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Master of Professional Studies
(Offered in Sing Sing Correctional Facility 1)
PLEASE NOTE: The Seminary discontinued offering the Master of Professional Studies (MPS) in other areas of ministry studies in 2011.
The Masters of Professional Studies Program (MPS) at Sing-Sing Correctional Facility
The Masters of Professional Studies Program (MPS) of New York Theological Seminary started in 1982 and it remains the only accredited Graduate Degree Program in the United States serving convicted felons. Since its inception it has graduated more than 400 students. Housed at Sing-Sing Correctional Facility, a maximum security prison, the MPS program provides a one year course held in the Chapel classroom, drawing applicants with Bachelor’s degrees from Sing-Sing and other correctional facilities in New York State. Prospective students may apply throughout the year, must undergo rigorous screening by the Program Director with an admissions’ committee; those accepted from other facilities in New York State are transferred to Sing-Sing for the duration of the program.
The MPS is funded by private donations and administered by New York Theological Seminary. The MPS program runs in close partnership with the Department of Corrections and the Sing-Sing’s Correctional facility. In addition, churches in the tri-state area (New York, New Jersey and Connecticut) partner with the NYTS to enact restorative justice programs in the lives of MPS graduates and serving as communities for the re-entry of newly released graduates.
Students and Miracles: The program accepts a maximum of 15 students per academic year, though the actual number fluxuates between 12 to 18. During any given semester, some students are up for parole. There are disappointments, but MPS faculty is there for them and hope is never far off. For the academic year 2018-2019, for instance, 14 students were initially enrolled, but two suddenly vanished during the first semester: one man achieved parole, and another was granted clemency by Governor Cuomo. The class beamed. Miracles do happen in prison. Graduates have gone on to earn Ph.D. and D. Min. degrees, work in non-profit counseling and prison advocacy and reentry organizations. Those who remain incarcerated may serve as assistant chaplains in mental health programs, and can generate projects in education, community building and spiritual life.
Envisioning the Future: Enlarging the Tent of MPS and Joining the Global Family of Prison Ministries
A growing concern for women has inspired NYTS leadership to start up the MPS program in a women’s correctional facility. Discussions are underway to see where and how MPS may embolden and challenge women incarcerated to change the course of their lives and attain both personal self-respect and professional competence within and beyond life in prison.
Incarceration is a global issue, and NYTS has been invited to participate in the 14th annual United Nations Congress on Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice next April in Kyoto, Japan. The NYTS delegation will be joining with professors and scholars on criminal justice, government officials, intergovernmental agencies and NGO’s to share in common concerns but finding ways to question the effectiveness and humaneness of criminal justice systems and incarceration itself.
Welcome to our world, the MPS world of restorative justice through education.
Dr. Jill Schaeffer, Interim Director, MPS Program, Sing Sing Correctional Facility
* On December 31, Governor Cuomo pardoned 29 offenders and commutated the sentences of seven others, of whom 2 were graduates and one was a current student of the MPS program.
This documentary above is of NYTS MPS Graduate Gregory Frederick
 Delivery of the MPS in Sing Sing is an approved exception to Commission on Accrediting Degree Program Standard B, section B.3 .2.1.