Waterloo MPS

WaterlooUniversity of Waterloo, Faculty of Arts – MPS

Program Comparison Highlights

Institutional Structure: The University of Waterloo Master in Public Service is a collaborative program within the Faculty of Arts.

Curriculum Design: The Waterloo MPS is relatively recent addition to the Canadian public affairs Master’s landscape. The program’s first class of graduate students began the program in September 2010. Its curriculum is distinctive in at least three respects: 1) it is specifically focused on training for civil service positions; 2) all its courses (except for a spoken French course) are designated as required, and, for the co-op stream degree, 3) a mandatory two-term co-op placement. Our PEACO calculations below suggest that typical students take about 55% of their course work in policy-oriented subjects and 45% in management-oriented subjects, and that about 30% of the courses have a high math/economics content. This places the Waterloo MPS in the “medium course requirement, management-oriented, higher math-economics content” curricular type, along with such programs as the Albany MPA and the Rutgers MPA (see MPP/MPA Curricular Types). The competency gap analysis below suggests that Waterloo MPS students graduate with approximately 38 course-weeks of shortfall in the core-competency subject matter identified in MPP/MPA Core Competencies, including shortfalls of 6 course-weeks in each of: Public Financial Management; Evaluation and Performance Measurement; and Macroeconomic Policy. On the other hand, this student would graduate with well over the minimum competency requirements in Economic Analysis; Democratic Institutions and Policy Process; and Socioeconomic and Political Context.

Professional Program Features: The program includes the essential professional feature of required co-op placements. Its website does not currently list former practitioners or research activities.

Program Summary

Website: https://uwaterloo.ca/master-of-public-service/

University: University of Waterloo

Location: Waterloo, Ontario, Canada

Degree: Master of Public Service (MPS), Master of Public Service Co-op (MPS Co-op)

Marketing Approach: “A professional training program for Canada’s next public servants. The Master of Public Service is a graduate co-op program that equips students with the knowledge, skills, and experience they need for a public service career at any level of government in Canada.” (At https://uwaterloo.ca/master-of-public-service/, accessed 13 May 2015.) “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-op program contains a structured range of courses, a required 8-month co-op work term and a collaborative team project where you investigate a pressing public issue and produce a professional policy report.” (At https://uwaterloo.ca/master-of-public-service/future-students/faqs/program, accessed 13 May 2015.)

Degrees Awarded per Year: Enrolment in the MPS program is typically around 44 students per year. (At https://uwaterloo.ca/master-of-public-service/future-students/faqs/program, accessed 13 May 2015.)

Academic Unit within University: A collaborative program within the Faculty of Arts.

Posted Tuition: Students can expect to pay approximately $16,000 for the 20-month, full-time program, plus co-op fees ($616 per co-op term), at https://uwaterloo.ca/master-of-public-service/future-students/faqs/tuition-and-financing accessed 13 May 2015.

Concentration/Curriculum Overview: MPS students complete ten advanced graduate courses from September to April, taught by instructors from a range of academic disciplines, such as Accounting, Economics, English, French, Political Science, and Sociology. They also benefit from the participation of senior-level public servants, who give special seminars and lead classes. From May to December, they complete eight months of co-op employment with a government department or agency. The final program component is a Major Team Project, in which teams of students simulate a realistic public service assignment, leading to a professional, thorough analysis of a salient public issue. (At https://uwaterloo.ca/master-of-public-service/about, accessed 13 May 2015.) The program is described as intensive: “While UW graduate regulations state that full-time graduate students may work up to 10 hours per week outside their program, MPS students are strongly advised against doing part-time work during the first two terms of courses. Students will be very busy with their five required courses, and should not jeopardize their program achievements with extra-curricular work. During the two terms of co-op work, students will be earning an income. During the final term (5th term), when students are back on campus for their major project, part-time work outside the program MAY be manageable.” (At https://uwaterloo.ca/master-of-public-service/future-students/faqs/tuition-and-financing, accessed 13 May 2015.)

Degree Requirements

Summary: When applying to the Master of Public Service program, students have the option of taking the Co-op program or the Regular program. The full-time Master of Public Service Co-op program takes 20 months to complete. The program of study includes ten required courses, eight months of co-op work, and a major team project. Students may also complete the program in 12 months without co-op, if they have at least one year of paid public sector experience.

Duration: Co-op Program Structure: 20 months (two terms of full-time study, 2 co-op terms, 1 term major group project); Regular Program Structure: 12 months (two terms of full-time studies, 1 term major group project)

Number of One-Semester-Equivalent Courses Required for Completion: 14

Number of Required Courses: 14.

Note 1: The two required co-op terms are counted as 2 one-semester-equivalent courses.

Note 2: The required major group project term is coutned as 2 one-semester-equivalent courses.

Number of Electives Typically Taken (difference between above two entries): 0

Number of Electives Offered within Program: 1

Note 3:  PS 616 Spoken in French Context is an optional course, taken as “extra to degree”, which means that it appears on a student’s transcript, but the grade does not count toward their academic average.

