A Higher Purpose

In 1934, as president Franklin Delano Roosevelt signed his famous "New Deal" legislation, the School of Public Affairs at American University was born at 19th & F Streets, NW to train many of those who were part of the pioneering plan. At the beginning, it was a program to instruct federal workers in techniques to make the New Deal a success, but it would grow into one of the top schools of public affairs in the nation.

To this day, FDR's vision remains at the heart of the School of Public Affairs (SPA) — a vision of building a bridge between academic thought and policy planning, while inspiring change at every level.

At SPA, we continually search for students who exemplify the spirit of our storied school — future leaders, political advocates, and policy change-makers with a desire to roll up their sleeves and face some of the world's most complex challenges in public policy and administration; government and politics; and justice, law, and criminology.

Our students are driven by a sense of higher purpose — the desire to leave the world a better place. They choose The School of Public Affairs for its academic rigor and reputation and for meaningful and practical experiences, set against the inspiring backdrop of our nation's capital, that will help them realize their full potential.

Front of Kerwin Hall

Graduate Recruitment Events

Browse our graduate recruitment events to meet SPA on campus, on the road, or through one of our virtual sessions!

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TaLisa Carter Video

SPA Postdoctoral Fellow TaLisa Carter is a native of Long Island, N.Y., and worked as a deputy corrections officer in Savannah, Ga. She received her Ph.D. in criminology at the University of Delaware in May 2018. TaLisa’s research has been presented to the American Society of Criminology, the American Sociological Association, and the Academy of Criminal Justice Sciences.

Joshua Ellis

Alumni ·

Joshua Ellis: Using Politics for the Greater Good

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Certificate in Analytics and Management

Certificate in Analytics and Management

Created to further prepare SPA graduate students to work in and lead teams within multiple disciplines.

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Women teaching data science class

MS Data Science

Build your skill set in data science with this shared degree program, offered by SPA and the AU College of Arts and Sciences (CAS).

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Discover your future with AU

Six months after graduation,

% of Graduates are now Working, Grad School, or Both

Top Employers
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The SPA Graduate School Advantage

SPA is ranked #4 for public management and leadership

U.S. News & World Report

#3 Public Administration Program Ranking by Students


SPA is ranked #11 in nonprofit management

U.S. News & World Report