About the Master of Peace and Conflict Studies

Program mission | Overview | Tailor your program

Program mission

mpacs students and professor talkingThe Master of Peace and Conflict Studies (MPACS) program is designed to foster the capability of civil society to contribute to sustainable/holistic peace by empowering students with the knowledge, research, and practical skills needed to contribute to nonviolent peacebuilding efforts. Combining rigorous scholarship with concrete application, the program will provide scholars and practitioners alike with the tools needed to understand conflict and contribute to its peaceful resolution.


MPACS students in library The Master of Peace and Conflict Studies (MPACS) is an interdisciplinary program that integrates scholarship with opportunities for practical experience. MPACS students will take a combination of core PACS courses, PACS electives, and PACS cross-listed electives, offered with the cooperation of other programs and departments at the University of Waterloo.

MPACS students must complete 5.0 units to fulfill the program requirements:

  • 2.5 units (5 courses) of core courses
  • a minimum of 1.0 unit of PACS electives
  • up to 1.5 units of PACS cross-listed electives

Tailor your program

MPACS offers a wide range of diverse course options that allow you to explore three key areas of skill building.


You will have the opportunity to develop skills as a practitioner and link theory and practice by pursuing an internship. The goal of an internship is to develop practical competencies necessary for peace work in a setting in which you can observe agencies at work and be mentored to develop your own approaches. 

Conflict Resolution skills training

A group of conflict management students discuss an activity You may take practical skill-building workshops for academic credit. You may choose from the wide variety of workshops offered through the Certificate Program in Conflict Management or you may seek approval for workshops from other organizations. Workshops students have taken in the past include:

  • Understanding Conflict
  • Mediating Groups in Dispute
  • Narrative Mediation
  • Peacemaking Circles

Independent Research Options

Peace Research

MPACS is a course-based program. If you wish to pursue a research career after this program, you are encouraged to take the Peace Research course and work with a faculty supervisor to advance their academic research and writing skills.

PACS 621: Peace Research Course (PDF)

Peace Readings

This reading course gives you the space to study literature that explores the full theoretical and contemporary scope of readings pertaining to a proposed field of research. This course allows you to broaden your scope of research into fields that pertain to Peace and Conflict Studies and not be confined by the listed course topics MPACS offers.

PACS 623: Directed Readings Course Syllabus (PDF)

Full-time option:

Full-time students will normally complete the program over a four-term period, enrolling in three courses for the first two terms and two courses in the last two terms. A regular term at the University of Waterloo is four months long, so full-time students can expect to complete the program in 16-months.

Full-time students are those who enroll in 1.0 unit or more (two or more course equivalents) per term.

You will be admitted only in the Fall term of a given year (starting in September), and be expected to complete your studies at the end of the Fall term in the subsequent year (at the end of December).

Term 1: students enroll in 3 courses, including at least 2 core courses.

Term 2: students enroll in 3 courses, including at least 2 core courses.

Term 3: students enroll in 2 courses and students who choose the internship option will normally complete it during this time (as the equivalent of two courses). Internships must be for a minimum of 3 months.

Term 4: students enroll in 2 courses and research colloquium (students must orally present a major paper they have written, receive peer review, and respond to questions and critique).

Part-time option:

A limited number of students will be admitted to the program on a part-time basis. Part-time students must also complete 5.0 units in order to graduate. Part-time students are expected to complete at least two courses per academic year, and have five years to complete the program from the date of their initial enrolment.

Part-time students are those who complete less than 1.0 units (less than two course equivalents) per term.

Master of Peace and Conflict Studies students will:

  1. Complete core courses that foster the capacity of students to understand the promise and potential of civil society to advance peace through principled advocacy, effective programming, and dynamic engagement with the state and marketplace
  2. Take elective courses offered through the Peace and Conflict Studies (PACS) department and other cooperating departments/programs (International Development, Global Governance, Political Science, or Theological Studies).
  3. Interact with faculty members with expertise in areas such as:
  • unofficial (track two) dialogue processes
  • human rights
  • the role of civil society
  • the role of cultural and religious traditions in peace-building
  • the practice of peacebuilding
  1. Be a part of a unique community learning environment at Conrad Grebel University College, which is also home to the oldest PACS program in Canada.
  2. Take advantage of resources at the University of Waterloo, one of Canada’s premier universities.
  3. Have the opportunity to take part in internships in diverse fields, all over the world.  

Program mission | Overview | Tailor your program