Comprehensive Examination: No

Thesis Required: No

Internship Required: Yes, for the Co-op Program option.

International Study Required: No.

Co-curricular Activities Supportive to Degree

Professional Development and Career Support: Yes. Career advisor arranges seminars and workshops on resume writing, interviewing, etc.  Students have online access to government and employment opportunities.

Student-run Journal: Not referenced on program website.

Applied Projects: Yes, the Major Group Project.

Pro Bono Consulting: Not referenced on program website.

Courses Offered: The full list of 2014-2015 MPS courses are found at https://uwaterloo.ca/master-of-public-service/current-students/courses.

Note 4:  The above course listing includes two economics courses and no financial management courses while the program listing at https://uwaterloo.ca/master-of-public-service/future-students/program-structure includes two financial management course and no economics courses. Our PEACO calculations and Course Map are based on the former.

Course Outlines and Syllabi Online: The School does not post its syllabi on its website.

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.


Curricular Type Parameters
Number of Courses Required for Graduation 14.0
Math-Economics Subjects (EA, QM, Macro, Fin Markets) 30.0%
Policy-Oriented Subjects 55.0%
Management-Oriented Subjects 45.0%
Enrolment-Adjusted Course Distribution
Analysis and Skill Subjects 70.0%
  – Policy and Management Analysis 10.0%
  – Economic Analysis 20.0%
  – Quantitative  and Analytic Methods 20.0%
  – Leadership and Communication Skills 20.0%
Institutions and Context Subjects 20.0%
  – Democratic Institutions and Policy Process 10.0%
  – Ethics, Rights and Accountability 0.0%
  – Socioeconomic, Political, and Global Contexts 10.0%
Management Function Subjects 10.0%
  – Public Financial Management 0.0%
  – Evaluation and Performance Measurement 0.0%
  – Other Management Functions 10.0%
Policy Sector Subjects 0.0%
  – Macroeconomic Policy 0.0%
  – International Development 0.0%
  – Health 0.0%
  – Other Policy Sectors 0.0%
                              Total 100%
Competency Gap Analysis (in Course-Weeks of Instruction)
Course-Weeks in Core Subjects taken by Typical Student 151
Surplus or Shortfall Relative to Core Competency Requirement
  – Policy and Management Analysis (CCR = 18 course-weeks) -1
  – Economic Analysis (CCR = 12) 22
  – Quantitative Methods (CCR = 12) 5
  – Analytic Methods (CCR = 6) 11
  – Leadership Skills (CCR = 9) 8
  – Communication Skills (CCR = 3 courses) 14
  – Democratic Institutions and Policy Process (CCR = 18) -1
  – Ethics, Rights and Accountability (CCR = 6 courses) -6
  – Socioeconomic and Political Context (CCR = 6) 11
  – Global Context (CCR = 3) -3
  – Public Financial Management (CCR = 6) -6
  – Evaluation and Performance Measurement (CCR = 6) -6
  – Human Resource Management (CCR = 3) -3
  – 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) -38
Additional Parameters
Total Courses Listed 12
Courses Designated as Required (inc. Specialization Reqs) 14.0
Archetypal Public Affairs Subjects (P&MA, EA, QM, DI&PP) 50.0%
Archetypal International Affairs Subjects (I&GC, ID, DS&FR) 0.0%


Source: At https://uwaterloo.ca/master-of-public-service/; https://uwaterloo.ca/master-of-public-service/about; https://uwaterloo.ca/master-of-public-service/current-students/courses; https://uwaterloo.ca/master-of-public-service/future-students/program-structure; https://uwaterloo.ca/finance/fee-schedule-graduate-students-fall-2013#Spec (accessed 25 September 2013).

Page Created By: Laura Davidson on 2 October 2013; updated by Ian Clark on 19 June 2014 and Dave Marshall on 3 April 2015. Last modified by Ian Clark on 14 December 2015.

Image: Screenshot of school website on 14 December 2015.

Course Map

and Skills

Policy and Management Analysis

PS 618-Public Policy Development (R)

Economic Analysis

PS 625-Economics and Public Policy I (R)

PS 626-Economics and Public Policy II (R)

Quantitative Methods

PS 624-Research Methods & Data Analysis (R)

Analytic Methods
Leadership Skills

PS 621-Project Management in Government (R)

Communication Skills

PS 614-Communicating with Diverse Audiences (R)

PS 616-Spoken French in Context

Multiple Subjects

Capstones,  Internships, Theses, etc.

and Context

Democratic Institutions and Policy Process

PS 611-Government, Politics & the Public Service (R)

Ethics, Rights and Accountability
Socioeconomic and Political Context

PS 613-The Politics of Difference in Canada: Challenges and Policy Responses (R)

Global Context


Public Financial Management
Evaluation and Performance Measurement
Human Resource Management
Information and Technology Management
Regulatory Policy and Management
Local Government Management
Nonprofit Management and Advocacy

PS 623-Government, Business, and Civil Society (R)


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