You are now in the main content area

Course Offerings

The official curriculum of the program may be found in the current Graduate Calendar.

Required Courses Course Descriptions
Public Administration & Governance
This course focuses on the principles, organizational features and decision making processes of Canadian public administration in the broader context of shared governance, public sector reform and globalization. The course covers the relationship between the political and administrative institutions and actors of government; the role of public administration in a diverse democracy; the role of values and ethics in public administration; and the structures and processes of accountability for governance and public sector management. The course also introduces the enduring and current challenges facing public sector organisations and public administrators in Canada.
Policy Analysis and Challenges
This course focuses on current challenges in public policy. It situates contemporary Canadian public policy in the environment in which it is lived and developed: first by examining the contemporary context of policy making; secondly by introducing some of the theoretical and methodological underpinnings and tools of policy analysis; and thirdly by examining contemporary challenges faced by policy makers and stakeholders relating to, for example, scale, diversity, global forces, and change.
The State & the Economy
This course examines the relationship between the state and the economy and the role that economic ideas have played in shaping this relationship. It is designed for students to understand key economic theories, concepts and practices and the way in which they have influenced public policy and administration, including: critically examining the multifaceted relationship between the state and economy in market society; assessing the usefulness of economic theories for public policy; and uncovering key economic and social science concepts and understanding their uses and limitations. The balance struck between social policy and economic development, will be given special attention with a focus on macro level economic policy analysis. Topics include: the structural and economic context in which state budgeting occurs, the role of federalism and globalization & global institutions such as WTO, in shaping the limits of Canadian public finance, and new economic models and their impact on public policy. 
Research Methods
This course provides students with an understanding of the range of research methods applicable to public policy and administration, encourages them to think critically about research methods and approaches, and assists them in developing concrete research strategies. The topics covered include research design, quantitative and qualitative modes of inquiry, measurement, statistical analysis, survey research, content analysis, field research, archival and documentation research, the case study approach, and historical and comparative research. The course examines these various methods and statistical techniques in the context of how they are used in public policy and public administration.

Program Options

  • Six courses from the electives listed below.
  • Four courses from the electives listed below plus a Major Research Paper

The Major Research Paper (MRP) is a sustained exploration of a practical, empirical or theoretical question or problem. It may take the form of a critical review of the literature in a field; an analysis or evaluation of legislation or policy; an applied policy or public administration analysis; analysis of existing data; a comparative analysis; budgetary or financial analysis; or case study to gain more in-depth knowledge of a public policy or public administration topic. The MRP is generally narrower in scope, with less focus on primary research and data collection than would be required for a thesis. Unlike a thesis, it need not involve original research. The MRP must follow the Master of Arts in Public Policy and Administration, Ryerson University,  (PDF file) Major Research Paper Regulations (opens in new window) .

Normally, the MRP should be between 40 and 60 double-spaced pages in length.

This option constitutes two (2) of the ten (10) course units that make up the MA program.

  • Two courses from the electives listed below plus a Master's Thesis

The Master of Arts thesis option gives students opportunity to conduct an advanced examination of a topic in public policy or public administration. It embodies the results of the student’s research program and exposes the work to scholarly criticism. It must represent a single body of work, with integrated material, a sophisticated methodology, analysis and discussion. It should not be solely a collection of published articles. In contrast to a Major Research Paper, it must involve original research and be prepared in accordance with the procedures outlined in the  (PDF file) thesis regulations (opens in new window)  and relevant YSGPS policies.

Normally, the thesis should be between 100 and 120 pages in length.

This option constitutes four (4) of the ten (10) course units that make up the MA program.

* Not all elective courses will be offered in a given academic year. The current list may be expanded as enrolments increase, the program develops and new faculty or adjunct faculty become involved with the program.

