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Carleton MPPA Class of ‘25


Zaina
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Hey all! Congratulations on getting into Carleton's MPPA program! I posted in the other thread but I thought I would make a similar post here.

I am finishing my first year in the MPPA program at Carleton and will start my first co-op in the federal government in May. I would be delighted to answer any questions about the program, such as how courses have been, what it's like living in Ottawa, co-ops, what it's like having to do pre-reqs (I had to take both econs), what it's like working and taking courses at the same time, job opportunities, and just about anything that you would like to know before entering the program! Many others on the forum have posted excellent advice, but if you want a recent perspective from a first-year, I am happy to provide insight! 

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14 minutes ago, Pinkyandthe_brain said:

Is there a sequence in which you’d recommend taking your courses with the MPPA program? 

Good question. Definitely start off with completing as many first year "core courses" as possible as you need to be in the process of completing 6 core courses (5 courses if you have pre-reqs that weren't completed in the summer) by the end of April of your first year to be eligible for co-op. For reference, a full course load is 4 courses per term, so I absolutely would not recommend doing more than that. Regarding what are "core courses" they are outlined on the MPPA website, or in the spring/summer prior to your arrival, you will get a package emailed to you that will explain them, and give you a rough roadmap on how you can attack your first year. 

The MPPA also has 3 courses that require quantitative/math elements. They are quantitative methods (stats), micro econ for policy analysis, and macro econ for policy analysis. Quant and micro are considered first year core courses, and macro is a second year core. In your first year if possible, I would STRONGLY suggest not taking micro and stats in the same term, especially if math isn't your strongest skill. Math isn't my best skill, and even taking one "mathy" course per term was hard enough. I will say, even if math isn't your best skill, don't panic, they are manageable, and the profs understand that most students are not comfortable with the material in each course. The math doesn't get too complex, and there is a fair amount of logic and intuition involved with the courses that help balanced the practical math side of things. Those courses also have optional tutorials once per week, and the profs office hours are generally very helpful. Honestly, my math skills are tragic, so if I can get through these courses, then everyone else can, don't panic. 

Hope that answers your question!

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3 hours ago, LawAndMordor said:

Hey all! Congratulations on getting into Carleton's MPPA program! I posted in the other thread but I thought I would make a similar post here.

I am finishing my first year in the MPPA program at Carleton and will start my first co-op in the federal government in May. I would be delighted to answer any questions about the program, such as how courses have been, what it's like living in Ottawa, co-ops, what it's like having to do pre-reqs (I had to take both econs), what it's like working and taking courses at the same time, job opportunities, and just about anything that you would like to know before entering the program! Many others on the forum have posted excellent advice, but if you want a recent perspective from a first-year, I am happy to provide insight! 

Hi! I’ve got an offer for the program that’ll start in Fall, but I have to complete 3 prerequisites (ECON 1001 and 1002 and PSCI 2003) and have a few questions:

1.    They recommend I complete the prerequisites before Fall 2023, so I’ll have to do them in Summer term. I have 2 months before summer courses start. Would it be possible for me to postpone and do only the prerequisites in Fall instead of Summer and then start the program in Winter 2024?

2.    I know I can do the prerequisites on any university, but I’d like to do them at Carleton. 2 of those prerequisites are available in Summer, but one (PSCI 2003) is not. Any suggestions If I want to complete all 3 in Summer? Or maybe I should complete the Econ prerequisites in summer and then complete the PSCI one in fall or winter terms?

3. You said you don’t recommends taking 2 Econ courses at the same time. I’m not much of a math enthusiast either, so, do you think taking these 2 in summer would be too much? 

4. Would you recommended doing 3 courses per term? Maybe fall term 2 courses + the PSCI prerequisite and then in winter term 3 courses? I don’t want to overwhelm myself at first going for 4 courses. Later on, sure, I could probably go for 4 courses, but I’d rather be cautious at first.

TIA!

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25 minutes ago, jeffgordon said:

Hi! I’ve got an offer for the program that’ll start in Fall, but I have to complete 3 prerequisites (ECON 1001 and 1002 and PSCI 2003) and have a few questions:

1.    They recommend I complete the prerequisites before Fall 2023, so I’ll have to do them in Summer term. I have 2 months before summer courses start. Would it be possible for me to postpone and do only the prerequisites in Fall instead of Summer and then start the program in Winter 2024?

