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Mercyhurst University

Mission Statement

Our mission is to identify and reduce physical, programmatic and attitudinal barriers for students with disabilities. Collaboration with faculty, staff, and administrators addresses effective participation, learning needs, academic performance, and retention of students so that students’ opportunities for achievement may be equalized while supporting academic integrity.


The LDP program has been recognized nationally.  The K&W Guide and Petersen’s Guide for Students with Disabilities rates the Learning Differences Program as exemplary and a benchmark program. And currently Mercyhurst ranks 9th in the online listing of 20 Incredible Colleges for Students With Special Needs Students.

Contact Information

Elaine G Ruggiero, Director of Learning Differences 

Bradley McGarry, Director of Autism Initiative at Mercyhurst

Andrea Obert, AIM Academic Support Coordinator

Program Description

Program Overview

Mercyhurst University Learning Differences Program (LDP) is committed to provide reasonable accommodations to qualified individuals with a learning, sensory and/or physical disabilities. The LDP’s mission is to identify and reduce physical, programmatic and attitudinal barriers for students with disabilities and to ensure access to campus programs, services and facilities.

Description of Services

The LDP coordinates the following accommodations for students who provide appropriate documentation of their diagnosis and have received approval through the ADA Committee: testing modifications (extended time in an alternate location), auxiliary aids (note takers, readers, scribes), course substitution and/or reduction, assistive technology (reading and voice recognition, listening devices), etc. The University offers assistance with writing, math and subject-area tutoring.

In addition, Mercyhurst also offers a more structured Academic Advantage Program (AAP) which includes intensive academic support and is designed to help with the transition and adjustment to college life. One-on-one personalized assistance helps students in clarifying their educational needs, goals, and potential. Students learn how to acquire more effective and efficient study skills necessary for academic success. There is an additional fee for the Academic Advantage Program (AAP) which includes services that go beyond those required by Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act.

The Advantage Program includes:

  • A 3-week Summer PASS Program designed to help the student transitioning to college life.
  • A scheduled weekly meeting with a trained Academic Counselor monitoring the student’s academic progress.
  • Mid-semester grade review.  
  • Advising for course registration and assistance with major selection.
  • Drop-in assistance.

Application Process

Rolling Admission, though application is reviewed following student’s acceptance to the University. Application should be submitted by June 1.

Target Population

  • Specified learning, physical and/or sensory disabilities
  • Autism
  • Chronic health conditions

Program at a glance

How many students are enrolled in this program? 100-499

What are the annual costs for a student to attend this program? $1,000-$2,999

Is this program public? No

Is this program fee-based? No

how large is the instition associated with this program? 0-999

What type of institution is associated with this program? University