Elective Courses Course Description
Citizen-Oriented Governance in Canada
This course examines public decision-making processes in Canada from a citizen-oriented perspective. It begins with an overview of the wider socio-cultural context that gave rise to this model of governance, and follows with an examination of specific engagement practices used in Canada. Throughout the course we will ask: what is the best way to engage citizens and include their views in public policy, and what is the role of public administrators specifically in these processes?
Comparative Public Policy
Comparative public policy is the study of how and why different governments pursue particular courses of action or inaction. The course focuses on some of the major theoretical and methodological approaches to the comparative study of public policies and programs, helping students develop the skills needed to study and explain convergence and divergence in government policy and program choice, implementation, and outcomes. The course draws from approaches in comparative politics and policy studies, and uses domestic and global examples to consider and examine the factors that are shaping government decision-making today.
Comparative Public Administration
Comparative public administration is the study of how, why and to what effect governments select certain instruments and organizational arrangements to implement policy decisions. These decisions have put public administration at the core of evolving neoliberal definitions of good governance and have resulted in a growing literature on comparative public administration. This course focuses on the varying impact of globalization on developed and developing countries, public sector reform in comparative context, emerging supra-national and global bureaucracies, and the role of international organizations in public administration and public sector reform.
Intergovernmental Relations
This course examines the division of political and administrative power and the nature of relations between governments which result from Canadian federalism, including federal-provincial-municipal or "tri-level" relations. Specific topics will include the role of the courts in constitutional interpretations, the instruments of "fiscal federalism” (including equalization payments, conditional grants, tax sharing arrangements and shared cost programs), regional, cultural and linguistic differences, administrative relationships, the intergovernmental challenge of Aboriginal self-government and the concept of "executive federalism". Finally, an investigation of intergovernmental policy capacity will provide an opportunity for a more intensive examination of the impact of intergovernmental relations on public policy and administration in Canada.
Provincial Government in Ontario
This course examines both the historical and contemporary development of the government of Ontario, and will include an analysis of economic, social and political features that have shaped the evolution of this province and influenced its governance. Attention is devoted to: the political economy and political culture of Ontario; the determinants and structures of policy making, public administration; public policy fields; and the interaction and roles of government institutions.
Urban Governance
Different actors and institutions that span global, national, provincial, and local interests are increasingly making decisions that affect Canadian citizens in their daily lives. Through the lens of contemporary urban policy issues, this course examines the role of urban governance by addressing a selection of current subjects facing Canadian and selected comparative cities. This course explores the interplay of institutions, interests, and ideas in shaping urban governance in the following areas: the evolution of municipal government, finance, employment, immigration, intergovernmental relations, restructuring, civic participation, social inclusion, voluntary sector relations, diversity, and sustainability. 
Public Sector Financial Management
This course examines public sector budgeting: the raising of revenue, the allocation of expenditures and the evaluation of the efficiency and effectiveness of spending. A central theme of the course is the “politics” of the budgetary process. This includes the process of making budgetary decisions within government, the role of public sector organizations and interest groups in the budgetary process, and how government evaluates its direct spending and monies allocated to fund programs and services delivered by hospitals, schools and other public sector institutions through program evaluation, performance management, auditing and public reporting. The course will focus on what the study of public sector budgeting reveals about changes in the scope and nature of government responsibility and the potential for both greater public participation in the budgetary process and improved accountability.
Public Sector Union-Management Relations
Public administration is conducted in a highly unionized environment. Public policies and services, therefore, are significantly affected by union-management relations. This course explores current issues and trends in public sector union-management relations. Particular emphasis is placed on the state's dual role as law-maker and employer, and whether this is compatible with labour rights, diversity and equity, and the public interest. Topics explored include: the rise of public sector unionism, current public sector labour relations legislation, employment restructuring in the public service, and public sector union resistance to government policy. Another major theme of the course will involve an analysis of the changing nature of work, focusing on how new information technologies and public sector reform have affected the distribution of power and control in the workplace with a focus on recent organizational changes in the public sector.
Changing Boundaries: The Third Sector
This course offers an in-depth examination of the changing role of the Third Sector in our modern governance structures. Because of the influence of new political developments and public administration reforms such as reinventing government and alternative service delivery (ASD) the Third Sector has taken on a greater importance in society with respect to serving the public good. New partnerships between the state and nonprofit bodies have changed the boundaries in which we have traditionally come to view the public sector. This course will critically assess these developments with public administration and public policy and explore the various roles played by the Third Sector in contemporary Canadian society.
Diversity & Equity in the Public Service
Diversity and equity are important features of public policy and are central to the debate about the renewal of the public service in Canada. An increasing concern with human rights, significant demographic developments, and a citizenry conscious of both the democratic deficit and the need for a representative public service workforce, call into question the values and ethos of public service in Canada. The broader public sector has an opportunity now to make up ground in the representation of historically disadvantaged groups in ways that will help to create an exemplary workplace. The imperative to renew and rejuvenate the public service is matched with the reality of a labour market that is increasingly diverse. The Charter of Rights and Freedoms, the Multiculturalism Act, the federal Human Rights Act and provincial Human Rights Codes have embedded in them a core set of rights, values and responsibilities. Part of the challenge in a democratic society like Canada is navigating between competing rights, claims and values. In this course specific emphasis is devoted to the following policy fields: immigration policy, multiculturalism, native self-government, human rights, employment equity, gender relations and language rights.
Topics in Public Administration
This course focuses on selected topics in public administration. The content may vary from year to year. Through an examination of one or more policy areas this course will focus on analyzing the political, legal, social, economic complexities of public administration.
Directed Studies: Public Admin
This course is designed for individual students with specialized interests that may not be satisfied through course offerings in a given year. It will normally be a directed reading course under the direct supervision of an assigned faculty member with expertise in the chosen subject field. It is also designed for students wishing to pursue research on a policy or public administration topic where there are no related course offerings in the program. Individual directed study of subject areas in public policy and administration not addressed in the current curriculum will be carried out under the supervision of a faculty member. A program of supervised, advanced study related to the student’s area of concentration will be negotiated on an individual basis with the supervising faculty member. The directed study course is normally intended for students in the final semesters of study.
PA8213 Co-op Placement

