Top Public Affairs Schools and Programs in the United States

Public affairs graduate schools provide advanced education in fields such as government relations, media relations and public relations. The public affairs programs and public affairs schools listed below produce many excellent managers in these areas and more. You can learn about the top public affairs graduate schools here at U.S. News University Directory.

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Public Affairs Ranked in 2012


Syracuse University (Maxwell)

Syracuse, NY

Established in 1870, Syracuse University is a private research university residing on 683 urban acres in Syracuse, New York. The Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs opened in 1924 as an undergraduate and graduate school. Today, the Maxwell School considers itself a graduate school which offers undergraduate programs. Graduate degree seeking students may pursue programs that include Anthropology, Geography, and Political Science.  Home to seven research centers and institutes, The Maxwell School is highly regarded as being one of the best colleges for Public Affairs in the U.S.


Indiana University--Bloomington

Bloomington, IN

Indiana University (IU) was founded in 1820 as a public university located in Bloomington, Indiana. Established in 1972, the School of Public and Environmental Affairs (SPEA) is one of the largest public policy and environmental studies schools in the United States. Students pursuing graduate level degrees may enter into one of more than six specialized programs. SPEA is also home to more than 10 SPEA and affiliated research centers, making it one of the most prestigious institutes for public affairs in the country.


Harvard University (Kennedy)

Cambridge, MA

Harvard University is a private institution that was founded in 1636.  It is located in Cambridge, Massachusetts and is known worldwide for its rigorous academics and high-achieving students. Harvard’s John F. Kennedy School of Government was born in 1936 and offers graduate level programs that include Public Policy, Public Administration, and International Development. With its Case Program having a collection of about 2,000 cases, sequels/epilogues, and notes in its collection the JFK School of government is one of the best colleges for public affairs in the United States.


University of Georgia

Athens, GA

A public institution founded in 1785, the University of Georgia (UGA) resides on 759 acres in the university town of Athens, Georgia. It's graduate public affairs programs are part of the School of Public and International Affairs, which offers many concentrations including public administration and policy, political science, and international affairs.  Remarkable research centers at the School of Public and International Affairs such as the Center for International Trade and Security (CITS) contribute to the prestigious reputation of UGA’s public affairs program. 


Princeton University (Wilson)

Princeton, NJ

Princeton University is a private institution that was founded in 1746 and now resides on 500 suburban acres in Princeton, New Jersey.  Its graduate public affairs programs are part of the Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs, which offers concentrations that include public affairs and public policy.  Notable alumni include Wendy Kopp, founder of Teach for America, and Anthony Lake, executive director of UNICEF.


New York University (Wagner)

New York, NY

New York University is a private university that was founded in 1831 and now resides on 229 urban acres in the Manhattan, New York. The Robert F. Wagner Graduate School of Public Service (NYU Wagner, Wagner) was established in 1938 and offers concentrations which include public administration, public administration in health policy management, urban planning, and management of international public service organizations. Notable alumni include Chelsea Clinton, former First Daughter and numerous United States House of Representative former and current seat holders.


University of California--Berkeley (Goldman)

Berkeley, CA

University of California Berkeley was founded as a public university in 1868.  The university’s main campus is located on 178 urban acres in Berkeley, California. The Richard and Rhoda Goldman School of Public Policy (GSPP) is a public policy school founded in 1969. Graduate studies may be pursued in the concentration of public policy, preparing students for careers in policy research with universities or research institutes.


University of Southern California (Price)

Los Angeles, CA

University of Southern California is a private institution that was founded in 1880 and now resides on 301 urban acres in Los Angeles, California.  Its graduate public affairs programs are part of the Sol Price School of Public Policy, which offers concentrations that include public administration, public policy, urban planning, real estate development, and international public policy and management. The Price School credits research as its Hallmark and is home to more than 10 research centers.


Carnegie Mellon University (Heinz)

Pittsburgh, PA

Carnegie Mellon University (CMU) was assembled in 1967 as a private university residing on 144 urban acres in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.  The College of Fine Arts was founded in 1905 as the first comprehensive arts teaching institute in the United States. A graduate degree in fine arts may be obtained in two of the five schools within the College of Fine Arts and include the School of Drama and the School of Arts. Expansive facilities such as The Purnell Center for the Arts and the Regina Miller Gallery make it one of the best colleges for Fine Arts.


University of Kansas

Lawrence, KS

Founded in 1865 as a public research university, University of Kansas (KU) resides on 1,100 urban acres in the college town of Lawrence, Kansas. The School of Public Affairs and Administration offers graduate level programs in the field of public administration. With its commitment and dedication to lifelong learning and professionalism in the area of public service, KU is one of the best universities for public affairs in the United States.


