MPP in detail

McGill University’s Max Bell School of Public Policy offers a full-time and intensive 11-month Master of Public Policy (MPP) program, beginning in September 2019. 

The program is designed for participants who have been working for a few years after receiving their undergraduate degree. It combines insights regarding the theory of public policy with the many practical aspects that make the analysis, design, communication, and implementation of public policy so complex. The program also has an emphasis on developing the skills and perspectives essential for creating future leaders in the policy process, whether in government, business, or non-governmental organizations.

The Master of Public Policy is a 45-credit program which includes five key components:

Core Policy Courses 

The fall and winter terms are divided into two 6-week modules. Each Core Policy Course is six weeks long (6 hours per week), and worth 3 credits. Students take only two courses at once. Each course is custom-designed for the MPP program and combines the theory of policy with many applied examples and exercises.

See the list of Core Policy Courses.

Policy Case Studies

Between the 6-week modules in each term, one week is spent on Policy Case Studies, taught by practitioners. The case study classes are small (half or less of the total cohort) and highly interactive between students and instructors. Each case study spans five half-days, developing the complete storyline and multi-dimensional complexity of an actual policy. These case studies are taught by policy practitioners and give students the opportunity to understand the trade-offs and decision-making involved in policymaking.

See a list of Policy Case Studies. 

Complexity Seminars

For four weeks in May/June of each year, students are offered several intensive one-week seminars, each on a single theme. Each seminar presents students with a particular type of complexity in the policymaking process. Whereas each of the Policy Case Studies examines one specific policy with many associated complexities, the Complexity Seminars are designed to examine one particular type of complexity as it applies to many different policy settings. In this way, students see each complexity as a phenomenon with considerable generality.

Each Complexity Seminar is taught either by a McGill professor or a policy practitioner, and some seminars may be co-taught by more than one person. The seminars have small classes (half the total MPP cohort), are highly interactive, and involve informal group discussions.

See the list of complexity seminars.

Skills Workshops

Throughout both fall and winter terms, students attend “Workshop Wednesdays” to develop specific applied skills. Workshops vary in length, from a single half-day class to a series of several half-day classes. 

The topics include:

  • Persuasive writing
  • Excel/STATA/data skills
  • Presenting with presence
  • Team building and conflict resolution
  • Speaking truth to power
  • High-stakes meeting management
  • Negotiating with confidence

Policy Lab

The capstone element of the MPP program is the client-focused Policy Lab. It involves group work in addressing a specific policy topic for a real-world client, either a government, business, or NGO. The client-focused Policy Lab begins in January of the winter term, consisting of low-intensity work throughout that term, a month of intensive work in June and July, and culminating in a major group presentation to the client in mid-July.

Learn more about the Max Bell Policy Lab.

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.

MPP Timetable Fall 2019 

Fall Module #1

Sept 2 – Oct 11

PPOL 602: Microeconomics for Public Policy

PPOL 603: Comparative Government Structures

Skills Workshops

Oct 14 – Oct 18

Module #1 Exam Week

Fall Case Study Week

Oct 21 – Oct 25

PPOL 631-636: Policy Case Studies (Choose 2 of 6)

Oct 28 – Nov 1

Case Study Writing Week

Fall Module #2

Nov 4 – Dec 13

PPOL 604: Ethics, Rights, and Law

PPOL 605: Analytical Methods for Policy Evaluation

Skills Workshops

Dec 16 – Dec 20

Module #2 Exam Week

Dec 23 – Jan 5

Holiday Break

MPP Timetable Winter 2020

Winter Module #1

Jan 6 – Feb 14

PPOL 611-2-3: The Political and Policy Landscape (Choose 1 of 3)

PPOL 601: Global Macroeconomic Policy

Skills Workshops

Feb 17 – Feb 21

Module #1 Exam Week

Winter Case Study Week

Feb 24 – Feb 28

PPOL 631-6: Policy Case Studies (Choose 2 of 6)

March 2 – Mar 6

McGill Reading Week

March 9 – Mar 13

Case Study Writing Week

Winter Module #2

Mar 16 – April 24

PPOL 606: Experts, Science, and Evidence

PPOL 607: Information and Media Literacy

Skills Workshops

April 27 – May 1

Module #2 Exam Week

MPP Timetable Spring/Summer 2020

Spring Module: Complexity Seminars

May 4 – May 8

PPOL 640: Policy in a world of business


PPOL 641: The rhetoric and communication of policy

May 11 – May 15

PPOL 642: Policy and globalization


PPOL 643: The ethical dimension of policymaking

May 18 – May 22

Writing Week

May 25 – May 29

PPOL 644: Stakeholder management


PPOL 645: Partisan politics in the policy process

June 1 – June 5

PPOL 646: Budgeting and fiscal policy


PPOL 647: Achieving policy transparency

Summer Module: Policy Lab

June 8 – July 3

PPOL 620: Policy Lab (Teams Work on Projects)

July 6 – July 10

PPOL 620: Policy Lab (Final Team Presentations)

End of MPP Program

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