Policy In Practice

As a professional degree program, UBC’s Master of Public Policy and Global Affairs (MPPGA) is designed to prepare you to deal with complex public policy challenges and drive meaningful change in the real world.

Our unique curriculum encourages creativity, innovation and collaboration by seamlessly integrating learning and practical experience. Expect a mix of case studies, field visits, workshops, and other hands-on activities, including the key program components outlined below.

Hear from Cesi Cruz, MPPGA Assistant Professor, who teaches policy analysis and program evaluation, as she speaks to the program’s comparative advantage:

Global Policy Project

A defining element of UBC's MPPGA curriculum is an intensive Global Policy Project (GP2) (GPP 590), which provides opportunities for you and your team to engage with policy makers and civil society and apply your creative thinking and strategic design skills to a real-world policy challenge. GP2 will be completed over the course of Year One and Year Two with workshops throughout the first year and an intensive semester-long project in the second year.

Here’s how it works:

  • You will work in a team under the guidance of a faculty member (Project Mentor) to complete each step of the Project, from the initial design brief and project proposals, to data gathering and analysis during the allocated fieldwork time, to the completion of the final policy report/deliverable
  • Each client will present a specific challenge facing its organization, providing context to help you understand and define the problem
  • Collaborating closely with your client, faculty and one another in a policy studio and the field, you will gather data, analyze the problem, and design and test possible solutions, incorporating feedback as you go
  • You will present your final policy recommendations in a policy report and symposium at the end of Year Two

Some GP2 work will be locally based while at other times may involve national or international travel. The program will cover the cost of travel to your project destination in the form of economy class airfare up to a reasonable amount specified by the program for each project.

Additional project costs such as accommodation, in-country transportation, research costs, food, vaccines, and insurance will vary by project and will be the responsibility of the student. Students will have the opportunity to rank their projects of choice prior to being placed on teams.

Various professional development workshops will be incorporated throughout  the MPPGA program, with the purpose of preparing you for your Project work, which begins in Year 2.  You will enhance your skills in team collaboration, conflict resolution in a policy environment, report writing and presentations, and develop new skills in policy research design, the strategic design process, and a variety of field research techniques.

Following the completion of the intensive workshop series, you will be offered a policy studio experience regularly throughout Year 2 to work on your Project. The policy studio is a flexible, visual learning space with a focus on collaborative experiences where students, faculty, and clients co-design experiments that integrate creative thinking with scientific methods in problem identification and analysis.

MPPGA Policy in Practice

Policy Practitioner Sessions

These exclusive sessions for MPPGA students involve intimate and in-depth discussions with policy practitioners from diverse backgrounds to expose students to new ideas, current topics, and best practices in practicing policy. The sessions are chaired by MPPGA students to further develop their management and communication skills. They are scheduled throughout year.

Winter Session 2015 - 16:
Gisèle Yasmeen, Senior Fellow, Institute of Asian Research, UBC; former consultant to the UN Food and Agriculture Organization, CIDA and the International Development Research Centre.
Jillian Stirk, former Ambassador to Norway and assistant deputy minister in the federal public service; expert in foreign policy and multilateral negotiations.
Christian Hansen, Regional Director and Senior Trade Commissioner, Pacific Regional Office, Global Affairs Canada.
Michael Small, Executive Director, Renewable Cities; former career diplomat and senior executive in the Canadian foreign service.
Darren Schemmer, Principal, Executive Insight Consulting; formerly with Canadian International Development Agency and Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development Canada; former Acting High Commissioner to Kenya and Ghana.
Margaret Biggs, Skelton-Clark Fellow at the School of Policy Studies, Queen's University, John MacArthur, Senior Fellow, Brookings Institution and Senior Fellow, United Nations Foundation, and Erik Werker, Associate Professor in the Beedie School of Business at Simon Fraser University.
Carlos Scartascini, Principal Economist, Research Department, Inter-American Development Bank (IDB).