Co-op Placements provide a mechanism for students to earn academic credit for relevant work experience, normally outside the university. Co-op Placements must be related to public policy and administration and to the student’s learning objectives in the program. Co-op Placements offer students the opportunity to link theory with practice, to conduct empirical research, to learn about professional practices in organizations in the field of public policy and administration, and to gain appropriate work experience. Pass/Fail

Topics in Public Policy
This course focuses on selected topics in public policy. The content may vary from year to year. Through an examination of one or more policy areas, this course will focus on analyzing the political, legal, social, economic and administrative complexities of various public policies and their implementation.
Global Governance
This course examines global governance, a system within which states, international organizations, global actors and networks make critical governance decisions globally. Theories and concepts related to international law, institutions, and actors as well as various global governance challenges related to security, peace-keeping, trade, public health, crime, human rights and the environment will be covered. Particular emphasis focuses on how effective global and international actors and organizations are in terms of policy making and global governance.
International Development Policy and Politics
The chief objective of this course is to enable students to acquire a deeper understanding of the processes and structures that shape the character and outcome of policy-making aimed at improving conditions of life in developing countries. The course begins by providing students with some historical and theoretical context to the emergence of international development as a field of study and practice. It then goes on to examine debates around policy-making and implementation in a number of key areas, such as environmental management, gender, education, health, poverty alleviation, agriculture, urban development, and post-conflict reconstruction and aid.
Ethics and Communication in Public Policy
This course examines questions of values and ethics in public policy with a special focus on government communication. We will begin by studying ethical conundrums in policy making, as well as the ways in which policy is informed by value conflict. Next, we will turn to the theoretical study of successful and ethical political communication. Finally, we will study communication in practice, developing skills in day-to-day communication and in communications management and strategy. 
Indigenous Law and Policy in Canada
This course takes a critical look at the legal issues which most affect the lives of Aboriginal peoples, their communities and organizations in Canada. The challenges faced by both Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal governments in addressing legal issues such as Aboriginal and Treaty rights, Aboriginal title, land claims, Aboriginal identity and self-government are often played out in the courts, federalism and the bureaucracy. Some of the legal and policy decisions in Canada have advanced the position of Aboriginal peoples in Canada, while others have hampered progress. These legal decisions also have a significant impact on federal and provincial policies in relation to Aboriginal peoples. Similarly, Aboriginal communities must address these legal issues within their own governments and organizations. The objective of this course is to engage graduate students in thinking critically about these legal issues with a view to advancing their own ideas about how to address the resulting policy implications for Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal governments in Canada.


Policy Enrichment Seminar

This course is designed to enrich students’ knowledge of the policy process and enhance career readiness for policy work in the public, non-profit and private sectors. Developed with policy practitioners, modules in the seminar are designed to advance students’ capacity for policy work through in-depth analysis of current, high-profile policy case studies using a team-based, skills-focused approach. The emphasis is on enrichment through real-world policy problem-solving, experiential learning, and delivery of presentations to policy practitioners. Pass/Fail 
PA8220 Gender, Politics and Policy 
Many contemporary policy issues shape women’s and men’s lives differentially. This course begins with an overview of existing theories of feminism and gender politics and broader sociocultural contexts to frame discussions of the relevance and meaning of feminism, gender, and intersectionality in policy analyses and debates. The course will consider the role of public policy in magnifying and/or reducing disparities in society across multiple axes of marginalization. Issues and topics covered will include gender mainstreaming, gender-based analysis plus (GBA+) and gender budgeting. Some international comparisons will be drawn upon to help contextualize Canada’s approach to these issues. 
Statistical Analysis in Social Science Research
This course introduces students to advanced quantitative methods for generating and analyzing large social science data sets such as those produced by Statistics Canada and other national and international statistics bureaus. Following a review of basic statistics and probability, the course will cover topics such as the linear probability model, logistic regression, models for categorical and count data and factor analysis. The substantive questions and particular data sets to which these tools will be applied will be driven by student interests. While students will gain knowledge of statistical theory, special attention will be paid to the practice of carrying out analysis of complex data. For example, issues related to coding, missing data and the reporting and presentation of quantitative results will be covered.