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Methodology: Best Public Affairs Schools Rankings

Find out how U.S. News ranks graduate public affairs programs. 

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The public affairs program rankings are based solely on the results of a peer assessment survey. Our rankings, completed in 2012 and based on surveys conducted in fall 2011, are based entirely on responses of deans, directors and department chairs representing 266 master's in public affairs and administration programs, two per school.

Respondents were asked to rate the academic quality of master's programs on a scale of 1 (marginal) to 5 (outstanding). Scores for each school were totaled and divided by the number of respondents who rated that school. The response rate was 39 percent. Assessment survey data were collected by Ipsos Public Affairs.

The lists of schools and individuals surveyed were provided by the National Association of Schools of Public Affairs and Administration, now know as the Network of Schools of Public Policy, Affairs and Administration, and the Association for Public Policy Analysis and Management.

[See the Best Public Affairs Schools rankings.]

The specialty rankings are based solely on ratings by educators at peer schools. Public affairs school deans and other academics were asked to nominate up to 10 programs for excellence in each specialty.

Those receiving the most nominations are listed. In terms of the specialty rankings, keep in mind that nominees were drawn only from the schools surveyed. For example, a school such as Yale University – which offers a degree in environmental management through its School of Forestry and Environmental Studies but not a degree in public affairs – does not show up here.

For more on M.P.A. and M.P.P. degrees, check the site for the Network of Schools of Public Policy, Affairs and Administration, which has information on the schools offering degrees in public affairs, policy and administration.

Rank Not Published means that U.S. News did calculate a numerical ranking for that school/program, but decided for editorial reasons that since the school/program ranked below the U.S. News cutoff that U.S. News would not publish the ranking for that school/program.

U.S. News will supply schools/programs listed as Rank Not Published with their numerical rankings, if they submit a request following the procedures listed in the Information for School Officials.

Schools/programs marked as Rank Not Published are listed alphabetically. Schools in the public affairs program ranking, which is based solely on a 5.0 peer assessment score, are numerically ranked down to a peer assessment score of greater than or equal to 2.0. Schools with scores less than 2.0 are listed in alphabetical order as Rank Not Published.

Schools in the specialty rankings, which are based solely on nominations from school officials, are numerically ranked in descending order based on the number of nominations they received as long as the school/program received seven or more nominations in that specialty area. This means that schools ranked at the bottom of each specialty ranking have received seven nominations.

Unranked means that U.S. News did not calculate a numerical ranking for that school or program. The school or program did not supply U.S. News with enough key statistical data to be numerically ranked by U.S. News. Schools or programs marked as Unranked are listed alphabetically and are listed below those marked as Rank Not Published.

Searching for a grad school? Get our complete rankings of Best Graduate Schools.