their M.A., M.S., M.Ed., and/or Ph.D.; accelerated master students may earn their graduate degree tuition-free! Graduate programs include adventure education, arts and humanities, counseling, education, environmental studies, social justice and community organizing, expressive arts therapy, adventure-based psychotherapy, ecopsychology, and equine-assisted mental health.



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

The mountain town of Prescott, Arizona, is nestled between the ponderosa forests and grasslands at the confluence of the Granite Creek watershed.The mile-high city is ranked a Top Adventure Town by National Geographic Adventure Magazine, and one of the 7 Top Trail Towns according to Trail Runner Magazine. With over 450 miles of multi-use trails, world-class mountain-biking, a thriving rock-climbing scene, and nearby lakes for kayaking and canoeing, Prescott is an outdoor paradise. The Grand Canyon, Phoenix, Flagstaff, and the red rocks of Sedona are all within a two-hour drive. The historic downtown is just minutes from campus.

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’s intercollegiate cycling team is composed of scholar-athletes who enjoy both the thrill and challenge of high-level competition, as well as the camaraderie of collaboration and the rewards of service to both the environment and community. The team competes regionally and nationally in mountain biking in the fall, cyclocross in the winter, and both road and mountain biking in the spring. All team members receive scholarships with higher levels of funding available for cyclists who aim for nationals. Founded in 2013, Prescott College’s cycling team has taken multiple championships for Collegiate Team Omnium in USA Cycling’s Southwest Region, Division II.

Many academic courses directly integrate athletic activities such as hiking, backpacking, skiing, mountain biking, rafting, canoeing, and kayaking in order to access, experience, research, learn from, and sustain the diverse ecological and human communities of the Southwest.

Other Information

Prescott College is a small, nonprofit, private liberal arts college with a strong emphasis on experiential education. The College recently turned fifty and is celebrating 50 Years of Innovation. It was founded in the 1960’s by a group of innovative educators brought together to design the “ideal college of the future that would prepare students for contributing in an ever-changing world.” Prescott College has led the development of many innovations in higher education that have been embraced as best practices by many other institutions. Such initiatives include sustainability education, experiential learning, wilderness orientation, distance learning, and competency-based education.

The College is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission. Prescott College is the only college in the nation to have all programs accredited by the Association for Experiential Education.

Prescott College is a pluralistic community where respect for differences and dialogue are key aspects of true experiential education. The College places a high value on students who act as functioning and contributing members of the College community. Students’ opinions matter, and they have many ways to be involved in the governing of the College.

Prescott College was the first private college in Arizona certified as a Veterans Supportive Campus. As a direct result of a student-led initiative for the Freedom Education Fund, the College became one of the first private colleges in the nation to offer a full scholarship for undocumented students.

Academic Programs

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

More Distinctions

  • Most Innovative Small Colleges: “emphasizes collaboration over competition and focuses on pressing world issues such as social justice, the environment, and multiculturalism.”

  • Best Value Colleges in Arizona: “not your average school...brings meaning to the term ‘experiential education.’”

  • Fiske Guide: One of the “13 most interesting institutions” among all schools in the Guide.

  • Arizona Department of Veterans Services: Veteran Supportive Campus.

New Student Orientation: Wilderness and Community Based

Students in the on-campus undergraduate program are introduced to Prescott College, the Southwest, and their learning community through an immersive 21-day Orientation course. Many students choose to enroll in Wilderness Orientation, an expedition in the remote canyons and mountains of Arizona. Other students choose to enroll in Community Based Orientation, which is carried out as a set of multiple mini-expeditions throughout Arizona and is specifically focused on exploring Arizona’s ecological, political, and cultural boundaries. Through Orientation, students develop a sense of place; gain knowledge about the College’s history, values, and pedagogical approach; and become engaged learners by gaining skills in interpersonal communication, leadership, and community building. Most importantly, students cultivate compassion and respect for self, the greater community, and the diverse Arizona environment.

