MPA Thesis-Based Option (On Campus)

What you will experience in the MPA Thesis-Based Option

The MPA Thesis-Based Option has a challenging curriculum that will help you build competencies in strategic awareness, analytical thinking, engagement, communication, professionalism, and leadership. The program is comprised of two academic semesters interleaved with two co-operative work terms. The MPA Thesis-Based program culminates with the thesis, which could be done in collaboration with a client organization. The thesis researches problems and considers strategic options for a government agency, non-profit organization, or community client on a real policy or management challenge. The thesis involves reviewing literature, undertaking empirical work, best practices, and developing options and recommendations. All of the MPA courses will prepare you for the thesis.

Program Overview

Program synopsis

Program Overview of the MPA Thesis-based (On Campus) Option

The MPA Thesis-based Option consists of 18 units of study, including 6 required (1.5 unit) courses, 2 elective (1.5 unit) courses, Co-op Seminar (0 units) and the thesis (6 units). It begins with an orientation session where you will meet and work together before starting classes in the second week of the term. 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. Your cohort will develop 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 three core courses, one elective and the Co-op preparation seminar, you will work with your peers on 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. These courses are dedicated to fostering skills in collaboration, engagement, analysis, research design, and policy interventions. PADR 589, the Co-op Seminar, 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 enrol in three core courses, your second elective and start planning for your thesis research. You will have opportunities to reflect on your co-op experiences, learning about the evolving nature public governance work from multiple vantage points. This will allow you to reflect on your learning from the first term, complemented by your co-op workplace experience. Another problem-based integrative project will anchor the summer term and will be 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 a research project to undertake your research project and thesis. Here you may opt to work with a client. 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 finding and strategic recommendations. 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

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

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
  • ADMN 599 (6.0) Master's Thesis

Academic terms three and four

Spring and Summer: Third and Fourth Academic Terms

Consult the MPA Thesis-based 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.