Professional Skills Workshops

As an MPPGA candidate, you will enjoy exclusive access to a series of professional skills workshops organized by students and faculty. Designed to develop skills and improve employment readiness, these learning events will cover a wide range of topics, including:

  • Intercultural Fluency
  • Finance and budgets
  • Technical media skills
  • Public speaking
  • Curriculum vitae (C.V.) writing
  • Conflict resolution

Candidates are encouraged to attend as many workshops as possible before graduation. Staff listen carefully to feedback and adjust the workshop planning schedule according to your needs and interests. The program has offered the following workshops:

  • The Persuasive Presenter - Objectives and Outcomes
  • Collaboration Skills
  • Strategic Design
  • Social Media Strategy with the former Director of the UBC School of Journalism, Professor Alfred Hermida
  • Documentary Film making Workshop with Mike Lakusiak, Associate Producer at CBC, Digital Media Coordinator at UBC School of Journalism
  • Intercultural Fluency Workshop with Alden Habacon, Senior Advisor, Intercultural Understanding at UBC
  • Co-op Conference
  • Job Search Skills for the Policy Professions

MPPGA Co-operative Education Program (Co-op)

The Master of Public Policy & Global Affairs Co-operative Education Program is facilitated by the UBC Arts Co-op Program.

The MPPGA Co-operative Education Program allows you, our MPPGA candidates, to acquire practical, paid work experience specific to policy-related professions as a compliment to your classroom learning. Work placements occur during the summer between the first and second years of the MPPGA program. As a Co-op graduate, you will be well prepared, academically and professionally, for your future careers as policy practitioners in diverse sectors around the world.

For more details on the types of work you might perform, placement locations around the world, and eligibility and application, please visit the MPPGA page of the Arts Co-op website.

Eleven MPPGA students from the 2015 cohort participated in Co-op in the first year of the program, including working with Global Affairs Canada in Ottawa, the Conference Board of Canada, Goldcorp Inc., BPI, and the City of Richmond.

For more information on this program, please contact the MPPGA Co-op Coordinator for the Arts Co-op Program, Anna Jubilo.

Professional Growth Opportunities

The MPPGA program seeks to cultivate policy skills, knowledge, and networks that will support students as they work towards their professional goals.

MPPGA students Laurélène Faye and Elisha Connell joined a research mission in Paris in December 2016 and met with Minister Laurent Fabius, head of the French constitutional court, former President of COP 21 and former Foreign Minister, as well as attended a colloquium debriefing on the successes of the COP21 Paris Agreement. This opportunity was supported by the Saint-Simon Initiative funded by the French Government and coordinated by UBC Professor Yves Tiberghien, Director of the Institute of Asian Research, UBC.

COP21 Paris Treaty event

MPPGA students Zameena Dadani, Mitch Hulse, and Chad Rickaby, along with MPPGA Professor Dr. Yves Tiberghien attended Vision 20 in February 2017. V20 is a summit that brings together scholars from various fields including think tank experts, civil society networks, private sector leaders, and government operatives to generate ideas and actionable items over the long and medium term, while finding ways to initiate such processes in the short-term.

During the weekend of February 27, 2017, UBC MPPGA students Angelo Wang, Laurélène Faye, and Toyin Christiana had the opportunity to participate in the NASPAA-Batten Simulation Competition on Food Security at the University of Washington in Seattle.

After Graduation – Enhance Your Career as a Policy Professional

The MPPGA program is designed to provide you with a highly specialized skill set, combining data analysis with policy tools, economic understanding, communication skills, and creativity that is sought after by industry, non-governmental organizations, local and national governments, and inter-governmental agencies around the world. Expect to work in areas such as:

Policy Strategy Policy Design and Analysis
Strategic Communications & Digital Diplomacy Project Management
Data Analysis Evaluation & Needs Assessment
Procurement Analysis Research Services
Government Relations External Relations
Regulatory & Environmental Affairs Global Security
Technical Writing Social Service Delivery
Humanitarian Aid Immigration

Policymaker
Policy Advisor
Analyst – Policy, Data, Strategy, Procurement
Government Relations Director
Deputy Director, Online Communications and Engagement
External Relations Director
Political Affairs Officer

Advocacy Strategist
Business Development Planner
Community Engagement Officer
Corporate Social Responsibility Consultant
Ethical Trade Consultant
Gender and Social Inclusion Advisor


Energy Policy Analyst
Environmental Economist
Ethical Supply Chain Consultant
Regulatory and Environmental Specialist
Sustainability Analyst


International Security Advisor
Intelligence Collection Analyst
Foreign Service Officer
Humanitarian Aid Worker

*If you are an employer and wish to partner on the Global Policy Project or have a career opportunity for one of our students, please contact the MPPGA Partnership Team at mppga.partnerships (at) ubc.ca for more details.