2.    I know I can do the prerequisites on any university, but I’d like to do them at Carleton. 2 of those prerequisites are available in Summer, but one (PSCI 2003) is not. Any suggestions If I want to complete all 3 in Summer? Or maybe I should complete the Econ prerequisites in summer and then complete the PSCI one in fall or winter terms?

3. You said you don’t recommends taking 2 Econ courses at the same time. I’m not much of a math enthusiast either, so, do you think taking these 2 in summer would be too much? 

4. Would you recommended doing 3 courses per term? Maybe fall term 2 courses + the PSCI prerequisite and then in winter term 3 courses? I don’t want to overwhelm myself at first going for 4 courses. Later on, sure, I could probably go for 4 courses, but I’d rather be cautious at first.

TIA!

Hello, happy to answer your questions!

1. In general, it is recommended because it can ease your load/stress when coming into the program, and you can ideally finish by the May 2025 target date for when your funding runs out. That being said, my issue with the SPPA was that they seemed to advertise that as something that "had" to be done. It is ideal to have them completed, but it is NOT mandatory to have them done prior to the Fall start date. For context, MAJORITY of my cohort had at least a pre-req if not all 3 that needed to be completed when we began the program in the Fall.

The second part of your question about starting the program in Winter 2024, I don't think you can do that, but I am not sure. Best to talk to the Graduate Supervisor and the Graduate coordinator. That being said, don't let the pre-reqs discourage you as there are loads of people who have to do them, and I believe the hard deadline to have all three pre reqs done is by the end of the summer of your first year (so summer 2024 for your cohort). I THINK that is the case, but I could be wrong.

2. I know both econs are offered at Carleton during the summer. Think they take just over a month to finish, so if you take them through Carleton, you can get them done in time prior to starting (that being said, it will be very condensed and somewhat rushed, so if you aren't great at econ and have trouble handling a lot of material, it might be challenging. Yet, lot's of people have been successful in doing it through Carleton). Most people who need the POLI SCI pre req do it at Carleton in the fall, however that course is generally a pain in the ass. It's doable, but tedious. I know many others have done their pre reqs through Athabasca U (I did both econs through them). The material is not too hard, but Athabasca U is all asynchronous, thus very time consuming (at least I found it to be). Athabasca also has very expensive tuition. If you wanted to do all 3 pre reqs prior to the Fall, Athabasca U would probably be your best bet, however be mindful that you will literally be teaching the material yourself, despite having the autonomy to complete things at your own pace. 

3. With the econs/stats, I was referring to the master's level courses. I wouldn't take master level micro econ and master level stats in the first year during the same term. Doing 2 pre req econs at the same time in the summer prior to the program starting shouldn't be an issue. Hope that clarifies things.

4. It depends. Extending your term outside of your May 2024 end date will likely increase your costs as your funding is only covered for 5 terms (if I'm not mistaken). If you are given Advance Completion Credits (ACCs) for courses, it will allow students to take a lesser load while still being on track to finish on time. Lot's of students take 4 courses and manage just fine. It will have stressful moments as it's grad school, but it's not impossible. Lastly, students in my year who had pre reqs to finish did a schedule of 3 master's (PADM) courses and 1 pre req. Point being, doing 5 courses will most likely be way too much. 

Hope that answers your questions, and if you have more, feel free to reach out. 

L&M

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Can anyone comment on the level of difficulty for the Econ courses? I have zero background in Econ, and will be completing one of the prerequisites during the summer, and the other during my first year, but I’m more concerned about the graduate level stats/Econ courses. Would they be manageable for someone with no math background? 

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10 minutes ago, Zaina said:

Can anyone comment on the level of difficulty for the Econ courses? I have zero background in Econ, and will be completing one of the prerequisites during the summer, and the other during my first year, but I’m more concerned about the graduate level stats/Econ courses. Would they be manageable for someone with no math background? 

They are manageable. I haven't done math since high school (long time), but find there are ways for you to do well. They are probably the most challenging courses, but you will be fine. Something that really helped me was peer support as I learned a lot from my peers working together. As stated, profs mostly understand that majority of students haven't touched math in the longest time. Plus, there is a little math refresher module put up on Brightspace (it's not graded at all) that reviews the math you may not be familiar with since high school, but will need at the graduate level. As I said, don't stress, you will be fine. 

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1 hour ago, LawAndMordor said:

They are manageable. I haven't done math since high school (long time), but find there are ways for you to do well. They are probably the most challenging courses, but you will be fine. Something that really helped me was peer support as I learned a lot from my peers working together. As stated, profs mostly understand that majority of students haven't touched math in the longest time. Plus, there is a little math refresher module put up on Brightspace (it's not graded at all) that reviews the math you may not be familiar with since high school, but will need at the graduate level. As I said, don't stress, you will be fine. 

