Graduates from Mercyhurst’s School of Social Sciences are known to attend graduate schools across the country, but perhaps more will be likely to stay closer to Mercyhurst College in the coming years.
The Dean of the School of Social Sciences and Professor of Political Science Randy S. Clemons, Ph.D., has solidified a new partnership with the Graduate School of Public and International Affairs at the University Pittsburgh (GSPIA).
After initiating talks in the 2011-12 academic year, an official agreement was reached that allows Mercyhurst students in their junior year to apply to a program within GSPIA and receive notification of their acceptance before the start of fall term their senior year.
This new program, designed for qualified undergraduates with a minimum GPA of 3.5 or higher, is a way for Mercyhurst juniors to secure a seat in a top ranking graduate program before their senior year.
Of the new early assurance agreement, Clemons indicated that the tradition of large numbers of Mercyhurst students enrolling in a program within GSPIA was a large factor in wanting to pursue a relationship with Pitt.
“Mercyhurst has been one of their top feeder programs in the last decade,” said Clemons. “I would safely estimate that we are one of their top five in terms of numbers of students who attend and succeed in their program and the first school nationwide to set up such an agreement with GSPIA.”
Students looking to apply have the benefit of having a spot held for them in a top ranking graduate program, a process which is traditionally very competitive.
“GSPIA is a top-tier program with many different academic tracks students may pursue,” Clemons said.
Students choosing to apply to GSPIA have the option to enroll in security and intelligence studies, human security, global political economy, public and nonprofit management, urban and regional affairs, policy research and analysis, development planning and environmental sustainability, nongovernmental organizations.
Mercyhurst College’s Class of 2013 will be the first class to benefit from this arrangement, which has been in the works since last spring, with the official agreement between the two schools being signed this past fall.
Associate Director of Student Services of the University of Pittsburgh, Michael Rizzi, addressed a group of political science students during fall term, briefing them on the new changes.
Clemons anticipates Rizzi will return to campus in the spring to talk to current juniors well before the July 15 application deadline.
Students seem to appreciate this new opportunity.
“The new partnership with GSPIA at Pitt is a great opportunity for Mercyhurst students interested in public and international affairs to apply for early entry into one of the country’s top programs within the field, with the added bonus of at least a $5,000 scholarship,” said senior Christopher Kelly.
“Trust me, knowing where you will be attending graduate school by the beginning of senior year will make it a much more enjoyable experience because the alternative involves a year filled with an onslaught of fees, the GRE, applications, among other things.”
Sophomore Katie Harvey agreed.
“I think this would be a great opportunity for Mercyhurst students to get a jump start on plans for their future. Early admission would help lessen the strain for senior year and also help students who are ahead of the game,” she said.
Junior Lucas Sageot said, “It would definitely be helpful, as Pitt is a good graduate school for most of the social sciences, and I feel it would be an incentive for students to become graduate students. This partnership could also grow.”
Junior Pj Dolak commented on the competitiveness of graduate schools and how this partnership will help students in that regard.
“I think that it’s a fantastic partnership that will only further enhance the scholarly careers of our students and really help those of us in the Mercyhurst social sciences have an upper edge in the incredibly competitive scramble for grad school admissions,” he said.
“With the school soon transitioning to a university, this will only give more weight to our credibility and help to ensure our students are making a great impact outside the walls of Mercyhurst,” Dolak said.
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