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Sanford Ranked Among Nation’s Best Graduate Public Policy Programs

March 30, 2021

US News and World Report. Numerous top ten rankingsDuke University’s Sanford School of Public Policy is among the nation’s top graduate schools in public affairs/public policy analysis, according to U.S. News and World Report’s list of “2022 Best Graduate Schools.” Sanford has four top 10 rankings in the specialties of Public Policy Analysis, Environmental Policy and Management, Social Policy and Health Policy and Management.

The Sanford School ranks sixth in its core specialty, public policy analysis. Sanford has the top-ranked Master of Public Policy (MPP) program in the southern United States for public policy analysis. Public policy analysis is considered the key indicator of quality MPP programs among schools of public policy.

Sanford also continues to have multiple top 10 rankings. Sanford ranks #3 in Environmental Policy and Management – a reflection of the school’s outstanding faculty in this area and the graduate programs offered in partnership with Duke’s Nicholas School of the Environment, including the international Master of Environmental Policy (iMEP) program. Sanford ranks #6 in Social Policy and #8 for Health Policy and Management, two of Sanford’s MPP program concentrations. Some of the school’s other key concentrations, such as international development, national security/foreign policy, and technology policy, are not included in this ranking.

Overall, the Sanford School ranks in the top 10 percent of all public affairs schools/programs in the United States, according to the US News ranking.

At the master’s level, Sanford offers the Master of Public Policy (MPP) degree, the Master of International Development Policy (MIDP) degree and a number of dual degrees. The schools also jointly offer the international Master of Environmental Policy (iMEP) degree. All of the programs offer a global perspective, faculty with high research productivity and a strong alumni network around the world. Learn more about Sanford’s strengths.

Dean Judith Kelley says Sanford’s graduate programs are successfully equipping students for the future of public policy.

“Sanford’s mission is to improve lives and communities by researching the most pressing public policy issues and preparing students for lives of leadership, civic engagement and public service. The community of our students, faculty, staff and alumni is committed to tackling the world’s big policy challenges and making positive change in the world,” Kelley said.

“Every day, our students and alumni are making a difference – such as leading efforts in COVID-19 recovery, building communities among veterans, tackling policy challenges in areas like cyber, and much more this past year alone. Our students and alumni have contributed to positive change in our world at a time when the public policy skill set is needed more than ever.”

Kelley emphasized that Sanford’s MPP degree (reflected in the public policy analysis ranking) is not the same program as a master of public administration degree, or MPA (reflected in the overall public affairs ranking).

“At the Sanford School, our core strength is public policy analysis with both a domestic and a global perspective. Our programs excels in analysis plus action, providing important skills a student can learn to prepare for a rewarding career in policy, leadership or service,” Kelley said. “Our core strength of public policy analysis is evident in the rankings. We welcome all prospective students to learn more about Sanford’s programs and our strengths in academics, faculty expertise and career services.”

A standout program not included in the ranking is Sanford’s Master of International Development Policy (MIDP) program, different than the typical international relations programs that are part of the US News survey, Kelley said. The MIDP program is aimed at mid-career professionals from developing nations, most of whom use their education to advance their home countries. Alumni work in more than 100 nations around the world.

The US News rankings reflect the opinions of deans, directors and department chairs at 285 schools of public affairs and administration nationwide. The survey was distributed in fall 2020 and early 2021 and the response rate was 63.6%. For specialty areas such as public policy analysis, the academics were asked to nominate up to 15 programs for excellence. The lists of schools, individuals surveyed and specialty areas evaluated were provided by the Network of Schools of Public Policy, Affairs, and Administration (NASPAA), and by the Association for Public Policy Analysis and Management (APPAM).

View the U.S. News & World Report rankings or learn more about the top-ranked Sanford programs. Apply to the Duke Sanford MPP programMIDP program or iMEP program to be part of a future class.

  • “One of my peers recently said that they chose Sanford because the curriculum strikes a perfect balance between academic work and real-world professional experience, and I completely agree." - Jasmine Masand MPP’21

  • "I love the community here, it’s all about friendship." - Myra Parsonnet MPP’21 "My highlight is my masters project. I am working with several organizations trying to launch a clean energy financing initiative in North Carolina." - Raffi Wineburg, MPP’21

  • "The moment I sat in on my first public policy class, it was clear to me, that public policy all along was what I was interested in; the ability to improve people’s lives through a multitude of avenues." - Andrea Barnes MPP’21