Victoria SPA (pre-2019)


Click for program website

University of Victoria, School of Public Administration (SPA) – MPA

Note: For an updated (post-June 2019) description, see Victoria SPA.

Program Comparison Highlights

Institutional Structure: The University of Victoria’s School of Public Administration is an academic unit within the Faculty of Human and Social Development.

Curriculum Design: The MPA program is a two-year (plus usually some months), full-time program if completed on-campus. The School has a full on-line version of the MPA (the only one of its kind in Canada, and rare among all the programs reviewed to date) that is also two-years. For the on-campus program there are 9 required courses and 2 electives plus and 5 to 6 one-semester course equivalents of required co-op placements and a Master’s Project or a Master’s Thesis. The program tilts towards management rather than policy analysis, with a research methods rather than analytical methods course. Our PEACO calculations below suggest that typical students in the Victoria On Campus MPA take about 63% in management-oriented subjects and 37% of their course work in policy-oriented subjects. Typical students take about 19% of their course work in subjects with high math-economics content. This places the Victoria MPA in the “high course requirement, management-oriented, lower math-economics content” curricular type, along with such programs as the Melbourne MPPM and the Dalhousie MPA (see MPP/MPA Curricular Types). The Victoria MPA has a relatively high proportion of required courses and a high proportion of courses taught within the school. The competency gap analysis below suggests that a Victoria MPA student taking the required courses and a random selection of listed electives would, on average, graduate with approximately 26 course-weeks of shortfall in the core-competency subject matter identified in MPP/MPA Core Competencies. This is among the lowest shortfalls of any program we have reviewed. The 26 course-weeks include: 6 in Socioeconomic and Political Context, 6 in Macroeconomic Policy, 5 in Analytic Methods, and 3 each in Environment and Sustainability and in Information and Technology Management. On the other hand, this student would graduate with well over the minimum competency requirements in Policy and Management Analysis; Leadership Skills; Ethics, Rights and Accountability; and Public Financial Management.

Note 1:  The University of Victoria is one of the few we have encountered that provides an indication of the study time expected in course. Under the FAQ for Graduate Programs, the university states: “How much work is involved? Students should plan to spend 10 to 15 hours per week on each course you take; this is a sizeable time commitment and you’ll need good time management skills to assure success” (at, accessed 13 May 2015). This is consistent with our Hours of Study Proposition (see Credit and Course Equivalencies) to the effect that the syllabus for a one-semester MPP/MPA course can be designed with the expectation that the typical student can achieve the median grade with a total of 120 hours of combined in-class and outside-class study. 

Professional Program Features: The School of Public Administration includes former practitioners among its teaching faculty. The website does not reference a career advisement function. The School’s research activity is described at:

Program Summary


University: University of Victoria

Location: Victoria, British Columbia, Canada

Degree: Master of Arts in Public Administration (MPA)

Marketing Approach: MPA On Campus: “A challenging curriculum will take you through a journey of discovery as you build competencies in strategic awareness, analytical thinking, engagement and communication, and professionalism and leadership. The program is grounded in a problem-based learning approach, and is comprised of two academic semesters interleaved with two co-operative work term semesters, and culminates with a client-focused capstone project. The capstone project provides strategic options for a government agency, non-profit organization, or community client on a real policy or management challenge, which involves reviewing literature, undertaking empirical work, best practices, and developing options and detailed plans for implementing recommended options. All of the MPA courses prepare students for this capstone project.” (At, accessed 19 September 2017.)

MPA Online: “If you’re an active professional preparing to advance your career in local, provincial, First Nations, or federal government, or in an international organization, the Master of Public Administration (MPA) Online program is for you. You’ll be encouraged to explore theory and practice in both policy analysis and public management and acquire a mix of skills that create career opportunities as managers, analysts, and consultants. Among our graduates are city managers, non-profit administrators, government administrators, and leaders in the interface between business and government. You’ll join a program with many other online students looking to combine graduate studies with work and family responsibilities. Our students come from across Canada and are committed to developing their public sector leadership skills while mastering the new information and communication technologies used in online study.” (At, accessed 19 September 2017.)

Degrees Awarded per Year: TBD [Information will be requested from the School]

Academic Unit within University: The School of Public Administration is an academic unit within the Faculty of Human and Social Development.

Related Degrees: The School of Public Administration offers three On Campus degrees: Master of Public Administration; Master of Arts in Dispute Resolution; and PhD in Public Administration; and two Online degrees: Master of Public Administration; Graduate Certificate and Diploma in Evaluation; and one Online degree with a summer residency: Master of Arts in Community Development.

