INDIANAPOLIS - Marian University has announced a joint venture with the Bard Prison Initiative. Through the Women’s College Partnership, 16 women at the Indiana Women’s Prison are now pursuing college degrees through Marian.

Admitted students at the maximum-security prison will be able to earn an Associate of Arts in liberal arts degree, followed by bachelor’s degrees, from Marian University while they are incarcerated.

Classes are taught at the prison by Marian University and visiting faculty, using the university's curriculum.

“At Marian University, increasing access to higher education is fundamental to our mission,” President Daniel Elsener said in a new release. “We are continually exploring ways to fill gaps in our community, whether it’s through improving healthcare for Hoosiers by opening a medical school or increasing access to higher education by starting a two-year college. Like the medical school and the two-year college, this partnership with Bard Prison Initiative and Indiana Department of Corrections is mission-driven. Through education, we can help these inmates by giving them the self-worth, confidence, skills and knowledge they need to become productive members of society.”

Both Marian and BPI say that the program will be expanded over time. The hope to add new cohorts of students, the possibility of additional institutional partnerships and more degree options over time.