Mercyhurst University (MU) is a four-year, Catholic, liberal arts institution located in Erie, Pennsylvania in the United States. The university has a student body of over 3,000 undergraduate and graduate students and it offers more than 50 undergraduate majors and nine graduate degrees. The university also offers two unique undergraduate programs to its students – Intelligence Studies, and Business and Competitive Intelligence.

In this article, SchoolApply gives you a summary of these two programs and what benefits they offer students. We also had the opportunity to interview three freshman students who are currently enrolled in these intelligence programmes; Marina Rose Boyle - a 19-year old international student from Dublin, Ireland - and Nathan Brand and Jordan Kessler, both 18 years old and from Buffalo, New York in the United States.

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Mercyhurst University’s Institute of Intelligence Studies offers an education in a high-demand industry that is continuing to grow. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics expects that analyst positions will grow by 19% by the year 2024. The university’s challenging undergraduate multidisciplinary programme has a liberal arts curriculum at its heart and is combined with a foreign language or computer requirement, as well as national and international studies, an internship, and specific intelligence courses.

Mercyhurst University’s internationally renowned intelligence programme yields graduates who are ready for entry-level research and/or intelligence analyst positions in both the government and private sectors - especially in business, law enforcement, national security and the military. For example, Nathan Brand is majoring in Intelligence Studies at Mercyhurst while also participating in the Army ROTC program. He emphasizes that the university’s intelligence program provides a very strong foundation for Military Intelligence, an avenue he would like to explore in the future.


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Mercyhurst’s Business and Competitive Intelligence Department has a rigorous curriculum focused on the functional areas of business and data analysis. Graduates are skilled in data extraction, data analysis, and data interpretation, and are also capable of reporting their findings to pertinent decision makers. The department ensures that students leave the program being able to identify future growth opportunities, pinpoint competitive advantages, and predict industry trends and market demands.

The things that make you special make Mercyhurst special, and these next four years are your opportunity to embrace these ideas and become the person you want to be. This is your time to grow, to discover something new, to ignite your passions and share them with the world. It’s time to seize the day. CARPE DIEM.

- Eric G. Evans, Director of International Admissions at Mercyhurst University

Marina Rose Boyle, currently enrolled in Mercyhurst’s undergraduate Business and Competitive Intelligence programme and also minoring in Asian Studies and Pre-Law, gives her view on intelligence studies. She says, “What I find most interesting is the rapidly changing business environment of the twenty-first century which can be better understood and prepared for with the use of good intelligence. I see intelligence studies as the path which will lead me to be successful in business down the road. Most interesting are the patterns that emerge when studying the history of intelligence failures and how cognitive bias can be overcome by paying close attention to these.”


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Intelligence Studies at Mercyhurst University is about more than just the classes students take and the information they learn. The multi-disciplinary program focuses on weaving knowledge from different industries together and on cultivating useful and necessary skills in its students through internships, class discussion and hands-on learning. The program is also about working together with other students and forming priceless connections and friendships while studying at university.  

Marina and Jordan Kessler were assigned to be roommates, mainly because they were both intelligence majors. Sharing many of the same classes has allowed them to grow close – they help each other with homework and as they share a major, they can empathise with one another on the program’s pressures and workload.

Though never having met before attending Mercyhurst, Jordan knew of Nathan through a family connection and they met each other once school began. Jordan introduced Nathan to Marina, and with their similar academic pursuits and interests, the three became fast friends and enjoy relating intelligence to politics. The intelligence program is very content heavy and as such, the three spend a lot of time together preparing for exams. According to them, studying together in this program has facilitated their close friendship.

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The intelligence programs at Mercyhurst are headed by amazing faculty who have wide-ranging specialities and backgrounds, ranging from national security, disruptive technologies and cyber analysis to information systems and technology, artificial intelligence and computer science.

Nathan states, “I really like how the professors for this degree have real-world experience. Some have past involvement with the military, government, or law enforcement. My current professor for my Intro to Intelligence Studies class was the head of Turkish police intelligence and has an extremely valuable outlook on intelligence that incorporates both personal experiences but also follows a structured curriculum. He often draws from his past experiences in a way that I find helps better explain how or why something works the way it does in the intelligence community.”

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Jordan shares that one of her favourite parts of the intelligence program is the bond that she has formed with professors. She goes on to comment that the faculty shares their wealth of knowledge and are able to relate their vast experience to the subjects they are currently studying, giving the curriculum a unique and interesting scope.

Commenting on her favourite class, Marina says, “My favourite class so far is Intro to Intelligence Studies which covers the Intel disciplines, history of intelligence, and methods of intelligence collection. My favourite memories of the class are the anecdotes and real-life intelligence experiences shared by my professor about his time spent working in Vietnam.”

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Graduates of Mercyhurst’s Intelligence Program are skilled in preparing assessments based on the collection and analysis of intelligence data. Currently, there are over 300 students enrolled in the programme and more than 70 Intelligence Studies students from the graduating class of 2016 were offered positions in U.S. intelligence agencies and private companies. With over 1,000 MU graduates working in the intelligence community, students can easily connect with alumni for advice and networking purposes.

Marina, Jordan and Nathan all agree that they have had an amazing experience at Mercyhurst University. They encourage students, both local and international, to apply to the school and the Intelligence Studies program. “The candidates need to be made aware of the heavy workload, but the professors are so helpful and it is very easy to make friends. In terms of employment, intelligence is a great and meaningful field to be involved in and there are many opportunities for international students in this area,” Marina comments.

Mercyhurst University is a wonderful experience for all students. If you are interested in finding out more about the school, click on its SchoolApply link now!