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(Canada 2023) MPP/MPA Applications


sho.xo
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Hi folks! Was wondering if anyone applied to Max Bell at McGill and heard anything yet? I was told that applicants that applied before November 15 would be notified before the December break? But I still haven’t heard anything yet. Coming off of working full-time for almost 2 years. Applied to NPSIA, McMaster, Max Bell, and Carleton’s MPPA ☺️!
 

 

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4 hours ago, Pinkyandthe_brain said:

Hi folks! Was wondering if anyone applied to Max Bell at McGill and heard anything yet? I was told that applicants that applied before November 15 would be notified before the December break? But I still haven’t heard anything yet. Coming off of working full-time for almost 2 years. Applied to NPSIA, McMaster, Max Bell, and Carleton’s MPPA ☺️!
 

 

I haven't applied to Max Bell or the other programs you mentioned.  I am going for Waterloo, Queens, Ottawa, and UofT.  I wish you the best of luck! :D

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18 hours ago, Pinkyandthe_brain said:

Hi folks! Was wondering if anyone applied to Max Bell at McGill and heard anything yet? I was told that applicants that applied before November 15 would be notified before the December break? But I still haven’t heard anything yet. Coming off of working full-time for almost 2 years. Applied to NPSIA, McMaster, Max Bell, and Carleton’s MPPA ☺️!
 

 

I haven't applied to Max Bell, but if you go to the results section on GradCafe you can see when most students tend to hear back from that program? In my experience things can vary widely from their timelines. The wait is so hard!

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20 hours ago, Pinkyandthe_brain said:

Hi folks! Was wondering if anyone applied to Max Bell at McGill and heard anything yet? I was told that applicants that applied before November 15 would be notified before the December break? But I still haven’t heard anything yet. Coming off of working full-time for almost 2 years. Applied to NPSIA, McMaster, Max Bell, and Carleton’s MPPA ☺️!
 

 

https://www.mcgill.ca/maxbellschool/programs/mpp-program-overview/admissions-guide

I didn't apply to Max Bell.  Though, most grad applications for public administration (at least for domestic students) is due February 1st.  I'll assume then, you should expect to hear back around March

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Thanks for the insight, really appreciate it! Essentially, I was told that their admissions was on a rolling basis. So, the sooner you apply the sooner you get an answer! When I went to an info session, they had told me they wanted to get back to everyone that had applied before Nov 15 before Christmas break! But alas still waiting (which is always hard). This is my second time applying to public policy programs since I wasn’t able to get in during the pandemic 2020-21 with high application numbers😞 more nervous this time around! Good luck to everyone as well!!

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1 hour ago, Pinkyandthe_brain said:

Thanks for the insight, really appreciate it! Essentially, I was told that their admissions was on a rolling basis. So, the sooner you apply the sooner you get an answer! When I went to an info session, they had told me they wanted to get back to everyone that had applied before Nov 15 before Christmas break! But alas still waiting (which is always hard). This is my second time applying to public policy programs since I wasn’t able to get in during the pandemic 2020-21 with high application numbers😞 more nervous this time around! Good luck to everyone as well!!

aw. I hope you hear back soon with the best news ever!!

Did you apply to all those schools the first time around and didn't get acceptances from them? I'm a first-time applicant applying to NPSIA. I have yet though to submit my application. still working on it. 

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16 hours ago, Pinkyandthe_brain said:

Thanks for the insight, really appreciate it! Essentially, I was told that their admissions was on a rolling basis. So, the sooner you apply the sooner you get an answer! When I went to an info session, they had told me they wanted to get back to everyone that had applied before Nov 15 before Christmas break! But alas still waiting (which is always hard). This is my second time applying to public policy programs since I wasn’t able to get in during the pandemic 2020-21 with high application numbers😞 more nervous this time around! Good luck to everyone as well!!

I've hear that from a lot of people! That was such a competitive year. I feel like things have calmed down a bit now (or at least that's what the York Grad Admissions folks mentioned to me) - I think people are rushing less to go back to school now that things are to some extent "back to normal". Fingers crossed for you!

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15 hours ago, prospectivegradstudent25 said:

aw. I hope you hear back soon with the best news ever!!

Did you apply to all those schools the first time around and didn't get acceptances from them? I'm a first-time applicant applying to NPSIA. I have yet though to submit my application. still working on it. 

My first time applying to NPSIA! Last time I applied to Queens, UOttawa’s MPA,Carleton’s Political Management and MPPA program! The Carleton MPPA is my second time around now. The rest are my first applications for those schools. I went based off interest of wanting to go into digital policy since I worked for a tech company in policy. 

