Master of Public Administration


Programme Chair
Dr Stéphanie Bélanger
Programme Deputy Chair
Major Hans Christian Breede, Ph.D.
Programme Representative
613-541-6000 ext. 6862
Programme web page
Master of public administration programme

General Information

Programmes Offered

The Master of Public Administration (MPA) is an interdisciplinary academic degree. The programme collaborates closely with RMC's MBA and War Studies programmes and draws significantly on material and staff of the Departments of Business Administration, Political Science and Economics, and Military Psychology and Leadership. Military and civilian individuals engaged or interested in the security environment, as it is and is emerging, in Canada and internationally, including traditional defence issues, will find the Programme relevant and useful.


Candidates for the MPA will be admitted under the General Admission Requirements of RMC. Details regarding admission to the Royal Military College as a graduate student can be found in the Admissions section of this Calendar. In addition to those requirements, applicants are required to submit one example of their scholarly written work. Both a paper and an electronic version in Word are required; the electronic version will be subjected to an originality test.

Course Withdrawal Procedures

Student wishing to withdraw from a course are required to follow the procedures outlined in the Academic Regulations section of this calendar. Failure to follow these regulations has serious programme and financial implications.

Programme Details

Programme Time Frames

It normally takes five academic terms to complete the Programme (i.e. two academic years and the intervening summer) by full-time enrolment.

In part-time enrolment, a student is expected to complete their studies over a period of time not normally longer than five years, in accordance with RMC regulations.

Programme Patterns

The Programme is offered in three patterns:

  1. Course Pattern
  2. Research Pattern
  3. Project Pattern

All students are initially registered in the Course Pattern. Students who are close to completing the core requirements of the Programme may pursue either the Research or Project Pattern following a discussion and approval of their research/project topic with the Chair of the MPA Programme.

Course Pattern

The student must successfully complete five core courses plus seven elective courses. Experience has shown that those students who focus first on core courses complete the programme sooner.

Research Pattern

The student must successfully complete five core courses plus one elective course and a thesis.

Project Pattern

The student must successfully complete five core courses plus five elective courses and a project.

Programme Requirements

Important: All students must complete the zero-credit course AI500: Academic Integrity or an equivalent course by the end of their first term of study.

Core Courses for the MPA

  • MPA521: Canadian Government and Public Policy
  • MPA531: Economics
  • MPA557: Strategic Management for Defence
  • MPA569: Organizational Theory
  • MPA581: Decision and Policy Analysis

Elective Courses for the MPA

  • MPA505: Professional Internship
  • MPA507: Advanced Professional Internship
  • MPA523: Defence Decision Making
  • MPA527: Professional Ethics and Defence Management
  • MPA535: The Cyber Challenge
  • MPA539: Economics of Defence
  • MPA541: Performance Audit in the National Security Sector
  • MPA543: Strategic Foresight and Horizon Scanning
  • MPA549: Economics of National Security
  • MPA555: Management Information Systems for Defence Management
  • MPA559: Project Management
  • MPA565: Conflict Analysis and Management
  • MPA571: Defence Technology: Strategies and Policies
  • MPA573: Leading and Working in a Diverse Environment
  • MPA577 Interagency Coordination
  • MPA579: Government Procurement
  • MPA583: Issues in the Health of Military Personnel, Veterans and their Families
  • MPA585: Cost-Benefit Analysis
  • MPA589: Strategic Geopolitical Analysis
  • WS531: American Foreign Policy 1776 to the Present
  • WS533: Studies in American Defence Policy
  • WS539: Signals Intelligence
  • WS589: Issues of National and International Security in International Relations: Theories and Practice Since 1945
  • WS591: Issues of International and National Security in International Relations: Changing Definitions
  • WS595: Armed Forces in Society

Course Descriptions

MPA505 Professional Internship

One elective credit awarded for professional experience. The student applies to the chair for the credit with detailed description of five years or more of relevant experience after achieving a first degree.


