Robert M. La Follette School of Public Affairs

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Robert M. La Follette School of Public Affairs
La Follette School Header.jpg
Type Public
Established 1967 (1999)
Director Susan Webb Yackee
Academic staff
Students 110
Location Madison, Wisconsin, United States
Campus University of Wisconsin–Madison
La Follette School Title.jpg

The Robert M. La Follette School of Public Affairs, commonly known as the La Follette School, is a public graduate public policy school at the University of Wisconsin–Madison. It offers master's degrees in public affairs and international public affairs, and joint degrees with other departments. The La Follette School is housed in the Observatory Hill Office Building.


The school was founded in 1967 as the Center for the Study of Public Policy and Administration by Clara Penniman, the first woman to chair the university's political science department, making it one of the longest established institutions by type for the specific study of public policy. In 1983 it was separated from the department by an act of the Wisconsin Legislature, which established an Institute of Public Affairs named for Wisconsin governor and U.S. senator Robert M. La Follette, Sr. The Institute was upgraded to a School in 1999, and offers a relatively small class size from a competitive international admissions process.

Program of study

Two graduate degrees are offered by the La Follette School:

  • Master of Public Affairs (MPA)
  • Master of International Public Affairs (MIPA)

The MPA is based around a core curriculum of policy analysis and development, public management, microeconomics, and statistics. The MIPA has a greater focus on macroeconomics and international trade. Both are designed as two-year professional programs, with a capstone research project for real-world clients during the final semester. Students select one or more focus fields, such as public finance, health policy, public management, social and poverty policy, or international development.

Students may enroll in joint degree programs with other university departments:

  • Law and Public Policy, with the Law School (JD and MPA)
  • Urban Planning and Public Affairs, with the Department of Planning and Landscape Architecture (MS in urban and regional planning and MPA)
  • Public Health and Public Policy, with the School of Medicine and Public Health (Master of Public Health and MPA)
  • Energy Analysis and Public Policy, with the Nelson Institute for Environmental Studies (MPA with a certificate in energy analysis and policy
  • Neuroscience and Public Policy, with the Neuroscience Training Program (Ph.D. in neuroscience and MPA)

An accelerated program allows undergraduate students to complete their first year of graduate study during their senior year.


For 2014, U.S. News ranked the Robert M. La Follette School of Public Affairs #12 in the nation among graduate schools of public affairs.[1]

The school is recognized as one of the top-three leaders in the study of cultural and social policy, a field covering sociological elements in public affairs to federal social programs, planning, and implementation, along with the University of Michigan and Harvard University.[2]


  1. ^ U.S. News, University of Wisconsin--Madison: Public Affairs. Accessed December 10, 2013.
  2. ^ "Top Public Affairs Schools Social Policy Rankings". U.S. News & World Report. 2012. Retrieved 2014. Check date values in: |accessdate= (help)

External links

  • La Follette School of Public Affairs

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