Mercyhurst University was founded by the Sisters of Mercy, an order of nuns that started in Ireland with a commitment to the safety and education of women and children. While Mercyhurst began admitting students in 1926, it was chartered by the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania in 1928, arguing that the sisters themselves were the college’s endowment. Mercyhurst has made good on that promise in its nine decades, building a campus recognized as one of the most beautiful in the north – a steep competition, considering – and a reputation for academic excellence. Today Mercyhurst is ranked one of U.S. News & World Report’s top 50 regional colleges for the North, as well as a Money magazine best value.
Academic ProgramsMercyhurst University is a definitive Catholic liberal arts colleges, steeped in Catholic faith and commitment to the traditional humanities and sciences. In the Sisters of Mercy tradition, Mercyhurst emphasizes not only academic rigor, but social responsibility, inclusiveness, and service. All undergraduate students develop a strong, well-rounded grounding in the liberal arts curriculum, and undergraduate research is an essential part of the curriculum in every discipline and school. All students must complete a capstone project to graduate, developing a self-directed research project.
Mercyhurst reached university status in 2012, and now includes a small but growing body of graduate students. Students can choose from 9 graduate degrees along with more than 50 undergraduate programs, and Mercyhurst has developed an extensive set of 4+1 programs that allow students to earn a bachelor’s and master’s degree in only 5 years. Options include combining any major with Data Science or Organizational Leadership, as well as 4+1 Criminal Justice, Special Education, and Secondary Education plans.
Student LifeWhile Mercyhurst was founded as a women’s school by the Sisters of Mercy, today it is a thriving coed university with a 45% male student body. The main campus is set on the highest point in Erie, PA, which overlooks Lake Erie, fulfilling the founders’ dream of a college near water and on a hill. Now, that location gives students access to outdoor recreation and scenic beauty. Around 40% of students are Catholic, and they come from nearly every state and from around the world; Mercyhurst has one of the highest proportions of international students of any college in the nation. With its Sisters of Mercy heritage, Mercyhurst puts a priority on service, including community service, the Learning Differences Program, and the Autism Initiative, one of the most influential resources for disability and autism support. Mercyhurst has been named to the President’s Higher Education Community Service Honor Roll multiple years.
Student life at Mercyhurst includes dozens of student-led organizations, clubs, and groups, from honor societies to recreation. The Mercyhurst Lakers compete in 22 NCAA Division II Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference, as well as three Division I sports (men’s and women’s ice hockey, and men’s rowing). As much as 15% of the student body participates in sports at the varsity level; many others take part in recreational clubs from badminton to rugby.