Simon Fraser SPP

SFUSimon Fraser University, School of Public Policy (SPP) – MPP

Program Comparison Highlights

Institutional Structure: Simon Fraser’s MPP is delivered through the School of Public Policy, an academic unit within the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences. Unlike many such schools in other universities, SPPG delivers only one professional degree, the Master of Public Policy. With annual admissions of approximately 30, the Simon Fraser MPP is a mid-sized MPP/MPA program in Canada.

Curriculum Design: Our PEACO calculations below suggest that typical students take about 66% of their course work in Analysis/Context/Policies subjects and 34% in Skills/Institutions/Management subjects. Typical students take about 38% of their course work in subjects with high math/economics content. This places the Simon Fraser MPP in the “high course requirement, analysis/context/policy oriented, higher math/economics content” curricular type, along with such programs as the Harvard MPP and the Toronto MPP (see MPP/MPA Curricular Types). The Simon Fraser MPP is one of a minority of programs with a mandatory internship. Among peers in its curricular type, the Simon Fraser MPP has as a relatively high proportion of required courses and a relatively low number of courses taught within the school. The competency gap analysis below suggests that a Simon Fraser MPP student taking the required courses and a random selection of listed electives would, on average, graduate with approximately 37 course-weeks of shortfall in the core-competency subject matter identified in MPP/MPA Core Competencies, including shortfalls of 9 course-weeks in Leadership Skills, 6 course weeks in Public Financial Management and Ethics, Rights and Accountability, and shortfalls of 3 course-weeks in each of Communication Skills, Human Resource Management, and Information and Technology Management. On the other hand, this student would have received considerably more than the minimum requirement in Policy and Management Analysis, Economic Analysis, and Quantitative Methods.

Professional Program Features: The Simon Fraser MPP makes use of current and former practitioners in its teaching. The School is host to two research units – the Centre for Public Policy Research (CPPR) and the Institute for Intersectionality Research and Policy.

Program Summary


University: Simon Fraser University

Location: Vancouver, Canada (the School is located at SFU’s Harbour Centre Campus in the heart of downtown Vancouver)

Degree: Master of Public Policy (MPP)

Marketing Approach: “Our program is founded on an educational model that is academically rigorous, cross disciplinary and professionally relevant. We emphasize practical application of principles and analysis from the social science disciplines. Students will be expected to master a core set of skills in policy analysis, politics, economics, and qualitative and quantitative research methods. Whereas other programs emphasize technical and applied skills of immediate application to the work place, MPP students also receive a solid foundation in economics and political science at an advanced level, thus ensuring they are well grounded in the two key disciplines for policy studies and analyses. A combination of group and individual projects, assignments and presentations fosters an environment that is collegial, engaging and informative, dealing with important and topical public policy issues. The summer Co-op term provides students with a mid-course reality check, practical experience and an introduction to future employers. Key elements of the MPP program are specialized field courses and the capstone research project that addresses a public policy problem and analysis of potential solutions. The program attracts a diverse group of students in terms of area of study, age, cultural and work experience backgrounds. This enhances the learning experience for all students in the cohort, strengthens relationships with civil society and assists in meeting employer demand for adaptability and collaboration among employees.” (At, accessed 1 March 2015.)

Degrees Awarded per Year: “The intake of the program is approximately 30 per year.” (At, accessed 1 March 2015.)

Academic Unit within University: School of Public Policy and Governance. Established in Fall 2003, the School of Public Policy at Simon Fraser University consists of the Master’s in Public Policy (MPP) graduate program and the Centre for Public Policy Research (CPPR).

Affiliated Research Centres: The School is host to two research units – the Centre for Public Policy Research (CPPR) and the Institute for Intersectionality Research and Policy. The Centre for Public Policy Research (CPPR) describes itself as the research arm of the School of Public Policy. The CPPR promotes interdisciplinary research, education, and dialogue on a broad range of public policy issues in Canada. The Centre supports and initiates research, publications, colloquia, conferences, visiting researchers and speakers, and international relationships. (At, accessed 1 March 2015.)

