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Prescott College

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Prescott College

Prescott College
Prescott College campus photographed 2005
Motto For the Liberal Arts, the Environment and Social Justice
Established 1966
Type Private
Endowment US $4.6 Million
President Dr. John VanDomelen
Undergraduates 700 Undergraduates--500 Resident
Location Prescott, Arizona, USA
Affiliations Eco League, CIEL, AASHE, ACUPCC

Prescott College is a [1]

There are four general degree/delivery model programs at Prescott College: the Resident Undergraduate Program (RU), Limited-Residency Undergraduate Program (LRU), the Resident Masters and Limited-Residency Masters Program (RM/LRM), and a Limited-Residency Ph.D. program (PhD) in Sustainability Education.[2]

Within the resident undergraduate program, students can earn a Bachelor of Arts, a Bachelor of Science in Environmental Studies, or a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Creative Writing, Visual Arts or Interdisciplinary Arts & Letters.

Resident students live in Prescott and attend classes at the college itself. Those enrolled in the Limited-Residency program work with various mentors and Prescott College faculty. PC was an early adopter of Prior Learning Assessment and in 2014 was certified a Veteran Supportive Campus by the Arizona Department of Veterans Services—the first private college in AZ to receive such a designation. Regularly ranked a top college by US News, Princeton Review, Huffington Post, Sierra Club, Winds of Change Magazine, and, a top college for classroom discussion.

Student life

In fall 2012, the college completed a $7.4M on-campus sustainable housing project, the Village, to accommodate up to 104 first-year students. The Village is a LEED™ Platinum certified facility that consists of 13 new multi-story townhome style apartment units, for up to eight students in each three-level unit. Most other students reside in nearby apartments, condos, and houses. Housing is widely available in the town. Besides a multitude of on-campus activities and programs, students engage in the vibrant and historic community of Prescott which is a major resort and tourist center located in the central highlands of Arizona—1 hour and 30 minutes from Phoenix (easy shuttle service from Sky Harbor Airport) and 2 hours from the Grand Canyon. Surrounded by gorgeous mountains, forests and deserts including the 1.25 Million acre Prescott National Forest, the Granite Dells, Granite Mountain Wilderness Area and 45 minutes to Sedona and embedded just two blocks from an energy-packed downtown with a wide-variety of restaurants, bars and shopping.

Resident Undergraduate Degree Program

Resident Undergraduate students begin with a three-week orientation into Arizona's wilderness, known as wilderness orientation. In their first week, students are introduced to the college and gather supplies before being sent out in groups of 7-14 people, depending on the size of the incoming class. The average distance covered varies from 50–100 miles. There are also options for a community based orientation and a health based orientation.

Limited Residency Degree Programs: Undergraduate/Masters/PhD

Students may also choose the limited residency program which allows one to attend a colloquium (or series of such) on campus once a year, work with a primary faculty adviser and a mentor(s) who is usually based in the student's home community. This allows for the student to study from home in a community based setting. Programs are offered for the bachelor's degree, the master's degree and even a Ph.D using this limited residency model.

Degree Plan

Students design a degree plan by the beginning of their junior year. Prescott College students fulfill basic requirements (such as math and writing) and then design their Competence (like a major) and Breadth (like a minor). The degree plan is submitted to the student's Individual Graduation Committee (IGC) for review. The IGC consists of at least one faculty member, and another faculty member and a student if desired. The committee will then edit and suggest classes that are needed to enhance and complete the Competence and Breadth.

A student's course of study will fall under one of the following: Adventure Education (AE), Arts, Letters and Languages (ALL), Education (EDU), Environmental Studies and Sustainability (ESS), Psychology and Counseling (PSC) or Global Studies(GS).

Some examples of student degree plans would be: "Environmental Studies with a competence in Ecology and a breadth in Chemistry" or "Global Studies with a competence in Latin American Cultures and a breadth in Psychology".

Resident Undergraduate Senior Project

To graduate from the college, each student must design and complete a senior project. Writing Certification III and a student's degree plan must be on-file for a student to apply for their senior project. Students apply for the project during the semester before they plan to undertake it.

Some examples include: HUB (helping understand bicycles), The Ripple Repeat Project (campus thrift store), The Latin American Studies Scholarship Endowment Fund, an internship relevant to a student's Competence, or even a research paper. A student must rigorously justify the project as proof of competence in their field of study.


