School of Graduate Studies

School of Graduate Studies
School of Graduate Studies

Policy Studies (Public Administration)

Executive Director and Stauffer-Dunning Chair
Walker, D.M.C.

MPA Program Director
Laforest, R.

Brock, K.L.

Associate Professor
Ding, W., Laforest, R., Lehrer, S.F.

Professor Emeritus
Banting, K.G., Courchene, T.J., Harrison, P., Williams, T.R., Wolfe, R.D.

Mabee, W.E., Nossal, K.R., Walker, D.M.C.

The School’s teaching staff also includes members from other Queen’s departments and from other universities as well as senior practitioners on an occasional or continuing basis.


The School of Policy Studies is located in Robert Sutherland Hall (138 Union Street), along with associated institutes, centres and programs and the School’s Publications Unit.  These include the Industrial Relations Centre, the Institute of Intergovernmental Relations, the Centre for International Relations, Queen’s Institute for Energy and Environmental Policy, the Centre for the Study of Democracy, and the Defence Management Studies Program. Located in the same building is the School of Urban and Regional Planning.

Located in adjoining buildings are the departments of Economics, Political Studies, Sociology, Geography, Global Development Studies, and Women’s Studies in Mackintosh-Corry Hall and the Faculty of Law in Macdonald Hall. In close proximity is the School of Business in Goodes Hall, the Joseph S. Stauffer Library, the John Deutsch University Centre and the Queen’s Athletic and Recreation Centre.

Departmental facilities, including faculty and administrative offices, classrooms and small meeting rooms as well as student offices and mailboxes, are all located in Sutherland Hall. A lounge and study area, with vending machines and nearby break-out rooms, are located on the ground floor.


The approach to the study of public administration at Queen's School of Policy Studies is multidisciplinary, drawing on economics, political science, law, management and other disciplines. It is based on three premises.

First, the core of public administration is policy choice, design, implementation and evaluation.

Second, management and policy skills are inseparable. Without an understanding of policy goals, management in the public sector is a sterile exercise; without management skills, policy goals are empty promises.

Third, effectiveness in policy and administration requires a critical awareness of the economic, legal, political and social context in which they occur and of the need to weigh competing values.


The School of Policy Studies' Master of Public Administration (MPA)  degree can be completed in one-year (three terms) of full-time study.  The MPA is designed to meet the needs and interests of recent university graduates from many disciplines as well as career employees seeking to change or upgrade their qualifications.

A part-time Professional M.P.A. (PMPA) is also available to academically qualified applicants with a minimum of five years related employment experience.

In cooperation with the Faculty of Law at Queen’s University, the School also offers the four-year combined degree program, the M.P.A./J.D.

Financial Assistance

All candidates applying for full-time studies will be considered for financial support from Queen's University. Qualification for Queen's University awards is generally based on academic merit. These resources are limited, however. Prospective candidates are strongly encouraged to apply for Ontario Graduate Scholarships and other major awards available from national, provincial and private agencies.


Applications are accepted under the general regulations of the School of Graduate Studies. The normal minimum academic qualification for admission to the MPA and PMPA programs is a four-year bachelor's degree, with minimum B+ standing, in their last two years of study, or its equivalent.

Professional MPA candidates must also have five years experience in the public sector or in related activities.  Applicants, with significant employment experience, who do not meet the normal minimum academic qualification, must provide additional evidence of strong academic potential. This evidence normally involves completion of two courses at the fourth-year undergraduate or graduate level, with a minimum B+ standing in each course or completion of the Graduate Admission Examination (GRE) or the Graduate Management Admission Test (GMAT), with a minimum score at the 75 percentile in the verbal and analytical categories.

The MPA and PMPA programs provide advanced skills for professional employment in Canada's governments and other public, nonprofit and private sector organizations concerned with policy-making. Consequently, the curriculum focuses on public policy and management in Canada.

International students considering admission to the MPA program should have some prior knowledge of Canadian government and politics and an interest in extending their knowledge in these fields. Any applicant whose native languages do not include English must submit evidence of their proficiency in English. A TOEFL score of 100 on the Internet-based test or 600 on the paper-based test is required for admission.

Program admissions are normally limited each year to sixty-five full-time and thirty-five part-time students.

Degree Programs

Master of Public Administration (M.P.A)

Qualification for the MPA degree requires the successful completion of either the MPA Full-time or the Professional MPA program, in accordance with the regulations of the School of Graduate Studies. Both programs are described below.