Posted Tuition: $6804 per year for 30 credit hours for domestic students, based on 2011 information. The 2012-13 co-op fee is $706 (at

Concentration/Curriculum Overview: This is a two-year, full-time, cohort-based program. The first two semesters of the program consists of core courses in political science, economics, quantitative and qualitative methods, and public policy analysis. All students then complete a Co-op workterm in the summer semester. This is a nationally accredited Co-op program, affiliated with the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences Co-op Education program. The final two semesters of the program are comprised of a major policy research project – the capstone, and elective courses in a wide variety of policy fields that students take from the School or other graduate departments at SFU or UBC (through the Western Deans Agreement). Our elective courses are open to graduate students in other disciplines and, if space is available, so are first-year MPP core courses. 
Our electives offered each year may include health policy, environmental policy, globalization, multiple account cost-benefit analysis, sustainability, social policy, Aboriginal policy, public sector management, municipal governance,  compliance,  advanced quantitative and qualitative analysis, and other topics courses depending on teaching resources. The capstone project is a major piece of independent research overseen by a supervisor, and discussed in weekly seminar groups. The capstone must be on a relevant public policy problem, where the student must apply the research methodologies taught in the program to develop viable policy recommendations. The capstone synthesizes the cross-disciplinary teaching in the program and yields high quality substantive reports, some of which have been published and earned major national awards.

Degree Requirements

Summary: 14 courses are required for the MPP plus a co-op/internship. These include 10 core courses in economics, political analysis, quantitative methods, and policy analysis plus 4 electives to be taken in the MPP program or in related graduate courses in departments. Under the Western Dean’s Agreement, students may be able to take graduate courses at other Western Canada Universities.

Duration: 2 years (5 semesters, including summer co-op).

Number of One-Semester-Equivalent Courses Required for Completion: 16.

Note 1: The required internship is counted as 2 one-semester-equivalent courses.

Number of Required Courses: 12 (including internship, counted as 2 one-semester-equivalent courses)

Number of Electives Typically Taken (difference between above two entries): 4

Number of Electives Offered within Program: 23. Elective courses are offered in a wide variety of policy fields that students take from the School or other graduate departments at SFU or UBC (through the Western Deans Agreement).

Comprehensive Examination: No

Thesis Required: Yes (capstone)

Internship Required: Yes.

Note 3: All students must complete the co-op term as part of their program requirements except when a student has considerable public policy work experience and receives permission from the program director.

International Study Required: No

Co-curricular Activities Supportive to Degree

Professional Development and Career Support: Yes. Policy Spotlight seminars address important policy issues facing us on a local, national or international scale. A Q&A segment wraps up each Spotlight talk with engaging discussion involving first and second year students, faculty and MPP alumni. Policy Spotlights are held 4-6 times per term.

Student-run Journal: No

Applied Projects: Yes. The BC Priorities Project, at

Pro Bono Consulting: No

Courses Offered: The full list of 2014-15 SPP core and elective courses offered by the School, with brief course summaries, can be found at: With permission, students can also take elective courses are offered in a wide variety of policy fields that students take from the School or other graduate departments at SFU or UBC (through the Western Deans Agreement). The courses offered by the School of Public Policy have been assigned to Atlas subjects in the map below. Required courses are indicated by (R).

Course Outlines and Syllabi Online: The School does not post full syllabi on its website but some course outlines are available at:

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.