Thanks! That’s reassuring 

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Hi guys congratulations on your offers! I was wondering if any alumni can speak about their experience with the CU faculty and how supportive/or not they were with regards to networking and securing coop placements? I really appreciate any help you can provide! 

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1 hour ago, lalax said:

Hi guys congratulations on your offers! I was wondering if any alumni can speak about their experience with the CU faculty and how supportive/or not they were with regards to networking and securing coop placements? I really appreciate any help you can provide! 

In general, I have had good experiences with the faculty. Some are better at gaining research and academic advice, and some of the instructors for specific electives are better for gaining practical career/job skills and advice (i.e. some specific electives are instructed by former high-up government officials, and are entirely practical in nature with mostly briefing notes, case studies, and policy presentations). Most faculty members however have been willing to serve as co-op job references, and the SPPA usually has weekly workshops with some relating to how to do interviews, how to write resumes, how to get your foot in the door in government, ect. 

Regarding co-ops, most people in my year already had theirs locked up by mid February. The co-op job board is loaded with federal opportunities (and others if that interests you), and I know a ton of my colleagues entered with no professional experience, yet locked up a federal co-op well before many who had government or other professional experience. I for one didn't have any professional experience, yet I was able to lock up a temporary FSWEP in the government that was originally supposed to run till the end of March, but my employer allowed me to keep it as a co-op for the summer. I even had a couple of co-op offers I had to turn down before choosing to keep my current job. My suggestion therefore is to network with as many folks as possible (professors, instructors who used to work in government, alumni, current students working, ect.) as well as take advantage of the resources at the co-op office. If you are choosing Carleton to jumpstart your career, especially in the federal government, you picked the perfect program. 

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2 minutes ago, LawAndMordor said:

In general, I have had good experiences with the faculty. Some are better at gaining research and academic advice, and some of the instructors for specific electives are better for gaining practical career/job skills and advice (i.e. some specific electives are instructed by former high-up government officials, and are entirely practical in nature with mostly briefing notes, case studies, and policy presentations). Most faculty members however have been willing to serve as co-op job references, and the SPPA usually has weekly workshops with some relating to how to do interviews, how to write resumes, how to get your foot in the door in government, ect. 

Regarding co-ops, most people in my year already had theirs locked up by mid February. The co-op job board is loaded with federal opportunities (and others if that interests you), and I know a ton of my colleagues entered with no professional experience, yet locked up a federal co-op well before many who had government or other professional experience. I for one didn't have any professional experience, yet I was able to lock up a temporary FSWEP in the government that was originally supposed to run till the end of March, but my employer allowed me to keep it as a co-op for the summer. I even had a couple of co-op offers I had to turn down before choosing to keep my current job. My suggestion therefore is to network with as many folks as possible (professors, instructors who used to work in government, alumni, current students working, ect.) as well as take advantage of the resources at the co-op office. If you are choosing Carleton to jumpstart your career, especially in the federal government, you picked the perfect program. 

Wow, thank you for sharing such a detailed response I appreciate it! It's great to hear that you have taken courses that are entirely practical (can I ask which electives you found to be practical)This definitely sounds reassuring (I'll need to be proactive and stay on top of networking opportunitiesetc.)

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1 minute ago, lalax said:

Wow, thank you for sharing such a detailed response I appreciate it! It's great to hear that you have taken courses that are entirely practical (can I ask which electives you found to be practical)This definitely sounds reassuring (I'll need to be proactive and stay on top of networking opportunitiesetc.)

Hey no problem, my pleasure.

Transportation Policy is by far the most practical course I've taken. I am not into transport policy, but the instructor is a straight shooter and has many guest lecturers come in who worked in Transport Canada (one former ADM spoke to us last week and attended our case study presentations). Most of the first year core courses are generally theoretical, though my instructor for PADM 5122 (Principles and Approaches) is a managing director in government, and generally keeps assignments very practical and applied, which is good practice for working and writing in the government. Some other courses however can be academic (as expected in any master's program). My suggestion for those who want as much practical experience as possible and avoid getting into the "academia weeds" is to look up the instructors and see which one's have extensively worked in government. You're not going to get an entirely practical experience, but for some courses (especially electives), the ones taught by current or former government workers should hopefully lead to a more practical experience. Hope this helps. 

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