MPA507 Advanced Professional Internship

One elective credit awarded for professional experience. The student applies to the chair for the credit with detailed description of ten years or more of relevant experience after achieving a first degree.


MPA521 Canadian Government and Public Policy

This course analyses different theories of public policy-making as applied by the Canadian government in the pursuit of "rationality", and in the determination of the "public interest" for Canadian citizens. Theories of public policy making are ways of making sense of the structures, the processes and the people involved in deciding for the citizens. To explain the application of these theories is one purpose of this course. There is a substantive aspect to public policy-making, which is even more important than the procedural one. This course is designed to demonstrate this importance and its relevance to public policy-making in Canada.


MPA523 Defence Decision Making

This course examines the concepts that have been advanced from time to time to provide the structure for formulating and managing defence policy and commanding the Canadian Armed Forces. The main vehicles for this investigation are the studies and reports concerning the higher direction of national defence prepared. Various historical and contemporary case studies will be used as the basis of analysis and discussion.


MPA527 Professional Ethics and Defence Management

This course is an examination of the military and ethical responsibilities of officers. Alternative ethical systems and norms of behaviour are evaluated. Moral conclusions as to the right, proper, and just decisions, and required military actions facing managerial morality problems are also drawn. The defence ethics programme and the conflict of interest philosophy are also two important subjects of the course, in keeping with the goals and ethical culture of the Canadian Forces. The approach will be multidisciplinary but the focus will be on the complexities of military operations from a legal perspective. Military professionalism, philosophical theories, and psychological perspectives are topics in the course. The aim is to assist the student in understanding the practical applications to military life of moral principles and ethical theories. The curriculum introduces opposing views on current controversial issues in order to incorporate debate as a useful instructional methodology for applying the military ethical doctrine to current practise within the Canadian Forces while respecting the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedom.


MPA531 Economics

This course is divided into two distinct parts - microeconomics and macroeconomics. The portion of the course on microeconomics is intended to provide theoretical and practical knowledge of individual economic agents, including consumers, business firms, public sector agencies, workers and investors. The general approach is to examine the formulation of economic models of consumer behaviour and production. The macroeconomics portion of the course will examine national issues and interrelationships in the economy. The debates concerning fiscal, monetary and exchange rate policies will also be examined and foreign economies will be investigated.


MPA535 The Cyber Challenge

This course will explore the digitized world (the good, the bad and the ugly) in the Canadian context with a view to assessing the breath and scope of the cyber reality within Canada and the policy challenges it poses, with emphasis on the Federal Government. Topics covered include cyberterrorism and cyberespionage, cybercrime, cyberwar, counterterrorism and the privacy/security conundrum. It will also discuss what Canada is/should/could be doing about the cyber threat and/or Internet Governance in the current legislative and constitutional context.


MPA539 Economics of Defence

This course is concerned with the application of economic methods of reasoning to defence policy issues and to questions of defence resource allocation. Elementary ideas of micro-and macroeconomic analysis are reviewed and employed to address issues such as the appropriate level of defence expenditures and the appropriate distribution of defence budgets between manpower and equipment. Specific topics include the economics of alliances, arms races, arms control, budget distributions, weapons procurement, manpower planning, economic warfare, disarmament and conversion. Elementary economic concepts are employed to develop approaches to structuring complex problems of defence resource allocation involving risk and uncertainty. The course also examines the effect of defence activities on economic performance at the national, regional and industrial levels.


MPA541 Performance Audit in the National Security Sector

This course is an introduction to performance auditing in the Canadian national security sector. It will provide an overview of the legislative and organizational structure of audit and other oversight agencies in the security sector including the Office the Auditor General, the Commissioner for Complaints Against the RCMP, the Security and Intelligence Review Committee and the CSE Commissioner. The role of Parliament and its committees will be reviewed as will that of internal audit and program evaluation. The course will focus on the work of performance audit in assessing the economy and efficiency of operations, the management of program effectiveness and environmental stewardship. Techniques developing multi-year entity audit plans and techniques for planning individual audits will be reviewed. Emphasis will be placed on the examination phase of the audit, including the selection of audit criteria, the selection of evidence and the use of professional judgment in forming audit opinions. Issues related to clearing audit reports with auditees will be covered. The course will also address the processes and considerations of reporting audit findings to stakeholders with different levels of knowledge and interests including management, Parliament and the public.


