- 1. I have no background in economics or political science. What prerequisites do I need for the Master of Public Policy and Administration?
Students enter the MPPA from a wide variety of academic backgrounds. All, however, are required to complete prerequisite university courses in economics and political science, and obtain a grade of B+ or better in those courses.
The economics prerequisite
The economics prerequisite consists of either a two-semester course or two one-semester courses covering introductory microeconomic and macroeconomic theory. At Carleton University, this material is covered by the two-semester course ECON 1001 and 1002 – Introduction to Economics. At the University of Ottawa, ECON 1102 and ECON 1104 satisfy the pre-requisite. At Athabasca University, the online courses ECON 247 plus ECON 248 would work.
In order to determine whether a first-year economics course would meet our requirements, ask: would this course count as a prerequisite for second-year economics at the institution concerned? If the answer is yes, it will probably count as a prerequisite for us; if the answer is no, it will not count.
The political science prerequisite
The political science prerequisite consists of a course at the second-year level or higher that deals with Canadian political institutions. At Carleton University, this material is covered by PSCI 2003 Canadian Political Institutions. At Athabasca University, the online course POLI 309 covers this material. Courses in political theory, international relations, or comparative politics will not substitute for a Canadian politics course.
Achieving a grade of B+ or better in the prerequisite courses is an indication that you have a familiarity with, and aptitude for, the kind of academic work that is the basis for much of the MPPA program’s curriculum.
On occasion, students are admitted to the MPPA without having completed the prerequisites. Their admission, however, would be conditional on completing the prerequisites during the first academic year. This scenario is not ideal: the ability of these students to advance through the MPPA curriculum is often hampered by their need to take the prerequisites during the first year of their two-year degree.
Hence, applicants without the prerequisites in economics or political science are strongly urged to complete them before starting the program (say, by taking summer courses), and to state clearly in their application cover letter how they plan to do this.
- 2. Am I eligible for the Master of Public Policy and Administration if I lack an undergraduate degree with B+ average or better?
The basic academic requirement for admission to the Master of Public Policy and Administration is an honours bachelor’s degree, or the equivalent, with at least a B+ average, as calculated on the last 10 credits (twenty single-semester courses). Please note, however, that simply satisfying the basic academic requirement does not guarantee admission.
Under certain conditions, the School of Public Policy and Administration will consider applications from individuals who do not satisfy the basic academic requirement.
First, these individuals need to have completed their most recent university degree at least five years ago.
Second, they need to demonstrate their academic potential for graduate study by completing and doing very well in particular university courses subsequent to their most recent degree. Those courses start with the undergraduate courses in economics and political science that are prerequisites of the program (see the FAQ #1 on prerequisites). Prospective applicants interested in this option must consult with the Graduate Supervisor.
- 3. Is it possible to take some graduate courses from the School without enrolling in the MPPA or PhD programs?
Yes, this is possible under Special Student designation, defined as students who take individual courses at Carleton University without being registered in an academic program. At the School, permission to take courses as a Special Student is given not by course instructors, but by the MPPA Supervisor. Permission to take courses in the School is dependent upon:
- a) Your academic background
- b) The availability of space in the course.
Individuals interested in taking courses at the School as a Special Student should provide the School’s Graduate Administrator with the following:
- a recent resume that includes contact information;
- copies of transcripts for all their post-secondary education; and
- a brief statement of their reasons for wanting to be a Special Student.
The School’s MPPA Supervisor will review these materials and inform you of available courses. Once degree candidates have registered (normally, at least three weeks before the beginning of term), Special Students are allowed to register.
Please note that no more than two courses may be taken as a Special Student.
In some instances, individuals take courses as a Special Student with the hope of strengthening their candidacy for admission to the Master of Public Policy and Administration.
- First, passing courses as a Special Student does not guarantee admission;
- Second, in the event of admission, any courses taken as a Special Student do not necessarily transfer into the graduate program. It is a policy of Carleton University that students admitted to graduate programs do not receive credit for courses taken as a Special Student if their performance in those courses was a basis of their admission (i.e., if they would not have been admitted on the basis of their academic record apart from the courses they took as a Special Student).
- 4. What is the advance completion credit option?
The advance completion option allows students to satisfy up to 2.0 credits (four half-credit courses) of the Master of Public Policy and Administration on the basis of university courses taken before entering the program. There are two circumstances in which you may receive advance completion credit with transfer of credit:
a) Core courses.
For the quantitative or economics courses in the core (PADM 5126, PADM 5127, and PADM 5128) you may receive advance completion credit with a transfer of credit if:
- You have completed a four-year undergraduate degree or a graduate degree
- In that degree, you have received a grade of B+ or better in a previous university course that covered the same material, at the same level of difficulty, at the second-year level or higher
For the qualitative or political science courses in the core (PADM 5120, PADM 5121, PADM 5122, PADM 5123, PADM 5124, and PADM 5125), all of the above conditions apply, but the previous course must be at fourth-year level or higher
b) Advanced completion credit for non-core courses
- This would only be considered if you have courses that have not been used towards another degree e.g. you began a previous Master’s but did not complete it, and wish to receive advanced standing for some of the courses taken.