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Hello All,

Time for my yearly and refreshed post on my take on some of the popular MPP/MPA programs! I hope this helps you in your applications and decisions. As always, feel free to DM me at any time should you have additional questions.

Some background about me: I am a policy analyst that works full-time in an indeterminate (permanent) position for the Federal Government. I started working full-time in Spring 2019 and started my MPPA at Carleton part-time in Fall 2019 concurrently, which I finished in Spring 2021. Overall, I have about 5 years’ experience in provincial and federal government from five different departments/ministries, 1.5 of which was from co-op, and another 3.5 from full-time work.

My government career started through Co-op when I was an undergraduate student in 2016. I did some time in provincial and federal government in various co-op roles. This included roles in environment policy, transit policy, infrastructure policy, education infrastructure, and finance policy. By the time I finished my undergraduate degree in Spring 2019, I had about 20 months government experience, plus a couple of full-time offers from the Federal government on the table.

Based on my own experience and research, I've written a breakdown of some of the common master's level policy programs out there in Ontario. Note of course, that this is my opinion and not presented as fact. While I do present facts and figures to back it up, it is by no means a factual piece, nor does it represent the views of my employer in which school is better. These are solely my views.

Waterloo MPS

Waterloo MPS is overall a solid pick for people wanting to enter all levels of government. I sat with these guys during my undergraduate as a professor was kind enough to allow me to sit in on his graduate-level teaching. The caliber of the teaching plus the Co-op is great. Plenty of these people are with me in Ottawa, many having secured permanent full-time roles. The professional and employment outcome focus of the program is what sets it apart. The MPS boasts a Co-op hire rate of 95-100 percent (verified by the MPS Director as 100 per cent for the past six co-op cycles) and has excellent job outcomes both federally and provincially. The split between provincial and federal opportunities is roughly equal, perhaps with a slight lean towards federal.

I have great respect and admiration for the Director of the MPS. He has assembled a great program and has flexed his connections to help secure Co-ops for his students. In Spring 2020, when COVID was in full swing and some students unexpectedly lost offers, he personally and tirelessly reached out and talked to his contacts in government to secure the last couple of students their Co-op jobs. 

The format of the program is 8 months full-time school, 8 months paid Co-op, and 4 months a major team project. Almost everyone does the major team project remotely and works full-time during it. So it’s pretty much 8 months of schooling only and you’re off to doing paid work. People usually transition from being a student to a full-timer right after their 8 months Co-op is done.

I also find that this program is more diverse than traditional policy schools, which are usually filled with students from undergrads like political science, economics, sociology, legal studies, etc. Since the MPS does not have any major/course specific prerequisites to apply, you see more students in different varying fields come in, which contributes to a diverse wealth of knowledge sharing between students.

As the MPS is just over a decade or so old, it can't really compete at the same tier as the decades-established policy giants, which I speak on later on. However, it is an all-around very solid program. They run a really tight ship and the program markets itself very well as a "conveyer belt" program - get people, sharpen up their skills, and make cookie cutter policy analysts at fast speed. As time passes and the program becomes more well-established with alumni in key government roles, it is likely to become even more well-known.

The only downside is that the MPS is not funded, so you’re going to be paying the full $23,000 tuition bill.

Queen’s MPA

Queen’s is the King (or the Queen I guess?) of provincial government. I would say that Queen’s is the number one place to go if you’re intent on working for the Ontario government. The Ontario government hires from Queens in droves, mainly due to having a long reputation with Queens and a historically strong relationship with their policy programs.

The program format is 8 months full-time school, followed by Co-op of 4 months. During the Co-op term, you would do one course. As far as I understand, the one course requirement in summer tends to be highly accommodating. For example, you can pick a self-directed reading course that would simply be self-studying readings and coming up with a paper, or there are block courses that can be done in a week. Similar to Waterloo, most people work full-time after they are done the first 8 months.

Queen’s is definitely the top choice for provincial, and along with a cheap tuition of less than $20,000 (oftentimes funded generously by scholarships), it’s a great deal. With a strong application, you are likely to pay less than $10,000 total for the tuition.

Carleton MPPA

Definitely the king of federal government, and my number one choice for anyone who wants to work federal. Carleton has an over 50 years established relationship with the federal government, and the professors here are routinely retired public servants or current public servants who teach part-time here and there. Carleton, by nature of being in Ottawa, feeds their students primarily into the Federal government.

The program is 8 months of full-time school, followed by Co-op of 4-8 months, and then people usually finish off their degree during the evenings while working part-time. Again, similar to Queen’s and Waterloo, you really only do 8 months of school so long as you stack your courses in the first 8 months and don’t prolong your degree unnecessarily by taking extra electives or taking less than five or four courses a term.

