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 2020 U.S. News & World Report rankings, the La Follette School tied for 25th among 272 master’s programs in public affairs. For field-specific areas, La Follette ranked fifth in social policy, ninth in health policy and management, 12th in public management, and 15th in public policy analysis. In recent U.S. News rankings of graduate programs, UW–Madison also ranked first for education, 12th for economics, 15th for political science, and 6th for sociology. 

UW-Madison among top 50 in World University Rankings

The University of Wisconsin-Madison has been ranked 43rd worldwide for the second year in a row by the Times Higher Education World University Rankings. For the third year in a row, the university ranked 23rd within the United States out of 172 institutions.

Times Higher Ed ranked 1,258 institutions worldwide. It judges research-intensive universities in five categories: teaching (the learning environment), research (volume, income and reputation), citations (research influence), international outlook (staff, students and research) and industry income (knowledge transfer).

Categories are given scores with a maximum of 100 points. Teaching, research and citations each consist of 30 percent of the overall score, international outlook at 7.5 percent, and industry income at 2.5 percent.

UW-Madison scored particularly well in citations, receiving a score of 89.9, as well as a score of 71 in research and 70.3 in teaching.

The full list of rankings is online