Carlow University offers a Catholic, liberal arts education at its Pennsylvania campus to a student body that is over 90% female. The University focuses on woman-centered Catholic education because it was founded in 1929 by an order of nuns called the Sisters of Mercy, which had always worked to reveal the mercy of God by empowering the needy through education and health care. This included teaching women to be self-sufficient.
The university is named for the town of Carlow, Ireland, where the Sisters of Mercy lived on the campus of a women’s college. In 1843 Mother Frances Warde and the first Bishop of Pittsburgh, Michael O’Connor, traveled from Carlow to Pennsylvania to establish the first Mercy community in the United States. Later this group would found Carlow College.
The Mercy tradition continues to influence Carlow, as reflected in its “Core Values”: reverence for all of creation, discovery and contemplation in the search for God, intellectual integrity, leadership, hospitality, service, and student progress. The Department of Campus Ministry works with academic departments and other co-curricular offices to support these values, creating opportunities for spiritual reflection and service learning.
Carlow University is proud of its Catholic intellectual tradition, which holds that God is revealed through an understanding of nature and history. This makes learning and scholarship central elements of Carlow culture. The Mercy Center for Service coordinates relationships between local nonprofit organizations and student volunteers, encouraging student involvement in the community and learning through service. Carlow University endeavors to be “synonymous with service,” and in its early history was affiliated with the nation’s first Mercy hospital serving the poor and sick.
Besides educating Catholic students and women, Carlow also focuses on the local Pittsburgh community. Sixty-four percent of the student body comes from within Allegheny County and the school offers career development classes for single or displaced parents, as well as literacy and GED-prep programs for adults. They also offer workshops to educate the public about general interest issues such as tax law, debt reduction, starting a home-based business, dressing for the workplace, and stress management. Local children can learn and play in the enriching environment of Carlow’s Early Learning Center.
Since the majority of Carlow students do not live on campus, many may take the opportunity to learn from home through online classes that use Internet, email, chat and bulletin boards to communicate between classmates. Like many universities, Carlow also uses Blackboard to facilitate online class discussions. The professor even keeps internet office hours. Classes are available in many categories, including the humanities, the natural sciences and mathematics, professional studies, management, nursing, education, and the School for Social Change. Graduate level classes are also available.
Students taking classes online can apply for financial aid, but they must be enrolled with at least six credits to qualify. Carlow automatically considers all applicants for academic and community service scholarships. Carlow’s online classes are yet another example of the university’s commitment to a learning-based education.