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. 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. They 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’s 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.
Get to know Prescott College
- Literary magazine
- Student government
- First-Year Seminars and Experiences
- Common Intellectual Experiences
- Learning Communities
- Writing-Intensive Courses
- Collaborative Assignments and Projects
- Undergraduate Research
- Diversity/Global Learning
- Service-Learning, Community-Based Learning
- Capstone Courses and Projects/Senior Experience
- Career Services
- Writing Center
- Academic Advisors
- Library Services
- Faculty Mentors
- Disability Services
- Multicultural Engagement Center
- Academic Tutors
- Financial Aid Advisors
- Student Success Initiative
- Veteran Services
- Peer Mentors
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. Others choose to enroll in Community-Based Orientation, which is carried out as a set of multiple mini-expeditions to explore 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, but most students opt to receive a grade and a narrative evaluation of their academic progress. The narrative evaluation allows students to identify their own learning objectives for each course in collaboration with faculty. 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.
“The way learning is approached at Prescott College is so empowering. The trust and confidence the program placed in me, as a scholar, made me feel that much more confident in my own abilities to set my own course and direct my own process.” – Margaret Garvey, Alumna
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 engage in community-based experiential courses. For example, they 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 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 Dopoi 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—they 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 periodic visits to campus.
The number of sections of each class size.
2-9: 45 | 10-19: 38 | 20-29: 1
30-39: 1 | 40-49: 0 | 50-99: 1 | 100+: 0
ENROLLMENT BY ETHNICITY
Nonresident aliens: 1%
Black or African American, non-Hispanic: 3%
White, non-Hispanic: 60%
American Indian or Alaska Native, non-Hispanic: 3%
Asian, non-Hispanic: 1%
Native Hawaiian or other Pacific Islander, non-Hispanic: 1%
Two or more races, non-Hispanic: 11%
Race and/or ethnicity unknown: 13%
“The faculty do this amazing balance of being supportive, being there, offering feedback, but also being very intentional in standing back and letting us craft and explore and assess our own ideas.” – Andrew Bernier, Prescott Alum
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.
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 they 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.
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, including 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.
SPECIAL STUDY OPTIONS
Programs available at this institution.
Cooperative education program
Exchange student program (domestic)
Liberal arts/career combination
Teacher certification program
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 student who wants 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 the community has led to the development of a digital video and audio recording lab.
“I think the community here at Prescott College is one that will let you be you and not make you feel bad for being you. They won’t make you feel different for being you.” – Ernesto Mireles, student
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 café 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 symposia 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.
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.
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 as well as 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.
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.
Percent of students living on campus.
First-time, first-year (freshman) students: 87%
Campus housing options.
Special housing for disabled students
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 accepts 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 the Pima and Yavapai Counties through Arizona Serve.
SENIOR PROJECTS – THE BRIDGE TO WHAT’S NEXT
All Prescott students complete a senior project to demonstrate 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 groundbreaking 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.
“I had a very special experience at Prescott. My professors helped shaped my way of thinking about history, government, and the role of the United States in the world… I’m very proud to be an alumnus.” – Tom Udall, United States Senator
Regular admission: Aug. 15
Priority admission: Jan. 1
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 source
- A résumé (for graduate programs only)
- Official high school and/or college transcripts
Application Essay | Recommendation(s) | Extracurricular activities
Academic GPA | Interview | Character/personal qualities
First generation | Volunteer work
Work experience | Level of applicant’s interest
Rigor of secondary school record | Standardized test scores | Talent/ability
Tuition & Cost
If they apply by the priority dates listed on the school’s website, Prescott College students are eligible for the Changemaker Scholarship, which are renewable grants of between $3,000 and $16,000 (grant size varies with the program).
Prescott College seeks to support every student’s success, so all are considered for a range of scholarships based on such considerations as academic excellence, financial need, field of study, school activities, leadership, and community service.
Graduate assistantships, fellowships, federal work-study, and student employment opportunities are available.
Here is a sampling of other Prescott College scholarships:
- 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.
What Others are Saying
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