The Norman Paterson School of International Affairs and the Common Law Section of the Faculty of Law at the University of Ottawa offer a combined Master of Arts in International Affairs and a Juris Doctor degree (MA/JD).The benefit of the combined program is the integration of students’ legal training and graduate studies in international affairs.

The minimum requirement for admission into the NPSIA Master’s portion of the combined MA/JD program is a minimum of a 4 year Bachelor’s degree in a discipline related to international affairs. Under current practice, at least a high honours standing (B+ or 77% GPA) is normally required for consideration for admission to the program.


Students must apply separately to the University of Ottawa, Faculty of Law, Common Law Section, and to the Norman Paterson School of International Affairs, and be accepted by both institutions in accordance with the normal admission requirements of each program. Interest in pursuing the combined program must be specified in each application

NOTE: Students completing the French JD program are exempt from the in-program language requirement but are encouraged to continue their language training while in the MA portion of their program. French JD program students typically have to register for their Internal Law thematic course while in Year 2. Please be sure to speak with your program administrators from both programs to ensure proper registration.

The program requirements for the Carleton University portion of the M.A./JD program are completion of 5.0 credits as set out below.


Field Designation: Students completing 3 field courses from their designated field will graduate with an MA in International Affairs, including a field designation. Students who do not complete 3 field courses from their designated field will graduate with a general MA in International Affairs.

Program completion via Course Work, Research Essay or Research Thesis Options

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In-Program Second Language Proficiency Test

All students must provide proof of second language proficiency prior to the completion of their program. Language proficiency can be demonstrated by one of the following options:

For more information regarding the language requirement, please contact Gillian Bose, NPSIA Language Advisor, Gillian.Bose@carleton.ca.

For more information regarding the Modern Languages Unit at the School of Linguistics & Language Studies, please see: http://www.carleton.ca/slals/modern-languages/, or contact Gillian Bose.

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Summary of Program Requirements: 

Year 1: Faculty of Law (U of O)

  • Students follow the normal University of Ottawa, Faculty of Common Law, JD program
  • Students entering Year 1 in the English JD program must register in Public International Law in Winter term
  • Applications for graduate funding (e.g. OGS, SSHRC) for NPSIA studies must be submitted, and students should be attentive to deadlines (often early in the year)
  • Students who have not yet completed the prerequisite Introductory Economics credit (ECON 1001 and ECON 1002 at Carleton, ECO 1104 and 1102 at the University of Ottawa, or equivalent at another institution) must ensure it is completed before the Fall of Year 2

Students should also begin planning for their NPSIA language requirement.

Students who wish to complete their program by Research Essay or Thesis should begin thinking of research topics so they can have an idea of who at the Law School and NPISA.

Year 2: NPSIA (Carleton)

  • NPSIA required course work, including INAF 5017/5018/5016. If you are pursuing a Research Essay or Thesis, you must also complete INAF 5015. All first year students must complete the required INAF field Economics course;
  • Completion of  INAF 5509: Law, Politics and Economics in International Affairs, the required combined program course;
  • For students in the French JD program, International Law thematic course at the Faculty of Law;
  • Students will choose either Course Work option or Research Essay option for program completion.

Students are eligible for the various forms of funding available to graduate students.

Students completing the degree by course-work must enroll in 4 NPSIA credits (8 courses in total); 4 courses each term including all required courses.  Students who do not complete all 8 courses during the regular academic year must complete summer courses to obtain the final credits.  Students may also be required to include an extra course each term, for their language requirement.

Students choosing to complete a Research Essay must enroll in 3 NPSIA credits (6 courses) during Year 2.  Students may also be required to include an extra course each term, for their language requirement.

Students should be aware that having to take courses in the summer of Year 3 may interfere with law summering jobs, and so forth, and should plan their courses accordingly during this year.

Students completing the degree by Research Essay are strongly encouraged to make substantial progress on their research over the summer between 2nd and 3rd year. Students who are certain that they will finish and defend their research essay before May of Year 3 should register in their Carleton research essay or thesis course (INAF 5906 or 5919) in the summer of Year 2.  However, students who register and then fail to complete by May of Year 3 will have to re-register in INAF 5906 in the summer of Year 3. Accordingly, to avoid this possibility, students are advised to postpone their first registration until the summer of Year 3.

