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Experiential Learning

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 résumé prior to graduation.


Heinz College MSISPM 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 you an opportunity to have a measurable impact while still in school.

Recent MSISPM Capstone clients include:

  • Chevron
  • Sandia Labs
  • U.S. House Committee on Homeland Security
  • Allegheny County Department of Human Services
  • Software Engineering Institute / CERT
  • Legendary Entertainment
  • Capital One
  • PwC
  • General Dynamics
  • Community College of Allegheny County
  • Nexteer
  • City of Pittsburgh
  • Pacific Northwest National Laboratory
  • Santander Bank
  • Shoptaki 
  • Swirlds Lab


Work directly with Faculty

Our faculty are more than researchers and instructors. They are innovators and mentors who work to solve major problems facing companies, governments, and society. Most importantly, our faculty are uncommonly accessible and include students in their groundbreaking work.

As a Heinz College student, you have many opportunities to enrich your grad school experience by working closely with world-renowned faculty.

Many classes at Heinz College focus on team-based experiential projects, advised by a faculty expert, and that's especially the case in the MSISPM program. These projects aim to present real security issues and provide a practical edge. Courses with a focus on security projects 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


MSISPM students are required to complete a 10-week, full-time internship during the summer between the first and second years.

Internships present you with the chance to apply what you've learned in your first year to real-life situations, gain exposure to your future field, build your résumé, and make lasting professional contacts.

Some MSISPM students complete their internships on-campus at CERT.


An unvarnished look at the life of a Heinz College student. For more, follow us on Instagram.


Our students stay busy in the summer, and gain invaluable industry experience. We caught up with a few of them on site as they completed internships with some amazing organizations.

Recent internships:

  • Aerospace Corporation
  • Airbnb
  • Amazon
  • Blend Labs, Inc.
  • Boeing
  • Boston Consulting Group
  • Center for Internet Security
  • CERT / Software Engineering Institute
  • Chatham University
  • Cisco
  • U.S. Department of Homeland Security
  • Experian
  • EY
  • Fanatics
  • Goldman Sachs
  • Hewlett Packard Enterprise
  • The Home Depot
  • Imagine Software
  • Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Lab
  • KPMG
  • Kuwait University
  • Philadelphia Navy Yard
  • PwC
  • Roku
  • Samsung Electronics
  • Schlumberger
  • Tesla
  • TIAA
  • UCSD School of Medicine
  • Heinz College students participate in an exercise with the U.S. Army War College.
  • Heinz College students participate in an exercise with the U.S. Army War College.
  • Heinz College students participate in an exercise with the U.S. Army War College.

Leadership and the Army War College

Students participate in a crisis exercise as part of an experiential course taught in collaboration with the U.S. Army War College.


The U.S. Army War Colleges serves as a finishing school for military leaders in the arena of land-based warfare. Founded in 1901, the Carlisle, Pennsylvania-based institution produces graduates schooled not only in military theory but in leadership, strategy and communication.

Each year, representatives from the War College visit Heinz College for a strategic negotiation exercise. This introductory course is designed to increase your understanding of international conflicts and negotiation processes, and improve your effectiveness as a team leader, team member and negotiator. 


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.

Large event with many people standing around in groups talking