IUP is one of 14 members of the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education.

Oversight of the System is vested in the Board of Governors, the members of which are appointed by the governor. Each university has its own Council of Trustees, responsible for financial oversight and ensuring compliance of university policies with state law. Responsibility for the day-to-day operations is entrusted to the university president, who is the chief executive officer.

Because of the university's complexity, the president relies on the University Senate to develop and approve curricula and to advise the president on setting policies that affect and shape the working and learning environment at IUP. The University Senate is composed of faculty, students, and administrators who are both elected and appointed by their peers.