Skip to main content


Go Search
New Atlas
Atlas, A-Z
Atlas Maps
MPP/MPA Programs
Core Topics
Illustrative Courses
Topic Encyclopedia
Concept Dictionary
Career Tips
Best Practices Project


The Atlas classification of 33 public policy and management subjects

As described in Atlas Framework for Analyzing Curricular Content, curricular and advisory subject matter on the Atlas is organized into 33 subjects. The subjects can be grouped in various ways to reflect pedagogical and advisory distinctions considered relevant to curricular design. The distinctions we highlight are:

  • General Preparation (with the further distinction between the “how to” Analysis and Skills subjects and the “why does” Institutions and Context subjects) vs. Specific Practice Preparation (with the further distinction between Management Functions subjects and Policy Sectors subjects). These distinctions are reflected in the four domains indicated by the columns in the table below.
  • Policy-Oriented subjects vs. Management-Oriented subjects. This distinction, which harkens back a half century to the 1960s movement to create MPP programs focusing on policy analysis to complement MPA programs focusing on public sector management, is captured by the colour coding of the subjects in the table below: either Policy-Oriented (pink) subjects) Management-Oriented (mauve) subjects, with one subject (Policy and Management Analysis) designated 50-50. These are used to generate MPP/MPA Curricular Types, where programs with 60% or more of pink subjects are categorized as Policy Oriented and those programs with more than 40% mauve subjects are categorized as Management Oriented.
  • Mathematics-Economics intensive subjects vs. Other subjects. This distinction is important for determining the academic preparation of both teaching faculty and students. Such courses tend to be taught by economists rather than political scientists, and students usually require some undergraduate preparation in economics and statistics. These subjects are indicated by the (Math-Econ) label in the table below.
  • Archetypal Public Affairs subjects vs. Archetypal International Affairs subjects. This distinction is important for comparing programs coming under the broad category of Public Affairs (MPP, MPA and similarly named) programs with International Affairs (MIA, MGA, as well as International specializations within MPP or MPA) programs. These are indicated with the (Arch PA) and (Arch IA) labels.

The subject-domain framework is used to classify courses, teaching topics, concepts, practice advice, reports from IGOs, and reference collections which are displayed in Illustrative Courses Map, Teaching Topics Map, Concepts Map, Practice Advice Map, IGO Report Map, and References Map; they are brought together by subject in All Categories Map.

The Policy-Oriented vs. Management-Oriented distinction is used in conjunction with the Mathematics-Economics designation and the Courses to Graduate variable to create MPP/MPA Curricular Types. The Archetypal Public Affairs and International Affairs subject designations are used to conduct Comparisons with International Affairs Programs. All this data is brought together in the Curriculum Comparison Tables and the Program Rankings by Curricular Characteristics.

                      G  e  n  e  r  a  l     P  r  e  p  a  r  a  t  i  o  n                                                                                              S  p  e  c  i  f  i  c    P  r  a  c  t  i  c  e 

    Analysis and Skills

Policy and Management Analysis (Core, Arch PA)

Economic Analysis (Core, Arch PA, Math-Econ)

Quantitative Methods (Core, Arch PA, Math-Econ)

Analytic Methods (Core)

Leadership Skills (Core)

Communication Skills (Core)


























































  Institutions and Context

Democratic Institutions and Policy Process (Arch PA)

Ethics, Rights and Accountability (Core)

Socioeconomic and Political Context (Core)

Global Context (Core, Arch IA) 



[NOTE: Some of the pages on the Atlas still refer to earlier nomenclature: Tools and Skills (now Analysis and Skills); Strategy and Implementation (now Policy and Management Analysis); Management Sciences (now Analytic Methods); Leadership (now Leadership Skills); Communication (now Communications Skills); Ethics and Accountability (now Ethics, Rights and Accountability); Fiscal, Monetary and Tax Policy (now Macroeconomic Policy); Financial Sector and Pensions (now Financial Markets).]

 Content Editor Web Part

    Policy Sectors 

Macroeconomic Policy (Math-Econ)

International Development (Arch IA)

Public Finance and Social Policy



Employment, Labour and Immigration

Cities, Urban and Regional Development

Environment and Sustainability

Agriculture and Resources

Science, Technology and Innovation

Industry, Trade and Investment

Energy, Transport and Infrastructure

Defence, Security and Foreign Relations (Arch IA)

Policing and Justice Administration

Arts and Culture

Financial Markets (Math-Econ)




Important Notices
© University of Toronto 2008
School of Public Policy and Governance