L. Douglas Wilder School of Government and Public Affairs

L. Douglas Wilder School of Government and Public Affairs




Five great fields

Take advantage of our innovative blend of programs to major in one area while learning from others.

U.S. News & World Report ranks the Wilder School of Government and Public Affairs graduate program in public affairs at No. 39, which places us in the top 15% of more than 250 schools across the United States.  

We are also rank in the following specialty areas:

  • Public management and leadership program - ranked No. 19 in the U.S. and No. 1 in Virginia
  • Public policy analysis - ranked No. 36 in the U.S.
  • Social policy -  ranked No. 16 in the U.S. and No. 1 in Virginia
  • Urban policy - ranked No. 17 in the U.S. and No. 1 in Virginia

The Wilder School is also recognized for demonstrating exemplary commitment in four areas recognized by Network of Schools of Public Policy, Affairs, and Administration (NASPAA), the global standard in public service education.

Degree options

Criminal justice: Undergraduate, graduate and certificate programs
Homeland security and emergency preparedness: Undergraduate, graduate and certificate programs
Public administration: M.P.A., accelerated B.A./M.P.A., certificate and dual-degree programs
Public policy and administration: Doctoral program
Urban and regional studies/planning: Undergraduate, graduate and certificate programs

These areas are available as both majors or minors. See each program’s page for details.

Graduate certificates

In addition to our main academic programs, we also offer the following certificates:

Gender violence intervention

Designed for pre-career and mid-career professionals, this program examines the social causes, consequences and responses to gender violence. Graduates often pursue careers in advocacy, research, policy or prevention.

Program requirements

Post-Bachelor's Certificate program

Designed for those interested or involved in professions in the criminal justice system, this certificate facilitates career advancement to help you develop skills in criminal justice policy, program evaluation and management.

Program requirements

Graduate certificate program

Our online certificate program helps you develop managerial competencies in the homeland security and emergency preparedness field. Courses with grades of “B” or better are fully transferable to the master’s program.

Progam requirements

Nonprofit management

Learn to lead, govern and manage nonprofit organizations collaboratively, thoughtfully and ethically. Earn this 15-credit certificate separately or simultaneously with the M.P.A.

Nonprofit management certificate requirements

Public management

Tailored for government and nonprofit professionals, this program allows you to gain skills in public administration without pursuing a full master’s degree. An off-campus location is available in Chesterfield County. This 18-credit certificate includes coursework from the M.P.A. curriculum.

Public management certificate requirements

MSW and Certificate in Nonprofit Management

The VCU Post-Baccalaureate Certificate in Nonprofit Management (CPG-NMC) is a collaborative effort between the L. Douglas Wilder School of Government & Public Affairs and the School of Social Work. 

The Certificate requires a total of 15 credit hours comprised of four required courses and one related elective. How to apply

CPG-NMC program requirements

Urban Revitilization

Learn the techniques and processes of city and neighborhood revitalization, including adaptive reuse of buildings, historic preservation, real estate market analysis and the role of private-public partnerships in financing development projects. Grades of “B” or better are fully transferable to the master’s program.

Program requirements for Urban revitalization

Geographic information systems

Gain specialized training in operations and techniques related to the creation, analysis, modeling, visualization, interpretation and management of geographic information.

Program requirements for Geographic information systems

Sustainability planning

Acquire analytical and professional skills to identify and address barriers to sustainability, and to develop plans and policies for more sustainable lifestyles, systems and institutions.

Program requirements for sustainability planning.



Combined and accelerated programs

Combined bachelor’s and master’s of public administration

Earn a combined B.A. and M.P.A. in five years by taking certain master’s-level courses during the senior year of their undergraduate program.

Program requirements

Master of Urban Studies/Planning and J.D.

Earn a J.D. from the law school at the University of Richmond and a master’s in urban and regional planning from VCU in four years rather than five.

Program requirements

Master of Public Administration and J.D.

Earn a J.D. from the law school at the University of Richmond and an M.P.A. from VCU.

Program requirements