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#3 environmental policy, #5 public policy analysis, #5 social policy, #9 health policy

Duke 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 “2023 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 #5 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 in key themes of the school. Sanford ranks #3 in Environmental Policy and Management, #5 in Social Policy and #9 for Health Policy and Management, all available as Sanford MPP program concentrations. Some of the school’s other MPP 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. This year, Sanford launched the executive Master of National Security Policy degree. With the Nicholas School for the Environment, Sanford also jointly offers the international Master of Environmental Policy (iMEP) degree. Every program has a global perspective, faculty with high research productivity and a strong alumni network around the world.

Duke has been celebrating 50 years of public policy education in 2021-2022. Dean Judith Kelley says Sanford’s master’s programs are vital for the future of public policy.

“The reason we continue to rank highly year after year is that our faculty are leading scholars and we attract some of the best students in the nation,” Kelley said. “Our faculty are building the future of public policy through their teaching and research, and our students and alumni are contributing to positive change in our world through their action and analysis.”

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).

“Our core strength of public policy analysis is evident in the rankings, as well as our expertise in key specialties. Sanford has long been a leader in public policy education because we are passionate about our work, from the local to the global level,” Kelley said. “Our faculty are asking questions that matter for the problems facing our society, and our students are graduating inspired and equipped to tackle those challenges. Sanford invites interested students to learn more about our academics, our community and our expertise built over 50 years in public policy.”

A signature global program not included in the ranking is Sanford’s Master of International Development Policy (MIDP) program, which is unique from the typical international relations programs that are part of the US News survey, Kelley said. Sanford’s MIDP program prepares mid-career professionals from developing nations, most of whom use their education to advance governments and organizations in 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 270 schools of public affairs and administration nationwide. The survey was distributed in fall 2021 and early 2022 and the response rate was 63%. 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. Learn more and apply to the Duke Sanford MPP programMIDP program, MNSP program or iMEP program to be part of a future class.

Featured Video

A Day in the Life of a Master of Public Policy Student

Listen to second-year MPP candidate Rhea Ninan talk about her experience at the Sanford School of Public Policy at Duke University.

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