The Washington University Prison Education Project (PEP) is a competitive liberal arts degree program offered at the Missouri Eastern Correctional Center in Pacific, MO, available to incarcerated students and prison staff. Our aim is to bring Washington University’s intellectual rigor and educational standards to our students in the prison. We offer semester-long college courses, short-term workshops and individual tutoring for incarcerated and staff students. PEP is a fully accredited program, currently granting the Associate’s Degree in Liberal Arts. We also hope to reach incarcerated individuals at MECC who are not PEP students by offering reading groups, lectures, and other intellectual opportunities to enhance their quality of life and encourage them to continue their education, through PEP or elsewhere.

Associate in Arts Degree

The Associate in Arts degree (A.A.) provides a framework for understanding the disciplines and skills of a liberal arts degree, a foundation for further study at the bachelor’s degree level, and an initial academic credential required for career advancement. The degree is awarded to students who successfully complete the equivalent of two years of undergraduate study.

The courses completed for the degree count toward all Bachelor of Science degree programs at University College. Students preparing for a career in nursing are encouraged to meet with an advisor to select courses that meet admission requirements for Bachelor of Science nursing degree programs.

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“I hope that one day we can fall back on what we know and what we have learned and use it to go above and beyond the ordinary and be expected to make a difference in the world.”
– Jimar, Convocation 2018


The intellectual lives of the students at the Missouri Eastern Correctional Center flourish both inside and outside the classroom walls.  Students take courses taught by faculty from across Washington University in St. Louis’ College of Arts & Sciences.  Drawn from a number of disciplines, past courses have dealt with topics ranging from Japanese civilization to psychology, from Global Energy to Classical literature.  

Outside the classroom, students participate in programs such as Chess Club, Reading Group and more.