An added benefit of Carleton is the absolutely amazing funding packages. And it’s absolutely amazing. Carleton offered me a whopping $46,000 in funding. Of that, $26,000 was straight up scholarships, while $20,000 was from a TA position. The tuition of the program is only $23,000. So these guys essentially paid me to go to their school.

For the federal level, Carleton absolutely comes on top here. From my experience, Carleton and uOttawa make up about 80 per cent of student hires in federal, and something like 70 per cent of full-time workers I know come from one of those two schools. An interesting analysis done on the federal public servants subreddit corroborates my own anecdotal writing, showing that the backgrounds of most seasoned executives with long government work histories within the senior public service come from one of uOttawa or Carleton. There is also some discussion in the same thread that sheds some insight on the primary feeder schools for federal government.

University of Ottawa MA Public Admin/Admin Publique

I won’t say much here because it’s Carleton all over again. Whatever I said for Carleton, applies equally to uOttawa. Funny enough, uOttawa and Carleton have a small rivalry with their Masters programs. All around another top federal choice.

I will say that I have great respect for the Public Admin focus that uOttawa has. I find that many policy schools now are cutting back their public administration curricula and instead focusing on the “sexier” field of public policy. And I get it, students are attracted to public policy – they aren’t as attracted to understanding the mundane machinery of government. They want to solve problems in the world whether it be the environment, economy, infrastructure, housing, or transit, provide options 1, 2, 3, and be done with their briefing note. Public policy is all about putting your ideas forward, and people love doing that.

But the problem with the policy focus is that you end up with students who are excellent policy thinkers that are able to put forward good policy solutions to problems, but very poor understanders of how the administration of government actually works and how policy ideas get turned into actual policy. An understanding of how the public service functions and its relationship to the elected political officials is vital for any policy analyst job, as well as an understanding of how to navigate the complex and oftentimes confusing labyrinth that is the bureaucracy. This is something that a Public Admin focus does well in and really grounds students in their expectations for what an entry-level junior policy analyst is expected to work on.

UofT Munk MPP

I’m sorry. I know how hyped up UofT is at times, but I mostly have bad things to say about this program.

I feel that the UofT MPP is overall a disappointment, and it seems like an outdated program. While all the programs I mentioned above are largely one-year “job creation” programs that focus on feeding people in Co-ops and having them transition to full-time work quickly, UofT’s MPP reads more like a traditional 2-year academic program, with a strong focus on rigorous quantitative courses. The UofT MPP tuition is $40,000 in total, double the other programs mentioned above. As far as I understand, funding packages are limited to some thousands of dollars. You’re sinking an additional 8 months in lost wages, plus additional tuition.

The UofT MPP has some of the worst internship options out here, with a 4-month summer internship between your first and second year. Because you’re expected to go back to school full-time after this, you are unable to be seamlessly transitioned into full-time work like many of the other programs above. Managers love it when they can just promote a student to a full-timer and have them start right away. They love it much less when the student says, “hey sorry, can you wait 8 months for me to finish school?”

To be precise, the discontinuous 8 month FT, summer internship, then another 8 months FT format has significant disadvantages both at the provincial (Ontario) and federal level. Provincially, only current students are given access to internal postings and so plenty who are able to transition directly into full-time without having to go back to school get "poached" into full-time roles quite rapidly. For example, some students I worked with who were doing their Co-ops at Waterloo MPS got poached within their first four months as a student into a full-time role. This is especially true since the Conservatives were elected in 2018 and required that external postings be subject to high-level reviews before being approved. Due to this, the internal hiring of students is one of the few ways for managers to get fresh blood.

At the federal level, students and former students are able to be appointed full-time without a competition/applying (known as "bridging"). Student bridging tends to be one of the most popular ways to hire full-time roles, as it is administratively simple to process and does not require Managers to conduct interviews, tests, etc. This is most favorably given to current students who can start immediately, without having to go back to school. It is very difficult for a Manager to predict their working requirements after 8 months of a student going back to school, which is the situation that the UofT MPP would force students into. Networking for opportunities is far easier for both levels of government when you are still in the system, as you have far greater access to meetings, emails, networking groups, unofficial job postings, teams/skype accounts for chats, etc.

Overall, I feel that the UofT MPP is just not a good deal. When people from Carleton, Queens, and Waterloo are being fed into the workplace within 8 months with programs of half the tuition that was generously subsidized based on the scholarships provided, UofT’s program just lacks “feeder” mentality on getting people on the job quickly.

The small upside is that the UofT MPP does have some more diversity in employment. Non-profits, NGOs, private sector consulting, and other positions tend to be more noticeable at UofT’s MPP, compared to the straight up government feeders of other programs. But if your goal really is to get onboarded into a government job quickly, with a cheap degree to boot, UofT is not the place to go in my view.

