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7 Watts College public affairs grad programs in national top 10

Social work school enters top 20, according to US News & World Report rankings

Exterior of a building with a sign that reads "Watts College of Public Service and Community Solutions."

Photo by Mark J. Scarp/ASU

April 08, 2024

Seven 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.

Watts College of Public Service and Community Solutions’ seven top-10 public affairs rankings from U.S. News & World Report total the most of any ASU college or school.

Additionally, ASU’s School of Social Work landed at No. 20 on U.S. News’ 2024 Best Graduate School Rankings, up eight spots from its previous ranking.

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

In public affairs, ASU’s emergency management and homeland security graduate curriculum is No. 2, ahead of George Washington University, Columbia University and the University of Southern California, among others.

ASU's overall ranking

US News ranks 14 ASU graduate programs in the top 10 nationwide, 32 in the top 20

The ASU nonprofit management program is ranked No. 5, ahead of the University of Washington, USC and the University of Georgia. The program offers courses supported by the School of Public Affairs and the School of Community Resources and Development.

The public affairs programs’ No. 13 overall rank outpaces Ohio State University, Texas A&M University at College Station and the University of Virginia.

Watts College Dean and President’s Professor Cynthia Lietz said the rankings validate both schools’ reputations as among the best in the nation.

“I am so pleased to see our School of Public Affairs and our School of Social Work recognized through this year’s rankings. Our faculty are conducting rigorous, impactful research, and these scholars diligently translate their findings to inform policy and practice in their respective areas,” Lietz said. “This national recognition provides further evidence of their impact. We need data-driven, evidence-based decision-making in public service more than ever before. I’m happy to see the Watts College contributing in these important ways.”

The School of Public Affairs’ overall ranking demonstrates the school’s continued excellence in its field, said Shannon Portillo, school director and professor.

“Our overall ranking in the top 15 schools of public affairs is notable,” Portillo said. “Our nine specialty rankings demonstrate the breadth of our faculty, staff and student expertise and influence.”

School of Social Work Director Elizabeth Lightfoot, Distinguished Professor of Social Policy, said she was thrilled to see the school advance eight places from its previous position in the rankings.

“It signifies that social work scholars across the country are increasingly recognizing ASU's world-class faculty and academic programs,” Lightfoot said. “Our ASU social work faculty researchers were recently ranked 11th nationally in research productivity, according to the National Science Foundation, and our faculty are international leaders in social work scholarship and education. I’m especially proud that our academic programs, which put access and inclusion at the forefront, are viewed nationally as being of the highest quality.”

The five other individual School of Public Affairs graduate programs in the top 10 are:

  • Information and technology management, No. 3 — ahead of Syracuse and the State University of New York at Albany. 
  • Local government management, No. 3 — ahead of Syracuse University, Indiana University and USC.
  • Public management and leadership, No. 5 — ahead of Harvard, USC and New York University.
  • Urban policy, No. 9 — ahead of Harvard; the University of California, Berkeley; and the University of Michigan.
  • Environmental policy, No. 10 — ahead of Princeton, Indiana University–Purdue University Indianapolis and Carnegie Mellon University.

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

  • Public finance, No. 16 — ahead of Harvard, the University of Michigan and Columbia University.
  • Public policy analysis, No. 17 — ahead of New York University, the University of Minnesota and the University of Georgia.

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