Faculty testifying before congress, student at congress, students in India, dean with Madeleine Albright

Our Strengths

Our areas of strength directly relate to the grand challenges of policy. The strengths of the school are augmented by larger strengths and networks within Duke and beyond. Our comparative advantages include:


Top-ranked professional programs; one of the best, oldest and largest undergraduate programs in the nation.​


Connections with communities, policymakers, organizations; translational knowledge communicated to a wide audience; students and alumni in public service; academic connections across the university and across public policy. ​


Top-ranked professional programs; one of the best, oldest and largest undergraduate programs in the nation.


$240 million endowment, strong program in externally funded research with an average of $20 million in research expenditures annually, 7,000+ alumni in 100+ countries.​​

Our Values

In 2019, faculty and staff of the Sanford School met to discuss the shared values that define our community. These values (in alphabetical order) guide the Sanford School every day:

  • Collaboration
  • Excellence
  • Inclusion & Diversity
  • Integrity & Honesty
  • Respect
  • Service
Women with headscarf and grduation cap

Our Work Matters

Our faculty generate knowledge at local, state, national and global scales. They have:

  • Testified before Congress and advised legislators on gun control, anti-trafficking legislation, poverty programs, education programs and many other issues
  • Convened policymakers around timely debates on issues ranging from immigration to social media regulation
  • Worked with community partners around North Carolina on issues of food policy
  • Trained thousands of foreign government officials in public finance and governance topics
  • Trained hundreds of U.S. military personnel
  • Trained people how to run for political office
  • Created a nurse home-visiting program that reduces child abuse
  • Identified crucial gaps in implementation of health care delivery in India and worked with global organizations to understand how to implement changes
  • Helped provide mental health care to orphans in multiple countries
  • Worked to improve access to electricity in emerging economies
  • Distributed and studied clean cook stoves to fight air pollution in developing countries and evaluated interventions to inform funders how to improve human and environmental health
  • Advised World Bank, USAID, the Millennium Challenge Corp., UNICEF and many field-based NGOs and community-based implementing organizations
  • Advised philanthropists on multimillion-dollar giving
  • Created new fact-checking standards for journalists
  • Served in all levels of government including Congress and advised presidential candidates and the White House
  • Supported schools to facilitate language and literacy skills for English learners
  • Helped teachers implement high-impact instructional strategies
  • Designed a community-based program for caregivers of veterans
  • Produced thousands of research findings that contribute to the knowledge base for evidence-driven policy
Tower of the Sanford School with fall leaves

We develop talent
and expertise
for the future
of policymaking

Sanford building, students loooking at building.

Our students are learning from the world’s best faculty, from one another and through practical internships. Together, our students and faculty are:

  • Developing new solutions for real-time fact-checking
  • Serving the Durham community and helping to improve services through numerous class-based and community service projects, specifically with Veterans Affairs, Durham Housing Authority, Durham Transit, public schools, and many other community-based organizations
  • Providing evidence-based research
  • Providing testimony to the General Assembly in Raleigh, N.C.
  • Producing local news for Durham and the region, including covering the court system
  • Serving as consultants for dozens of non-profits, state agencies and other clients through annual masters’ students projects

Our alumni pursue lives
of active citizenship and
contribute to policy in
many contexts
and organizations.

Our 7,000+ amazing alums have:

  • Turned around a failing college
  • Led one of the nation’s largest health systems
  • Started an organization to improve immigrants’ access to legal services
  • Led an international humanitarian aid organization working in more than 40 countries
  • Become high-impact policy scholars in critical areas such as gun violence
  • Served as ambassador in the U.S. Department of State
  • Created a global nonprofit dedicated to improving children’s lives
  • Been elected to public offices including school boards, state legislatures and the U.S. Congress
  • Become journalists and journalism educators
  • Run political campaigns
  • Worked in conflict zones worldwide on behalf of the United Nations
  • Led minority economic success initiatives within a commercial bank
  • Launched a triple-bottom-line company to improve health and slow climate change