American University School of Public Affairs

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School of Public Affairs, American University, Washington DC (logo).jpg
American University School of Public Affairs
Parent institution
American University
DeanVicky Wilkins
Academic staff
Students1,139 (undergraduate)
525 (graduate)
Location, ,

The American University School of Public Affairs (SPA) is an institution of higher education and research located in Washington, D.C. that grants academic degrees in political science, public administration, public policy, and justice, law and criminology. Established in 1934 as part of American University, the school houses three academic departments - Public Administration & Policy, Government, and Justice, Law & Criminology - as well as ten centers and institutes.


SPA was created on March 3, 1934, with a $4,000 grant from the Rockefeller Foundation to provide training to 80 promising young federal government employees in downtown D.C. By 1937, its enrollment had grown to more than 1,000 students, and it quickly expanded its mission to include undergraduate and graduate degrees.

SPA's institutional role shifted several times over the next twenty years. In 1957, it was renamed the School of Government and Public Administration, and in 1973, it was combined with the existing Schools of Justice and International Service to become the College of Public and International Affairs. In 1988, the School of International Service was recreated as a freestanding school, and the College of Public and International Affairs was once again the School of Public Affairs.[1]

The dean's office, department offices, and most faculty are located in Kerwin Hall. The executive education programs occupy the Watkins building, and some faculty and staff have offices in Hurst Hall.[2]

Department of Public Administration & Policy[edit]

The Department of Public Administration & Policy (DPAP) is home to 32 full-time faculty members and enrolls about 70% of SPA's graduate students.[3]

Degree Programs[edit]

The MPA, Key Executive MPA, and MPP are accredited by the Network of Schools of Public Policy, Affairs, and Administration. The school is also an institutional member of the Association for Public Policy Analysis and Management.

Research Centers[edit]

  • Center for Environmental Policy
  • Center for Public Finance Research
  • Institute for the Study of Public Policy Implementation
  • Metropolitan Policy Center


DPAP's programs are routinely recognized by U.S. News & World Report as being among the top 20 in the country. In the most recent ranking of graduate schools of public affairs, the department's masters programs were ranked 19th.[4]

Notable DPAP Faculty[edit]

Department of Government[edit]

The Department of Government is home to 29 full-time faculty members[3] and focuses primarily on offering undergraduate political science courses to its 900 majors.

The Department of Government's three undergraduate academic advisers are Nathan Williamson, Tyler Poling, Jamie Juene, and Monica Barrera. James Helms is the administrative assistant.

Degree Programs[edit]

  • Undergraduate Bachelors of Arts in

Political Science (BA) Communication, Legal Institutions, Economics, and Government (CLEG) (BA) Justice and Law (BA) Legal Studies (BA)

  • Master of Arts in Political Science
  • Master of Arts in Political Communication
  • Ph.D. in Political Science

Research Centers[edit]


U.S. News & World Report ranks the Department of Government at #72 in the field of political science.[5] The National Research Council ranks the department among the top 100 programs in the United States.[6]

Notable GOVT Faculty[edit]

Department of Justice, Law, & Criminology[edit]

The Department of Justice, Law & Criminology is home to 24 full-time faculty, 210 undergraduate majors, and approximately 85 graduate students.[3] JLC is home to AU's mock trial team, which has become a nationally competitive squad under the guidance of faculty coach Don Martin.[8]

Degree Programs[edit]

  • Undergraduate majors in Justice and Law & Society
  • M.S. in Justice, Law, & Criminology
  • M.S. in Terrorism and Homeland Security Policy
  • Ph.D. in Justice, Law & Criminology

Research Centers[edit]

  • Justice Programs Office
  • Wrongful Convictions Project


External links[edit]