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18 women receive college degrees at Indiana Women’s Prison’s first graduation ceremony

The Chapel at Indiana Women's Prison. (Provided Photo/Indiana Women's Prison)

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — Eighteen incarcerated women received their college degrees Monday, becoming the first women to complete their degrees through The Women’s College Partnership at Indiana Women’s Prison.

The Women’s College Partnership, or WCP, is a collaboration between Marian University and the University of Notre Dame that offers a liberal arts education at Indiana Women’s Prison.

Thirteen of the women graduated with their Associate of Arts degrees and five received a Bachelor of Arts degree from Marian University.

WCP is a member of the Consortium for Liberal Arts in Prison, run by Bard Prison Initiative, or BPI. Notre Dame Programs for Education in Prison administers and supports the partnership, and Marian University confers degrees to participating students.

WCP launched in January 2019 and was the culmination of work begun in 2018 by BPI in partnership with Marian University and staff at Indiana Women’s Prison.

In July 2022, BPI transferred the day-to-day partnership with Marian University to the University of Notre Dame. Notre Dame, working alongside Holy Cross College, has been providing a quality liberal arts education to incarcerated students since 2012 through the Moreau College Initiative at Westville Correctional Facility.

The inaugural WCP class included 16 students. The 2023-2024 academic year will see 45 students attending credit-bearing courses to go toward their associate and bachelor’s degrees.

College credits and degrees are conferred by Marian University. Alumni and reentry support is also provided to WCP students. 

WCP’s headquarters is on the second floor of the Steffen Music Center on the campus of Marian University.

The ceremony was at 2 p.m. Monday at the chapel at Indiana Women’s Prison.

WCP did not release the names of the graduates ahead of the scheduled graduation.