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Duke University’s Sanford School of Public Policy is in the top five of the nation’s top public policy schools in research productivity, according to a recently published study.

Sanford ranks fifth in research publication output by its faculty members according to the article “A research-based ranking of public policy schools” published in the journal Scientometrics in July 2020. Sanford earned the top ranking of any public policy school in the Southeast of the U.S.

The journal article ranking was based on the research published by about 5,000 faculty members at 44 policy schools in 2016, including 160 faculty members at or affiliated with Sanford. The researchers analyzed the quality and quantity of the faculty members’ academic publications to create the ranking, using the bibliographic databases the Web of Science citation index and the Scopus index. The publications included articles, books and book chapters.

Sanford faculty members have generated knowledge that has been applied at local, state, national and global scales, said Dean Judith Kelley of the Sanford School.

“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. Our faculty have produced thousands of research findings that contribute to the knowledge base for evidence-driven policy on critically-important important issues in our communities,” Kelley said. “This ranking showcases our faculty’s strong analysis and action in generating knowledge, and the study helps to present the multidisciplinary nature and breadth of public policy research.

Sanford’s faculty have earned national and international recognition for excellence in research, policy engagement and teaching. Faculty members collaborate across disciplines to explore questions relating to income inequality, obesity and hunger, energy policy, child neglect and abuse, access to health care, democratization, foreign policy and many other important global concerns.

Sanford currently has more than 60 core faculty members with another 130 affiliated across the university, including five members of National Academies and 20 distinguished professors. Sanford faculty have long-standing strengths in policy analysis, social, health and environmental policy augmented by recent faculty appointments in areas including technology policy, national and international security and cybersecurity.

Earlier in 2020, the Sanford School was ranked among the nation’s top graduate schools in public affairs/public policy analysis, according to U.S. News and World Report’s list of “2021 Best Graduate Schools.” Sanford has four top 10 rankings in the specialties of public policy analysis, environmental policy and management, social policy and health olicy and management. Sanford was ranked sixth in its core specialty, public policy analysis. In the ranking, Sanford has the top-ranked program in the southern United States for public policy analysis. Public policy analysis is widely viewed as the key indicator among schools of public policy.

Sanford ranks among top 5 public policy schools for research publication output

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 – helping others and making a difference in the world. Learn more about Sanford’s strengths.

Learn more about the top-ranked Sanford public policy programs, including the MPP programMIDP program or iMEP program.

Access the recent journal article: Ash, E., Urquiola, M. A research-based ranking of public policy schools. Scientometrics (2020).


Research-focused podcast

Policy 360 is a podcast hosted by Sanford School's dean, Judith Kelley. It focuses on research from the Sanford school. You can subscribe on Apple Podcasts, NPR One, Stitcher, or wherever you get your podcasts.