Core Curriculum

The Master of Global Affairs program combines rigorous coursework with opportunities for real-world work experience. Learn more about our core curriculum.

Core curriculum

The Master of Global Affairs is a two-year professional program that combines rigorous academic study with a paid global summer internship and student leadership opportunities.

In year one of the MGA program, you'll take seven core courses, plus one core elective chosen from a list of three, and one elective of your choice. In year two, you'll take two core courses plus five elective courses, three of which must be in your chosen emphasis specialization. 

The MGA program is structured around five core pillars of study: global markets, global security, global development, innovation policy, and global justice and human rights. Learn more below about the pillars and program structure

MGA students in class

Program structure

You’ll be evaluated through a combination of examinations, term papers, and group projects, as appropriate to each individual course. For a complete list of courses and descriptions, please visit the MGA courses page. 

Pre-Program Math-Stats and Economics Bootcamps  

The Master of Global Affairs program equips you with a strong quantitative foundation. During the mandatory Math-Stats and Economics Boot Camps that you’ll attend in the summer before Year 1, you will have the opportunity to strengthen your math and statistics skills and become familiar with concepts that will be covered in first-year core quantitative courses. You will be required to write a diagnostic test at the end of the Math-Stats Boot Camp to determine which level of Microeconomics and Macroeconomics course you will take. Both the Math-Stats and Economics Boot Camps are offered online. 

Year One Courses
  • Global Development
  • Global Innovation Policy
  • Global Security
  • Human Rights and Global Justice
  • Microeconomics for Global Affairs
  • Macroeconomics: Markets, Institutions and Growth
  • Statistics for Global Affairs
  • Choose one core elective from: The Sustainability Imperative: Implications for Global Affairs and Public Policy ; Ethics and Global Affairs; Decision Making & Strategic Thinking
  • One elective of your choice
Summer Internship

During the summer between Year 1 and Year 2, we connect you with top-tier global institutions, think tanks, businesses and civil-society organizations with whom you will complete a mandatory summer internship. The internship course requires you to write a culminating report. 

Learn more about the MGA internship program. 

Year Two Courses

In your second year, you will take two core courses: Research Methods for Global Affairs and the Capstone Seminar.

You will also take five elective courses, at least 3 of which must be in your chosen emphasis. The completion of a particular emphasis will be recognized on your transcript at graduation.  

Year 2 emphases:

  • Global Development
  • Innovation Policy
  • Human Rights and Global Justice
  • Global Markets
  • Global Security
  • The Digital World
  • Global Policy
Capstone Seminar

The Capstone Project is a culminating assignment that ties together all the foundational elements of the MGA curriculum — collaboration, practical work experience, and innovative problem-solving. It gives you the opportunity to apply your knowledge to the needs of real-world clients. You will work with fellow students in a team, across geographies, to provide a client with value-added analysis and innovative solutions. Past capstone partners have included: OPTrust, Women and Girls Division Global Affairs Canada, Global Affairs Canada, Actua, Public Prosecution Service of Canada

The five pillars of the MGA curriculum:

The Master of Global Affairs program has five core pillars:

  • global markets
  • global security
  • global development
  • innovation policy, and
  • human rights and global justice
MGA five pillars
Global markets


Global markets

Global markets investigates the influence of financial, commodity, and other markets on politics and of policy on market outcomes. Our focus lies on policy and economic analysis with real-world applications rather than theory. Building on the economics courses in the first year, second-year courses in Markets cover the politics of exchange rates, trade policy, the role of the IMF and World Bank, financial crises, the implications of global monetary developments, and how to develop investment strategies in a globalized world.

Global security pillar

Global security

Global security examines organized political violence in the global system. It encompasses traditional concerns about interstate and intrastate war, coercive diplomacy, collective security alliances, and weapons of mass destruction, as well as a host of nontraditional problems in cybersecurity, biosecurity, climate security, human security, and terrorism. A diverse set of course offerings explores topics such as the geopolitics of cyberspace, grand strategy, intelligence, and covert action, terrorism research, police violence, far-right populism, and Canadian defense policy. In order to devise humane and effective policies to mitigate conflict in the global system, it is imperative to understand its root causes. The program thus encourages students to understand the causes, conduct, and consequences of transnational violent conflict, whether merely threatened or realized, occurring between or within states, involving military or nonmilitary organizations, and transpiring throughout the gray zone between peace and war.

Global development pillar

Global development

Global development seeks to build a holistic, multidisciplinary, understanding of the forces shaping efforts to achieve sustainable development in lower-income countries, particularly in Africa and Asia – along with the diverse skills needed to engage effectively in the development field.  The program aims first to provide a foundational understanding of the major forces shaping efforts to improve well-being across lower-income countries.  This includes national force like history, policy, institutions, politics and human rights, as well as the impact of international forces and actors including aid donors, the private sector, the organization of the global system, and the expanding challenges of climate change and environmental sustainability.  This then provides a common starting point for exploring questions of security, justice, innovation, markets, sustainability and global governance as they relate to lower-income countries across our core courses – and for an array of second year courses that explore specific topics in development in greater detail, including education, health, gender, conflict, migration and democratization.

Innovation policy pillar

Innovation policy

Innovation policy examines innovation in the diverse forms it takes, from the development of radically new products to social innovation. Our foundational course explores different national patterns of innovation and their consequences for growth and distribution, with particular attention to data and other intangible assets, inclusive innovation, and innovation in lower income countries. Second-year course offerings examine a range of topics, including the ethics of AI, the role of universities as economic and social actors, the determinants of entrepreneurship, the governance of data and privacy rights, regional economic inequalities, and the distributional consequences of innovation.

global justice and human rights pillar

Human rights and global justice

Human rights and global justice focuses on demands for justice, the relationship between justice and inequality, the reform of justice organizations, and the leadership of justice systems under stress. This includes an array of substantive issues, including the promise of human rights and recognition, criticisms of domestic and international justice systems, and responses to cross-border crime. The program offers courses on domestic and international criminal justice, police violence, international migration and citizenship, corruption and illicit trade, the challenges of measurement in justice, political advocacy and social movements, international human rights, and responses to atrocities. Students who select this emphasis study the claims made in the name of justice, legal and political frameworks, the organizational dynamics of justice agencies, and the ways in which states, non-state actors, and international organizations resolve justice system challenges.