Collaboration over Competition

At Prescott College, relationships, collaboration, and teamwork are seen as the cornerstone of learning. Grades are optional, and students are able to identify their own learning objectives for each course. In most classes, students are evaluated based on papers, presentations, and projects. Many of these presentations and projects are collaborative efforts through which students learn how to give and receive support as well as how to solve problems collaboratively by using the unique strengths of each of the group’s members.

Real-World Research

Students have ample opportunities to engage in research at both the undergraduate and graduate levels. Research often happens under the mentorship of faculty and community experts within problem-based, solution-oriented experiential courses. For example, undergraduate students take courses that engage student teams in research on the fire, woodlands, and riparian ecology of the Southwest, working alongside environmental studies professors and management professionals. Fire ecology classes have worked with Prescott National Forest Service researchers on projects examining core samples of ponderosa pines to understand how local fire cycles changed after settlers populated the region. In other courses, students conduct hands-on research in the fields of counseling psychology, political science, sustainable development, indigenous land rights, climate policy, and education practice and policy.

Students also have opportunities to take engage in community-based experiential courses. For example, students can travel to Los Angeles to learn about the social, political, and environmental impacts of globalization, meeting and working with stakeholders from elected officials, artists business leaders, and urban planners to policy-makers, activists, and grassroots community organizations.

All students design and complete a senior capstone project in which they demonstrate academic competence within their individualized programs of study. Through research and other real-world projects, they also demonstrate professional competence in the field of their chosen career. Many students are even offered jobs prior to graduation as a direct result of their capstone projects.

Study Abroad Opportunities

Over the course of decades, Prescott College faculty and students have developed partnerships with communities around the world. Students are able to benefit from these strong ties and rich shared histories that provide unparalleled learning opportunities.

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 engage in cooperative research with the local Mexican and indigenous Seri communities. Throughout the academic year, courses are held at the Kino Bay Center in academic areas such as marine studies, cultural studies, and resource conservation and management.

At Prescott College’s field station in Kenya, Africa, students work alongside the Maasai people through the Maasai Community Partnership Project. Students participate in activism led by indigenous community members, learn from the perspectives of Maasai people, and become part of grassroots work for social and environmental policy change. Student research has directly contributed to lawsuit successes that have restored land rights for the Maasai.

Study abroad trips and excursions around the United States are often integrated into many Prescott College courses. For example, in the Explorations of Norway Nature and Culture course, students spend a month abroad exploring the country’s environment, culture, language, and history—students can even continue their studies for an additional semester at the University College of Southeast Norway.  

Additionally, Prescott College is a member of two consortia, the EcoLeague and the Consortium for Innovative Environments in Learning. Through these partnerships, Prescott College students can spend up to two semesters at partner institutions at no additional cost to their tuition. They also have access to the study abroad and career internship offerings at other EcoLeague-affiliated schools. These opportunities allow students to broaden their education by taking advantage of opportunities at nearly 20 colleges around the United States.

Credit for Life Experience

Prescott College holds an immense amount of respect for students’ prior learning, whether they learned in non-college settings or in extended, demanding professional experiences. Students are able to earn credit for their prior education by creating a portfolio that documents their experiences from before college. Credit earned through a Prior Learning Assessment can greatly accelerate the path to students’ degrees.

A Global Campus without Walls

Prescott College’s undergraduate and graduate distance learning programs allow students to stay in their home community while earning their degree. Through these programs, students work with Prescott College faculty, as well as additional mentors whom they select, to design a personally and professionally fulfilling degree path. Students can earn their degree from wherever they live, work, or travel, allowing them to conduct research and complete their studies in remote locations. They develop strong connections to the College community through online forums and by making periodical visits to campus for residency events.

Activities Offered

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  

Interdisciplinary Experiential Curriculum = Dream Courses

The mission of Prescott College guides all academic programs to enrich interdisciplinary curriculum with experiential learning and self-direction. Rather than prescribing typical sequences of disciplinary courses, Prescott College faculty members expertly design interdisciplinary courses that are based in field- and community-based learning environments in which students develop their skills across multiple disciplines.