1. Full time MPA Program (MPA)
Students in the MPA program must complete 36 credit hour (or 12 half-course credits).

Core Courses: MPA students normally complete six required courses in three groups:

  1. Political and Institutional Analysis

    • MPA-800* Governing Institutions
    • MPA-802* Approaches to Policy Analysis
    • MPA-810* Policy Challenges
  2. Economic and Quantitative Analysis

    • MPA-804* Principles of Economics
    • MPA-805* Quantitative Analysis
    • AND at least one of
    • MPA-815* Economic Analysis
    • MPA-816* Quantitative Program Evaluation
    • MPA-840* Economics of Social Policy
    • MPA-849* Behavioural Public Finance 
  3. Management

    • MPA-809* Management in the Public Sector

Where an MPA student can demonstrate an adequate background in the subject matter of MPA-800*, MPA-804*, MPA-805* or MPA-809*, the student may receive an exemption from that course. Students exempted from MPA-804* may replace it with one of MPA-815*, MPA-840*, MPA-844*, MPA-849* or a broadly based policy-oriented course in the Department of Economics approved by the MPA Program Director. Students exempted from MPA-805* will replace it with MPA-816*.

Optional Courses
MPA students complete the remaining requirements by taking optional courses offered by the School of Policy Studies or other departments within the School of Graduate Studies or the Faculty of Law.  In exceptional cases, a student may be permitted to take an undergraduate course. Optional course choices offered by other departments are subject to approval by the course instructor and the MPA Program Director. Students may choose to complete a Master's Project, in lieu of two optional half-courses.

2. Professional MPA Program (PMPA)
The newly revised PMPA curriculum includes core courses in leadership, governance, economics, research methods, policy analysis and management and quantitative methods.  In elective courses and a final capstone group project, program participants apply their learning to the analysis and resolution of real-world policy and management issues.

Core Courses: PMPA students normally complete six (3 credit) courses and two (1.5 credit) courses within four groups:

         a. Public Sector Leadership

  • MPA-823 Concepts of Leadership
  • MPA-824* Leadership in Practice

          b. Analytical Tools

  • MPA-804* Principles of Economics
  • MPA-806* Analytical Tools for Policy Research
  • MPA-802* Approaches to Policy Analysis

         c. Governance and Management

  • MPA-800* Governing Institutions
  • MPA-809* Management in the Public Sector

        d. Integration

  • MPA-825 Team Leadership Project

Where a PMPA student can demonstrate an adequate background in the subject matter of one or more of the core courses, the student may receive an exemption from that course.

Optional Courses
Professional MPA students complete the remaining requirements by taking optional courses offered by the School of Policy Studies or other departments within the School of Graduate Studies or the Faculty of Law. Optional course choices offered by other departments are subject to approval by the course instructor and the MPA Program Director. Students may choose to complete a Master's Project, in lieu of two optional half-courses.

Joint M.P.A/J.D. Cooperative Degree Program

The M.P.A./J.D. program is a four-year combined degree program, designed for students who wish to combine advanced studies in public policy and management with substantive and practical legal studies, for future career employment as a lawyer and public policy analyst with the federal or a provincial government, as in-house counsel for a public advocacy organization or with a private law firm focusing on constitutions and administrative law or government relations. Traditional areas of curriculum strength include a solid record of policy development in respect to constitutional law, social justice issues, defence, economics, family law and health policy.

Students complete the M.P.A. degree, with prescribed law electives in the first year, and the J.D. degree the next three years. Combined program students may choose to complete the certificate program at the Queen's International Study Centre in Public International Law, go on international exchange and pursue broader opportunities through the conventional summering and articling processes after graduation.

Candidates to the M.P.A./J.D. combined degree program must complete concurrent applications for the M.P.A. and J.D. programs and meet the admission requirements set for both. A maximum of five candidates will be admitted each year. Acceptance into both the M.P.A. program and the J.D. program is a prerequisite to admission into the joint M.P.A../J.D. program.

The program is structured as follows:

  1. M.P.A.year (10 months)

    Students must normally complete the M.P.A. core courses, MPA-800, MPA-802, MPA-804, MPA-805, MPA-809, and one of MPA-815, MPA-816, MPA-840 or MPA-844, and two elective courses as well as LAW-140/141/142 Public Law, LAW-150/151/152 Constitutional Law, LAW-160/161/162/163 Contracts, and LAW-115/116/117 Introduction to Legal Research and the First Year Legal Foundations Program in the Faculty of Law.

    For the remainder of the program, students are registered as law students.

  2. J.D. first year (8 months)

    Students are required to take LAW-180/181/182 Property, Law 190/191/192/193/194 Torts, LAW-170/171/172/173 Criminal Law, LAW-225/226 Civil Procedure, LAW-427 Administrative Law and one additional elective course in each term (totalling 14-17 credits per term.

    Students may seek to participate in a Global Law Program at the International Study Center and earn nine upper-year credits toward the J.D. degree through this program.

  3. J.D. second year (8 months)

    Students complete the remaining requirements of the J.D. degree, including the upper-year credit requirement, the Advocacy requirement, the Practice Skills requirement and the Law-496 Public Service; Individual Supervised Project. As a general rule, students complete Law-496 Public Service Individual Supervised Project in the third year. This paper can be used to satisfy the substantial term paper degree requirement for the J.D. degree. Students also register in a full-time courseload of upper year law electives.