Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs

The Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs is a professional public policy school at Princeton University. The school provides an array of comprehensive coursework in the fields of international development, foreign policy, science and technology, and economics and finance through its undergraduate (AB) degrees, graduate Master of Public Affairs (MPA), Master of Public Policy (MPP), and Ph.D. degrees. Since 2012, Cecilia Rouse has been dean of the Woodrow Wilson School. The school is consistently ranked as one of the best institutions for the study of international relations and public affairs in the country and in the world.[1] Foreign Policy ranks the Woodrow Wilson School as No. 2 in International Relations at the undergraduate and at the Ph.D. level in the world behind the Harvard Kennedy School.[2]

Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs
Robertson Hall, home to the Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs
Parent institution
Princeton University
DeanCecilia Rouse
Academic staff
85 full-time faculty members and approximately 45 visiting professors, lecturers, and practitioners
StudentsApproximately 300 undergraduate students and approximately 190 graduate students
Location, ,
United States


In 1930, Princeton University established the School of Public and International Affairs, which was originally meant to serve as an interdisciplinary program for undergraduate students in Princeton's liberal arts college. In 1948, the School added a graduate professional program and was renamed to honor Woodrow Wilson,[3] who was the 13th president of the University, governor of New Jersey and the 28th president of the United States. In two of Wilson's speeches at the University – first during its 150th anniversary celebration in 1896 and again at his inauguration as the University's president in 1902 – he mentioned “Princeton in the nation’s service.”[4] This phrase serves as the basis for the University's unofficial motto, which was amended in 2016 to "Princeton in the nation's service and in the service of humanity."[5]

In 2015, student protesters forced Princeton to reconsider having the School named after Wilson due to his racist views, of which they disapproved. The Wilson Legacy Review Committee ultimately decided to keep his name attached to the School, noting that, like many notable people in American history, Wilson was a complex figure.[6][7]


Undergraduate program

The School stresses a multidisciplinary approach to policy studies, which includes a focus on politics, economics, sociology, psychology, molecular biology, geosciences, and health. Undergraduate students at the Wilson School take courses in at least four disciplines including economics, history, politics, psychology, sociology, and science.[8] In their junior year, students must enroll in and complete a Policy Task Force, which addresses a specific public policy issue. Students conduct research, propose recommendations, and issue final reports.[9] Students are also allowed to work towards certificates in an array of fields, including Global Health and Health Policy, Urban Studies, and the History and the Practice of Diplomacy.

Master's degrees

The two-year MPA program prepares students for international and domestic policy careers. All second-year MPA students must complete a Policy Workshop, which emphasizes policy implementation. Through the graduate policy workshops, students conduct field-based research and present their research and recommendations to clients. Students also develop analytical and quantitative skills through coursework emphasizing the political, economic, and behavioral aspects of complex policy issues. MPA candidates may select one of four fields of concentration:

The one-year MPP program is designed for mid-career professionals, Ph.D. research scientists, lawyers, and physicians who are involved in international and domestic public policy.

Doctoral degrees

The Ph.D. in Public Affairs focuses on two research areas: security studies; and science, technology and environmental policy. The School works with other departments at the University to offer a Joint Degree Program that combines work in a social science with a multidisciplinary perspective on economics problems.[10] Graduate students also have the opportunity to pursue certificates in demography; health and health policy; science, technology and environmental policy; and urban policy/urban policy and planning.[11] In addition to the MPA, MPP and Ph.D. degrees,[12] the School offers a four-year MPA/J.D. program, and has formal joint degree arrangements with law schools at Columbia University,[13] New York University[14] and Stanford University.[15] Students often refer to the school by its colloquial abbreviation, "Woody Woo". The school also offers a Joint Degree Program (JDP) in Social Policy, allowing students to take courses in the departments of politics, psychology, sociology, and economics.

Robertson Hall

In 1961, Charles ’26 and Marie Robertson provided a gift to expand the graduate school. Their gift funded the construction of the School’s current home, designed by Minoru Yamasaki, who also designed New York's original World Trade Center.[16] To the north of the building is James FitzGerald's Fountain of Freedom (1966).[17]

In 2012,[18] the Princeton University Art Museum announced the installation of the “Circle of Animals/Zodiac Heads” exhibit by Chinese artist Ai Weiwei[19] on Scudder Plaza.

Centers and programs

The Woodrow Wilson School has 19 unique centers and programs:[20]

  • Bendheim-Thoman Center for Research on Child Wellbeing (CRCW)
  • Center for Arts and Cultural Policy Studies (CACPS)
  • Center for Health and Wellbeing (CHW)
  • Center for Information Technology Policy (CITP)
  • Center for International Security Studies (CISS)
  • Center for the Study of Democratic Politics (CSDP)
  • China and the World Program (CWP)
  • Education Research Section (ERS)
  • Innovations for Successful Societies (Institutions for Fragile States)
  • Julis-Rabinowitz Center for Public Policy and Finance (JRC)
  • Liechtenstein Institute on Self-Determination (LISD)
  • Niehaus Center for Globalization and Governance (NCGG)
  • Office of Population Research (OPR)
  • Princeton Survey Research Center (SRC)
  • Program in Law and Public Affairs (LAPA)
  • Program in Science, Technology, and Environmental Policy (STEP)
  • Program on Science and Global Security (SGS)
  • Research Program in Development Studies (RPDS)
  • Research Program in Political Economy (RPPE)

PolicyNet is a network of prominent public policy schools around the world, founded in 2005 as a joint venture between the Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs and the Centre for International Governance Innovation for interaction and collaboration on issues of common interest, curricular programs, joint research projects and other activities.

Notable alumni


Nearly all full-time Woodrow Wilson School faculty members have dual appointments with other departments at the University. The School also has visiting professors, lecturers, and practitioners from the world of public and international affairs that teach. Faculty members at the School include Nobel Laureates, Pulitzer Prize winners, and former ambassadors.[21] Nobel Laureates include Angus Deaton, Daniel Kahneman, Paul Krugman, and Arthur Lewis.


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