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Watts College is home to 7 of ASU's 14 top-10 US News graduate rankings

School of Public Affairs earns overall No. 10 spot on nationwide list

Watts College, sign, Arizona State University

Photo by Mark J. Scarp/ASU

April 24, 2023

Six graduate specializations at Arizona State University’s School of Public Affairs are among the top 10 in the United States, according to national rankings released today.

In addition, the school itself, located in the Watts College of Public Service and Community Solutions, was ranked 10th nationwide in U.S. News & World Report’s 2023–24 graduate public affairs listing. The school's total of seven top 10 designations account for half of ASU's total in the latest ranking. 

The school’s overall rank rose to 10th from 12th the previous year, outpacing Ohio State University and Texas A&M University–College Station. It tied for the No. 10 spot with Princeton University.

ASU’s homeland security graduate program is ranked No. 1 for the second consecutive year, higher than George Washington University, Columbia University and University of Southern California, among others.

The ASU nonprofit management program was ranked No. 4, higher than the University of Washington, American University and the University of Southern California.The program offers courses supported by the School of Public Affairs and the School of Community Resources and Development.

Watts College Dean and President’s Professor Cynthia Lietz said the rankings validate the school’s reputation as one of the best in the nation.

“This new ranking places ASU as one of the top 10 programs for public policy and administration, ahead of the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill; Columbia and Duke,” Lietz said. “The high rankings in emergency management and nonprofit management demonstrate the value of interdisciplinary collaboration occurring across our college. Congratulations to our faculty for demonstrating that ASU’s commitment to access and excellence can be achieved.”

The Watts College is the nation’s largest comprehensive public service college.

The School of Public Affairs’ overall top 10 ranking signifies the “amazing work of our faculty, staff and students,” said Shannon Portillo, school director and professor.

“With six specialty areas ranked in the top 10 and an additional three specialty areas in the top 20, our school demonstrates a breadth of excellence. This year we maintained our No. 1 ranking in emergency management and homeland security, just as we’re expanding our programs in this area, adding a new undergraduate major available to students in person and online,” Portillo said.

“This year, we also moved into the top three in local government management rankings. This recognizes a significant focus of our school. The Marvin Andrews Fellowship program provides an unparalleled experience, preparing future local government leaders. Scholarship of our faculty helps move this field forward, while also working with local governments throughout the country to improve practice today.”

Portillo said the school’s high rankings reflect its commitment to living the ASU Charter by:

  • Preparing students and professionals for ethical, inclusive and effective public service.
  • Conducting cutting-edge research of public value.
  • Engaging locally, nationally and internationally with the communities it serves.

School of Public Affairs Associate Professor Brian Gerber, co-director of the Center for Emergency Management and Homeland Security, said he is grateful for U.S. News’ ongoing acknowledgement of the program’s excellence by retaining the No. 1 homeland security ranking.

Gerber said the high quality of the program is partly rooted in ASU’s emphasis on blending applied knowledge and skills with broader conceptual frameworks.

“This combination is important to understanding ways to improve community approaches to managing hazards and risk,” Gerber said. “It is also fundamentally rooted in the excellence of our students and practitioners with whom we work closely. Those incredibly smart and talented people do great public service work in their communities every day. I am especially proud to be associated with our students and external partners, and this recognition is really their honor.”

The four other School of Public Affairs programs in the top 10 are:

  • Information and technology management, ranked No. 2, tied with Syracuse University and ahead of the Georgia Institute of Technology and the University at Albany–SUNY. 
  • Local government management, ranked No. 3, higher than Syracuse University, Indiana University–Bloomington and the University of Southern California.
  • Public management and leadership, ranked No. 5, higher than Harvard University, the University of Southern California and the University of California, Berkeley.
  • Urban policy, ranked No. 7, tied with UCLA and ahead of Indiana University–Bloomington, Syracuse University and Harvard.

Three other School of Public Affairs programs were ranked in the top 20 nationwide:

  • Environmental policy, ranked No. 11.
  • Public finance, tied for No. 12.
  • Public policy analysis, ranked No. 20.

>>READ MORE: US News ranks 14 ASU graduate programs in top 10 nationwide, 33 in the top 20 

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