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Top State Schools for Policy Debate

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Despite the idealism you may or may not have been fed, where you go to school makes a difference--especially in your first 3 to 5 years out of school. All college degrees are not created alike. All college campuses are not alike....especially in the eyes of recruiters who are making the decisions about hiring when you graduate. Also, it just makes sense for social and long term economic reasons to go to a school with smart people and accomplished professors:


This is a list of top state schools who are good at policy debate....(see below for how I complied the list)


1) University of California at Berkeley

2) University of Michigan

3) University of Texas

4) Tie: University of Indiana

Michigan State University (MSU probably has an edge, particularly in engineering & the sciences)

5) Tie: University of Wisconsin

University of Georgia

University of Kansas

University of Minnesota

Arizona State University

George Mason University (in Virginia outside DC)


University of Florida

University of Iowa

6) Tie: University of Massachusetts

University of Pittsburg

University of Kentucky

University of Oregon

University of Oklahoma

7) Tie:UT Dallas

University of North Texas

San Diego State

and a handful of CSU programs.


This is based on a vague idea of academic research & reputation (loosely based on the US News and World Report Rankings as well as research institutions). Its arguable that there is significant overlap in the middle...especially given different majors available.


Here is a comprehensive list of NDT/CEDA programs.


You've been in the education system for 12 years now...given that....invest in a school which will be worth 4 years of your time. You don't want to go to a school which is just a mater of jumping through hoops....or you will be doing just that....jumping through hoops. Where you go to school if far, far, far more important than how many rounds you won, how many tournaments you won, or how many TOC bids you managed to scrape together. These 4 years can be challenging and fun....or easy and boring.


For those of you who disagree with the list....its a method of increasing transparency in what is a pretty important life decision. I'm trying to help people optimize 4 years of their life....and beyond. If you have an issue with the rankings themselves...feel free to take issue with US News and World Report specifically.

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If you think that UCLA (which has no policy program, bee tee dubz) is somehow on par with ASU academically then you need to get your head checked.

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If you think that UCLA (which has no policy program, bee tee dubz) is somehow on par with ASU academically then you need to get your head checked.


Duly noted on both accounts. UCLA is ranked #25 of national universities, as such its probably on par with UT-Austin, perhaps better in some regards.


At least with regards to ranking, I should have been more systemic in seeking out the actual rankings so the groupings were more accurate.


Thanks for chiming in and helping.

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1. University of California--Berkeley


3. University of Virginia (Charlottesville, VA)

4. University of Michigan--Ann Arbor

5. University of North Carolina--Chapel Hill

6. College of William and Mary (Williamsburg Virginia)

7. Georgia Tech, Atlanta, GA

8. University of San Diego

9. University of California--Davis

10. U Cal-Santa Barbara

10. University of Wisconsin--Madison (I may be wrong about this one)

14. Penn State University--University Park

13. UC Irvine

13. University of Texas--Austin

17. Ohio State Columbus

17. Maryland--College Park

19. Texas A & M

19. University of Florida

19. University of Pittsburg

23. Purdue

23. University of Georgia

25. Clemson

25. Rutgers

25. Minnesota

28. Michigan State University

28. University of Iowa

28. Virginia Tech

31. Colorado School of Mines (?)

31. University of Indiana--Bloomington


Political Science Rankings for State Schools


1. University of Michigan

2. Berkeley

3. University of California--San Diego


5. University of North Carolina--Chapel Hill

6. Wisconsin

7. Ohio State

8. University of Minnesota--Twin Cities

9. University of Illinois--Urbana Champaign

10. University of Texas

11. Texas A & M

12. UC Davis

13. University of Indiana

14. University of Washington

15. Michigan State

16. Penn State

17. Maryland--College Park

18. SUNY

19. Iowa

20. University of Virginia


Here is the original ranking list. Also, a number of these that aren't highlighted may have parli teams....


If you want to get more specific, check the grad school rankings (which can help you assess a given department)




Computer Science

Social Science


Political Science

Political Affairs



If you've already picked a school that is perfect for you....great. Fantastic.


Second, this is not an admonition to pick your school only on its ranking, but rather a filter to help focus your search on schools which have a reputation for academic excellence and research (at a minimum they probably deserve to be on your radar). That can also help you seek out the universities which have robust student activities and groups around your chosen major--opportunities which can help you stand out when looking for that first internship or job in your chosen career path.


Third and finally, you may have decided that college debate is not for you. There are obviously arguments on both sides of this question.


I hope this helps open up in a good way your college search--especially if you are already looking at public universities.

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Maybe I've been out of the loop, but Northwestern and Harvard seem noticeably absent from these lists.


He is only including top state schools, not private.

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I did that ranking last year. Here it is.....Again, obviously you want to check major specific ranking by looking at how their graduate schools rank in respective majors.


1) Harvard University

(Ranked 1 by US News)

2) Dartmouth College

(Ranked 11 by US News)

3) Northwestern University

(Ranked 12 by US News)

4) Cornell University

(Ranked 15 by US News)

5) Emory University

(Ranked 17 by US News–Tied)

5) Vanderbilt University

(Ranked 17 by US News–Tied)

7) Berkeley

(Ranked 21 by US News)

8] Georgetown University

(Ranked 23 by US News)

9) University of Southern California

(Ranked 26 by US News)

10) University of Michigan at Ann Arbor

(Ranked 27 by US News)

11) Wake Forest University

(Ranked 28 by US News)

12) New York University

(Ranked 32 by US News)

13) Boston College

(Ranked 34 by US News)

14) University of Rochester

(Ranked 35 by US News)

15) Case Western University

(Ranked 41 by US News)

16) University of Florida

(Ranked 47 by US News–Tied)

16) University of Texas

(Ranked 47 by US News–Tied)


You may also want to check out the opportunities at top law and political science programs.

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