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Experiential Learning

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Ideas to Action

From client projects to industry events, practical experience is a cornerstone of your Heinz College education.

Effective leaders and managers must know how to deliver on their ideas in a measurable way, clearly communicate with all stakeholders, and understand how their roles and decisions fit into the broader landscape of the field. To achieve these competencies, there is no substitute for meaningful hands-on learning experiences that bridge learned theories and best practices.


  • Learn from the leading practitioners at SEI's CERT Division, experts who impact national security on a daily basis.
  • Move beyond the classroom and gain tangible skills through work opportunities both on- and off-campus, including research and teaching assistantships alongside our faculty experts.
  • Solve a real-world problem for a real-world client in your team-based Capstone Project, collaborating with our top industry and government partners.
  • Make meaningful connections through internships and apprenticeships, many of which lead to full-time job offers.
  • Apply your newly earned knowledge from class to immersive activities, workshops, events, and student clubs.

Not only do these opportunities crystallize concepts and strategies learned in coursework, they add highly marketable industry experience to your resume prior to graduation.


Most full-time Heinz College master’s students complete a team-based project, working in close collaboration with a real-world client. These projects fulfill an actual business or operational need for our partners, giving students an opportunity to have a measurable impact while still in school.

Recent MSISPM Capstone clients include:

  • Sandia Labs
  • U.S. House Committee on Homeland Security
  • Allegheny County Department of Human Services
  • Software Engineering Institute / CERT
  • Legendary Entertainment
  • PwC
  • General Dynamics
  • City of Pittsburgh
  • Pacific Northwest National Laboratory


Most Heinz College master’s students are required to complete a 10-week, full-time internship during the summer between the first and second years.

Internships present students with the chance to apply what they’ve learned in their first year to real-life situations, gain exposure to their future field, build their resume, and make lasting professional contacts.

Some MSISPM students complete their internships at CERT.

Recent internships:

  • Aerospace Corporation
  • Boeing
  • CERT / Software Engineering Institute
  • Chatham University
  • U.S. Department of Homeland Security
  • EY
  • Hewlett Packard Enterprise
  • The Home Depot
  • Imagine Software
  • Kuwait University
  • PwC
  • Schlumberger
  • UCSD School of Medicine


Many classes at Heinz College focus on experiential projects, and that's especially the case in the MSISPM program. Examples include:

  • Network Internet Security—students develop and implement a secure architecture to secure a networking system in a virtual training environment
  • Ethical Penetration Testing—students identify vulnerabilities in facsimiles of existing network architectures like a banking system, learning how to ethically hack a system and think like the attacker
  • Relational Database Management—students deploy databases that support business functions


Each year, MSISPM sponsors students to travel to prominent hacking conferences including Black Hat, RSA, and DEF CON.


Heinz College, our programs, and our student organizations host a wide variety of speakers and guest panels representing all sectors. These speakers provide valuable industry insight and networking opportunities as they lead riveting discussions on current topics, trends, and issues relevant to MSISPM students both academically and professionally.

  • Research Assistantships pair students with faculty and research centers to pursue topics of interest, including CMU's renowned CyLab.
  • Teaching Assistantships are available to students in the final two semesters of their program.


U.S. Citizens enrolled in the MSISPM program can work part-time for organizations in the Pittsburgh region, and work for public and non-profit firms is often eligible for Federal Community Service Work Study. 

See the MSISPM Student Finances page for more information about work study and fellowship opportunities.


Many Heinz College students complement their education with involvement in immersive student activities and clubs. In some cases these activities are purely recreational or centered on community-building, but in many others they can be direct extensions of, or supplements to, coursework.

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