Date of Award

Spring 5-2013

Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Science in Education (MSEd)


Education and Human Development

First Advisor

Jie Zhang


The purpose of this research synthesis was to determine the effect that academic education programs have on recidivism rates. The purpose of American correctional facilities is to correct the behavior of convicted felons so that they do not return to criminal activities after they are released. Billions of dollars are spent by state and federal correction departments each year to do this. Academic and vocational education, religious, counseling, substance abuse and drug treatment, anger management, and parenting skills are just some of the prominent programs offered to offenders to help them return to society as responsible citizens. Twenty-one peer-reviewed journal articles from the existing literature were analyzed in this study. They included pre-admission statistics, in-prison programming, and post-release outcomes. This research synthesis confirms that not only does academic education reduce recidivism, but it does so more effectively than all other programs. Academic education has the most significant effect on younger, less educated, first time offenders convicted of property or drug related crimes. Therefore, such programs should be designed to give these offenders every opportunity to earn their GED.