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Robertson Hall, which houses the Woodrow Wilson School.

The Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs (often truncated to Woodrow Wilson School or abbreviated WWS; known as "Woody Woo" in campus slang) is a professional public policy school at Princeton Universitymarker. The school has granted undergraduate A.B. degrees since 1930 and graduate degrees since 1948. It has three graduate degree programs: masters' degrees (in the M.P.A. and M.P.P. programs), and doctoral degrees. The most recent degree offered by the Woodrow Wilson School, in collaboration with the university's Department of Psychology, is the Joint Degree Program in Psychology and Social Policy.


The School of Public and International Affairs, as it was originally named, was founded at Princeton in 1930, created in the spirit of Woodrow Wilson's interest in preparing students for leadership in public and international affairs. Beginning in September 2005, the Woodrow Wilson School celebrates 75 years of preparing talented individuals for careers in the service of the nation and the world.

The School's initial venture was an interdisciplinary program for undergraduates in Princeton's liberal arts college, although a graduate professional program was planned from the beginning.

According to the School's first catalog from February 1930, "Throughout its history the sons of Princeton have been prominent in the service of the nation--statesmen, soldiers, judges, diplomats, men of science and men of letters, leaders of religious thought at home and abroad. It was this background which prompted Woodrow Wilson in 1896 to define the University's destiny as: 'Princeton in the Nation's Service'...Upon this foundation Princeton has established the School of Public and International Affairs which will...prepare [its students] for the new movement in national and world affairs."

The graduate professional program was added in 1948. That same year the School was renamed to honor Woodrow Wilson, the 28th president of the United States, who was a member of Princeton's Class of 1879, governor of the State of New Jerseymarker, and the 13th president of Princeton University. The phrase "Princeton in the Nation's Service" was the theme of two speeches Wilson gave at the University, first during its sesquicentennial celebration in 1896, and again at his inauguration as the University's president in 1902.

In the 1990s, the motto was expanded by then-president Harold T. Shapiro to read "Princeton in the Nation's Service, and in the Service of All Nations." It is a concept that Princeton and the Woodrow Wilson School regard as an educational mission.

In 1961, Charles '26 and Marie Robertson provided a historic gift to expand and strengthen the graduate school as a place where men (and later women) dedicated to public service could obtain the knowledge and skills that would qualify them for careers in government service, particularly in the areas of international relations and affairs, upon graduation or later in their careers. In doing so, the Robertsons hoped to reach a larger ultimate objective: to strengthen the government of the United States and increase its "ability and determination to defend and extend freedom throughout the world." The gift and the Foundation it funded were initially anonymous: the "X Foundation" provided the means to build Robertson Hall, greatly expand the number of graduate students in the M.P.A., M.P.P., and Ph.D. programs, and build a world-class faculty in multiple disciplines.


Today, the School educates a wide range of students from the U.S. and around the world who seek to apply their knowledge and skills to the solution of vital public problems in both the domestic and international realms. It boasts a faculty of superb scholars and practitioners in disciplines that include politics, economics, sociology, psychology, physics, molecular biology, and geosciences, who, individually and as members of a variety of world-class research centers and programs, react to and influence the international and domestic environment through policy research, which in turn adds depth and vitality to the teaching program.

Robertson Hall

A $35 million grant from Charles and Marie Robertson, the owners of the A&P grocery chain, funded the construction of the school's current home in Robertson Hall designed by Minoru Yamasaki. Their donation provided the base of its endowment, which stands at roughly $800 million.

Selective undergraduate major

The Woodrow Wilson School is the only selective undergraduate major at Princeton. Every year, about 180 second-semester sophomores apply to the Wilson School; 90 are admitted.

Robertson Lawsuit

A lawsuit was brought against the University by the Robertson family heirs in 2002, claiming the school had not met its mission of preparing students for government service, as too few of its graduates take positions in government. Further charges include the University commingling the Woodrow Wilson School endowment with the University endowment; that Woodrow Wilson School endowment funds were used to fund non-Woodrow Wilson School ventures such as the construction of Wallace Hall, for instance, which houses unrelated offices for the Department of Sociology.

On December 10, 2008, the University announced a settlement of the case. The University stated that although it believed it had a high chance of prevailing in the case, it wished to avoid additional millions in legal expenses for both parties. Under the settlement, the University will have full control of the endowment associated with the Robertson Foundation and will continue to use the endowment to support the graduate program. Under the terms of the agreement, the Robertson Foundation will be dissolved and its assets will be transferred to the University to create an endowed fund that will be controlled solely by the University. In return the University agreed to pay $40 million from the Robertson Foundation funds to reimburse the Robertsons' legal fees, and another $50 million (plus interest) to fund a new foundation to be controlled by the Robertsons to prepare students for careers in government service.

Notable alumni


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