- Second, previous graduate courses that have not been used toward another degree can be used for advanced standing in all courses within the MPPA (core and elective).
- 5. What are the eligibility requirements and procedures for receiving advance completion credit?
For a core course, send the syllabi for the previous university courses that are comparable to the core course to the MPPA Supervisor. The decision of whether or not to grant advanced completion credit is made by the MPPA Supervisor, acting on the advice of the faculty members who teach the core course in question.
- 6. What courses should I take as a first year student in the Master of Public Policy and Administration?
We recommend that you take the following in year one:
- PADM 5120: Modern Challenges to Governance
- PADM 5121: Policy Analysis: The Practical Art of Change
- PADM 5122: Public Management: Principles and Approaches
- PADM 5125: Qualitative Methods for Public Policy
- PADM 5126: Quantitative Methods for Public Policy
- PADM 5127: Microeconomics for Policy Analysis
During the Fall and Winter of second year, you would then take:
- PADM 5123: Public Management in Practice
- PADM 5124: Law and Ethics
- PADM 5128: Macroeconomics for Policy Analysis
- PADM 5129: Capstone Course
(NB: Core courses are not offered in the Summer term.)
This recommended sequence should allow you to do elective courses in both first and second year.
Part-time students are expected to have completed all of the core courses except for the capstone course (PADM 5129) before registering in elective courses.
- 7. What do I need to do to change from part-time to full-time or vice versa?
A change of status from full-time to part-time will normally only be granted for medical reasons or while on co-op. To apply for a change of status, complete the Academic Change Request form and submit it to the School’s Graduate Administrator. The decision of whether or not to approve a change of status is made by the Graduate Studies Registrar’s Office.
Part-time students may take up to two half-credit courses in a term and are not eligible to receive University funding. Students with University funding who request a change from full-time to part-time status forfeit their funding. The only exception is students who do so to complete a co-operative work term who may defer their funding to another term.
- 8. What should I do if temporary circumstances prevent me from studying for a term?
If you are unable to study for a term, you may apply for a leave of absence. To do so, please complete the Academic Change Request form and submit it to the School’s Graduate Administrator. The decision of whether or not to approve a leave of absence is made by the Graduate Studies Registrar’s Office, on the advice of the School’s MPPA Supervisor.
Terms for which a leave of absence has been granted do not count toward the time limit for completing the degree (see the FAQ #10 on time limits). Full-time students receiving university funding normally forfeit the funding assigned to the terms in which they have been granted a leave of absence, unless the underlying reasons are medical ones.
- 9. What does the Co-operative Education Program involve?
The Cooperative Education Program is administered by the Co-op and Career Services Office at Carleton University. Most co-op positions are in the federal public service. Some students have obtained positions with provincial, territorial and municipal governments, the private sector, and the non-governmental / non-profit sector. The work terms provide a number of benefits. During the job search term, students develop job-search and interview skills. The work terms themselves provide career-related experience in policy development, analysis and evaluation and in public administration more generally. They offer an immediate understanding of particular policy or management issues that can support students’ subsequent academic work in concentration and elective courses. Moreover, they generate a range of professional contacts that can lead to ongoing employment.
Although most students secure their work terms through the positions posted on the Co-op Services job portal, students are encouraged to self-develop job opportunities as well. Co-op Services provides sessions both to guide students through the job search process and to assist them once on the job. Online modules cover resume writing and interview skills and career counsellors are available for one-on-one sessions. The co-op coordinator visits the work site during the term to discuss how the work is progressing from the point of view of both the student and the employer.
After having satisfactorily completed, or received advance completion credit for, the six first-year core courses, students who choose to take the Cooperative Education Program within the MPPA are able to apply for two work terms to be undertaken during their MPPA program. (If you are completing one or both of the prerequisite courses in the first year of the program, you must complete five of the six first-year core courses before going out on co-op). Students who satisfactorily complete the two work terms receive a Co-op designation on their transcript.
At the end of the work term, students submit a work term report to the faculty advisor who is the School’s Co-op Liaison. This report outlines their work term role and responsibilities, identifies challenges and accomplishments, analyzes the strengths and weaknesses of their work experience, and relates that experience to their previous academic work. Also at the end of the work term, the employer evaluates the student’s performance, and discusses this evaluation with the student.
For further information about the co-op program, please refer to: Mary MacLatchy, Co-op Coordinator for MPPA.
- 10. Must I finish my MPPA degree within a certain time limit?
Full-time students have six academic terms (two academic years) in which to complete the MPPA degree. Part-time students have 18 terms (six academic years) in which to complete the degree. These terms include those for which a student does not register in courses. They exclude those for which a student is enrolled in a co-op work term, or for which a student has been granted a leave of absence (see the FAQ above on co-operative work terms and leaves of absence).
- 11. Do I need to maintain a minimum grade-level to remain in the MPPA?