University of Washington (Evans)

Seattle, WA

University of Washington was founded in 1861 as a public institution located in Seattle, Washington. The Evans School of Public Affairs was established in 1962 and is a graduate and certificate awarding school with programs in public administration, and public policy and management. Notable Alumni include Virginia Anderson, President of the Safeco Foundation and Joan Fanning, Founding Executive Director of Npower. 


American University

Washington, DC

Founded in 1893, as a private liberal arts and research university, American University resides on 84 urban acres in the city of Washington, D.C. The School of Public Affairs offers graduate level degree awarding programs in concentrations that include organizational development, political science, public administration, public policy, public communication, and justice, law and society. Notable alumni include Robert Otto, Chief Technology Officer of the US Postal Service and Clarence Crawford, Director of Federal Practice, Deloitte Consulting, LLP.


George Washington University (Trachtenberg)

Washington, DC


University of Michigan--Ann Arbor (Ford)

Ann Arbor, MI

The University of Michigan was established in 1817 as a public research university and is located in Ann Arbor, Michigan. Graduate programs at the Gerald R. Ford School of Public Policy (Ford School) include public policy and public administration. Ford School post-graduation employment ranks the highest percentage of job placement within the sectors of the federal government and NFP/NGO companies.  The Ford School has four research centers and faculty known for excellence in teaching, research, and policy consultant making it one of the best colleges for public affairs in the United States.


University of Wisconsin--Madison (La Follette)

Madison, WI

Founded in 1848, the University of Wisconsin-Madison is a public research institution located on 936 urban acres in Madison, Wisconsin. The Robert M. La Follette School of Public Affairs is a graduate level program offering dual degrees, certificate programs, and an accelerated program. Its two primary degrees include concentrations in the areas of public affairs and international public affairs.


Arizona State University

Phoenix, AZ


Duke University (Sanford)

Durham, NC

Founded in 1838 as a private research institution, Duke University resides on 8,610 urban acres in Durham, North Carolina. The School of Public Policy was established in 1971 and offers undergraduate and graduate degrees. Graduate Students may pursue degrees in either the master of public policy program (MPP), the master of international development policy (MIDP), or the public policy PhD program (PhD).  The Graduate program has produced over 1500 alumni since its formation.


Florida State University (Askew)

Tallahassee, FL

Florida State University (FSU) is a public university established in 1851. FSU resides on over 400 urban acres in Tallahassee, Florida. The Reubin O’D. Askew School of Public Administration and Policy, is a school that was founded in 1947 within the College of Social Sciences; one of the five largest colleges at the university. Graduate students may seek and obtain a master of public administration (MPA).


University at Albany--SUNY (Rockefeller)

Albany, NY

Established in 1844, University at Albany is a public research university that resides on 586 suburban acres in New York states capital city of Albany. Graduate students at Rockefeller College of Public Affairs and Policy may pursue specializations that include public administration and political science. Known for its state-of-the-art research, policy analysis, and professional development at its research centers and institutes, Rockefeller College maintains a notable reputation as a first-rate school for public affairs in the United States.


University of Kentucky (Martin)

Lexington, KY

University of Kentucky (UK) was founded in 1865 as a public institution in Lexington, Kentucky. Established in 1976, The James W. Martin School of Public Policy and Administration (Martin School) offers joint and PhD programs as well as masters programs in public administration and public policy. Martin School’s master of public administration (MPA) is accredited by the National Association of Schools of Public Affairs and Administration.


University of Minnesota--Twin Cities (Humphrey)

Minneapolis, MN

A public institution founded in 1851, the University of Minnesota, Twin Cities resides on 2,730 urban acres in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Its graduate public affairs programs are part of the Humphrey School of Public Affairs, which offers many concentrations that include public policy, urban and regional planning, development practice and public affairs. These academic programs may be pursued though master’s degrees, graduate certificates, and dual degree programs at the school.


University of Texas--Austin (LBJ)

Austin, TX

A public research institution founded in 1883, the University of Texas at Austin (UT Austin) resides on 423 urban acres in Austin, Texas.  Its graduate public affairs programs are part of the Lyndon B. Johnson School of Public Affairs, which offers concentration that includes public affairs, global policy studies, and global policy. The LBJ School is acknowledged for having esteemed research centers such as the center of Ethical Leadership and the Ray Marshall center for the Study of Human Resources.


Georgetown University

Washington, DC

A private institution founded in 1789, Georgetown University resides on 104 urban acres in our nation’s capital, Washington, D.C.  Its graduate public affairs programs are part of the Georgetown Public Policy Institute (GPPI) within the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, which offers many concentrations including developmental management and policy, public policy, International development, and policy management. 


Georgia State University (Young)

Atlanta, GA


Rutgers, the State University of New Jersey--Newark

Newark, NJ