What's in a Number?

In the latest U.S. News survey, Maxwell alone earned high rankings in 11 public affairs subspecialties. But we're even more special than that.

Dean David Van SlykeDean David M. Van Slyke

The inevitable thing about any celebrated streak is that someday it will end. But what does the end signify?

It was the case that every time U.S. News & World Report ranked public affairs programs, Maxwell came in number one — a streak that goes back to 1995. But it ended this spring. By a tenth of a point, we came in number two.

I’m here to tell you what I trust you already know. The Maxwell School is no less special than it was a year ago. In fact, as a 14-year faculty member here I can tell you Maxwell is stronger than it has ever been, with new degree programs, exciting faculty hires, enhanced interdisciplinary opportunities, growing attention to undergraduate scholarship, and too many other advances to list.

The depth of our excellence shows up in the U.S. News rankings. Among the 12 public affairs subspecialties the survey scores, Maxwell is highly ranked in 11 — unlike any other school. We remain number 1 for public management and leadership, and rose to number 2 in the areas of nonprofit management, public finance and budgeting, and information and technology management.

No other school on the U.S. News list does what we do.

Asserting, again, that Maxwell is just getting better, I’d ask you to consider our ranking for international global policy and administration. This has been a point of emphasis for the School, dating back, in some senses, to the integration of IR and public administration programs at the start of this decade; and, more broadly, to the creation of a global affairs institute some 25 years ago. Now, according to U.S. News, ours is the fifth best program in international studies — the first time Maxwell has even appeared in the top 10. That’s a remarkable accomplishment.

Whatever the overall ranking may mean, there is a lot of good news here, which I augment with an additional insight: No other school on the U.S. News list does what we do. No other school commingles and connects its public administration programs with social science departments. The breadth of programming and interdisciplinary opportunities available here do not exist at those other places. It’s apples and oranges.

To state the difference another way: If they ever created rankings for schools that are exactly like Maxwell, we would always be number 1.

Our commitment to strengthening citizenship through high-quality teaching and rigorous research remains paramount. Your investment in the School helps us further strengthen this commitment.

David M. Van Slyke
Dean, Maxwell School
Louis A. Bantle Chair in Business and Government Policy

US News & World Report Best Grad Schools 2019 Badge In the latest U.S. News & World Report ranking of graduate schools of public affairs, released earlier this spring, the Maxwell School remained number one in public management and leadership, and achieved high rankings in 10 other subspecialties while earning the number-two spot overall.

The full list of subspecialty rankings is:
  • #1 Public Management and Leadership
  • #2 Nonprofit Management
  • #2 Public Finance and Budgeting
  • #2 Information and Technology Management
  • #5 International Global Policy and Administration
  • #6 Local Government Management
  • #7 Urban Policy
  • #7 Environmental Policy and Management
  • #8 Public Policy Analysis
  • #9 Social Policy
  • #11 Health Policy and Management

This article appeared in the spring 2018 print edition of Maxwell Perspective © Maxwell School of Syracuse University. To request a copy, e-mail dlcooke@maxwell.syr.edu.