The certificate in Prison Studies can be earned within the residential M.Div. program and provides students with the opportunity to engage specifically with people in prison and the system that imprisons them in the context of theological education and formation for ministry.

Students in the certificate program take a course on restorative justice and an additional prison studies elective. They also participate in a Project TURN course taught on-site in a local prison and complete a field education placement in a prison setting, a local church doing prison ministry, or a non-profit organization that works with incarcerated persons. In addition, students join a designated prison-oriented spiritual formation group or they can petition to complete an approved research project.

Beyond the certificate program, the program in Prison Studies also brings speakers to the Divinity School to address issues related to justice and prison ministry within the larger community. Student groups focused on prison ministry and justice also host regular events, including panel discussions and screenings of documentaries on justice issues.

Requirements for the Certificate in Prison Studies

Normally, the requirements for the certificate are:

  • PARISH 809: “Restorative Justice: Prison Ministry and the Local Church”
  • Participation in a Project TURN course taught on-site in a local prison. These classes are accredited by Duke Divinity School, primarily taught by Divinity School faculty, and can be found in the Divinity School course offerings.
  • Completion of one further course addressing relevant questions of justice, atonement, race, gender, conflict, ministry, etc., and approved by the director (courses designated as "Prison Studies Electives"). An appropriate directed study approved by the certificate director may be substituted for this requirement  
  • Completion of a suitable field education placement where you are placed either within a prison setting, a local church doing prison ministry, or a non-profit working with incarcerated persons.
  • Participation in a designated prison-oriented spiritual formation group, or, on petition, completion of an approved research project.

Forms and information for current students »

For more information contact:
Douglas Campbell
Professor of New Testament and Director of Prison Studies
(919) 660-3465

Requirements for the Certificate of Achievement in Theological Education

The Certificate of Achievement in Theological Education is offered to incarcerated people who complete eight Project TURN Duke Divinity courses offered on-site at local prisons. The certificate is currently available at North Carolina Correctional Institution for Women in Raleigh, N.C. and the Federal Correctional Institution II in Butner, N.C. One course per semester is offered at each of these prisons. The certificate takes a minimum of four years to earn.

Certificates are awarded at Duke Divinity School’s Closing Convocation for those people able to attend and can be alternately awarded at the local prisons for those who are not permitted to attend off-site functions.