Students opting for the Research Essay option should be particularly attentive to the registration requirements for INAF 5906, to avoid delays in graduation and the payment of additional fees.

In order to proceed to Year 3, students must meet NPSIA mark and credit requirements. In practice, this obliges students to score no lower than B- (as measured on the Carleton scale) in each of the courses pursued at Carleton, and no lower than B (as measured on the University of Ottawa scale) in the course International Law at the University of Ottawa.

*If students have completed the minimum requirements to participate in co-op, they may complete their first summer term of co-op in Year 2.

Year 3: Faculty of Law (U of O)

  • Upper year law courses as decided by the Faculty of Law at the University of Ottawa;
  • One (1) half-year (0.5 credits) NPSIA course for which students receive both Carleton and Ottawa University credit (course can be taken in either the fall or winter term);
  • Spring/Summer registration to continue/complete Research Essay/Thesis (if registered in the Research Essay/Thesis, MA-JD students can also participate in a second term of co-op);
  • Students completing their degree by Research Essay must register in the applicable course code (INAF 5906/5919) at Carleton in the summer of Year 3 and should defend their paper by the end of the first week of May of Year 4.

If the defence is not completed by this date, students will be obliged to re-register and pay fees in the Research Essay/Thesis course code in the summer of Year 4.

Year 4: Faculty of Law (U of O)

  • Upper year law courses;
  • One (1) half-year (0.5 credits) NPSIA course for which students receive both Carleton and Ottawa University credit (course can be taken in either the fall or winter term);
  • Continue/Complete Research Essay, if applicable. Students must defend their paper by the end of the first week of May of Year 4.

If the defence is not completed by this date, students will be obliged to re-register and pay fees in the Research Essay course code in the summer of Year 4.

If a student has completed the JD program and has not yet completed the Research Essay (ie. at the end of the 4th year of the Joint Program), the student must then maintain full time registration in each of the Fall, Winter and Summer terms, until the Research Essay is completed. 

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Research Essay

The Research Essay counts as 1.0 credit and the Thesis 2.0 credits towards the required Carleton University 5.0 credits, for the Master of Arts in International Affairs degree. Students may also receive 3.0 University of Ottawa credits for their Research Essay or Thesis work. These credits are recorded as a Law School “Directed Research”, and reduce the Law School course work of combined program students by a half-year course relative to regular JD students. Students wishing to take advantage of this credit “double counting” must enroll in a Directed Research CML 3351 in the term of Years 3 or 4 during which the Research Essay/Thesis will be completed or substantially completed. Be sure to speak to your program administrators to make sure you can successfully register and double count these credits.

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Timing of Research Essay

As noted above, by virtue of the double counting of credits for NPSIA courses taken in Years 3 and 4, students bear a lesser course load in Year 2 of the joint program than would otherwise be the case. Accordingly, students who undertake the Research Essay are strongly encouraged to begin their Essay during Year 2 and to complete their project in Year 3.

Students who prolong or delay their Essay to Year 4 sometimes experience difficulties in completing their project before Law School graduation date. Further, those who begin projects in Year 2 often find their material out-dated by Year 4, a development that may necessitate substantial revisions.

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Completion of Research Essay

Students undertaking the Research Essay and who do not complete the essay by Law School graduation may still receive their JD, assuming they have fulfilled all JD degree requirements.

However, students who do not complete their Research Essay by the end of Year 4 may be ineligible to receive law school credit through Directed Research CML 3351 unless they first confirm that their Law School co-supervisor is prepared to assign a grade for a work-in-progress, rather than a completed paper.

In the absence of such an understanding, students who fail to complete their Research Essay by the end of Year 4 may find themselves 3.0 JD credits short of degree requirements. Students who have completed the JD portion, but not the M.A., will be required to register in their Research Essay, at Carleton, each term until it is completed.

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More information

For questions concerning admission at the University of Ottawa, and the Joint Program, please contact the Admissions and Liaison Officer at comlaw@uottawa.ca.

For questions concerning admission to the Norman Paterson School, please contact Lauren Wells-McGregor at lauren.wellsmcgregor@carleton.ca.
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