Graduate School of Public and International Affairs (GSPIA)

GSPIA is one of the top professional schools for master’s and doctorate degrees in Public and International Affairs, International Development and Public Administration. Mercyhurst is proud to have the first — and at the time only — such agreement with GSPIA based in part on the significant number of highly qualified Mercyhurst grads who have enrolled in the program over the years.

Qualified Mercyhurst undergraduates may apply to receive conditional admission to the Graduate School of Public & International Affairs (GSPIA) at the University of Pittsburgh. Early Assurance not only reserves you a spot within this prestigious program as early as your junior year—it also ensures you’ll receive a merit scholarship of at least $5,000 per year. GSPIA also awards scholarships, which are subject to renewal requirements, at higher levels at their discretion.

To read about the experiences of Mercyhurst/GSPIA grads, check out the profiles below:

Rizzi-MMichael T. Rizzi
Associate Director of Student Services,
Graduate School of Public & International Affairs
University of Pittsburgh

There’s no doubt about it: GSPIA professors think very highly of Mercyhurst students.

“There is a long history of Mercyhurst alumni enrolling, and more importantly, performing well atGSPIA,” said Professor Rizzi. “As I read applications to our master’s or doctoral programs, I can tell when I’m reviewing a Mercyhurst graduate within the first 10 seconds. Their resumes are always polished, their writing is outstanding and they are consistently some of the best applicants we receive. “

Professor Rizzi added that Mercyhurst has generated more applicants to GSPIA than almost any other college or university in Pennsylvania over the past five years.

“The fact that a private university in Erie can produce so many high-quality students is enough to make graduate schools like ours sit up and take notice,” he said. “When we wanted to establish a relationship with a top undergraduate program, Mercyhurst was by far the most obvious first choice.”

Melissa-KMelissa Kirwin
Mercyhurst, Class of 2011
GSPIA, Class of 2013

Melissa Kirwin had plenty of options as an undergrad considering where to pursue a master’s degree in public and international affairs. After all, the political science and English double major graduated with a perfect 4.0 GPA and took home the prestigious President’s Award for Excellence for the School of Social Sciences.

Though she certainly worked hard at Mercyhurst, she said she found it easy to do well at a school and within a program that she truly enjoyed.

“My favorite part of my Mercyhurst experience was my professors,” she said. “The classes are small, which gives you easy access to faculty who are always willing to help you.”

In the end, she chose GSPIA for its respected reputation in the field and the school’s decision to award her a general scholarship. Now at Pitt, Melissa is learning how to participate in and shape world policy so that she can someday work as a government analyst.

Though challenging, Melissa reports she is succeeding. “I feel my preparation at Mercyhurst was above and beyond that of many of my peers.”

Corso-KKirstie Corso
Mercyhurst, Class of 2009
GSPIA, Class of 2011

Kirstie Corso remembers her Mercyhurst experience as being accommodating enough to let her pursue a double major in political science and dance, while also challenging enough to succeed in GSPIA’s well-respected master’s degree in public and international affairs.

“Just like in grad school, Mercyhurst taught me how to handle a high level of reading and to think through a process rather than simply regurgitate information,” she said.

Kirstie chose GSPIA based on its many years being a leader in the field, the multitude of “intelligent, well-published professors” she’d have the opportunity to learn from, and the wide variety of certifications and regional studies available.

After graduating from GSPIA, Kirstie decided to pursue her passion for dance by joining Bodiography Contemporary Ballet in Pittsburgh. One day she plans to return to the field in which both Mercyhurst and Pitt prepared her to succeed.

“It’s my dream to help adjust our public policy.”

Tony D’Abruzzo
Mercyhurst, Class of 2003
GSPIA, Class of 2007

After carefully researching graduate schools that offered graduate degrees in public administration, Tony confidently narrowed his list down to one. 

“GSPIA had many things I really liked, such as its emphasis on policy analysis and its strength in statistics and economics,” he said.

Though the program was rigorous, Tony said his political science degree from Mercyhurst prepared him for each academic challenge he faced.

“Many of the themes we learned about at Pitt were a continuation of the concepts and theories I learned at Mercyhurst.”

Tony now performs research and information analysis for the Philadelphia Police Department. He credits his decision to advance his education with letting him land his current job.
“I needed to go grad school to gain the practical knowledge that I use all the time today,” he added.

Rob-VRob Vescio
Mercyhurst, Class of 1996
GSPIA, Class of 2001

After double majoring in political science and sociology at Mercyhurst and spending a few years in the workforce, Rob decided to further pursue his dual passions at GPSIA by enrolling in the Master of Public Administration program.

Rob now credits this degree — which explores how to lead at the intersection of the private, public and nonprofit sectors — with helping him gain the knowledge he needed to go far in his chosen field.

“A degree from GPSIA is highly regarded all over the world,” he said. “My teachers really prepared me to work on the local, state, national and international levels.”

Today, Rob helps shape public policy as a lobbyist at the Pittsburgh-based law firm of Cohen & Grigsby. He is grateful for the knowledge he gained during GSPIA and for the strong foundation he received at Mercyhurst.

“After graduating from Mercyhurst, I felt more than prepared to move to the next professional level.”


Cummings Gallery
Art Faculty Show

Dates: Aug 21-Sep 28, 2014

Location: Cummings Gallery

William Close and The Earth Harp Collective
William Close and The Earth Harp Collective

Dates: Sep 5

Location: Mary D'Angelo Performing Arts Center

Anais Mitchell
Anaïs Mitchell

Dates: Sep 30

Location: Erie Art Museum

Meet our Alumni

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Life After Graduation