A flagship course suite at Prescott College is the Grand Canyon Semester. This field-based interdisciplinary program integrates Wilderness Expeditions & Recreation, Landscape Ecology & Public Lands Issues, and Resource Management & Conservation Leadership. Students spend a semester hiking and rafting the Grand Canyon, learning through hands-on research and service with park managers. Other examples include: U.S. Mexico Border Studies; Marine Studies: Natural History of the Gulf of California; Normalizing the Body: Race, Gender, and Disability; Geology through Bikepacking; The “F Word:” Feminism, Women, and Social Change; Environmental Perspectives and Whitewater Rafting; Changing World Order: The Political Economy of Globalization; and the Art of Teaching: Community, Curriculum, and Cooperation.

First-Year Experience

Prescott College’s first-year experience courses provide support and guidance to on-campus students throughout the first semester of their freshman year. After their Orientation course, students can choose from a variety of interdisciplinary classes that are linked and co-taught by faculty members from various disciplines. For example, courses like Ecology, Home, and Outdoor Education and Recreation, Wilderness and Civilization, Creative Expressions, and Yoga Philosophy are linked to the Writing Workshop course.

These first-year courses emphasize the exploration of self. Each student reflects deeply on their personal history, culture, values, and sense of place, working with their peers to develop a sense of curiosity, engagement, and purpose. Courses emphasize writing, relationship development, and community building through collaborative projects, wilderness expeditions, and/or team projects with community organizations. A co-curriculum and peer-mentoring program support students’ human development as they explore greater independence and deeper collaborations in new communities.

The Core Curriculum

The Core Curriculum is designed to support students in becoming successful self-directed learners. Building upon the first-year experience, the Core Curriculum includes interdisciplinary courses in each of year of study. For example, second-year students might choose a course like Art and Agency in the Borderlands or Evolution and Revolution in the Anthropocene. Through the third-year experience, students take a course that explores interdisciplinary research methods, such as Inquiry and Analysis in the Liberal Arts, in which student construct a literature review and proposal for their upcoming senior capstone project. By the end of their first three years, students will have shaped and constructed their degree plan in time for their final project. In their senior year, students work together as a cohort, implementing their senior projects to support and learn from one another’s challenges and successes with their methods, project management, analysis, and presentations.   

Block Courses

At Prescott College, each term begins with a Block Course before returning to the standard multi-course semester format. Block Courses are three-week classes that are taken on their own, allowing students and professors to direct all their focus to one course. These courses provide students with opportunities to travel and learn in places like the US-Mexico Border, Joshua Tree National Park, Norway, Costa Rica, Alaska, the Gulf of California, or locally at the College’s agro-ecology research farm, in the National Forests and public lands surrounding Prescott, or in K-12 schools around Prescott and Tucson. Students can also take advantage of these three weeks to engage in service projects or paid internships.

The Center for Student Success

Housed across the College Library, Student Life Building, and One-Stop Shop, the Center for Student Success engages and supports students in a variety of ways. Support services tutoring to career counseling. The Center for Student Success is also the hub for such administrative services as the registrar and financial aid office, so everything one could need is all in one place.

Common Core

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

Class Size Breakdown

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

A Shared Sense of Purpose

At Prescott College, the combination of field-based courses and interactive classroom learning develops deep and meaningful relationships between faculty and students. This mission-driven learning community grows as alumni develop their careers and networks across the globe. Eighty percent of alumni—regardless of degree title—have reported that their profession has allowed them to do meaningful work that supports a more just and sustainable world.

Opportunities to Get Involved

The Student Union Board and Director of Student Engagement provide support and funding for any students who was to launch a student initiative or form a new club. This allows the campus environment to be student-directed and relevant to student interests. As a result, the campus climate is positive and responsive to change and emerging challenges. Students have created such organizations as the Bike Club, Mi Familia, Black Student Union, Queer Student Union, Garden Club, Music Club, and the Peer Education and Resource Center. Such a sustained student interest in their community has led to the development of a digital video and audio recording lab.

Community Lunch - A Weekly Gathering

Community lunch is a proud tradition at Prescott College. Every Wednesday, the community comes together for free soup and bread provided by the cafe on campus. Students, faculty, staff, and other community members gather to talk, make announcements, and connect to discuss the issues of the day.

