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. 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.

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

In the 2022 U.S. News & World Report rankings, the La Follette School tied for 25th among 284 master’s programs in public affairs. For field-specific areas, La Follette ranked fourth in social policy (up one spot from 2021) and 11th in health policy and management. 

More broadly, UW–Madison received the highest ranking among public universities and fourth overall in Washington Monthly's 2021 College Guide and Rankings. The ranking is based on three criteria: research excellence, social mobility, and community and national service. 

UW–Madison also ranked eighth in the National Science Foundation's 2019 fiscal year Higher Education Reserach and Development Survey (HERD) data. The HERD survey is the primary source of information on research and development expenditures at U.S. universities and colleges. Tabulating expenditures is one way to measure academic research activity.

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 32nd in the world and 23rd in the United States in the Academic Ranking of World Universities.

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).

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.