List of Presidents of the United States by education

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Most Presidents of the United States received a college education, even most of the earliest. Of the first seven Presidents, five were college graduates. College degrees have set the Presidents apart from the general population, and Presidents have held such a degree even when this was quite rare indeed, as well as unnecessary, for practicing most occupations, including law. Of the forty-four individuals to have been the President, twenty-four of them graduated from a private undergraduate college, nine graduated from a public undergraduate college, and twelve held no degree. Every President since 1953 has had a bachelor's degree, reflecting the increasing importance of higher education in the United States.

List by institutions[edit]

Undergraduate[edit]

Some Presidents attended more than one institution. George Washington never attended college, though The College of William & Mary did issue him a surveyor's certificate. Only three Presidents attended foreign colleges at the undergraduate level: John F. Kennedy at the London School of Economics and John Quincy Adams at Leiden University (with both transferring to Harvard College), and Bill Clinton who was a Rhodes Scholar at Oxford University. Three Presidents have attended the United States Service academies: Ulysses S. Grant and Dwight D. Eisenhower graduated from the United States Military Academy at West Point, while Jimmy Carter graduated from the United States Naval Academy at Annapolis, Maryland. No Presidents have graduated from the much newer U.S. Air Force Academy. Eisenhower also graduated from the Command and General Staff College, Army Industrial College and Army War College. These were not degree granting institutions when Eisenhower attended, but were part of his professional education as a career soldier.

School Location President(s)
Allegheny College Meadville, Pennsylvania
Amherst College Amherst, Massachusetts
Bowdoin College Brunswick, Maine
The College of William & Mary Williamsburg, Virginia
Columbia University New York, New York
Davidson College Davidson, North Carolina
Dickinson College Carlisle, Pennsylvania
Eureka College Eureka, Illinois
Fordham University The Bronx, New York City
Georgetown University Washington, D.C.
Georgia Institute of Technology Atlanta, Georgia
Georgia Southwestern State University Americus, Georgia
Hampden–Sydney College Hampden Sydney, Virginia
Harvard University Cambridge, Massachusetts
Hiram College Hiram, Ohio
Kenyon College Gambier, Ohio
London School of Economics London, United Kingdom
Miami University Oxford, Ohio
Mount Union College Alliance, Ohio
Occidental College Los Angeles, California
Ohio Central College Iberia, Ohio
Princeton University Princeton, New Jersey
University of Pennsylvania Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Texas State University San Marcos, Texas
Spalding's Commercial College (Kansas City, Missouri) Kansas City, Missouri
Stanford University Stanford, California
Leiden University Leiden, Netherlands
Union College Schenectady, New York
University of Michigan Ann Arbor, Michigan
University of North Carolina Chapel Hill, North Carolina
United States Military Academy West Point, New York
United States Army Command and General Staff College Fort Leavenworth, Kansas
United States Army Industrial College Washington, D.C.
United States Army War College Carlisle, Pennsylvania
United States Naval Academy Annapolis, Maryland
Whittier College Whittier, California
Williams College Williamstown, Massachusetts
Yale University New Haven, Connecticut

Law school[edit]

School Location President(s)
Albany Law School Albany, New York
Columbia Law School New York, New York
Duke University School of Law Durham, North Carolina
Georgetown University Law Center Washington, D.C.
Harvard Law School Cambridge, Massachusetts
University of Michigan Law School Ann Arbor, Michigan
Northampton Law School Northampton, Massachusetts
State and National Law School Ballston Spa, New York
University of Cincinnati College of Law Cincinnati, Ohio
University of Kansas City School of Law Kansas City, Missouri
University of Virginia School of Law Charlottesville, Virginia
Yale Law School New Haven, Connecticut

Several Presidents who were lawyers did not attend law school, but became lawyers after independent study. Some had attended college before beginning their legal studies, and several studied law without first having attended college. It was customary to study under established lawyers.[1] Presidents who were lawyers but did not attend law school include: John Adams; Thomas Jefferson; James Madison; James Monroe; John Quincy Adams; Andrew Jackson; Martin Van Buren; John Tyler; James K. Polk; Millard Fillmore; James Buchanan; Abraham Lincoln; James A. Garfield; Grover Cleveland; Benjamin Harrison; and Calvin Coolidge.

