HOW TO EVALUATE PUBLIC ADMINISTRATION AND POLICY SCHOOLS

Choosing a public administration and policy school or program in Canada can be a difficult and time-consuming choice for international students. At first you will need to make many decisions: whether you wish to pursue a degree, diploma or certificate; study on a full-time or part-time basis; what majors and areas of specialization interest you; how important special features such as co-op are to your decision; and the importance of cost, location and other similar factors. Once you have decided on these, you will still need to undertake a significant exploration and consultation to focus your interests and choice of a public administration and policy school or program in Canada.

Here is a step-by-step process to help international students evaluate each school or program:

  • Visit the school's or program's website. Most public administration and policy schools and departments provide detailed information about their programs - i.e., which degrees/diplomas/certificates are offered, amount of tuition and fees, admission requirements and intake times, student demographics, faculty qualifications, industry experience and research accomplishments, and more! Often the school's website will provide a "Q&A" or FAQ page which will answer the most common international student questions about it and its programs.


  • Speak with or email an academic advisor. Advisors have a thorough knowledge of the curriculum and study programs that can lend a perspective to your decisions, and sometimes lead you in new directions.


  • Research other sources of information. There is a wealth of things that you can do here:


    • Find or ask to be put in touch with past graduates of the university, college, school or program and talk with them about their experiences while a student. Consult the school's international student office as well to see if they can put you in touch with any current or former international students in the program.


    • Search the Internet for information on awards and achievements bestowed on specific institutions and their programs in Canada -- competitions won, faculty honours, research grants, etc.


    • Do an international library search (using WorldCat, for example) for publications relating to the university, college or program. Public administration and policy schools and departments may publish academic journals or conference proceedings: these can be good indicators and examples of the school's or department's focus and quality.


    • Confirm which organizations have recruited graduates in the past and contact their human resources departments to determine their satisfaction with the institution's graduates and programs, whether they continue to recruit from the university or college, and whether they value it over others on a regular basis.


    • Consult Facebook and other social networking sites that may provide testimonials and other student comments on specific public administration and public policy programs and the universities, colleges and schools that offer them in Canada.

    Then match these facts and figures against the Canadian public administration and policy schools and programs you are evaluating.