Prescott College

Last updated
Prescott College
Former name
Prescott Center for Alternative Education
MottoFor the Liberal Arts, the Environment, and Social Justice
President John Flicker
Location, ,
United States

Prescott College is a private liberal arts college in Prescott, Arizona.

Private schools, also known to many as independent schools, non-governmental, privately funded, or non-state schools, are not administered by local, state or national governments. Children who attend private schools may be there because they are dissatisfied with public schools in their area. They may be selected for their academic prowess, or prowess in other fields, or sometimes their religious background. Private schools retain the right to select their students and are funded in whole or in part by charging their students for tuition, rather than relying on mandatory taxation through public (government) funding; at some private schools students may be able to get a scholarship, lowering this tuition fee, dependent on a student's talents or abilities, need for financial aid, or tax credit scholarships that might be available. Some private schools are associated with a particular religion, such as Judaism, Roman Catholicism, or Lutheranism. For the past century, roughly one in 10 U.S families has chosen to enroll their children in private school.

Liberal arts college college with an emphasis on undergraduate study in the liberal arts and sciences

A liberal arts college or liberal arts institution of higher education is a college with an emphasis on undergraduate study in the liberal arts and sciences. Such colleges aim to impart a broad general knowledge and develop general intellectual capacities, in contrast to a professional, vocational, or technical curriculum. Students in a liberal arts college generally major in a particular discipline while receiving exposure to a wide range of academic subjects, including sciences as well as the traditional humanities subjects taught as liberal arts. Although it draws on European antecedents, the liberal arts college is strongly associated with American higher education, and most liberal arts colleges around the world draw explicitly on the American model.

Prescott, Arizona City in Arizona, United States

Prescott is a city in Yavapai County, Arizona, United States. According to the 2010 Census, the population of the city is 39,843. The city is the county seat of Yavapai County. In 1864 Prescott was designated as the capital of the Arizona Territory, replacing the temporary capital at Fort Whipple. The Territorial Capital was moved to Tucson in 1867. Prescott again became the Territorial Capital in 1877, until Phoenix became the capital in 1889.



In 1965, the Ford Foundation brought together a group of educators from around the United States. Prescott College was the result of this gathering.

Ford Foundation private foundation based in New York City

The Ford Foundation is an American private foundation with the mission of advancing human welfare. Created in 1936 by Edsel Ford and Henry Ford, it was originally funded by a US$25,000 gift from Edsel Ford. By 1947, after the death of the two founders, the foundation owned 90% of the non-voting shares of the Ford Motor Company. Between 1955 and 1974, the foundation sold its Ford Motor Company holdings and now plays no role in the automobile company. Ahead of the foundation selling its Ford Motor Company holdings, in 1949 Henry Ford II created the Ford Motor Company Fund, a separate corporate foundation which to this day serves as the philanthropic arm of the Ford Motor Company and is not associated with the foundation. For years it was the largest, and one of the most influential foundations in the world, with global reach and special interests in economic empowerment, education, human rights, democracy, the creative arts, and Third World development.

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." [1]

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. 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, the Prescott College Art Gallery at Sam Hill Warehouse and the college also has a Tucson, Arizona location. [2]

Most of the current Prescott location buildings are recycled buildings 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 built from reclaimed timber, CORTEN steel, compressed earth with solar panels and rooftop gardens. It houses the Crossroads Cafe, classrooms, meeting facilities, the Fanon Center, the college library as well as computer labs. [2]


There are four general degree 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. [3]

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 main campus. Students enrolled in the Limited-Residency program work with community based mentors and Prescott College faculty. [4]

Prescott College was an early adopter of Prior Learning Assessment and in 2014 was certified as a Veteran Supportive Campus by the Arizona Department of Veterans Services. The college was the first private college in Arizona to receive such a designation. The college uses the system of narrative evaluation in addition to or as a substitute for the conventional grading system of A-F letter grades. [2]

Resident undergraduate degree program

Resident undergraduate students begin with a three-week orientation in 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 where students explore and are educated about their surrounding environment. [5]

Limited residency degree programs

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. [6]

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 and Humanities (AH), Education (EDU), Environmental Studies and Sustainability (ESS), Psychology and Counseling (PSC) or Cultural and Regional Studies (CRS). [7]

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. Some examples include: The creation of Butte Creek Restoration Council, HUB (helping understand bicycles), The Ripple Repeat Project (campus thrift store), The Latin American Studies Scholarship Endowment Fund, The Freedom of Education Fund, an internship relevant to a student's Competence, or a research paper. A student must rigorously justify the project as proof of competence in their field of study. [8]


Prescott College is accredited by The Higher Learning Commission of the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools and the Association for Experiential Education. [9]

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). [9]

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 and, since January 2014, Dickinson College in Carlisle, Pennsylvania.[1] The consortium is unique in that each college is in a different geographic area.

Prescott College is also a member of Center for International Environmental Law (CIEL), a public interest, not-for-profit environmental law firm founded in 1989 in the USA to strengthen international and comparative environmental law and policy around the world.

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.

From 2013 - 2016 Prescott College rented out one of its Village buildings to Embry-Riddle University.

In 2016 a student-led initiative resulted in the acquisition of the Frantz Fanon Community Strategy Center for use for student and community organizing and club meetings. Groups that currently meet in the Franz Fanon Community Strategy Center include the Queer Student Union, The Advocates for Responsible Sexual Culture, the Black Student Union, Mi Familia (a Latino and indigenous group), Yavapai County Planned Parenthood, and others. These clubs have successfully organized many events and demonstrations at Prescott College, and in the community. The Frantz Fanon Community Strategy Center also includes a zine library, a food pantry, a kitchen, and multiple classroom spaces. [10]

Prescott College Activists were also able to successfully institute a $30 semester fee to support the Freedom Education Fund scholarship for undocumented immigrants seeking to attend university. Prescott College President John Flicker has said of this project “I am proud that our students take on the role of scholar activists”. [11]

The College also has a Student Activity Center (SAC) which is used by a variety of individual students and clubs to hold meetings and interact. The space is also utilized for the Student Union Board (SUB meetings and includes a lounge area, kitchen area and the Max and Bessie Bakal Memorial Lounge and Library. [10]


Prescott College has a mountain biking team registered with USA Cycling that offers scholarships. Most athletics are intramural in general, since the college curriculum is centered on field-based immersion courses.

Notable alumni

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  11. "Prescott College Students Say Yes to Scholarship Fee for Undocumented Students". Latino USA. 2016-04-07. Retrieved 2016-05-03.