A grade of B- or better must normally be obtained in each course used toward the MPPA. MPPA students may, with the approval of the Dean of the Faculty of Graduate and Postdoctoral Affairs, be allowed to use grades of C+ in up to 1.0 credit of courses. To be in good standing, students in the MPPA program need to maintain a grade point average of at least 7.0 (B- under Carleton’s 12-point scale), as calculated on their most recent courses. For full-time students, the GPA is calculated on the courses from the last two academic terms in which they were registered. For part-time students, the GPA is calculated on the last 2.0 credits (four single-semester courses).
- 12. Can I take courses in other Carleton departments and schools, and have these count towards my MPPA?
MPPA students may take elective courses from other Carleton departments. Students must receive permission prior to register for outside courses from the MPPA Supervisor. The MPPA Supervisor will ensure that they cover material relevant to public policy and administration and do not overlap material covered by courses offered by SPPA. Email the MPPA Supervisor with the course a) title, b) number, and c) syllabus.
- 13. Can I take courses at another university in Canada, and have these contribute to the Master of Public Policy and Administration?
MPPA students in good standing can take courses at other universities in Canada, and apply them to their degree. The courses must be at the graduate level; must be used by the other universities toward their own degree programs; and must be approved by the MPPA Supervisor as covering material relevant to public policy and administration.
For the University of Ottawa, these arrangements are handled under the Graduate Student Exchange Agreement between the two universities. The application form is available from the School’s Graduate Administrator. For other Ontario universities, these arrangements are handled under the Ontario Visiting Graduate Student program. The application form is available from the Forms and Policies page.
If those other universities are in Ontario, then the students pay tuition to Carleton University. If those Canadian universities are outside Ontario, then the students pay tuition to those universities.
- 14. Can I take courses at a university outside Canada, and have these contribute to the Master of Public Policy and Administration?
MPPA students in good standing who have completed at least the 6 first-year core courses can take courses at an international university, and apply them as electives to their degree. For these courses to apply to the Master of Public Policy and Administration, they must satisfy the following conditions:
- be approved by the MPPA Supervisor as covering material relevant to public policy and administration;
- be at the graduate level (i.e. the international university must apply the same courses toward its own post-graduate degrees);
- be weighted such that they correspond to the credit system at Carleton (i.e., 6 ECTS at a university in Europe correspond to 0.5 credit at Carleton);
- be taken for credit (i.e. not on a pass/fail or audit basis); and
- be graded using a system that could distinguish the student’s performance as being higher than B-/B level.
Before the courses can be transferred to Carleton and applied to the MPPA degree, the School of Public Policy and Administration must receive an official original transcript from the international university, verifying the courses completed, the weights assigned, and the grades received. If the international university is one with which Carleton has a formal exchange agreement, and if the students have been approved to participate on that exchange, then they pay tuition to their ‘home’ university (the university conferring the degree) for courses taken at the ‘host’ university abroad. This enables the students to avoid paying tuition at a foreign-student rate. For information on these formal exchange agreements, contact Carleton International. If the students take courses at an international university without participating in a formal exchange agreement, then they pay tuition to the international university.
- 15. Is there an opportunity to improve my French language skills during the MPPA?
The School of Public Policy and Administration encourages students who are preparing to work in or with government to strengthen their French language skills. Students can register in French language courses offered through the French Department at Carleton University. These courses are at the undergraduate level and would appear on the transcript as ‘extra to degree’ – meaning that they will neither count toward the MPPA, nor affect the graduate-level grade point average.
- 16. What are the required documents I need to submit online along with my application?
–Transcript(s): all post-secondary transcripts are required
–Letters of Reference (2 required): Please select two referees who can comment on your preparation and potential for graduate study in public policy and administration. Ideally, both will be university faculty members who have taught you in upper-year courses, or who have supervised your academic work. If you have been away from university studies for some time, you may select non-academic referees who have supervised your professional work.
–Statement of Intent (1 required) that is no more than 1 page, single-spaced. In it, please briefly outline: your academic and/or professional experience; your personal and professional goals; and how the MPPA will build on that experience in order to help you reach those goals.
–CV/Résumé (1 required) that includes information about your education, professional experience, voluntary activities, and note-worthy achievements.
–Writing Sample (1 required) of which you are the sole author; of 8-20 pages, double-spaced (e.g., a paper you wrote for a course).
- 18. What are the English Language Requirements?
Proficiency in English
All applicants whose first language is not English must demonstrate English proficiency in one of the following ways:
- a) Present an official transcript to indicate that they have completed a degree within the past three years in a university in Canada, the United States, the United Kingdom or any other country in which the primary language is English, and where the language of instruction in the relevant educational institution was exclusively English; or
- b) Provide official documentation of a satisfactory English proficiency test score. Minimum scores for this program are: CAEL: 70; TOEFL (paper-based test): 600; TOEFL (internet-based test): 100, with a minimum score of 25 on each component; IELTS: 7, with a minimum of 6.0 in each band score.