Posted Tuition: $1,751 per term for domestic students, $2,083 per term for international students (, accessed 15 November 2013)

Degree Requirements

Summary: MPA On Campus: The MPA On Campus program consists of a minimum of five compulsory terms: two full-time, residential academic terms, two co-operative work terms, and two further academic terms spent completing the Master’s Project or Thesis (which may be taken concurrently with the second work term). The terms spent completing the Project or Thesis may be completed on campus, online or through a combination of the two. Students must complete all program requirements, including a third Co-op term (if taken), by the same semester in which they defend their Project or Thesis. (At, accessed 12 May 2015.) The Program Requirements for the MPA On Campus are: 9 Core Courses (ADMN 502B, 504, 509 or other specified course, 512 (non-credit); PADR 501, 502A, 503, 504, 505, 589) plus 2 elective courses (two from ADMN 523, 530, 531, 537, 544, 547, 548, 553, 577, 578, 579, 580, 581, 582; or MADR (DR) or MACD (CD) courses, with permission, or 400-level undergraduate courses (ADMN) offered by the School of Public Administration or other academic programs, with permission), plus a Final Requirement (ADMN 598 or 599) worth either of 3 or 4 courses, plus two Co-op placements (that we are assigning the value of a total of 2 courses) for a total program requirement of 16 one-semester course equivalents (Master’s Project option) or 17 one-semester course equivalents (Master’s Thesis option).

MPA Online: The Courses in the MPA Online program are offered year-round. MPA Online students may only take more than two courses per term with the permission of the Graduate Adviser. Students will also need the permission of the Graduate Adviser to take elective courses before completing core courses. The program consists of 13 to 14 course-equivalents (19.5 to 21 units) of study, including 3 units of elective courses and 4.5 to 6 units for a final management/policy report or thesis. In terms 1 to 4, students are introduced to the key building blocks of the program through the core courses.

Duration: MPA On Campus: The full-time MPA On Campus program can be completed in two years, including two co-operative work terms.

MPA Online: The program starts in September and courses are offered year-round. When completing two courses per term, students are able to complete the program in just over two years. However, the program is flexible, and accommodates students’ busy schedules: many students choose to complete the program at a slower pace over three to four years.

Academic Prerequisite: To be eligible for admission, you must have an undergraduate degree with a minimum B+ average (75-79%) in the last two years (30 units) leading to the undergraduate degree.

Number of One-Semester-Equivalent Courses Required for Completion: MPA On Campus : 16 (Master’s Project option) and 17 (Master’s Thesis option) including co-op placements equivalent to 2 courses. For purposed of comparing the University of Victoria On Campus MPA with other programs we will use the average (16.5).

MPA Online: 13 (Master’s Project option) and 14 (Master’s Thesis option).

Number of Required Courses: MPA On Campus: 10 plus Master’s Project or Thesis and co-op placements.

MPA Online: 8 plus Master’s Project or Thesis.

Note 2: The two required co-op terms are counted as 2 one-semester-equivalent courses. Note 3: The required course ADMN 589: Co-op Seminar-Introduction to Professional Practice is included as 1 one-semester-equivalent course, but is no-credit.

Number of Electives Typically Taken (difference between above two entries): 2

Number of Electives Offered within Program: 22

Note 4: The program also provides access to courses available in approved upper-level (400) undergraduate courses and graduate courses in other departments across the University. Note 5: This does not include ADMN 590: Directed Studies.

Comprehensive Examination: No

Thesis Required: No, but students in the MPA program must choose either a Master’s Project (ADMN 598) or a Master’s Thesis (ADMN 599).

Internship Required: MPA On Campus: Yes, students must complete a minimum of 2 but maximum of 3 paid, full-time co-op work terms. MPA Online: No

International Study Required: No but the school is currently negotiating an optional exchange with Brisbane, Australia. Normal duration of 1 or 2 semesters.

Co-curricular Activities Supportive to Degree

Professional Development and Career Support: The School of Public Administration, through its Centre for Public Sector Studies offers a variety of specialized professional development workshops for individuals or organizations looking to enhance their knowledge of public sector leadership and management.

Student-run Journal: Not referenced on School website.

Applied Projects: Yes (Master’s Project).

Pro Bono Consulting: Not referenced on School website.

Courses Offered: The full list of 2014-2015 MPA courses are found at With permission, students can also select upper-level (400) undergraduate courses offered in other departments at the University of Victoria. The courses offered by the School of Public Administration have been assigned to Atlas subjects in the map below. Required courses for the On-Campus MPA are indicated by (R).

Instructional Distribution (PEACO Profile): The table below indicates the distribution of instruction offered, based on the course assignments to subjects in the Course Map below, weighted by estimated enrolment determined by the PEACO Algorithm.


