Robert M. La Follette School of Public Affairs

The La Follette School and the University of Wisconsin–Madison place highly in several studies for the quality of faculty research.

In 2018, authors Elliott Ash and Miguel Urquiola used bibliographic databases to gather measures of the quality and quantity of publication output for approximately 5,000 faculty members at 44 of the top U.S. policy schools, including the La Follette School. 

While the main rankings aggregate all journals together, the authors also provided rankings for four specific fields – economics, natural science, political science, and public administration. The La Follette School’s rankings based on the most prestigious set of journals for each field are:

  • Public administration – 4th
  • General political science – 13th
  • Economics – 14th
  • Natural science – 15th

These rankings confirm La Follette’s status in a range of similar studies using objective indicators of research quality such as publication in top-ranked journals and citation rates. In 2017, UW–Madison ranked sixth for public administration in the inaugural Center for World University Rankings (CWUR) by subject area. UW-Madison also ranked 17th in public administration worldwide and 7th nationwide in the Academic Ranking of World Universities in 2018.

The CWUR rankings are based on a 10-year average of publications in top-ranked journals. UW–Madison also ranked highly in several related subject areas, including those where La Follette faculty and faculty affiliates work: demography (2), sociology (6), green & sustainable science & technology (8), and education & educational research (9).

The Academic Ranking of World Universities takes into consideration field-specific papers, citation impact factors and jourals with published articles. The only U.S.-based universities ahead of UW-Madison are the University of Georgia, Indiana University Bloomington, and Harvard University. 

La Follette also ranked second for the articles faculty publish in the four top public administration journals for 2009 to 2013, according to a 2015 study in the International Public Management Journal. In addition, a study published by the Journal of Public Affairs Education in 2014 ranks UW–Madison fourth overall for public administration research, third for quality, fourth for impact, and sixth for productivity.

In the 2021 U.S. News & World Report rankings, the La Follette School tied for 25th among 276 master’s programs in public affairs. For field-specific areas, La Follette ranked fifth in social policy, 10th in health policy and management, and 15th in public policy analysis. 

UW-Madison among highest-ranked universities

The University of Wisconsin–Madison is ranked 13th among public institutions in U.S. News & World Report's college rankings that were released in September 2020. Overall, UW-Madison ranks 42nd in a five-way tie. Both rankings are higher than last year. 

The U.S. News rankings include 389 national doctoral universities and are in the 2021 edition of America's Best Colleges. The report also evaluated the best colleges for veterans, with UW–Madison ranking 12th among public institutions and 21st overall, and for best value, with UW–Madison ranking 14th among public institutions. 

Washington Monthly magazine also ranked UW–Madison as one of the top 30 universities in the country. UW–Madison ranked 21st overall in the annual College Guide and Rankings, which are based on three criteria: research, social mobility, and community and national service. 

UW–Madison was also recognized in a list of the 80 best colleges for student voting. Washington Monthly measured which schools take part (and to what degree) in the National Study of Learning, Voting, and Engagement (NSLVE) at Tufts University, which calculates registration numbers and turnout rates for participating campuses; participation in the ALL IN Campus Democracy Challenge, which helps schools craft plans to bolster civic engagement.