MPA543 Strategic Foresight and Horizon Scanning

This course focuses on methods for public policy analysts to gather intelligence on possible futures and apply the emerging insights useful to build shared visions, guide and enable present-day decisions. Students will be introduced to strategic foresight methods to gather and develop critical knowledge, guide proactive policy, and shape strategic plans and partnerships. The course teaches students how to frame futures projects, conduct horizon scanning, analyze the impact of trends and identify drivers, confront critical uncertainties, methodically develop foresight scenarios. The course provides tools to assess the policy implications of emerging issues. Key foresight methods covered in this course include trend impact analysis, horizon scanning, and the Delphi method. Students also learn to distinguish between normative and exploratory as well as qualitative and quantitative foresight.


MPA545 The Intersection of Social Capital and Health

This online, seminar-based course is an introduction to social capital as a determinant of health. Of the many determinants of health, recent work has identified social capital as an important contributor to health. For example, patients with strong social support systems have family and friends that assist them in accessing and taking full advantage of health care. Patients who adhere to a treatment plan and have social support often do well, but patients who lack social support are not so fortunate. The key to improving health care quality may lie in enhancing social capital and not hiring more providers, or building more hospitals. Topics covered in this course include an introduction to social capital as a operationalized concept, methods for measuring social capital in qualitative and quantitative research studies, and themes pertaining to the various ways social capital intersects with health at individual, community, and regional/national levels. At the conclusion of the course, students should be equipped to recognize the potential contribution of social capital to health outcomes and to understand how health policy might be shaped to take advantage of this contribution.


MPA547 The Public Policy Implications of Cloud Computing

Access to high performance computing power is frequently expensive and otherwise inaccessible to anyone outside well-funded research labs or major government agencies. Thanks to the established interconnectivity of various electronic devices (such as smart phones, laptops, and tablets) and the increasing interconnectivity of devices in general (the so-called “internet of things”), access to high-performance data processing is improving as well. In short, no longer is high-performance processing limited to labs and government agencies. Instead, the concept of “cloud computing” has emerged. This course examines the public policy implications of improved access to high-performance computing power. What role does government have or should have in regulating this new, powerful, and pervasive capability? At the conclusion of the course, students will understand the unique aspects of cloud computing that separate it from traditional forms of digital computing and what this means for policy makers and the public.


MPA549 Economics of National Security

This course is concerned with the application of economics reasoning to national security policy issues and to questions of resource allocation toward national security and within government agencies for national security. Complex problems of national security resource allocation are addressed using game theoretic concepts of strategic analysis. The course reviews the fundamental concepts of economic analysis and then proceeds to apply them to demand side issues such as domestic security and democracy, regional and global security, and to supply side issues such as intelligence, enforcement, and legislation. Specific topics include street, food and health security, immigration, information and cyberspace, peacekeeping, intelligence, deterrence and preemption, domestic and international legislation.


MPA551 The Public Policy Implications of Wearable Technology

In many ways, wearable technology is nothing new. At the most fundamental levels, any clothing or gear that an individual or group wears is a form of technology. However, what makes wearable technology like smart watches or augmented reality displays new is their ubiquity in terms of what data they collect and how potentially they alter the physiology, perception, and cognition of users as much as they enhance individual and group capabilities. Like with most emerging technology, governments are no longer in leadership positions on this front and questions of social utility, regulation, and ethics are falling behind the rapid development, prototyping, and even fielding of these technologies with mixed surveillance and intervention capabilities spanning: cybersecure communications and networking, human-teaming with artificial intelligence and autonomous systems, simulation and training, and navigation and logistics. This on-line course examines the public policy gap on this topic and proposes a series of questions that policymakers should consider regarding this powerful technology. At the conclusion of the course, students should be equipped to recognize the potential contribution as well of risks of wearable technology and the policy implications of the fielding of such technology.


