The UPEP application process consists of two components: an application form and an essay. To be considered for UPEP, both the application form and the essay should be complete and submitted to a UPEP staff member.

Following successful completion of the application process, a multidisciplinary panel of faculty will review all applications. Applicants who are selected during this process will be enrolled in UPEP. At this time, admission to UPEP is not admission to the University of Utah. We are working to streamline this admissions process. UPEP will work with admitted students to retrieve postsecondary transcripts, which are required for admission to the University of Utah.


Application Form

The application form consists of several questions related to the background of the applicant. If applicants are unable to answer a question, they may leave the question blank.


Accessibility Statement

UPEP is committed to educational equity. As such, we are committed to providing reasonable accommodations as outlined by Federal and State law. If you will need accommodations to participate in UPEP, reasonable prior notice needs to be given to me, UPEP Director. Together, we will work with you and the Center for Disability & Access at the University of Utah to make arrangements for reasonable accommodations inside the prison.

For An Application, Send Inquiries to:

University of Utah Prison Education Project

c/o Erin L. Castro, Co-Director

1721 Campus Center Drive, SAEC 2222

Salt Lake City, 84112 801-585-1378


Eligibility Requirements:


UPEP seeks to engage with incarcerated individuals who are committed to furthering their own education and are able to allocate at least 9 hours per week per class (3 hours in class, 6 hours outside of class). Accepted students will not be held financially responsible for their education. Admitted students should be highly committed to UPEP, furthering their own education, and improving their world.

Criteria for admission to UPEP

Admission to the program is based on merit and must include the following:

  • High school diploma or GED.
  • Successful completion of essay and admission form reviewed by the admission committee and evaluated on the basis of merit, educational experience, potential, and purpose for pursuing the program.
  • Demonstrated commitment to leadership.
  • Meet behavioral standards established by UDC for participation in postsecondary education programming.

Additionally, we strongly encourage applicants to consider requirements for admission to the University of Utah:

  • Requirements for non-matriculated transfer students include: must have 30 hours of completed and transferable postsecondary coursework OR have an Associates or Bachelors degree OR successfully complete the general studies certificate through Salt Lake Community College OR an active ACT score. In each case, applicants must have at least a 2.6 GPA.
  • Accepted students who do not have 30 hours of transferable college coursework will work with UPEP to achieve an ACT score that meets the entrance requirements of the University of Utah.

Completion of Salt Lake Community College core curriculum during incarceration may help applicants become prepared for UPEP.


Enrollment FAQ:


UPEP is FREE. There are no costs for incarcerated students associated with participation in UPEP. All classes and materials are free of charge thanks to private donations.

At this time, no. UPEP is a university affiliated program.

At this time, no. We are actively fundraising to cover the costs associated with university enrollment.

No. Current non-credit UPEP courses will not count as for-credit courses at the University.

At this time, no. However, this is an important goal. Once UPEP has sufficient funding, incarcerated students will be enrolled as undergraduate students at the University of Utah and will have official transcripts.

No. However, UPEP will work with you to obtain your transcripts from previous institutions.

At this time, incarcerated people are ineligible to receive federal financial aid during incarceration.

For purposes of accessing resources from the University (e.g., library), Yes. Individuals incarcerated in Utah are considered residents of the state for the duration of their sentence.

No. At this time, all courses are taught face-to-face in the prison by University of Utah faculty and occasionally, advanced graduate students. Face-to-face instruction will remain a central aspect of UPEP.

UPEP will provide diverse course offerings, from the sciences to liberal arts, and seeks to work with each college on the main campus to provide curriculum.

UPEP students will have access to the University of Utah library and select resources, such as tutoring, academic advising, and consultation with the Center for Disability and Access. We are currently building a computer lab.

The UPEP admissions committee is comprised of individuals affiliated with the University of Utah and takes a holistic approach when reviewing applications. A rubric is used that places emphasis on the following:

  • Leadership
  • Community engagement
  • Reason for wanting to participate in UPEP
  • Critical thinking skills
  • Technical writing skills

Students should expect to allocate at least 6 hours of study time per 3-hour class. In addition to 3 hours of class time, students are also expected to attend 3 hours of resource room.

Attendance and grades are submitted to UDC and entered into O-track.

Depends. There are a number of things to consider:

  • Credits must be earned from a regionally accredited institution.
  • If the credits were earned many years ago (e.g., pre-1980), there may be additional course requirements.
  • Associates of Arts/Sciences degrees from a regionally accredited institution are transferrable. Students need a minimum 2.6 GPA.
  • Applied Associates degrees are generally not transferrable. If general education hours were part of the curriculum, some of those courses may be transferrable.

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