Master of Public Policy in Digital Society

Four people sitting at a candle-lit table having a conversation.
Brenda McPhail photo

A Message from the Executive Director

I jumped at the chance to act as Executive Director of the Master of Public Policy (MPP) in Digital Society Program when the opportunity arose. In my previous role as a civil society policy practitioner, leading the Privacy, Technology and Surveillance Program at the Canadian Civil Liberties Association, I spent a lot of time talking to public service and industry professionals federally, provincially, and municipally about digital transformation and the need to protect privacy and other rights in the face of technological change. I know how much the policy world needs well-trained people to engage in those complicated, nuanced, and fundamentally important conversations about how (and sometimes if) we should leverage exciting new technologies.


The McMaster MPP is designed to give new policy professionals the capacity to engage in those conversations critically and confidently; it is the only public policy program in Canada with an explicit focus on digital society.


Our curriculum is equally unique. A small cohort works their way together through an intensive set of traditional graduate seminar-style courses and an equal number of skills-labs, providing theoretical and technical skills to allow our students to set themselves apart professionally. Our co-teaching model combines academics and “professors of practice,” practitioners who are immersed in the day-to-day policy world and bring that experience to our classes.


The primarily virtual nature of the MPP allows students from across the country and beyond to participate without the expense of having to relocate and facilitates a diversity of experience in our classes. It also prepares our graduates for the current hybrid work world that blends offline with synchronous online expectations.


For students who want to engage with the thorniest policy questions of our time at the junction of technological change and social needs, and to build their own capacity to take leadership roles in solving those challenges, this is the right program. I can’t wait to welcome you and work with you.


Best wishes,

Brenda McPhail, PhD


A degree that meets the moment

Digital innovations are actively reshaping our societies. Governments, industry, and civil society are grappling with ways to develop effective public policy responses to the opportunities and challenges presented by digital technology.


The MPP in Digital Society is a professional degree that combines seminar-based learning, case studies, skills labs, and experiential education opportunities to develop a set of core competencies at the intersection of digital technology and public policy. The interdisciplinary curriculum focuses on developing the theory and skills necessary to ensure that students develop, and are able to demonstrate, mastery of public policy fundamentals, foundational informatics, and the base mechanics of digital technologies. Successful students may also enroll in our co-op stream and spend an additional summer semester in a work placement.


The aim of the program is to train prospective policy leaders to navigate the rapidly changing dynamics of the technological landscape so as to more effectively address the complex social, political, and economic challenges that have accompanied the Digital Age. By leveraging their training as both technologists and policymakers, graduates of the program will be prepared to lead interdisciplinary teams in the public, private, and non-profit sectors. They will be well placed to advance innovative solutions to complex public policy challenges resulting from the advancement of digital technologies.

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