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Top College in Washington, DC, for Public Administration Courses

Students interested in studying public administration in Washington, DC, have many schools to choose from. Read about the top local schools' degree programs, tuition and ranking info to find the right one for you.

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School and Ranking Information

The nation's capital is home to about ten schools offering degree programs in public administration. Based on program rankings and availability, the top public administration schools in Washington, DC, include American University, George Washington University, and Georgetown University. Public administration programs at all three universities are part of a unique school or institute within the larger institution, and each program has the advantage of having its location in the epicenter of the U.S. government

  • Winner: American University was the highest-ranked school in Washington, DC, for graduate public administration programs by U.S. News & World Report in 2012. This school offers a variety of programs, including combined, master's, and doctoral degree programs.
  • Runner Up #1: In addition to highly ranked public administration graduate programs, George Washington University offers 3 combined bachelor's/master's degree programs in public administration and policy.
  • Runner Up #2: While Georgetown University featured the highest graduation rate, the school only offers master's degrees in policy management and public policy.

School Comparison Chart

Category American University George Washington University Georgetown University
Ranking 8th among national graduate public management administration programs* 10th among national graduate public management administration programs* 23rd among national best public affairs graduate programs*
Location Washington, DC Washington, DC Washington, DC
School Type 4-year, private not-for-profit 4-year, private not-for-profit 4-year, private not-for-profit
Graduate Tuition 2012-2013 $25,182** $24,120** $40,320**
Public Administration Degree Levels Offered Combined bachelor's and master's, master's and doctoral degrees Combined bachelor's and master's, master's and doctoral degrees Master's degrees
Public Administration Degrees Awarded (All Levels) in 2011-2012 197** 209** 226**
Most Popular Public Administration Program in 2011-2012 Master's in Public Administration (105 awarded)** Master's in Public Policy Analysis, General (78 awarded)** Master's in Public Policy Analysis, General (226 awarded)**
Graduation Rate (in 150% of normal program time) for 2005 Undergraduate Entering Class 77%** 81%** 94%**
Noteworthy Offers the Institute for the Study of Public Policy Implementation for students Trachtenberg School of Public Policy and Public Administration has a long-standing tutorial program with the Anacostia High School Public policy students can choose elective courses from the Consortium of Universities, including American University and George Washington University

'Sources:' *U.S. News & World Report 2012 'rankings,' **NCES College Navigator

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Winner: American University

  • Ranked 77th among national universities by U.S. News & World Report in 2013
  • In 2012, American University ranked 3rd among Peace Corps top medium colleges
  • The master's degree program welcomes applications from students with work experience that may be eligible for credit toward the degree

The School of Public Affairs offers graduate degrees and certificates in public administration and policy. The Master of Public Administration (MPA) degree program expects its graduates to master quantitative, economic, budgeting, and financial management principles. To earn the degree, students must complete classes totaling 42 credit hours and a final project. The program offers a range of choices for an area of special interest or concentration. The doctoral program requires 60 credit hours, original research papers, oral examinations, and a dissertation. Undergraduate students in any related major can pursue a combined B.A./MPA program; the MPA can also be earned in conjunction with a Juris Doctor or Master of Laws at the graduate level.

The school features 80 full-time faculty members, with a comprehensive array of expertise, as well as research institutes, like the Washington Institute for Public Affairs Research and the Institute for the Study of Public Policy Implementation.

Runner-Up #1: George Washington University

  • The school is affiliated with public service institutes, like the Center for Excellence in Municipal Management
  • The school has a student-faculty ratio of 14:1
  • Master's students can take part in a study abroad opportunity

The Trachtenberg School of Public Policy and Public Administration offers students access to graduate degree programs, as well as 4 research institutes. The 3 combined bachelor's/master's degree programs are appropriate for students who major in political science, economics, criminal justice, or human services. In addition to the combined programs, students seeking a traditional master's degree program can find a full- or part-time program available. To earn the degree, learners must earn 40 credit hours, choose a field of study, and complete a practicum. The 72-credit-hour doctoral program consists of required and elective courses, courses in a field of study, written and oral examinations, and a dissertation.

Runner-Up #2: Georgetown University

  • Ranked 21st among national universities by U.S. News & World Report in 2013
  • The school partners with government agencies and engages in community-based research
  • President Bill Clinton is an alumnus
  • The school features a student-faculty ratio of 11:1

The Georgetown Public Policy Institute offers graduate degree programs in public policy and policy management, a field of study closely related to public administration. Students with several years of experience can complete the 36-credit-hour Master of Policy Management. The 12-month program takes 2 semesters and 1 summer of full-time study to complete. In addition to summer institutes, core courses, and a capstone project, students take 15 credits of elective courses. For students whose career interests lead away from jobs in public administration into positions that require deep critical and analytical skills, Georgetown offers a 48-credit-hour Master of Public Policy. Public management students also have access to the Center for Public and Nonprofit Leadership, which has opportunities for students to enhance their knowledge through applied or research experiences.

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