- Admissions & Aid
- Student Life
- Mercy in Action
Integrated Studies at Gwynedd Mercy University is a student-centered, inclusive post-secondary program for individuals aged 18-26 with intellectual disabilities. This program is designed to provide excellent opportunities in education, career development, and social participation within an inclusive academic setting.
Integrated Studies strives to create a community that cultivates self-determination, service, self-efficacy, and lifelong learning.
Integrated Studies is a fully-inclusive postsecondary program on Gwynedd Mercy University’s campus, offering two-year or four-year college experiences for students with intellectual disabilities (ID) to progressively develop skills each semester related to academic interest, employment, communication, healthy living, and technology with the ultimate goal of increased independence, meaningful employment and self-actualization. The program is based on Think College Standards and created with support from the PA Inclusive Higher Education Consortium and other successful programs.
Integrated Studies students will be active members of Gwynedd Mercy University’s community as they will audit college courses, participate in community-based internships, attend sporting events, eat in the dining hall, and have the opportunity to live in the residence halls.
Students will earn a non-degree certificate of Integrated Studies and a university transcript that includes the courses and internships completed as well as a portfolio of highlighted work.
Meet Integrated Studies student Varun Parakala '25 (shown in photo above). Learn about Varun's internship, his career goals, the club he's launching this fall, and more!
Students will audit four inclusive courses per semester (12 credits) related to their academic and employment goals. Students will receive a certificate of Integrated Studies and a GMercyU transcript that includes the courses and internships completed. Students will have the access to the Academic Resource Center and may receive tutoring from trained peer tutors and academic coaching for enhancing study and organizational skills.
Students will explore career interests and learn employment skills through partnerships with the Career Development Office and community / university partnerships. These activities will occur outside of class time, on an individual and group basis. Students will complete individualized on-campus and community-based internships (paid or unpaid), that can count towards audit credit with the ultimate goal of paid employment. Students will be required to attend campus workshops and webinars that relate to their individualized goals (e.g. building a resume, interview skills, career exploration, etc.)
Students will participate in campus and community activities like all Griffins, including extracurricular activities, intramural sports, peer mentorships, and community service to promote active membership in the community. Integrated Studies students will be required to participate in at least one campus club / organization per semester. Students will be required to attend campus workshops and events thtat relate to their individualized goals (e.g. resident hall cooking workshops, group exercise classes, etc).
Prior to the start of a student’s first semester, a person-centered planning meeting will take place including the student, Integrated Studies program staff, family members, supports coordinators etc. to discuss and create an individualized plan for a student’s time at GMercyU. Students will have individualized supports to maximize independence and success on campus.
Some examples include:
Students will have the option to live in the residence halls in an inclusive environment. Students will be supported by an RA (Resident Assistant) who has received additional training in strategies to support students with ID.
Additional information about residence hall options may be found here.
Ariana joined GMercyU in 2019 as the inaugural Program Director of Integrated Studies. She led the program's development efforts, piloting the initiative in Spring 2020 with two students and expanding the program each subsequent year through TPSID grant funding through the U.S. Department of Education.
Prior to her time at GMercyU, she worked in supported employment and community-based programming for young adults with intellectual disability. She is an advocate for full and authentic inclusion, minimizing barriers to participation, and creatively building capacity. Ariana earned her Doctorate in Occupational Therapy from Belmont University and her Bachelor’s Degree in Psychology, Spanish and Public Health from Muhlenberg College. In her free time, she enjoys spending time with her family, crafting, and enjoying coffee and cookies of all variations.
Zack joined GMercyU as a Masters Counseling Intern in 2018 and was thrilled to assume the role of Assistant Director of Integrated Studies in Fall 2021. Prior to his time at GMercyU, he worked in various roles throughout primary and secondary education with individuals with intellectual disability, autism, and emotional support needs. Zack earned his Master’s Degree in Counseling Psychology from Arcadia University, and his Bachelor’s Degree in Psychology and Sociology from the University of Pittsburgh. In his free time, he enjoys spending time with his family, reading all manner of things, and playing the Super Nintendo Entertainment System. Go Flyers.
In order to be admitted into GMercyU's Integrated Studies program, each student must:
The Integrated Studies program is not a Dual Enrollment program.
After all documents are submitted, students who meet eligibility criteria will be invited to interview with program staff.