Regis University to offer virtual college courses to prisoners, on-campus students

Starting in 2022, Regis University will offer prisoners in four Colorado correctional facilities the opportunity to earn college credit in video-linked remote classrooms alongside on-campus students.

The Regis University Virtual Inside/Out Program is being launched by the University’s School for Professional Advancement in cooperation with the Colorado Department of Corrections. The program will consist of five liberal arts courses offered one at a time in accelerated eight-week terms, which allows prisoners to earn 18 credits toward a bachelor of arts degree in one year.

Courses, to be taught by various Regis University instructors, include Writing Composition, Introduction to Philosophy, and Leading Lives that Matter. Each new group of incarcerated students begins with a course that reviews basic academic skills.

Bryan Hall, Ph.D., dean of the School for Professional Advancement and a philosophy professor, said the program benefits Regis students as well as prisoners. Both groups of students will benefit from the different perspectives and lived experiences, he said. Virtually mingling incarcerated and non-incarcerated students “creates a radically diverse and powerful learning experience” for both groups, he said.

Classes will be offered to a total of 18 prisoners each year at four locations: Buena Vista Correctional Complex; Colorado Territorial Correctional Facility, a medium-security prison in Canon City; La Vista Correctional Facility, which houses female prisoners, and Sterling Correctional Facility on the Eastern Plains, the state’s largest prison. The inside students, who will be approved for participation by prison officials, will be in classrooms outfitted with big screen televisions and technology-enhanced cameras. Seven Regis students will be in classrooms on the Northwest Denver campus.

“There is no more powerful tool in the toolbox for fighting recidivism than education,” Hall said.

According to a study by the U.S. Department of Justice and the RAND Corp., some 700,000 prisoners are released each year in the United States; of those, more than half will have returned to prison three years later. But, those who participated in a prison education program had 43 percent lower odds of returning to prison than inmates who did not.

Initially, Virtual Inside/Out will be funded by the University. Hall said Regis hopes to secure Pell Grant funding for the program as well as philanthropic support in the future.

He said he is excited about the program, which he said embodies Regis’ Jesuit values. "This program resonates with the university’s mission to build a more just and humane world at the frontiers of culture."


Established in 1877, Regis University is a premier, globally engaged institution of higher learning in the Jesuit Catholic tradition that prepares leaders to live productive lives of faith, meaning and service. Regis University, one of 27 Jesuit universities in the nation, has three campus locations in the Denver metro area and extensive online program offerings with more than 8,000 enrolled students. For more information, visit