Asking your employer to fund your Master of Public Policy degree

Figuring out how to pay for a Master of Public Policy degree while taking time off work can be a challenge. As a Max Bell School MPP, there are a number of scholarships and grants you could apply for, but involving your employer in your plans for further study can be a powerful way to fund your degree and maintain your working relationship.

Max Bell School Career Services Manager, Catherine Stace, says: “Apart from job security, a big benefit of having your employer fund your degree is that you get to plan your career growth within an organisation that you love”.

As well as gaining skills and knowledge that can fast-track your career, a Master of Public Policy can be a huge asset to your employer. A number of Max Bell School’s MPP students are funded by their employers. Here are some tips on how you can start this conversation with your boss:

Do your research

Check with your employer to see if they offer compensation packages with tuition reimbursement, or if they have partnerships with McGill. Look in your employee handbook or HR website first, but even if it’s not publicized, ask! Check with colleagues to see if they’ve taken courses and gotten reimbursed. Once you know if there’s a precedent, you’ll be better equipped to approach your employer. Qualifying companies can take advantage of tax benefits by offering tuition reimbursement. Make a budget with a cost breakdown before discussing, so you know how much assistance you would need.

Identify mutual benefits

Create a list of the ways the company will benefit from your MPP. Going back to school can help increase employee loyalty, reduce turnover, increase productivity, and provides employers with a pool of highly-skilled employees.

With an MPP, you will be adding valuable additional skills to your team. Do an analysis to see if there are skills gaps on your team and make a case for how your studies will fill those gaps. You can also outline how the program will help you be more effective in your role.

Have the conversation

Approach the conversation much like a salary negotiation, with talking points on what you hope to gain and how it will benefit the organization. Make sure your employer knows that career development is a priority for you, and that an MPP at McGill is part of that trajectory. Think of solutions to objections: Is it possible for you to take a partial leave of absence and work part-time while completing your MPP? Be sure to consider the time of fiscal year when you’re asking – it might be better to wait for your performance evaluation or after a large project is off your supervisor’s plate. Asking at the right time increases your chances of success.

At the Max Bell School students are challenged every day to improve their analytical abilities and enhance their policy toolkit. Given that many of the crucial challenges of public policy exist similarly in all countries, the program develops the essential skills for both international and Canadian students to shape policy in a constantly evolving global landscape. Check out this page to find out more about how to apply to the Max Bell School Master of Public Program and how an MPP can help your career.

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