MPA555 Management Information Systems for Defence Management

This course will focus on strategic issues involving the use of Information Systems/Information Technology (IS/IT). The course will focus on how the effective use and management of the Information Systems/Information Technology of a firm can help the firm meet its long-range goals and objectives. The course will help the student to develop a basic understanding of the concepts of IS/IT. It will then focus on how the external environment and the internal organizational environment combine to effect the choice and implementation of strategies and policies in the traditional IS/IT areas of: Management Information Systems, Decision Support Systems, Expert and Expert Support Systems, Information Systems Planning, and Information Systems Design and Development.


MPA557 Strategic Management for Defence

The course studies and analyzes environmental scanning, policy formulation, policy implementation, high command influence and control, environmental adaptation and management of change. The emphasis is on understanding the fundamental concepts as well as acquiring the ability to study and analyze complex managerial situations requiring strategic management thinking. Areas of study include: environmental scanning, critical resources, outsourcing, technology adoption, environmental adaptation, strategic planning, operational support, organizational design, crisis management and international management. The course uses case studies in both the public and private sectors. Particular attention is given to strategic management in the military context, and in the DND organization.


MPA559 Project Management

Addressing project management from a "management" perspective, this course examines the discipline from a defence perspective. Topics covered include requirement definition, project selection, organization, planning, scheduling, budgeting, control and termination. The course discusses the role of the project manager and his/her interaction with the defence management system. Specific project management methods and techniques, including computer software, negotiation approaches, risk and quality management and procurement procedures are investigated. Completed and on-going projects are studied.


MPA565 Conflict Analysis and Management

This course introduces the student to the area of Conflict Analysis and Management. The course will study conflict at three levels of resolution: Intrafirm, Inter-firm and International Conflict. Conflict Analysis and Management concepts will be studied in more depth from the point of view of qualitative and quantitative analysis. Quantitative analysis will include the systems theory and risk analysis and management perspectives. This will be followed by an examination of the different types and models prevalent in the area. Finally, various case studies will be used to highlight the important concepts which have been covered.


MPA569 Organizational Theory

Organizational theory is the study of how socioeconomic entities called organizations function and how they affect and are affected by the environment in which they operate. Organizational theory is a multi-disciplinary body of knowledge that draws on sociology, psychology, political science, and economics. It explains the origins, development, transformation, persistence, and decline of organizations that order today's life in a more and more complex and uncertain environment. This course attempts to explore core concepts in organizational theory and their inter-relationships. It examines current theories as well as the major known classical approaches about organizations. The main objectives are to understand why organizations exist, why organizations have the structure that they do, what is organizational structure; what are mechanisms of coordination, control, formalization, and centralization of power in organizations.


MPA571 Defence Technology: Strategies and Policies

This course discusses defence technology as a goods/service/ideology process by examining its relationships with international affairs, national policies and security, and with military and paramilitary doctrine, capability and performance in peace and war. Topics include: history of defence technology; civilian-military relations; the military industrial complex; cycles of development; contemporary use of defence technology; tools and trends of technology foresight, national defence and trade policies; defence planning, programming and budgeting; and resource strategies for war and peace in alliance, coalition, and conflict settings now and in the future. Topical technology security issues to be addressed include: smart weapons, standardization and interoperability, dual-use goods and services, and impacts of globalization.


MPA573 Leading and Working in a Diverse Environment

This course will examine leading and working a diverse and multicultural environment within three contexts: (1) domestic organizations, (2) global or multinational organizations, and (3) military organizations. Diversity and multiculturalism add to the complexity of organizational environments by increasing the number of perspectives, interaction patterns, and approaches to leadership and management. The course explores many of the questions and challenges facing today's leaders.


