Graduate school rankings have received a good deal of attention in recent years. While the media outlets and other organizations that develop these rankings collect useful data, the methods they use to evaluate schools are often subjective and subject to change. Furthermore, there are notable differences in the level and type of information gathered to evaluate graduate programs.

Prospective students should consider rankings in this context, and look beyond them to the school’s academic program, culture, and opportunities for enrichment. A successful education depends primarily on finding the institution that best fits a student’s needs and goals.

The U.S. News & World Report Rankings

U.S. News & World Report, a leading source for such analysis, now ranks public affairs schools every year and is the most widely circulated ranking in the category. Unlike the methodology used to annually evaluate graduate programs in business, education, engineering, law, and medicine, which includes statistical indicators of program quality in addition to peer and expert assessments, the rankings in public affairs are based purely on the results of a peer assessment survey.

Ranking Public Policy Analysis

In addition to ranking public affairs schools overall, U.S. News & World Report also ranks schools that specialize in particular areas. The specialty area that is most relevant to prospective students considering Harris is “public policy analysis,” as the overall ranking includes programs in public administration, a master’s degree not offered by the school. As with the overall rankings, however, those for programs in specialty areas are based solely on ratings by educators at peer schools.

What follows are Harris’ U.S. News rankings in the past five cycles for public affairs (overall) and public policy analysis (specialty area):

Public Policy Analysis (#4) 

  • 2016: 5
  • 2018: 4
  • 2019: 3
  • 2020:
  • 2021: 4

Public Affairs (#13) 

  • 2016: 13
  • 2018: 14
  • 2019: 10
  • 2020: 13
  • 2021: 13

Harris is also top ranked in several other specialty areas, including #5 in social policy, #7 in urban policy, #12 in health policy, and #20 in public finance, reflecting the breadth of application of the Harris toolkit to a range of policy concerns.

Source: U.S. News & World Report

To learn more about the methodology behind U.S. News & World Report rankings for public affairs schools, read U.S. News & World Report's note on methodology.