Simon Fraser
Curricular Type Parameters
Number of Courses Required for Graduation 16.0
Math-Economics Subjects (EA, QM, Macro, Fin Markets) 38.6%
Policy-Oriented Subjects 68.8%
Management-Oriented Subjects 31.3%
Enrolment-Adjusted Course Distribution
Analysis and Skill Subjects 58.0%
  – Policy and Management Analysis 19.3%
  – Economic Analysis 17.0%
    – Quantitative  and Analytic Methods 21.6%
  – Leadership and Communication Skills 0.0%
Institutions and Context Subjects 21.6%
  – Democratic Institutions and Policy Process 17.0%
  – Ethics, Rights and Accountability 0.0%
  – Socioeconomic, Political, and Global Contexts 4.5%
Management Function Subjects 6.8%
  – Public Financial Management 0.0%
  – Evaluation and Performance Measurement 2.3%
  – Other Management Functions 4.5%
Policy Sector Subjects 13.6%
  – Macroeconomic Policy 2.3%
  – International Development 2.3%
  – Health 2.3%
  – Other Policy Sectors 6.8%
                              Total 100%
Competency Gap Analysis (in Course-Weeks of Instruction)
Course-Weeks in Core Subjects taken by Typical Student 166
Surplus or Shortfall Relative to Core Competency Requirement
  – Policy and Management Analysis (CCR = 18 course-weeks) 19
  – Economic Analysis (CCR = 12) 21
  – Quantitative Methods (CCR = 12) 25
  – Analytic Methods (CCR = 6) -2
  – Leadership Skills (CCR = 9) -9
  – Communication Skills (CCR = 3 courses) -3
  – Democratic Institutions and Policy Process (CCR = 18) 15
  – Ethics, Rights and Accountability (CCR = 6 courses) -6
  – Socioeconomic and Political Context (CCR = 6) -2
  – Global Context (CCR = 3) 1
  – Public Financial Management (CCR = 6) -6
  – Evaluation and Performance Measurement (CCR = 6) -2
  – Human Resource Management (CCR = 3) -3
  – Information and Technology Management (CCR = 3) -3
  – Macroeconomic Policy (CCR = 6) -2
  – Environment and Sustainability (CCR = 3) 1
Subject-Matter Shortfall for Typical Student (Sum of Shortfalls) -37
Additional Parameters
Total Courses Listed 27
Courses Designated as Required (inc. Specialization Reqs) 12.0
Archetypal Public Affairs Subjects (P&MA, EA, QM, DI&PP) 72.7%
Archetypal International Affairs Subjects (I&GC, ID, DS&FR) 4.5%


Source: At and related sites, accessed October 2013 and March 2015.

Page created by: Laura Davidson on 6 October 2013, updated by Ian Clark on 1 April 2015 and last modified on 14 December 2015.

Image: Screenshot of school website on 14 December 2015.

Course Map

and Skills

Policy and Management Analysis

PLCY-800: Introduction to Policy Issues and Analysis I (R)

PLCY-807: Introduction to Policy Issues and Analysis II (R)

PLCY-819: Public Management

Economic Analysis

PLCY-801: Economic Foundations of Policy Analysis I (R)

PLCY-802: Economic Foundations of Policy Analysis II (R)

Quantitative Methods

PLCY-805: Research Techniques and Quantitative Methods I (R)

PLCY-806: Research Techniques and Quantitative Methods II (R)

PLCY-818: Quantitative Methods for Policy Analysts

Analytic Methods
Leadership Skills
Communication Skills

Multiple Subjects

Capstones,  Internships, Theses, etc.

PLCY-850: Co-op/Internship (R) x 2

PLCY-808: Advanced Policy Analysis I (R)

PLCY-809: Advanced Policy Analysis II (R)

PLCY-812: Special Topics


and Context

Democratic Institutions and Policy Process

PLCY-803: Political Foundations of Policy Analysis I (R)

PLCY-804: Political Foundations of Policy Analysis II (R)

Ethics, Rights and Accountability
Socioeconomic and Political Context

PLCY-824: Analysis, Formulation and Evaluation of Social Policy

PLCY-821: Aboriginal Policy

Global Context

PLCY-822: World Economic Policy Issues


Public Financial Management
Evaluation and Performance Measurement

PLCY-822: World Economic Policy Issues

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

PLCY-820: Public Participation in Public Policy


Macroeconomic Policy

PLCY-811: Issues in Public Policy II

International Development

PLCY-811: Issues in Public Policy

Public Finance and Social Policy

PLCY-824: Social Policy

Employment, Labour and Immigration
Cities, Urban and Regional Development

PLCY-813: Selected Topics in Public Policy II

Environment and Sustainability

PLCY-829: Environmental Policy

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





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