MPA577 Interagency Coordination

Government structures are characterized by the existence of various agencies in the delivery of services as well as in the performance of some functions. The course first introduces government agencies as distinct organizations. The second part examines coordination or integration of different agencies with different functions and jurisdictions as responses to changing environments. The third part covers applications such as national security, emergency management and procurement.


MPA579 Government Procurement

Procurement amounts to a significant proportion of government expenditures, particularly in defence capital programs. After an introduction to the fundamentals of procurement, the course discusses various sourcing methods in procurement. The second part concentrates on procurement offsets. The third part covers contract design and contract management issues, from processes leading to contract award to risk management and to audits and litigation. The final part of the course introduces the legal framework, from competition, trade and contract laws to litigation and ethics.


MPA581 Decision and Policy Analysis

Analytic approaches to decision-making and policy formulation within and across public-sector organizations are considered. The course will begin with an overview of decision-making and the general characteristics of the organizational frameworks within which decisions and policy are made. Then, analytic techniques such as multi-criteria decision analysis techniques, plural evaluation methods (e.g. voting), and cost-benefit analysis will be covered as well as some qualitative techniques. Particular emphasis is put on the process of analysis and its effect on decision and policy quality. Finally, systems analysis and policy formulation in multi-organization environments will be introduced.


MPA583 Issues in the Health of Military Personnel, Veterans and their Families

Students are exposed to health issues associated with military experience which also includes both veterans and military families. As a weekly webinar, the course will include presentations from Canadian specialists who will contextualize military mental and physical health needs and introduce theoretical and methodological approaches to conducting applied health research among this population.


MPA585 Cost-Benefit Analysis

This course is an introduction to cost-benefit analysis techniques used in project and program evaluation in the public sector. The emphasis will be on the use of economic analysis to identify and measure the direct and indirect benefits and costs of projects and programs. Topics covered in the first part include the welfare-economic foundations of cost-benefit analysis, investment decision rules, the choice of a social discount rate, risk and uncertainty, shadow pricing of inputs with and without distortions, and the opportunity cost of public funds. The second part of the course covers applications such as infrastructure investments, education and healthcare programs, regulation, taxation and public sector pricing, environmental policies and management, non-renewable resources management, and industrial policies.


MPA589 Strategic Geopolitical Analysis

This course examines the conduct of strategic analysis and the provision of advice to policy makers. Commencing with an examination of how the main theoretical paradigms can be used to understand actors and actions at each level of analysis, the course will provide students with a detailed understanding of the various methodologies to explain possible objectives of actors who are the subject of the analysis. This will include applying matrices to understand how decisions result from defined and implied interests, research methodologies to support both information collection and evaluation, the various techniques employed to conduct option and risk analyses and finally the role of the analyst in the decision cycle. The course will be a mix of individual research and evaluation as well as group work to examine various case studies in order to prepare the student to participate as a member of an analytical team or as a solo researcher.


MPA591 Cyber Statecraft and National Security

The course introduces students to social science dimensions of offensive and defensive computer network operations, exploitation, attacks, and cyberwarfare. Its premise is cyber as a new domain of warfare that poses an existential threat to national security, prosperity and democracy. What difference does it make to think about democracy from the perspective of cyber - and about cyber from the perspective of democracy in general, and the Canadian democratic regime, its norms, values and underlying constitutional and governance principles in particular? The course’s learning proposition is that cyber is not merely a technical but, fundamentally, a behavioural, policy, administrative, legal, economic, political, cultural, social and strategic challenge.


PR500 Project

The project is worth two (2) elective credits. The project title and scope will normally be approved by the Chair after the student has completed three or more core courses.


TH500 Thesis

The thesis is worth six (6) elective credits. The thesis title, scope and supervisor(s) will normally be approved by the Chair after the student has completed three or more core courses.

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