Norman Paterson School of International Affairs

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Norman Paterson School of International Affairs
Norman Paterson School Logo.jpg
Established 1965
Type Public
Academic affiliation Carleton University
Director Dane Rowlands
Location Ottawa, Ontario, Canada
Website NPSIA Website

The Norman Paterson School of International Affairs, commonly referred to as NPSIA (nip-SEE-yuh), is a professional school of international affairs at Carleton University and founded in 1965. The school is housed in the River Building, on Carleton's campus in Ottawa, Canada. Students, alumni and faculty of NPSIA are referred to as NPSIAns (NIP-see-yins).

NPSIA is Canada's leading school of international affairs, founded during what is commonly considered a golden age of Canadian diplomacy. The school offers an interdisciplinary approach to the study of global issues, divided into seven clusters. NPSIA is the only full Canadian member of the Association of Professional Schools of International Affairs, a group of the world's top schools in international affairs.

NPSIA is well regarded within the international affairs community, and admission to the school is highly selective. In 2007, a poll of Canadian academics, intended to determine the best professional masters programs in international affairs, ranked NPSIA at No. 2, tied with Georgetown University, and ahead of programs at universities like Harvard and Columbia.[1][2]

Graduate Programs[edit]

While the school offers a few undergrad classes to students Carleton, international affairs is not a major available to undergraduate students through NPSIA. The school offers three different Masters level programs, and one PhD level program.

Master of Arts[edit]

The Master of Arts in International Affairs is NPSIA's most popular degree program, with about 100 students graduating with the degree each year. The program offers an interdisciplinary approach to the study of international affairs, and many of the classes are focused on policy. In an attempt to offer some level of specialisation, each M.A. student is assigned a cluster upon entry to the school. Clusters are specific subject areas which loosely determine which economics and elective classes M.A. students must take to graduate. Despite this, there is a marked fluidity among clusters, and most students take classes from many different clusters. The clusters available to students (and their commonly used abbreviations) are:

To graduate, NPSIA M.A. students must complete 5.0 full credits, including one economics course, at least one cluster course and the introductory methods course. Students must also demonstrate an intermediate knowledge of a major second language. For instance, in French, students must meet the B1 level according to the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages.


The relatively new PhD program at NPSIA requires that students complete at least 10 full credits, which includes the 4.5 credits worth of dissertation work. The PhD program has three fields of study:

  • International Conflict Management and Resolution
  • International Development Policy
  • International Economic Policy

Joint and dual degrees[edit]

NPSIA offers an M.A./JD degree in conjunction with the University of Ottawa's Faculty of Law. Students must apply to both the JD and the M.A. programs separately and gain admission to each program to be admitted into the joint program. M.A./JD students do one year at UOttawa before completing their second year at NPSIA.

The school has also partnered with Carleton's Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering to offer the Master of Infrastructure Protection and International Security (MIPIS). This degree combines infrastructure engineering with international affairs to address issues at the nexus of national security and engineering.

Research units and publications[edit]

As a hub of international affairs-related research, NPSIA houses a number of different research centres. Each is a unique body tasked with producing research on a specific topic or collection of related topics. Many NPSIA professors are actively involved in these research centres. NPSIA is affiliated with the following research centres:

  • The Canadian Centre of intelligence and Security Studies (CCISS)[3]
  • The Canadian Centre for Treaty Compliance (CCTC)[4]
  • Centre for Security and Defence Studies (CSDS)[5]
  • Centre for Trade Policy and Law (CTPL)[6]

In addition to these research units, the school is home to two academic journals. The first, the Canadian Foreign Policy Journal, is a peer-reviewed journal traditionally published three times per year. Founded in 1992, the journal offers analysis of foreign policy issues from a Canadian perspective, and many NPSIA faculty members have been published in the journal.[7] The second journal that NPSIA houses is the Paterson Review of International Affairs, a student-managed journal that publishes the best articles submitted by graduate students in international relations, political science and related fields. Formally called E-merge, the journal publishes once a year and is edited by a staff of NPSIA students.[8] NPSIA is also well known for publishing Canada Among Nations, a biannual survey of Canadian foreign policy and Canada's involvement in the international community. The text has come to be incorporated in many university courses and is widely read by policy makers.[9]

Rankings and notable alumni[edit]

In 2007, a poll of Canadian academics intended to determine the best professional masters programs in international affairs ranked NPSIA at #2, tied with Georgetown University. Two years later, Canadian academics ranked NPSIA the fifth best school in the world from which to obtain a terminal masters degree, ahead of schools like Princeton University and Yale University. In the same study, factoring in votes from surveyed academics from around the world, the school ranked 14th in the world, the only Canadian school to rank.[10]

Community Life[edit]

NPSIA has an active and vibrant student body that plans and attends various activities throughout the year. The NPSIA student body is represented by the NPSIA Students' Association (NSA), a group made up of first year MA and Ph.D. students and which aims to "foster an environment where students can flourish academically, socially, and professionally." [11] The NSA is led by a pair of co-presidents who, along with the co-treasurers, Graduate Students' Association (GSA) representatives and the secretary, are elected. All other positions – including VPs Academic, Social, Sports, and Communications – are filled by as many or as few students as are willing to participate. The NSA, by virtue of being run entirely by new first years, reinvents itself each school year to fit the needs and wants of current students. However, many events are annual traditions which continue on year-to-year despite NSA turnover, including the annual NPSIA Halloween Party. The NSA also organises NPSIA-branded clothing orders and business card orders. As part of an initiative to improve its visibility among Carleton students and members of the international affairs community, the NSA has recently undergone a branding campaign, which included the introduction of a logo and the launch of a new website.[12]

NPSIA Benefit Soirée[edit]

The NPSIA Benefit Soirée, usually referred to mononomously as Soirée, is an annual benefit dinner put on by first year MA students since 1997.[13] The goal of Soirée is to raise awareness of a key global issue while connecting students with important members of the international affairs community in Ottawa. Generally composed of a dinner followed by a keynote address, the event raises money for a different charity each year, and is the major event of the NPSIA social season. Past keynote speakers include former Governor General Michaëlle Jean, the founder of War Child Canada Samantha Nutt and Nobel Peace Prize nominee Izzeldin Abuelaish. The event is well attended by NPSIA students and professors, as well as by members of the diplomatic corps of Ottawa and the wider international affairs community.


External links[edit]

Coordinates: 45°22′56″N 75°41′46″W / 45.38233°N 75.69618°W / 45.38233; -75.69618