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. 

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, non-thesis, 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.

Professional Development Days

Throughout their degree students habe develop specific applied skills and network with potential future employers. 

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.

Sample MPP Timetable 

For up to date timetable for current students, please see the relevant page under the current students section 

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

Final exam week for core policy courses

MPP Timetable Summer 2020

Summer Module #1

May 4 – May 8

PPOL 643: Ethical Dimensions of Policymaking (J. Heath)
PPOL 646: Budgeting and fiscal policy (D. Drummond)
May 11 – May 15

Writing Week

Policy Lab Work
Summer Module #2

May 19 – May 22

Policymaking in a World of Business (N. Addy)
PPOL 644: Stakeholder management (G. Kelley)
May 18 is Victoria Day. The 5th day of these seminars will take place on May 25.

May 26 – May 29

Writing Week

Policy Lab Work

Summer Module #3

June 1 – June 5

PPOL 641: Rhetoric and Communication of Public Policy (A. Daifallah)

PPOL 647: Achieving Policy Transparency (K. Page)

June 8 – June 12

Writing Week

Policy Lab Work
Summer Module #4
June 15 – June 19

PPOL 642:Policy and Globalization (S. Jodoin and H. van der Ven)

PPOL 645: Partisan Politics and Policy Process (T. Kheiriddin)

June 22 – June 26 Writing Week  
Policy Lab Work  
Summer Module #5
June 29 – July 3 Policy Lab Work
July 6 – July 10 Final Week and Case Competition for Policy Lab


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