Frequently asked questions


Do you have a part-time program?

The MPP program is a full-time program. It is a close-knit cohort program wherein students collaborate with each other and can work closely with faculty and policy leaders. We unfortunately do not have a part-time program at present. 

How long does it take to get an MPP degree?

Students generally complete their MPP degrees over five consecutive semesters. This includes four semesters of coursework and a thesis, and one semester of a paid co-op position to promote experiential learning.  We welcome a new cohort each September and students typically complete their MPPs in May during their second year of study.

How many courses does an MPP degree require?

An overview of the MPP curriculum can be found here.

Can I take courses outside of the School / SFU during the MPP program?

With the approval of the Graduate Program Chair, you can take electives outside of the program where you can make a compelling case for why this supports your educational and career goals. This includes courses at other Western Canadian Universities through the Western Dean’s Agreement, as well as in related Graduate Programs at SFU. 

Can I undertake or complete my program online / virtually?

Unfortunately not. SFU has returned to in person learning and almost all our classes are currently offered in person.

What support do you provide for Indigenous students?

As part of the School’s commitment to reconciliation and decolonization, we provide support for Indigenous students who wish to undertake the MPP program. We warmly welcome you to reach out to the School’s Director at the time of application to discuss your needs. The School can nominate you for Indigenous Graduate Awards and work with the Indigenous Student Centre to ensure you are well supported during your studies. 

What support is available for International Students?

SFU has abundant resources for international graduate students, provided by the office of Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies. They can assist with visas, obtaining medical insurance, locating housing, and more.

What advice do you have for prospective applicants?

We hold regular info-sessions to demystify the application process for prospective applicants. Please monitor our website for announcements about these. 

Do MPP classes have exams?

Some do and some do not; it varies by instructor.

Are all MPP classes in Vancouver?

Yes, at present all classes for the MPP program are held on the Vancouver campus.


What types of undergraduate degree is acceptable for admission to the MPP program?

MPP students’ backgrounds are diverse, as are the contributions they wish to make to improving public policy. We have accepted students with undergraduate studies focused around Indigenous studies, international studies, political science, economics, history, geography, sociology, gender and women’s studies, labour studies, law, engineering, nursing, and the hard sciences. If you are new to the social sciences, we suggest you explain how your background equips you to study public policy at the graduate level and how it will enable you to make a distinctive contribution to the field.

I’m an international applicant. Am I required to take the TOEFL?

Typically, yes, unless you have completed a degree at an institution where the language of instruction and examination was in English in a country where English is the primary language. The University’s English language requirements and minimum test scores are available here. It is not possible to make exceptions to the University’s English language requirements. 

I’m pursuing graduate school after a gap in study and providing academic references will be challenging. Am I still eligible to apply? 

Yes, we welcome applications from mid-career professionals and from those who are returning to higher education after a gap in study. In this instance, we suggest you provide professional references, such as from a supervisor at work or volunteer commitments. 

Am I still eligible to apply if I do not have a GRE score?

If you have not undertaken an undergraduate or graduate degree from a University in Canada, the United States, United Kingdom, European Union, or Australia, we require you to submit a Graduate Record Examination (GRE) score. 

Can the co-op requirement be waived?

Yes. If you bring substantial professional experience to the program, you can apply in the fall of your first year of study to have the co-op waived.  

I do not quite meet the GPA requirement, but I experienced extenuating circumstances that adversely impacted my academic performance.  Am I eligible to apply?

You may still apply and in rare circumstances may still be admitted if you bring significant experience relevant to your proposed policy area. If you experienced extenuating circumstances that adversely impacted your academic performance or career progress, please clearly describe these in an addendum (a separate document uploaded within your application). The admissions committee will consider this as they review your application.


Can my employer write a reference?

Yes. Our preference is for at least two academic references, however, we do accept professional references, especially from mid-career applicants who have been out of formal education for some years. 

When should I apply?

The admissions window dates and deadlines are posted on the ‘Apply’ page of our website each year. We suggest applying as early as possible within the window. Please note that you cannot submit the application on the day of the deadline as the application fee takes 2-3 business days to be processed and you will be able to complete and submit your application only once this has been received. Late applications will note be accepted.

I am applying to multiple graduate school programs. Can I request an early decision?

If you anticipate receiving admission from multiple programs, you may request consideration for early admission. Please state and justify your request in your letter of intent. Top ranked applicants may be selected for early admission, and if so, you will receive a decision within a month of your application. If you are not selected for early admission, you will receive a decision on the standard timeline. 

When and how will I be informed of the result of my application?

We typically inform applicants of admissions decisions by email in April / May, with the program beginning in early September.  

How competitive is the admissions process? How many applications does the program receive per year?

We receive around 200-300 applications each year and admit around 35 students.

Can the application fee be waived?

Unfortunately not. It is required by the University and the School is unable to assess individual payment waivers.

Do you require the GRE, TOEFL and/or IELTS test(s)?

If you have an undergraduate or graduate degree from a university in Canada, the United States, United Kingdom, European Union or Australia, we do not require you to submit the GRE score. All other applicants are required to submit their GRE score.

The University’s English language requirements are here.  If you have questions about them, please contactthe SFU Office of Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies.

What Institution Code should I enter on the TOEFL/GRE/IETLS for the School of Public Policy?

The Institution Code for MPP is 0999. This code will direct the reports to the Graduate Studies office who then forwards them to our School.

Finances and practicalities

Do you offer bursaries and awards?

SFU offers both merit-based scholarships, fellowships, and awards (allocated on the basis of academic excellence), and need-based financial aid, loans, and bursaries (awarded on the basis of demonstrated financial need). 

Financial need is determined by the University and needs-based funding is allocated by the Financial Aid and Awards office. Both Canadian and international students are eligible for bursaries. Financial aid and award bursaries are awarded every term, so It is unfortunately not possible to determine how many you might receive at the time of admission. 

Merit-based funding is allocated by the School of Public Policy. Alongside your admission decision, you will receive information about the merit-based funding you’ve been allocated for your first year of study.  Some scholarships and fellowships require nomination by the School to the Dean’s office who makes a final decision. 

Read more about finances.

Are research and conference funds available to students?

Yes. There is an annual competition for Travel and Research Awards (TARA) within the School. This funding is intended to provide financial support for travel and expenses relating to the research component of students’ graduate degrees. 

Do you allocate housing for graduate students?

The office of Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies can assist you in locating suitable housing.  SFU has two on-campus residences for graduate students, including one just down the street from the School. As well, the University can assist with locating off-campus housing, for instance through: Places4Students and Canada HomeShare  (more information can be found here).


How do I accept my offer of admission?

To accept your offer of admission, you need to accept online and pay the non-refundable deposit. The deposit holds your place in the program and will be applied to your tuition for your first time. 

 I’ve already accepted your admissions offer. Can I defer?

You may write to the Director and Manager to request deferral to the next academic year, explaining your circumstances and reasoning. Please note that if you defer you will lose any merit-based funding allocated to you as awards and fellowships are allocated on an annual basis.  To defer, you have to have paid the $750 MPP fee, which will be applied to the following year and is necessary to hold onto your spot.

I’ve accepted my offer of admission. What happens next?

The program office sends out welcome information for incoming MPP students to help you begin your planning. We organize an optional welcome session over the summer to answer any questions you have, and the School’s annual orientation is typically held in late August / early September. 

I have questions about the co-op component of the program. Who is the best person for me to contact?

Please contact the co-op program coordinator, Brandy Welles / 

Still have questions?

Contact us