Mercyhurst University was founded in 1926 by the religious order of the Sisters of Mercy. It is a Catholic college in the Mercy tradition, but is now governed by a 35-member lay board with representation from the Sisters.
Its main campus enrolls about 3,000 undergraduate students in 29 academic departments organized into 5 schools. Mercyhurst University is inspired by the image of students whose practice of their profession is infused with a deep knowledge of the liberal arts, a commitment to social justice and an understanding of human work as an opportunity to make spiritual values manifest in earthly realities. Underlying and guiding this commitment is the liberal arts core curriculum. The core curriculum at Mercyhurst emphasizes critical and creative thinking, effective writing and oral communication, quantitative analysis, moral reasoning, scientific reasoning, and information literacy. Its purpose is to enrich the experience of all students by engaging their intellectual and aesthetic creativity and curiosity.
Mercyhurst also operates a branch campus focused primarily on associate degree programs and which also serves as an "opportunity college" for the main campus. Mercyhurst currently offers master's degrees in seven areas.