About the Master of Peace and Conflict Studies

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Turbulent times like ours call for people who understand systems of violence and conflict, and who are prepared to build peace with justice.

The Master of Peace and Conflict Studies (MPACS) program is a coursework-based, professional degree that empowers students with knowledge and skills to contribute to nonviolent peacebuilding. Combining rigourous interdisciplinary scholarship with experiential learning opportunities, the program provides graduates with tools to understand sources of conflict, polarization, and systems of violence, as well as to imagine and initiate transformative peacebuilding. Our distinctive focus is on civil society and community-led change.

The program is designed to be completed in 16 months by full-time students (a part-time option is available). Students take a combination of core PACS courses and electives of their choice, offered with the cooperation of other programs and departments at the University of Waterloo. Optional experiential learning opportunities include an internship placement and conflict skills workshops.

Degree Requirements

The MPACS program consists of 5 core courses and 5 electives (at least two of which must be PACS courses). Students typically begin the program in the fall term (September-December), taking 3 courses each term for the first and second terms, and 2 courses each term for the third and fourth terms.

For electives, students choose from PACS electives, cross-listed electives, or other relevant graduate courses provided they have obtained department approval.

Additionally, students must complete two academic milestones, an academic intergrity module and a research colloquium. The research colloquium involves completing a public presentation on research completed for the degree, followed by peer review and question and answers with the audience.

Core Courses

PACS 601 Systems of Peace, Order, and Good Governance
PACS 602 The Practice of Peace
PACS 603 Building Civil Society
PACS 604 Conflict Analysis
PACS 605 Conflict Transformation and Peacebuilding

Electives (subject to availability)

PACS 610 Contemporary Nonviolent Movements
PACS 611 Reconciliation
PACS 612 Culture, Religion, and Peacebuilding
PACS 620 Special Topics in Peace and Conflict Studies
PACS 623 Directed Peace Readings
PACS 625 Internship
PACS 626 Conflict Resolution Skill Training
PACS 630/GGOV 610/PSCI 688 Governance of Global Economy
PACS 631/GGOV 612/PSCI 612 Theories of Globalization
PACS 634/GGOV 630/PSCI 679 Security Ontology - Theory
PACS 650/INDEV 604 Sustainable Cities
PACS 651/INDEV 605 Economics for Sustainable Development
PACS 652/INDEV 608 Water and Security
PACS 672/TS 731 Christianity’s Encounter with Other Faiths

See Course Offerings for course descriptions and past years' syllabi. Technical degree requirements can be reviewed on University of Waterloo's academic calendar.

Degree Highlights:

Field-Experienced Faculty

All MPACS faculty have practical experience in the field of Peace and Conflict Studies, through innovative, on-the-ground peace research, and implementation of conflict resolution and intercultural conflict transformation. See the full list of MPACS instructors and staff on our Profiles page.

Internship Placement

Students have the opportunity to link theory and practice by pursuing an internship placement. The goal of an internship is to develop practical competencies necessary for peace work in a setting in which students can observe agencies at work and be mentored to develop their own approaches to peace work. 

Conflict Resolution Skills Training

Students may take practical skill-building workshops for academic credit by enrolling in PACS 626 Conflict Resolution Skills Training. The course involves taking conflict skills workshops in conjunction with supervised academic work. Workshops are offered through the Certificate Program in Conflict Management or students may seek approval for workshops from other credible organizations. Some example workshops include:

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

Kindred Credit Union Centre for Peace Advancement

The Kindred Credit Union Centre for Peace Advancement (CPA) is a hub for innovative peace work and research located on the fourth floor of Conrad Grebel University College. The Centre contains partner organizations, an incubator for young peace initiatives, graduate student space, and a gallery. Students in MPACS take advantage of mentoring opportunities, internships, networking, and special events at the CPA.

Graduate Specialization in Peace Integration

The increasing complexity of global conflict requires sophisticated responses from a new generation of graduates working for peace. The Graduate Specialization in Peace Integration provides MPACS students with the opportunity to enroll in world class, interdisciplinary academic courses offered by programs highlighting holistic and integrated approaches to the study of peace that encapsulates more than simply the absence of violent conflict.

Independent Research Options

MPACS is a coursework-based master's degree, however, students who wish to pursue a career in research may take independent study courses, PACS 621 Peace Research and PACS 623 Directed Peace Readings. These courses involve working under the supervision of a faculty member to advance academic research and writing skills. The two courses may be combined to create a major research project.

Conrad Grebel University College

A liberal-arts college founded by the Mennonite community in the Waterloo Region, Conrad Grebel University College is affiliated with the University of Waterloo and home to the oldest peace program in Canada. Be part of a community-centered learning environment while benefiting from the reputation and resources of the University of Waterloo, one of Canada's premier universities.