Certificate in Public Policy and Administration

About the Certificate in Public Policy and Administration

The five-course Certificate in Public Policy and Administration is designed to provide a solid base in key concepts and foundations of Canadian government, policy and administration by bringing together a number of Canadian political science and public policy courses.

This certificate will be of interest to you if you are an undergraduate student or are currently working or seeking employment in the public sector or quasi-public sector.

How to Register

University of Guelph Degree Students

If you are a University of Guelph degree student, please register for your courses through WebAdvisor.

Open Learning Program Students

For your convenience, you can register for courses using OpenEd's new secure online registration system.

Register button.

Visit our How to Register page for alternative ways to register and for methods of payment.

Please note that some courses and programs have an approval process that must be completed prior to confirming enrolment. See specific individual course description pages for details.

If you have any questions about registration, please email our main office or phone us at 519-767-5000.


All courses are delivered entirely online through CourseLink, the University of Guelph's online learning management system. Courses may be taken individually or as part of the certificate program. It takes approximately two years to complete the program.

Successful completion of five of the following seven degree-credit courses is required for the Certificate in Public Policy and Administration:

Required Courses

The following two courses are required:

POLS*2230DE - Public Policy

The course introduces students to public policy, including the differences between applied and explanatory policy analyses, within the larger context of politics and government. Case studies of different policy areas are used to illustrate the challenges of developing, implementing, and explaining policy in various (and often interrelated) contexts from the local to the global.

View the POLS*2230DE course description page.

POLS*2250DE - Public Administration and Governance

The course explores, from both practical and theoretical perspectives, planning and implementation of programs and services through government departments and agencies and "alternative" processes and structures, sometimes involving non-governmental actors. The course critically evaluates the changing role of bureaucracy; financial and human resource management; and the evolving concepts of responsibility and accountability.

View the POLS*2250DE course description page.

Elective Courses

Choose three of the following five courses:

POLS*2300DE - Canadian Government and Politics

This course explores the core institutions of Canadian government, including parliamentary government, federalism, the Charter of Rights and Freedoms and electoral systems. How these institutions shape and are shaped by political parties and social forces, as well as current issues like Quebec nationalism, identity politics and Aboriginal governance, are covered.

View the POLS*2300DE course description page.

POLS*3250DE - Public Policy: Challenges and Prospects

This course covers the dominant theories that explain the origins and character of public policy in Canada, and other countries. The focus will be on both governmental and nongovernmental actors.

View the POLS*3250DE course description page.

POLS*3300DE - Governing Criminal Justice

The course provides an overview of the policy process and outcomes of the Canadian criminal justice system. Particular emphasis is placed on examining, using various public policy and public management perspectives, the practices and interactions of governmental agencies within the system, such as police agencies and boards, departments of Justice, Solicitor-General, corrections and parole agencies, courts and the legal profession.

View the POLS*3300DE course description page.

POLS*3370DE - Environmental Politics and Governance

This course examines environmental politics and governance in Canada as well as in comparative and international contexts. This is accomplished by surveying how various political, legal, administrative, and private-public actors and processes influence the development and implementation of environmental policy. 

View the POLS*3370DE course description page.

POLS*3440DE - Corruption, Scandal and Political Ethics 

This course will introduce students to the phenomenon of political corruption and the study of its incidence. Attention will be paid to historical examples, contemporary scandals, and analytical articles, dealing with the nature, causes and effects, and proposed cures of political corruption, and the ethical dilemmas inherent in political life.

View the POLS*3440DE course description page.

Additional Information

When you have completed all the requirements for this certificate, you can request your parchment through the OpenEd Student Portal.

If you would like additional information on distance education, please visit our Online Learning at U of G page. For specific program-related inquiries, please email the Open Learning program Counsellor.