About us

Who we are

The Ford School at the University of Michigan is a top-ranked public policy school dedicated to the public good. The school inspires and prepares diverse leaders grounded in service, conducts transformational research, and collaborates on evidence-based policymaking to take on our communities’ and our world’s most pressing challenges.

The Ford School offers masters degrees in public policy and public affairs; joint PhDs in public policy with economics, sociology, and political science; an undergraduate degree and minor studies; and a graduate certificate in science and technology policy. With its origins in the very first program of public administration established in 1914, the school was named for President Gerald R. Ford, a University of Michigan alumnus, in 1999.

The Ford School is ranked #1 in social policy and #2 in policy analysis, according to the U.S. News and World Report.

Faculty expertise

  • Faculty experts: Our 70 faculty members are renowned teachers and experts committed to engaging students in the classroom and in the field working across disciplines to tackle issues.
  • Dynamic research centers: Active and multidisciplinary, nine research centers leverage knowledge and expertise, serve as a resource, engage students, and solve complex public policy challenges.
  • Dean and associate deans: Learn more about Dean Michael S. Barr and associate deans Paula Lantz and Luke Shaefer.

4K+

Alumni

#1

Social Policy 2021 U.S. News & World Report

500

Students across our BA major and minor, MPP, MPA, and joint PhD programs

Degrees and certificates offered

Student demographics, AY 2020-21

as of September 2020

Undergraduate major in public policy

  • Incoming Class Size: 81
  • Students of color (U.S. only): 9%
  • Female: 64.2%
  • Male: 35.8%

Master of Public Affairs

  • Incoming class size: 25
  • Average age: 35
  • Age range: 27-62
  • Non-U.S: 0%
  • Students of color (U.S. only): 20%
  • Female: 56%
  • Male: 44%
  • Years of work experience: 10.5
  • Countries of origin: 2 (including U.S.)

Master of Public Policy

  • Incoming class size: 97
  • Average age: 26
  • Non-U.S: 17.5%
  • Students of color (U.S. only): 27%
  • Female: 61%
  • Male: 39%
  • Years of work experience: 3.3
  • Countries of origin: 10 (including U.S.)

Doctoral

  • Current students: 35
  • Average age: 29
  • Non-U.S: 2.8%
  • Students of color (U.S. only): 22%
  • Female: 57%
  • Male: 43%

Rankings

The Ford School is a top-ranked policy school at a world-class university.

  • #1 in social policy
  • #2 in public policy analysis
  • #3 in health policy
  • #8 in public affairs (overall)

Source: U.S. News & World Report, ranked in 2020. More Ford School rankings

Staff

The Ford School's 89 mission-driven staff members (Aug. 2019) support administration, finance, human resources, student academic services, graduate career services, research administration, communications and outreach, computing services, development, and alumni relations.

Alumni

A powerful and growing network of professionals engaged in public service and leadership around the world.

Commitment to diversity

Our commitment to the public good is inseparable from our commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion. We value community, integrity, respect, service, inclusion, diversity, and equity. Read more about diversity, equity, and inclusion at the Ford School.

Financial resources

The operating budget of the Ford School for fiscal year 2021 is $20.3M. This includes funding from tuition and fees, but also University allocations, overhead return from grants, expendable gifts, and proceeds from investment income. The school's active faculty research program generates significant resources, including $5.045M in research expenditures in FY2020. Our $49.37M endowment (market value as of 6/30/20) provides annual funding to support student scholarships, fellowships, and engagement activities; faculty research and policy engagement; and programmatic outreach activities such as our active lecture series, policy briefs, and more. 

In December 2018, the University of Michigan closed out its successful Victors for Michigan Campaign. The Campaign's philanthropic priorities were for student support, engaged learning, and bold ideas, along with other presidential initiatives such as poverty solutions and precision health. During the campaign, the Ford School's generous alumni and friends gave over $47M to support Ford School students, faculty, and research and programs.

Sustainability

The Ford School is an active participant in the U-M Planet Blue energy conservation program, the Sustainable Computing Initiative, and a variety of waste reduction and recycling activities. Also, Weill Hall energy use is tracked monthly by plant operations. The school also has a committee dedicated to engaging the community in conversations about sustainability and working toward environmental and energy leadership. More information about University-wide efforts can be found on the Office of Campus Sustainability website.

History

In 1913, reflecting Progressive Era frustrations with government inefficiency and corruption, Jesse S. Reeves, a nationally recognized scholar and chair of the University of Michigan's political science department, proposed America's first master's degree in public administration. While Reeves was primarily focused on international law (in 1930, he would serve as technical advisor at the League of Nations Hague Conference) he believed "that the University ha[d] a distinct opportunity, not only in offering a public service to the people of the state...but in leading the way in the training of municipal experts." In 1914, the University of Michigan approved Reeves' plan, inviting students to apply to its newly launched graduate program in municipal administration.*

In the mid-1960s, advanced analytic methods from the social sciences began to be applied to the understanding of public concerns, launching a comprehensive review of the University's public administration curriculum by an interdisciplinary advisory council. In 1968, the curriculum was refocused to provide students with an analytic toolkit and cutting-edge problem-solving methodologies. The longstanding public administration program gave way to the Institute of Public Policy Studies (IPPS), the nation's first public policy degree program. The pioneering interdisciplinary social science core emphasized economic and statistical analysis, an understanding of the political environment of policy, and the importance of organizations to successful implementation.

Recognizing the value of research and education in public policy and the academic excellence of its program, the University of Michigan established the School of Public Policy (SPP) in 1995.

In 1999, the school was named in honor of Gerald R. Ford, the 38th President of the United States and a 1935 graduate of the University of Michigan. For a more thorough history of the Ford School, view our interactive historical timeline.