Victoria On Campus
Curricular Type Parameters
Number of Courses Required for Graduation 16.5
Math-Economics Subjects (EA, QM, Macro, Fin Markets) 19.4%
Policy-Oriented Subjects 36.8%
Management-Oriented Subjects 63.2%
Enrolment-Adjusted Course Distribution
Analysis and Skill Subjects 62.1%
  – Policy and Management Analysis 21.4%
  – Economic Analysis 9.7%
  – Quantitative  and Analytic Methods 10.4%
  – Leadership and Communication Skills 20.7%
Institutions and Context Subjects 23.4%
  – Democratic Institutions and Policy Process 11.0%
  – Ethics, Rights and Accountability 10.4%
  – Socioeconomic, Political, and Global Contexts 2.0%
Management Function Subjects 13.8%
  – Public Financial Management 9.7%
  – Evaluation and Performance Measurement 3.4%
  – Other Management Functions 0.7%
Policy Sector Subjects 0.7%
  – Macroeconomic Policy 0.0%
  – International Development 0.0%
  – Health 0.0%
  – Other Policy Sectors 0.7%
                              Total 100%
Competency Gap Analysis (in Course-Weeks of Instruction)
Course-Weeks in Core Subjects taken by Typical Student 197
Surplus or Shortfall Relative to Core Competency Requirement
  – Policy and Management Analysis (CCR = 18 course-weeks) 24
  – Economic Analysis (CCR = 12) 7
  – Quantitative Methods (CCR = 12) 7
  – Analytic Methods (CCR = 6) -5
  – Leadership Skills (CCR = 9) 31
  – Communication Skills (CCR = 3 courses) -2
  – Democratic Institutions and Policy Process (CCR = 18) 4
  – Ethics, Rights and Accountability (CCR = 6 courses) 15
  – Socioeconomic and Political Context (CCR = 6) -6
  – Global Context (CCR = 3) 1
  – Public Financial Management (CCR = 6) 13
  – Evaluation and Performance Measurement (CCR = 6) 1
  – Human Resource Management (CCR = 3) -2
  – Information and Technology Management (CCR = 3) -3
  – Macroeconomic Policy (CCR = 6) -6
  – Environment and Sustainability (CCR = 3) -3
Subject-Matter Shortfall for Typical Student (Sum of Shortfalls) -26
Additional Parameters
Total Courses Listed 31
Courses Designated as Required (inc. Specialization Reqs) 14.5
Archetypal Public Affairs Subjects (P&MA, EA, QM, DI&PP) 51.8%
Archetypal International Affairs Subjects (I&GC, ID, DS&FR) 2.0%
Course Map for Victoria MPA

R indicates required course

and Skills

Policy Analysis and Process

PADR 505 Policy Making and Policy Communities (R)

ADMN 556 The Public Policy Process

Implementation and Delivery

ADMN 530 Increasing Organizational Effectiveness: Working with Consultants

ADMN 530A Increasing Organizational Effectiveness

ADMN 577 Strategic Planning and Implementation

Economic Analysis

ADMN 509 Microeconomics for Policy Analysis (R)

Quantitative Methods

ADMN 502B Data Analysis and Interpretation (R)

ADMN 581 Quantitative Methods for Public Policy Analysis and Program Evaluation

Analytic Methods

PADR 502A Analysis for the Public & Non-Profit Sectors (R)

Leadership Skills

PADR 504 Public Leadership and Management (R)

PADR 501 Collaboration and Engagement (R)

ADMN 507 Public Sector Leadership: Teams, Self and Organization

Communication Skills

ADMN 550 Strategic Communication and Engagement

Multiple Subjects

Capstones,  Internships, Theses, etc.

ADMN 523 Special Topics in Public Sector Management

ADMN 548 Special Topics in Public Policy

ADMN 590 Directed Studies

ADMN 596 Evaluation Project (3)

ADMN 598 Master’s Project (3R/2)

ADMN 599 Master’s Thesis (4R/2)

Co-op Placement (2R)

and Context

Democratic Institutions and Policy Process

ADMN 504 Government and Governance (R)

ADMN 551 Administrative Justice System in Canada

ADMN 547 Intergovernmental Relations in Canada

Ethics, Rights and Accountability

PADR 503 Professional Integrity in the Public and Non-Profit Sectors (R)

ADMN 554 Responsible Public Management

Socioeconomic and Political Context
Global Context


Public Financial Management

ADMN 512 Resource Accountability and Management in the Public Sector (R)

Evaluation and Performance Measurement

ADMN 537 Program Evaluation and Performance Measurement

ADMN 544 Economic Evaluation Methods and Applications

ADMN 580 Qualitative Evaluation Methods and Applications

ADMN 582 Topics in Program Evaluation, Performance Measurement, Performance Management and Knowledge Management

Human Resource Management

ADMN 531 Performance and Strategic Human Resource Management

Information and Technology Management
Regulatory Policy and Management
Local Government Management
Nonprofit Management and Advocacy


Macroeconomic Policy
International Development
Public Finance and Social Policy
Employment, Labour and Immigration
Cities, Urban and Regional Development

ADMN 553 Understanding Cities

ADMN 578 European Union Urban Region Policies

ADMN 579 European Union Border Region Policies

Environment and Sustainability
Agriculture and Resources
Science, Technology and Innovation
Industry, Trade and Investment
Energy, Transport and Infrastructure
Defence, Security and Foreign Relations
Policing and Justice Administration
Arts and Culture
Financial Markets



Source: At and related sites (accessed 6 October 2013 and 12 May 2015).

Page created by: Laura Davidson on 6 October 2013, updated by Leslie Pal and Ian Clark 20 November 2013, updated by Kyle Richardson 16 February, 2014 and Dave Marshall on 3 April 2015 and by Ian Clark on 13 May 2015 and on 19 September 2017. Last modified (providing the link to the updated site in the Note at the top of this page) by Ian Clark on 21 November 2019.

Image: Screenshot of school website on 14 December 2015.