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OSP | Capability Statement | School of Public Affairs

School of Public Affairs

American University's School of Public Affairs (SPA) is ranked among the top schools of its kind offering educational programs and conducting research in the fields of political science, public administration, public policy, criminal justice, law and society, and terrorism and security studies. With its origins stemming from the practical idealism of the 1930s and the training needed for the new tide of government workers, the School evolved over time to address the research and education needs of the Nation.

Located near the heart of national government and the center of American politics in Washington D.C., SPA has a well-connected, distinguished faculty, small classes, strong curriculum, and of course, easy access to institutions of power and people of influence. SPA has a diverse, multidisciplinary faculty of political scientists, economists, public administration and public policy specialists and lawyers with national and international perspectives. In addition to offering an exceptional undergraduate program, SPA enrolls an experienced, academically strong group of master's and doctoral students representing nine different countries and all parts of the United States. Most of these students possess experience in the field either through internships, co-op programs or full-time professional work; many are committed careers in public or private nonprofit community service.

The School has three departments committed to high impact research - Government, Public Administration and Policy, and Justice, Law and Criminology - as well as several research-oriented units, including the Center for Congressional and Presidential Studies, the Women and Politics Institute, the Justice Programs Office, the Washington Institute for Public Affairs Research, the Center for Environmental Policy, and the Political Theory Institute. Funded research projects include topics such as women's participation in politics, democratization at home and abroad, preventing wrongful convictions, shifts in voting behavior, decision making in nonprofit organizations, K-12 student achievement, and global health policy.

Ongoing SPA research is supported by public agencies and private foundations like the National Science Foundation, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, the MacArthur Foundation, the United States Agency for International Development, the National Institute for Justice, and the Ford Foundation.

Over the years, SPA scholarship has contributed to the national conversation in many highly salient matters of public affairs and policy. Today, SPA researchers and their students continue to extend the impact of their work for the benefit of communities both small and large, here in this country and all around the world.