Colloquia on Campus

Colloquia and symposium are held on campus every semester. These meetings are a time for distance-learning students to share their research and learn about the work of others in the field. The colloquia include keynote addresses from experts in their fields and provide both information and inspiration to students as they continue on their educational journeys. All members of the College community are invited to attend, connect, and learn with one another.

Sustainability Symposium

The Prescott College Symposium on Sustainability Education is an annual conference that brings scholars, practitioners, and students together to learn about the latest work in the emerging field of sustainability education. All members of the community are invited to attend the conference and learn from students in the Ph.D. in Sustainability Education program, all of whom collaborate to organize the symposium theme, invite the keynote speaker, and present their research findings.

Campus Housing Options for Undergraduates

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  

Learning through Service

Prescott College strives to provide an education that enables students to live productive lives, all while achieving a healthy balance between self-fulfillment and service to others. Students are encouraged to engage in service work that benefits both the community and the students themselves. They can even receive college credit for their service learning and internship experiences.

The College’s Arizona Serve program hosts a large AmeriCorps/VISTA cohort of over one hundred members serving across the state of Arizona. Prescott College is also an Employer of National Service, which offers a full match of the Segal Education Award for past participants in service corps. Additionally, students can join a range of other service projects, including the Butte Creek Restoration Council, which works to restore the ecology of the small creek that bisects the campus.

Internships and Practica

Gaining hands-on experience is a critical component of a Prescott College education. Courses emphasize experiential learning, giving students opportunities to practice and develop new skills that will support them in their future careers. Students also gain valuable hands-on experience through internship opportunities as well as required practica for certain degree programs. Paid, credit-bearing internships are available across Pima and Yavapai Counties through Arizona Serve.

Senior Projects - The Bridge to What’s Next

All Prescott students complete a senior project to demonstrate their competence in their area of study. For many students, the senior project builds a bridge between college and what comes next, be that a career or graduate school. Some students have even used their projects to act as the early stages of development for businesses and nonprofits. For example, alumni Kado Stewart developed a camp for LGBTQ youth as a senior project and, in 2008, founded Camp OUTdoors. Camp OUTdoors was recently featured in the ground-breaking National Geographic Documentary, Gender Revolution, hosted by Katie Couric.

Making a Difference

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. And Kim Reynolds co-founded the dZi Foundation, which is dedicated to promoting the health, culture, and welfare of indigenous mountain communities.


Admissions Fall 2016

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

Admissions Factors

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    

Admissions Process

Prescott College utilizes a holistic admissions approach that encourages applicants to demonstrate their academic ability, intellectual curiosity, good citizenship, community involvement, and self-motivation to prepare them for a self-directed experience.

Each degree program requires:

  • An admissions application
  • An essay
  • Letter(s) of recommendation from an academic or professional sources
  • Resume for graduate programs only
  • Official high school and/or college transcripts
  • SAT or ACT test scores for first time students


Specific admissions requirements for the residency and limited residency or online programs can be found online.


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


Prescott College seeks to support every student’s success. Every student admitted into the college is considered for a diversity of scholarships based on considerations such as academic excellence, financial need, field of study, school activities, leadership, and community service. Specialized scholarships are offered in partnership with AmeriCorps, City Year, EcoLeague, National Merit Scholarship Corporation, NOLS, Phi Theta Kappa, and Graduate assistantships, fellowships, federal work study, and student employment opportunities are available.

A sampling of additional specialized Prescott College scholarships include:

The Arizona Opportunity scholarship provides a matching tuition rate that is comparable to in-state Arizona public universities.

The Freedom Education scholarship annually provides full-tuition aid to an undocumented student.

The Early Childhood Workforce scholarship supports students working in the early childhood education field in Arizona who wish to earn a Bachelor’s degree in Early Childhood Education, Early Childhood Special Education, or Early Childhood Management.

The Arizona Teaching Intern scholarship supports students to become certified to teach in Arizona.

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...