Presidents who were admitted to the bar after a combination of law school and independent study include; Franklin Pierce; Chester A. Arthur; William McKinley; and Woodrow Wilson.

Business school[edit]

School Location President(s)
Harvard Business School Boston, Massachusetts
Stanford Graduate School of Business Stanford, California

Medical school[edit]

School Location President(s)
University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

J.D. (earned)[edit]

School Location President(s)
Duke University Law School Durham, North Carolina
Yale Law School New Haven, Connecticut
Yale Law School New Haven, Connecticut
Harvard Law School Cambridge, Massachusetts

Note: Nixon and Ford were awarded ll.b. degrees.[2][3] When U.S. law schools began to use the J.D. as the professional law degree in the 1960s, previous graduates had their ll.b. degrees converted to J.D.[4] Duke University Law School made the change in 1968,[5] and Yale Law School in 1971.[6]

Did not graduate from college[edit]

List by presidents[edit]

President High school or equivalent Undergraduate school Graduate school
George Washington Lower Church School

did not attend college

none
John Adams Braintree Latin School Harvard University none
Thomas Jefferson James Maury's School The College of William and Mary none
James Madison Donald Robertson's School Princeton University none
James Monroe Campbelltown Academy The College of William and Mary (did not graduate) none
John Quincy Adams Passy Academy Leiden University (transferred)
Harvard University
none
Andrew Jackson William Humphries' Academy
James White Stephenson's Academy
none none
Martin Van Buren Kinderhook Academy
Washington Seminary
none none
William Henry Harrison Millfield Academy Hampden–Sydney College (withdrew) University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine (withdrew)
John Tyler College of William and Mary Preparatory School The College of William and Mary none
James K. Polk Zion Presbyterian Church Academy
Bradley Academy
University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill none
Zachary Taylor none none none
Millard Fillmore New Hope Academy none none
Franklin Pierce Phillips Exeter Academy Bowdoin College Northampton Law School
James Buchanan Old Stone Academy Dickinson College none
Abraham Lincoln none none none
Andrew Johnson none none none
Ulysses S. Grant Maysville Academy United States Military Academy none
Rutherford B. Hayes Norwalk Seminary
The Webb School
Kenyon College Harvard Law School
James Garfield Geauga Seminary Hiram College (transferred)
Williams College
none
Chester A. Arthur Schenectady Lyceum and Academy Union College State and National Law School (did not graduate)
Grover Cleveland Clinton Academy none none
Benjamin Harrison Farmers' College Miami University none
William McKinley Poland Academy Allegheny College (withdrew)
Mount Union College (withdrew)
Albany Law School (withdrew)
Theodore Roosevelt none Harvard University Columbia Law School (withdrew) (awarded J.D. in 2008, class of 1882)[8]
William Howard Taft Woodward High School Yale University University of Cincinnati College of Law
Woodrow Wilson none Davidson College (transferred)
Princeton University
University of Virginia School of Law (withdrew)
Johns Hopkins University (Ph.D.)
Warren G. Harding Caledonia High School Ohio Central College none
Calvin Coolidge Black River Academy
St. Johnsbury Academy
Amherst College none
Herbert Hoover Did not attend high school Stanford University none
Franklin D. Roosevelt Groton School Harvard University Columbia Law School (withdrew) (awarded J.D. in 2008, class of 1907)[9]
Harry S. Truman Independence High School Spalding's Commercial College (withdrew) University of Kansas City School of Law (withdrew)
Dwight D. Eisenhower Abilene High School U.S. Military Academy (West Point) United States Army Command and General Staff College
United States Army Industrial College
United States Army War College
John F. Kennedy The Choate School London School of Economics (General Course Program)
Princeton University (transferred)
Harvard University
Stanford Graduate School of Business (withdrew)
Lyndon B. Johnson Johnson City High School Southwest Texas State College (now Texas State University) Georgetown University Law Center (withdrew)
Richard Nixon Whittier High School Whittier College Duke University School of Law
Gerald Ford Grand Rapids South High School University of Michigan Yale Law School
Jimmy Carter Plains High School Georgia Southwestern College (transferred)
Georgia Institute of Technology (transferred)
U.S. Naval Academy
Union College (Postgraduate Nuclear Physics Course Program)
Ronald Reagan Dixon High School Eureka College none
George H. W. Bush Phillips Academy Yale University none
Bill Clinton Hot Springs High School Georgetown University University of Oxford (Rhodes Scholar; withdrew)
Yale Law School
George W. Bush Phillips Academy Yale University Harvard Business School
Barack Obama Punahou School Occidental College (transferred)
Columbia University
Harvard Law School
Donald Trump New York Military Academy Fordham University (transferred)
Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania
None

