UM Public Affairs Graduate Program Improves Ranking

Sara Rinfret, director of UM’s Department of Public Administration and Policy (standing), leads the top public affairs graduate program in Montana.

MISSOULA – The University of Montana again has the top graduate program for public affairs in Big Sky Country, according to new rankings by U.S. News & World Report.

Climbing nine spots from last year on the report’s Best Graduate Schools list, UM ranked No. 114 in the nation for Best Public Affairs Programs. This ranking establishes UM as the top institution for public affairs in Montana and tied for No. 2 in the Big Sky Conference.

“Our increase in rankings is a true testament to the faculty’s commitment to student success and serving our community by providing solutions to public-sector problems,” said Dr. Sara Rinfret, director of UM’s Department of Public Administration and Policy and acting dean of the Blewett III School of Law. “This fall we will launch several new programs to ensure our students can continue to excel.”

The rankings of public affairs programs, published in 2022, are based on peer assessment survey results. In fall 2021 and early 2022, U.S. News surveyed deans, directors and department chairs representing 270 master's programs in public affairs and administration.

UM’s Department of Public Administration and Policy is the first of its kind in Montana, offering the only accredited Master of Public Administration program in the nation within a school of law. The department is housed within the Max S. Baucus Institute to provide a cutting-edge education for individuals interested in excelling in the public service profession. The department offers undergraduate and graduate curricula in addition to professional development and training.

Next fall, the department will launch four new programs: a dual Master of Public Administration and Master of Social Work degree program, an undergraduate certificate in public policy, a graduate certificate in poverty policy, and a graduate certificate in law, public administration and policy.

For more information, visit the Department of Public Administration and Policy website at


Contact: Dr. Sara Rinfret, UM law school acting dean and Department of Public Administration and Policy chair, 406-243-4702,