Why does Waterloo offer a Master of Public Service program?

A professional public service is essential to good government, and Canada's public servants are well-educated and highly skilled. However, as many senior public servants retire over the coming years, governments at all levels will need capable and experienced recruits to develop and implement policies, manage programs and deliver services to Canadians. This was the message we received during our extensive consultations with senior-level public servants and stakeholders. Accordingly, the primary aims of the MPS program are:

  • to provide students with the knowledge and skills they need to become effective public servants in any branch of the Canadian public service;

  • to ensure that municipal, provincial, and federal public administrations have a supply of well-trained and capable graduates in the future;

  • to make available a unique professional program in Canada in which students coming from a variety of undergraduate fields can make the transition to a career in public service; and

  • to provide a program that gives special emphasis to the distinctive demands made on modern public servants, in particular the need for ethical sensitivity, modern communication skills, sophisticated financial management, and excellent leadership.

How is the MPS program different from graduate programs in Public Policy or Public Administration?

Unlike graduate programs in public policy, the MPS program aims to prepare students for a range of public service responsibilities. Unlike existing graduate programs in public administration, Waterloo's co-operative education program contains a structured range of courses, a required 8-month co-opertive education work term and a collaborative team project where you investigate a pressing public issue and produce a professional policy report. 

MPS students develop critical knowledge of government today (courses), applied skills and practice through on-the-job learning (co-operative education) and experience in team-based research and analysis (major team project). Through these three required components, the MPS degree prepares new public servants to provide quality policy advice to decision-makers and effectively implement government programs.

How many students are in a typical MPS cohort?

Enrolment in the MPS program is typically around 44 students per year.

Is the program available on a part-time basis?

No, at this point MPS is only available as a full-time program.

What kinds of topics would the major team project cover?

Teams of MPS students will develop a major project proposal based on a public service issue that is of particular interest to them. Topics may be derived from the coursework or co-operative education work experience or may address a current issue faced by Canadian governments. Topic selection is flexible to allow for creativity, but students will be expected to simulate a realistic public service assignment and produce a professional, thorough analysis which demonstrates the knowledge and skills they have acquired in the MPS program. Some examples of broad topics that teams may investigate include:

  • engaging citizens in social policy development

  • managing public expectations in a period of fiscal constraint

  • use of new technological innovations in government service provision

  • effective partnerships between governments and community agencies

  • improving the Aboriginal education system

Please see the Major Team Project page for more information, as well as some examples of topics other MPS students have chosen.