Other academic associations[edit]

School Rector or president[edit]

President(s) School Position Years
Thomas Jefferson University of Virginia 1st Rector 1819–1826
James Madison University of Virginia 2nd Rector 1826–1836
James A. Garfield Hiram College President 1857–1860
Millard Fillmore University of Buffalo Chancellor 1846–1874
Woodrow Wilson Princeton University President 1902–1910
Dwight D. Eisenhower Columbia University President 1948–1953

School trustee or governor[edit]

President(s) School Position Years
George Washington College of William and Mary Chancellor 1788–1799
George Washington Washington College Allowed use of his name, Benefactor, Board of Governors 1782-1799
George Washington Washington and Lee University Benefactor[10] 1796
Thomas Jefferson University of Virginia Board of Visitors 1819–1826
James Madison University of Virginia Board of Visitors 1819–1836
James Madison Madison College (Pennsylvania) Allowed use of his name, Benefactor (contributed funds - $2000 in 1827 dollars - towards founding)[11] 1827
James Monroe University of Virginia Board of Visitors 1826–1831
John Quincy Adams Harvard University Board of Overseers 1830–1848
Andrew Jackson University of Nashville Board of Trustees 1806–1845[12]
Martin Van Buren University of the State of New York Board of Regents 1816–1829
John Tyler College of William and Mary Chancellor 1859–1862
Millard Fillmore University at Buffalo Chancellor 1846–1874
Franklin Pierce Norwich University Board of Trustees 1841–1859
James Buchanan Franklin & Marshall College President, Board of Trustees 1853–1865
Rutherford B. Hayes The Ohio State University Board of Trustees 1881–1893
Rutherford B. Hayes Western Reserve University Chairman of the Board of Trustees 1881-1893
Rutherford B. Hayes Ohio Wesleyan University Board of Trustees 1884-1893
James A. Garfield Hiram College Board of Trustees 1866–1881
James A. Garfield Hampton University Board of Trustees 1877–1881
Benjamin Harrison Purdue University Board of Trustees 1895–1901
Grover Cleveland Princeton University Board of Trustees 1901–1908
William McKinley American University Board of Trustees 1899-1901
Theodore Roosevelt American University Board of Trustees 1900-1919
Theodore Roosevelt Harvard University Board of Overseers 1895-1901, 1915-1916
William Howard Taft Yale University Member of the Yale Corporation 1901-1913
William Howard Taft Hampton University Board of Trustees 1909-1930
Warren G. Harding American University Board of Trustees 1921-1923
Calvin Coolidge Amherst College Board of Trustees (life member) 1921-1933
Herbert Hoover Stanford University Board of Trustees 1923-1960
Herbert Hoover American University Board of Trustees 1945-1950
Franklin D. Roosevelt Harvard University Board of Overseers 1917-1923
Franklin D. Roosevelt Vassar College Board of Trustees 1923-1945
Dwight Eisenhower Eisenhower College Namesake, fundraiser 1965-1969
John F. Kennedy Harvard University Board of Overseers 1957-1958
Jimmy Carter Mercer University Board of Trustees 2012– present
Ronald Reagan Eureka College Board of Trustees 1947–1953, 1967–1973, 1974-1980.

