MPA On Campus

What you will experience in the MPA On Campus program

A challenging curriculum will take you through a journey of discovery as you build competencies in strategic awareness, analytical thinking, engagement and communication, and professionalism and leadership. The program is grounded in a problem-based learning approach, and is comprised of two academic semesters interleaved with two co-operative work term semesters, and culminates with a client-focused capstone project. The capstone project provides strategic options for a government agency, non-profit organization, or community client on a real policy or management challenge, which involves reviewing literature, undertaking empirical work, best practices, and developing options and detailed plans for implementing recommended options. All of the MPA courses prepare students for this capstone project.

MPA on campus & MADR program plan

Program Plan

Program synopsis

On Campus MPA Program Overview

The on campus MPA program consists of 21 to 22.5 units of study, including 3 units of elective courses and 4.5 to 6 units for a master's project or thesis. It begins with a one-week orientation where you will meet and work together with your fellow students in the Dispute Resolution (DR) Program. These distinct programs have skills and postures of relevance to each other. The orientation will introduce you to problem-based, applied learning as you work through challenging case studies with your team. Faculty will engage you in concepts directly related to the courses you will take in the program, some with your PA cohort and others with students from the DR cohort, who are also developing skills for sizing up and addressing complex challenges. The orientation will provide you with an excellent grounding in the program and prepare you for the stimulating work to come.

In the first fall semester, in addition to taking your MPA core courses on Government and Governance and Economic Policy Analysis, you will work with your peers from the MADR program in two courses on Collaboration and Engagement and Analysis for the Public and Non-Profit Sectors, that include a team-based integrative case that spans the semester and addresses a real-time significant policy challenge. The case will include the interests of all major stakeholders in industry, First Nations, communities, and different levels of governments. Your team will interact with other teams representing these stakeholders as well as with actual representatives from key stakeholders in British Columbia. At the end of the semester, you will present your recommendations to these and other interested parties at the end of the semester. These “PADR” courses are dedicated to fostering skills in collaboration, engagement, analysis, research design, and policy interventions. PADR 589 provides you with in-depth preparation and support to prepare you to identify suitable co-op opportunities, develop professional applications, prepare for interviews, and develop strategies for making the most of your co-op placements inside BC and across Canada during the spring semester.

As you return in the summer enriched by your co-op experience, you will spend your first week immersed in a PADR course on professional integrity. You will have opportunities to reflect on your co-op experiences in the context your joint courses, such as Public Leadership and Management and also Policy Making and Policy Communities, learning about the evolving nature public governance work from multiple vantage points. This will allow you to reflect on your learning in the first term and in particular on your experience in the work place. It will deepen your insight and capacity to function with integrity in your field while being appreciative of the challenges that others face. As an MPA student, you will deepen your analytic and management skills by taking the courses on Data Analysis and Interpretation and Resource Accountability and Management in the Public Sector. Another problem-based integrative project will anchor the joint PADR courses focused on leadership and policy-making at an advanced level. You will also be preparing for a second co-op placement for the second fall semester.

With the learning from two cycles of applied courses, integrated cases and co-op placements, you will be well-prepared to identify or get matched with client in order to undertake the capstone project or thesis project. Here you will apply critical skills in sizing up and parsing out problems, undertaking reviews of literature and best practices, carrying out empirical work, and developing strategic options for your client. You will learn out to prepare a substantial professional report and communicate the findings in different ways.

Academic year one (September-April)

Fall: First Academic Term

  • Immersion
  • ADMN 504 (1.5) Government and Governance
    An introduction to the evolving landscape, institutions and dynamics of Canadian governments and organizations, recognizing that they are situated in the context of a federation and a civil society. Students will develop an instinct and skills for recognizing the landscape of institutions, interests, and authorities when analyzing policy and administrative challenges. Examines reforms in areas such as service delivery, regulation, policy-making, budgeting, citizen engagement, federal-provincial relations, public sector ethics and accountability.
  • ADMN 509 (1.5) Microeconomics for Policy Analysis
    Provides a foundation in microeconomic principles, the rationale for public sector interventions in the market, and essential tools for economic policy analysis. Students will be introduced to rational choice theory, resource allocation methods, supply and demand, efficiency and equity, elasticity, income redistribution, externalities, public goods, and imperfect information. Relies on practical problem-based learning. Contemporary themes include behavioral and nudge economics, economic inequality, and the moral economy.
  • PADR 501 (1.5) Collaboration and Engagement
    - shared course with Dispute Resolution
    Prepares students for public and non-profit sector work environments by developing conflict competence skills to anticipate, identify, prevent, mitigate, manage and/or resolve conflict. Through case studies, students develop self-awareness around personal conflict style and interpersonal skills to work collaboratively by building consensus and problem solving. They develop communication, negotiation and facilitation skills. Conflict theory provides an understanding of the nature and sources of conflict and primary models to manage and contain disputes.
  • PADR 502A (1.5) Analysis for the Public & Non-Proft Sectors
    - shared course with Dispute Resolution
    Provides an intensive introduction to qualitative and quantitative approaches and methods for research, policy analysis, evaluation and other analytical projects in the public and non-profit sectors. Offers students opportunities to learn and apply methodologies for evidence-informed decisions in organizational and inter-organizational settings.
  • PADR 589 (0) Co-op Seminar: Introduction to Professional Practice
    - shared course with Dispute Resolution
    Discusses the nature of co-operative education experiential expectations, how to bring learning into the co-op experience, and the services provided by the School of Public Administration Co-op Office. Guidance on how to succeed in co-op placements is provided: preparing résumés and covering letters, interviewing, networking, job development, managing diversity. Attendance at this non-credit course is required for all MADR and MPA on Campus students.