In 1965, the Ford Foundation brought together a group of educators from around the United States and challenged them to create an ideal college for the future— a college that would use the very best learning theories to prepare students for their place in an ever-changing world. Prescott College was the result of this gathering.

The college was originally built in 1966 on 200 acres (0.81 km2) outside of Prescott, Arizona. In 1974, despite dedicated faculty and students, the college went bankrupt due to poor fiscal management and the loss of anticipated donor funds. A core of determined faculty and students refused to see the college fold, and after a series of emergency meetings, formed the Prescott Center for Alternative Education. This earned the school national publicity as "The College That Wouldn't Die."

During the spring semester of 1975, classes were held in the basement of the historic Hassayampa Hotel in downtown Prescott, Arizona, as well as in the homes of both faculty and students. Over the succeeding years, the college was able to once again obtain the legal right to the name Prescott College and began acquiring the property and buildings which constitute the current main campus, since then, the college had flourished and has become a national leader in Sustainability (offering a limited -residency PhD in the subject, adventure education, agroecology, counseling psychology, equine assisted mental health, the humanities and the arts and has lived up to its motto: For the Liberal Arts, the Environment and Social Justice. Prescott College has an agroecology program that uses Jenner Farm, an international center in Kino Bay, Mexico, programs in regenerative design in partnership with the Ecosa Institute, a Natural History Institute, the Prescott College Art Gallery at Sam Hill Warehouse and the college also has a Tucson, Arizona location.

Most of the current Prescott location buildings are recycled as part of the college's sustainability mission and have been converted to classrooms from their previous purposes (e.g., furniture stores and dental offices). The Village residence hall is a townhouse style houses groups of 7-8 students per unit with shared common areas. The Crossroads Center, is a model of environmental design built from reclaimed timber, CORTEN steel, compressed earth with solar panels and rooftop gardens. It houses the Crossroads Cafe, classrooms, meeting facilities, and the college library as well as computer labs. Below are pictures of the building:

Southern Portion


Prescott College is accredited by The Higher Learning Commission of the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools and the Association for Experiential Education.

The college's Teacher Education Program is approved by the Arizona State Board of Education and the National Association of State Directors of Teacher Education and Certification (NASDTEC).


Although the school is best known for environmental studies programs like Agroecology, Conservation Biology, Earth Science, Ecological Design, Environmental Policy, Geography, Human Ecology, Marine Studies, Natural History and Ecology, and Environmental Education, there are also programs in Adventure Education, Outdoor Experiential Education, Wilderness Leadership, Adventure-Based Environmental Education, Outdoor Program Administration, Adventure-Based Tourism, Cultural and Regional Studies, Religion and Philosophy, Sustainability Education, Peace Studies, Political Economy, Latin American Studies, Spanish Language and Literature, International Studies, Women’s Studies, Human Development, Education, Elementary and Secondary Teacher Certification, School Counseling (M.A. & Post-Graduate Certification), Writing and Literature, Performing Arts, Photography, Creative Writing, Visual Arts, Psychology, Counseling Psychology, Therapeutic Use of Adventure Education, Ecopsychology, and Equine Assisted Mental Health.

The College recently signed an agreement to take on the Prescott-based Ecosa Institute as a sponsored program. The Ecosa Institute is dedicated to whole systems design education and bringing human beings into better relationship with nature through architecture, landscaping, community planning, and product design. Ecosa provides strong sustainable design name recognition, unique “immersion semester” curriculum, and staff expertise in design. Prescott College provides administrative services, academic accreditation, and financial assistance for degree seeking students. The Ecosa Regenerative Ecological Design program is now available to Prescott College students as a part of the regular curricula overseen by the faculty of the College.

Prescott College Consortium Relationships

Prescott College has stand-alone student exchange relationships with Telemark University College in Norway, the Ecosa Institute in Prescott, the SOS Conservation Project, and Sail Caribbean, that permit students to study as visitors at other institutions while maintaining enrollment and paying tuition to Prescott.

Prescott College is a member of the Eco League, a five-college consortium of colleges with environmental studies programs: Alaska Pacific University, Green Mountain College, Northland College, and College of the Atlantic. PC is also a member of CIEL.


Prescott College has a mountain biking team registered with USA Cycling and offering scholarships. Most athletics are intramural in general, since the college curriculum is centered on field based immersion courses and most students spend time in the surrounding environment running, hiking, biking, rock climbing, etc.

Notable alumni


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External links

  • Prescott College website
  • Prescott College in the Princeton Review
  • US News and World Report
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