Professional Development Program

Preparing you for a career in the public sector

The primary purpose of the Professional Development Program (PDP) is to prepare MPA graduates for a career in the public sector. With increasing competition for valued public sector jobs, it is necessary to complement high quality academic courses with opportunities to refine and demonstrate relevant professional competencies. The PDP approach also builds professional networks and helps ensure grounded expectations about potential job openings and career opportunities. Unique to Dalhousie’s MPA program, the PDP helps graduates successfully take the next steps in their careers.


The program is a collaborative initiative involving students, public sector organizations and the School of Public Administration. The design follows workplace models rather than a typical "academic" approach. In practice, this means the PDP is highly customized; class members are expected to play the lead role in their own development, drawing on coaches, mentors and other resources to support their learning. This design principle fits well with our understanding of individual differences and individual choice.

Administratively the PDP consists of four non-academic, non-credit, Pass/Fail courses, two in each of the two years of the program. The content of the PDP is comprised of but not limited to: self-assessments, research, goal setting, action planning, skills practice and reflection. Additionally, class sessions, workshops and networking opportunities promote professional development to help distinguish Dalhousie MPA graduates in a competitive job market.