About SPA

Over the last 80+ years, SPA has cultivated a culture of excellence.

The School of Public Affairs (SPA) at American University has been a hub for policy-related research and teaching for 85 years. Created during the depths of the Great Depression to train federal employees to implement President Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s “New Deal,” SPA builds a culture of excellence and transforms the student experience through personalized teaching and experiential education; empowerment to conduct and produce research for those who seek knowledge; and ongoing engagement and collaboration between the academic and policy-planning spheres.  

SPA offers 6 undergraduate and 11 graduate degrees and is home to five research journals that span public affairs, government, and law. Our legacy, set by President Roosevelt’s charge to promote "practical contacts between the collegiate and educational world, and the operations of government,” continues to inform our values and approach, as 1,900 current students and more than 23,000 alumni tackle complex issues with thoughtful research that educates, informs, and promotes change across a multitude of fields.


Alison Jacknowitz

Introducing Alison Jacknowitz as our Interim Dean!

We are pleased she will lead our school in the 2023-24 academic year.

Message from the Dean

SPA is ranked number 13

among public affairs schools, highest in D.C., by U.S. News & World Report

SPA is ranked number 4

in Public Management & Leadership

by U.S. News & World Report's Public Affairs Graduate Schools Rankings