McGill Max Bell MPP

Not really in Ontario, but definitely an interesting new contender in the system. The McGill MPP is a relatively new program that started in 2018/2019. Much like the other feeder type programs, the McGill MPP is a one-year program that focuses on fast completion to get people in the policy workforce.

There are a couple issues that I do have with the program however. First, and most importantly, the program lacks a dedicated Co-op complement. The vast majority of provincial and federal hiring is picked from former students/interns. The number one tip posted by federal public servants in their subreddit on how to get in government is as follows:  The single easiest way to join the public service is to get a co-op term, do an outstanding job, and get bridged into permanent work. Even if you don't get bridged, co-op means you've got hands-on experience performing government work in a government environment, which puts you head and shoulders above other applicants who lack this experience. It's a huge advantage -- if you qualify.

The second issue, which really underpins the first issue, is that the program is largely not designed for fresh undergraduates looking to dip their feet into government. It’s more for early career professionals who are looking to boost their credentials with a Master’s. On their site, they indicate that the program is directed at “early career professionals — ideally with two to five years of professional experience — who are interested in developing expertise in the field of public policy”.

The third issue, which isn’t necessarily the fault of the school, is that the program is new. Public policy programs rely on a strong alumni network to establish themselves and ensure that they have the connections needed to secure their students strong opportunities. The Carleton, uOttawa, and Queens programs by virtue of being around longer have been greatly successful in this venture. The uWaterloo MPS, through the dedication of its Director, have made huge strides as well towards establishing their network through a short period of time. The McGill MPP could in the future pull this off, but for now it is still in its infancy and there is not yet the critical mass of alumni needed.

While I can see how the McGill MPP could be useful for someone already in government, or at the very least in a quasi-government field such as NGOs, banking, public sector consulting, non-profits, etc., it wouldn’t be as useful of a program for a fresh grad looking to get experience right away.

Ryerson MA Public Policy and Administration

This program is, in my opinion, a relatively mediocre choice. The problem that I usually see here is that if you got into Ryerson, you might as well go to Queen’s or Carleton because you probably got into those too.

The employment prospects here are just not as good, mainly due to the lack of an established relationship between Ryerson and either Provincial or Federal government.

The degree itself is the cheapest out of anything mentioned, but it’s just not as good of a deal. This is especially true if Carleton and Queen’s are pumping out huge scholarships.

For those who are already working though, the Ryerson program does offer a way to complete the degree at night while still continuing to work full-time.

Western MPA

Admittedly, I know very little about this program, but it seems to be the place to go if you want to be in local government. Western’s MPA specializes specifically in municipal government, and I can’t see Waterloo, Queen’s or Carleton filling this gap.

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7 hours ago, nevermindthespock said:

I have a question for those who are applying to programs with an option for a research component (either a thesis or an MRP) - did you talk about your research interests in your statement of intent?

I did! I honestly talked about the experiences that shaped my research interests and also the courses id like to take- as right now, I'm undecided on the coursework option or research component for the schools that offer either/or that I've applied to.

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17 hours ago, prospectivegradstudent25 said:

I did! I honestly talked about the experiences that shaped my research interests and also the courses id like to take- as right now, I'm undecided on the coursework option or research component for the schools that offer either/or that I've applied to.

Okay, cool! I did the same. I was curious to hear what others did as I've spoken to friends who have been admitted to MPA programs and they said they didn't mention research interests. Thank you for sharing!

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  • 2 weeks later...

Hi everyone! This is a question for anyone who has applied to/applying to the Queens MPA. I found that its the only program that doesn't have a prompt or instructions for the statement of intent. Or is it stated somewhere and I just missed it? I just wrote my statement very freely, with obvious connections and references to their program, but what did you guys do? How did you approach the open-ended statement of intent? 

Edited by Zaina
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7 hours ago, Zaina said:

Hi everyone! This is a question for anyone who has applied to/applying to the Queens MPA. I found that its the only program that doesn't have a prompt or instructions for the statement of intent. Or is it stated somewhere and I just missed it? I just wrote my statement very freely, with obvious connections and references to their program, but what did you guys do? How did you approach the open-ended statement of intent? 

Yeah, I couldn't find any information on that part either.  So, I just approached the statement by talking about why I want to pursue Public Administration, why I want to study at Queen's and what makes me a good candidate.

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On 1/7/2023 at 2:24 PM, nevermindthespock said:

I have a question for those who are applying to programs with an option for a research component (either a thesis or an MRP) - did you talk about your research interests in your statement of intent?

I talked about my interests, and tied it back to my statement through connecting it with certain extracurriculars and work experiences

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