Spring: First Co-op Term

  • Co-op placement with government, non-profit or consulting organization
  • Students may enrol in one online elective while on co-op

Academic year two (May-December)

Summer: Second Academic Term

  • PADR 503 (1.5) Professional Integrity in the Public and Non-Profit Sectors:
    1-week intensive course shared with Dispute Resolution
    Builds professional competencies and reflective practice skills for those working in the public and non-profit sectors. Using a case-based approach, topics include: ethical dilemmas and management of disputes, the issues of personal responsibility and accountability; loyalty to employer; political and professional neutrality and obligations to the public interest; conflict of interest; confidentiality and transparency; and privacy protection. Students study standards of conduct established in both sectors and the philosophical theories which underpin them.
  • ADMN 502B (1.5) Data Analysis and Interpretation
    Develops skills in understanding, evaluating and applying techniques of data analysis relevant to policy analysis and management research. Topics include: descriptive and inferential statistics; techniques of estimation in the context of opinion polls and related survey research methods; statistical testing using data collected from survey research, correlational studies, and experimental and quasi-experimental research designs. The computer lab component will allow students to further develop spreadsheet skills using EXCEL.
  • ADMN 512 (1.5) Public Financial Management and Accountability
    Explores the budgeting cycle: budget preparation and execution, internal and external auditing, financial statements, and performance budgeting and reporting. Examines management tools that support resource allocation decisions and accountability. Considers the rationale for alternative goods and services provision arrangements. Reviews evidence-based approaches for efficient resource allocation decisions, benchmarking performance, and incentives to motivate employees and contractors. Explores public sector fiscal challenges.
  • PADR 504 (1.5) Public Leadership and Management
    - shared course with Dispute Resolution
    Introduces theories of leadership and management development and practice. Examines the role of leaders, managers and conflict specialists as agents of positive influence in complex socio-technical systems. Leadership, management and dispute resolution competencies will be introduced and developed in individual, team, organizational, and inter-organizational contexts. Through experiential learning, students will apply concepts to self, others (as team members), leaders and managers.
  • PADR 505 (1.5) Policy Making and Policy Communities
    - shared course with Dispute Resolution
    Students learn about the public policy-making process and develop skills in the art and craft of policy analysis. Introduces key concepts and theories and then builds skills and knowledge with information-gathering exercises, case studies, and preparation and presentation of decision briefs. Students review policy-making in a broad context, pulling together evidence and different analytical lenses for a variety of organizations and identify and recommend strategies and develop workable implementation and communication plans.

Fall: Second Co-op Term

  • Co-op placement with government, non-profit or consulting organization
  • Students may enrol in one online elective while on co-op

Academic terms three and four

Spring and Summer: Third and Fourth Academic Terms

  • ADMN 598 (4.5) Master's Project. The capstone project is a substantial analysis of a management, policy or program problem undertaken for a client in the non-profit or public sector. The Master's Project is prepared in consultation with a client and an academic supervisor in the School of Public Administration and must be both practical and academically rigorous. The Master's Project is defended in an oral examination.


  • ADMN 599 (6.0) Master’s Thesis.  The thesis is a substantial contribution to the knowledge in the field of Public Administration. It demonstrates a student's mastery of a substantive body of scholarly or practice literature as well as using appropriate and academically defensible methodologies to analyze research questions, test hypotheses or contribute new theoretical knowledge. The thesis is defended in an oral examination.

Consult the MPA On Campus application requirements.

View titles of completed MPA Master's Projects and Theses.

JD+MPA Double Degree Program

In partnership with the Faculty of Law, the School of Public Administration offers the JD+MPA graduate program, for students wishing to pursue double degrees. Students who apply and are accepted into both the Faculty of Law JD and the School of Administration MPA programs may earn both degrees concurrently with modified requirements for each. Undertaken separately, the two degrees normally require five years of study, whereas the double degree may be completed in four years. The first year of the double degree program is devoted entirely to the first year law curriculum. The second year of the program requires the completion of the required core public administration courses offered in the fall and summer terms. In consultation with the Graduate Adviser, these courses can be completed in combination with law courses, if the student wishes. The remaining two years entail the completion of all other law and public administration course requirements. Students may reduce the time in the program by enrolling in some MPA courses during the third summer term. Alternatively, students may participate in the Co-operative Education program. For information about the Faculty of Graduate Studies' rules governing the JD+MPA double degree program, see "Registration in Double Degree Programs". Further information on the program may also be obtained from either the School of Public Administration or the Faculty of Law.