Canada's leading MA in Public and International Affairs

Why choose GSPIA for your MA?

We provide our students with the knowledge, skills and experiences to pursue successful careers as policy professionals working on cutting-edge national and international issues.

  • World class professors and seasoned policy professionals
  • Hands-on experience and professional skills
  • Unparalleled access to national policy institutions

Register for our online info session: Tuesday, Dec. 14, 12-1 p.m.

Learn more about applying


What’s special about the MA in Public and International Affairs at GSPIA?

At GSPIA, we educate policy leaders for Canada and the world.

The first year of the MA in Public and International Affairs provides students with a multidisciplinary grounding in the concepts and practice of national and international policy as well as professional development workshops on essential skills such as writing effectively and delivering presentations. Then, students specialize and gain hands-on experience by taking elective courses, pursuing co-op work experiences or internships, and writing their major research paper to deepen their expertise on a subject that interests them.

What professional development activities does GSPIA offer?

The MA in International Affairs involves much more than classroom learning. We provide opportunities for our students to get hands-on experience and learn important professional skills.

Every new GSPIA student is assigned one of our senior fellows as a mentor. They are among the most seasoned policy professionals in the country, having occupied senior positions in government, non-governmental organizations, international agencies, journalism, and the private sector – and their advice is golden.

Students can also pursue co-op work opportunities or apply to GSPIA’s unique internship program in Canadian embassies abroad. Our students also have opportunities to engage with national and international policy leaders who regularly participate in School activities.

And we offer workshops on career opportunities, preparing résumés, being interviewed, writing effectively, and delivering presentations – all delivered by experienced practitioners.

What kinds of jobs are GSPIA graduates doing?

Many of our graduates pursue rewarding careers in the federal public service. They work in virtually every department of government, such as Global Affairs Canada and Environment and Climate Change Canada, and in “central agencies” such as the Privy Council Office. Others have gone on to successful careers in non-governmental organizations in Canada or abroad, such as the International Committee of the Red Cross, as well as in journalism and business. Some opt to continue their graduate education.

Who are the faculty and fellows of GSPIA?

GSPIA has 29 dedicated professors who are leaders in their fields. We believe that educating policy leaders requires a multidisciplinary training, so our faculty includes political scientists, economists, historians, sociologists, and ethicists. In addition to their academic excellence, many also have direct policy experience.

The School hosts nearly 20 senior fellows who are among the most experienced policy professionals in Canada, including some who previously served as deputy ministers of federal government departments. Their expertise covers international trade, national and international security, human rights, journalism, economic planning, business, and much more. Every GSPIA student is assigned a senior fellow as a mentor.

What financial support and scholarships are available for students?

For Canadian students:

  • Students enrolled full-time in the M.A. in Public and International Affairs, whose admission average is 8.0 / 10 or above, will receive a Graduate Scholarship worth $7,500 for the first year of study.
  • Those with an admission average of 9.0 /10 or above will also receive TA-ships or RA-ships paying $12,508 over two years.

For international students:

  • The Faculty of Social Sciences holds a competition for the allocation of different types of awards and financial support for international students. A committee considers applications submitted by the program to which the student has been admitted. Funding is not guaranteed to all students who meet the eligibility criteria. Scholarships are awarded until the funds are all allocated.

Visit the Faculty of Social Sciences website for information on all scholarships, research grants and assistantship positions offered to graduate students.

Why does the MA in Public and International Affairs take 2 years?

Our program is designed to give students a solid conceptual grounding in both national and international policy as well as the opportunity to specialize and to pursue hands-on work experiences as part of their education. Although the degree can be completed in less than two years, most students choose to take advantage of these opportunities to gain the full benefits of the program.

What are the admission requirements?

Applicants must have completed an honours undergraduate degree (or its equivalent) in the social sciences, arts, management, or law, with at least a 75% (B+) average (calculated in accordance with graduate studies guidelines). Applicants with degrees in other disciplines may also be considered, depending on the relevance of their previous degree and experience to the MA in Public and International Affairs.

A basic knowledge of economics is required. There are two ways to meet this requirement:

  • The first is for students to have successfully completed introductory courses in macroeconomics and microeconomics at the undergraduate level. At the University of Ottawa, this requirement can be met by taking the courses ECO 1102 or ECO 1302 and ECO 1104 or ECO 1304, or their equivalent. (The Faculty of Social Sciences will offer these courses in the summer to facilitate the completion of this requirement.) Equivalent courses from other universities are also accepted.
  • Alternatively, students who lack these courses could still be admitted to the program on the condition that they take a remedial course in economics offered by the GSPIA during their first term.

For more information, see the admission requirements.

What is the bilingualism requirement?

GSPIA is a bilingual School in a bilingual university – a huge advantage for our students. Aspiring policy leaders who hope to work on national or international issues in Canada need at least a working knowledge of both official languages.

All students must take at least one course (3 units) in the second official language.

The university offers a range of opportunities for students to strengthen their bilingualism, including courses in English or French as a second language. They are not requirements of the MA in Public and International Affairs, but some students take advantage of these options while they are at uOttawa.

Candidates who have not graduated from a French-speaking or an English-speaking university must pass the computerized Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL), or equivalent, before admission.

What is the Major Research Paper (MRP)?

The MRP offers GSPIA students the opportunity to explore and deepen their knowledge of a topic that interests them. The MRP does not have to make an original contribution, but it must demonstrate extensive research and independent analysis.

Each MRP is supervised by one professor, who helps the student define their research question and guides their work.

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