MPA Thesis-Based Option (On Campus)

Students discuss at the 2019 MPA Orientation
The 2019 MPA cohort at the orientation seminar. Credit: UVic Photo Services

What you will experience in the MPA Thesis-Based Option

The MPA Thesis-Based (On Campus) 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 option culminates with the thesis, which could be done in collaboration with a client organization. The thesis requires researching problems and considering strategic options to address a policy or management challenge for a government agency, non-profit organization, or community client. 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.

New! Students of a concurrent graduate degree program who wish to enrol in the Graduate Certificate in Evaluation program will be charged a one-time fee upon admission to the program.
The current one-time fee is:
• $814.86 (domestic students)
• $1030.35 (international students)
   Fees are updated annually following the May meeting of the Board of Governors. 

Program synopsis

Beginning with the orientation, you will meet and work with other members of your cohort. The orientation will introduce you to problem-based, applied learning as you work through challenging case studies with your team. Instructors 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 government. 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. ADMN 589, the Co-op Seminar, supports you in identifying suitable co-op opportunities, developing professional application packages, preparing for interviews, and developing strategies for making the most of your co-op placements inside BC, across Canada or internationally 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 of 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. You will also be preparing for a second co-op placement to come in 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 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 findings and strategic recommendations. You will learn how to prepare a substantial professional report and communicate the findings in different ways.

Degree Requirements

Thesis Option students are required to complete a total of 18.0 units: 6 core courses (1.5 units each), 2 elective courses (1.5 units each), plus ADMN 589 (0 units), 2 Co-op work terms, and the Master's Thesis (6.0 units):
  • Elective Courses: two from (space permitting)
    • ADMN 523, 531, 537, 544, 547, 550, 553, 577, 578, 580, 581, 582
    • Courses from other School of Public Administration offerings:
      • MADR (DR) or MACD (CD) courses (first preference is given to students in those programs)
      • or from other academic programs: with permission of the instructor of those courses and the School Graduate Adviser.
    • 400-level undergraduate courses (ADMN) offered by the School of Public Administration, including:
  • Successful completion of a minimum of two Co-op terms, with an optional third Co-op term
  • Final Requirement
    • ADMN 599 Thesis

* based on a review of students' prior academic history by the Graduate Adviser, the student may be able to substitute an alternate course if prior academic work covers the content of a given core course.

Program Length
It is possible to complete the full-time MPA Thesis Option (On Campus) in two years, (six terms, including two co-operative work terms). However, some students may require more time to complete the thesis.

Academic year one (September-April)

Thesis Option Term 1 (Fall Term, Sep-Dec)

  • ADMN 504 (1.5)  Government and Governance
  • ADMN 509 (1.5)  Economics for Policy Analysis
  • PADR 504 (1.5)  Leadership, Management, Ethics
  • ADMN 589 (0.0)  Co-op Seminar: Introduction to Professional Practice
  • Elective (1.5)

Note: Some term 1 courses may include pre-course assignments.

Thesis Option Term 2: First Co-op Work (Spring Term, Jan-Apr)

  • 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)

Thesis Option Term 3 (Summer Term, May–Aug)

  • ADMN 512 (1.5)  Public Financial Management and Accountability
  • ADMN 557 (1.5)  Public Sector Research Methods
  • PADR 505 (1.5)  Policy-Making and Policy Communities
  • Elective (1.5)
  • ADMN 599 (6.0)  Master’s Thesis

Thesis Option Term 4: Second Co-op Work Term (Fall Term, Sep-Dec)

  • Students may continue work on their thesis while on their second Co-op work term.

Academic years three +

Thesis Option Term 5 (Spring Term, Jan-Apr)

Students continue to work on their thesis. Some students may undertake a third Co-op work term.

Thesis Option Term 6

Students continue to register and work on their thesis until they defend.

Students may opt for a third Co-op Work Term which must be completed by the same term in which the Thesis is defended. Please see Co-operative Education.

Final Oral Examination: Thesis Option

The Master's Thesis is defended in an oral examination, and the minimum examination committee consists of the supervisor, a second supervisory committee member or co-supervisor, and an external examiner (from a University of Victoria department outside Public Administration, or external to the University), and a chair appointed by the Faculty of Graduate Studies. All members of the examination committee, except for an external examiner from outside the University, must be members of the UVic Faculty of Graduate Studies or have the specific permission from the Dean of Graduate Studies.

For "Guidelines for Oral Examinations" please see:

Concurrent MPA and Graduate Certificate in Evaluation

A student registered in the MPA program may choose to complete concurrently the Graduate Certificate in Evaluation; such a student must complete an application for admission to the Graduate Certificate program prior to beginning MPA elective courses. Two elective courses can be credited toward the credential requirements of both the MPA and the Certificate program, provided that they are appropriate for the Certificate program. Courses for the Certificate should be taken in an appropriate sequence and are credited as electives for the degree program and core credit for the Certificate program. Tuition fees for the 4-course Graduate Certificate Program are in addition to MPA tuition.

JD+MPA Double Degree Program

In partnership with the Faculty of Law, the School of Public Administration offers the JD+MPA Thesis Option (On Campus), for students wishing to pursue double degrees concurrently. Students who apply and are accepted into both the Faculty of Law JD and the School of Public Administration MPA Thesis Option (On Campus) 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 scheduling permits. MPA courses take priority in the second year. 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.

Students enrolled in the JD+MPA double degree program must submit two formal applications for graduation when registering in their final Summer or Winter session. Both graduation applications should be submitted through My page ( Application deadlines are July 1 for the November convocation and December 1 for the June convocation. Both degrees must be conferred at the same Senate meeting, and be awarded at the same convocation.

Students enrolled in the JD + MPA double degree program will not be eligible to enrol in the Law Co-op Program. Law students admitted to the Law Co-op Program during first year law who subsequently enrol in the JD+MPA double degree program shall withdraw from the Law Co-op Program. Students enrolled in the JD+MPA double degree program will be required to complete any mandatory work terms as specified by the School of Public Administration.

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  • Next Entry: September 2022
  • Next Application Due: December 15 for International Applicants and January 31 for Domestic Applicants

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