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American University’s School of Public Affairs Receives High Recognition in New U.S. News & World Report Rankings

AU SPA ranked #13 out of 276 schools of public affairs

The School of Public Affairs (SPA) at American University (AU) remains one of the country’s top public affairs institutions, according to U.S. News & World Report’s 2021 Public Affairs Graduate Schools rankings. This year, AU SPA climbed one spot in the overall rankings to No. 13 among 276 schools of its kind. This jump underscores the school’s advancement and growth across many specialty areas. For the first time, SPA is ranked in the top 15 in seven specialty areas.

Specialty areas include: No. 4 for Public Management & Leadership (the highest ranked program of its kind in Washington, D.C.); No. 4 for International Policy & Global Administration (up from No. 5), No. 7 for Homeland Security & Emergency Management (up from No. 14), No. 11 for Nonprofit Management (up from No. 14), No. 12 in Urban Policy (up from No. 15), No. 14 in Public Financing and Budgeting (up from No. 16), and No. 14 in Public Policy Analysis (up from No. 17). SPA shares the top overall ranking in Washington, D.C., moving up six places over the past three rankings cycles.

“In this trying time, it is nice to get some good news,” said SPA Dean Vicky M. Wilkins. “I am pleased to see that our Public Management program remains the top-ranked program of its kind in Washington, D.C. and that our Homeland Security & Emergency Management program moved up seven places in the specialty rankings. Additionally, our Public Policy Analysis program is now among the top 15 of its kind in the country. While we are challenged by more pressing concerns, this achievement shows that our strategy is coming to fruition for the benefit of our students, whom we hope to see on campus soon.”

Peer assessment surveys comprise the U.S. News & World Report rankings. Deans, directors, and department chairs representing 276 master’s programs in public affairs and administration were surveyed in fall 2019. Respondents were asked to rate the academic quality of a master’s program on a scale of marginal to outstanding. Rankings of specialty areas are based on ratings by educators at peer schools. 

Established in 1934, AU's School of Public Affairs was created to train public servants implementing FDR’s pioneering New Deal legislation. For more than eight decades, SPA has married FDR’s vision with the theoretical and practical skills public service professionals need. Today, with more than 2,300 current students and 23,000 alumni, SPA faculty and students continue to address challenges in the areas of public policy, public administration, political science, criminology, and other complex fields.