Faculty member[edit]

President(s) School Position Years
James A. Garfield Hiram College Professor of Latin, Greek, Mathematics, History, Philosophy, Rhetoric and English literature 1857-1861[13]
William Howard Taft University of Cincinnati College of Law Dean 1896-1900[14]
William Howard Taft Yale Law School Kent Professor of Law 1913-1921
William Howard Taft Boston University School of Law Lecturer on Legal Ethics[15] 1918-1921
Woodrow Wilson Bryn Mawr College Professor of Politics and History 1885-1888[16]
Woodrow Wilson Wesleyan University Professor of Politics 1888-1890[16]
Woodrow Wilson Princeton University Professor of Jurisprudence and Political Economy, President 1902–1910
Harry S. Truman Yale University Chubb Fellow Visiting Lecturer 1958[17]
Harry S. Truman Canisius College Visiting Lecturer 1962[18]
Richard Nixon Whittier College Adjunct lecturer, taught undergraduate legal studies class 1937-1942
Jimmy Carter Emory University University Distinguished Professor 1982–Present
George H. W. Bush Rice University Part-Time Professor of Administrative Science 1978
Bill Clinton University of Arkansas Assistant Professor of Law[19] 1973–1977
Barack Obama University of Chicago Law School Senior Lecturer[20] 1992–2004

References[edit]

  1. ^ http://www.abrahamlincolnonline.org/lincoln/education/lawhighlights.htm
  2. ^ Gellman, Irwin F. (2017). The Contender: Richard Nixon, the Congress Years, 1946-1952. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press. p. 7. ISBN 978-0-300-22020-9. 
  3. ^ "Gerald R. Ford Biography". Fordlibrarymuseum.gov/. Grand rapids, MI: Gerald R. Ford Presidential Library & Museum. Retrieved November 28, 2017. 
  4. ^ Bear, John (2001). Bear's Guide to Earning Degrees by Distance Learning. Berkeley, California: Ten Speed Press. p. 257. ISBN 978-1-58008-202-0. 
  5. ^ Bolich, W. Bryan (1968). Duke Law School 1868-1968: A Sketch (PDF). Durham, NC: Duke University Law School. p. xxiv. 
  6. ^ Mwenda, Kenneth Kaoma (2007). Comparing American and British Legal Education Systems. Youngstown, NY: Cambria Press. p. 14. ISBN 978-1-934-043-51-6. 
  7. ^ http://www.mountvernon.org/visit/plan/index.cfm/pid/808/
  8. ^ New York Sun, Presidents Roosevelt Honored With Posthumous Columbia Degrees, September 26, 2008
  9. ^ Columbia Law School, Theodore and Franklin Roosevelt to Receive Posthumous Law Degrees from Columbia Law School, September 25, 2008
  10. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2013-01-03. Retrieved 2013-01-17. 
  11. ^ Reynolds, G.T. (1902). "Madison College". In Haskins, Charles Homer; Hull, William Isaac. A History of Higher Education in Pennsylvania. Government Printing Office. pp. 155–7. 
  12. ^ University of Nashville Board of Trustees (1892). The University of Nashville, 1785 to 1892. Nashville, TN: Marshall & Bruce. p. 5.  Note: In 1791, Jackson was appointed to the board of trustees of Davidson Academy. Jackson continued on the board when the school was reorganized as Cumberland College in 1806. In 1826, Cumberland College was reincorporated as the University of Nashville, and Jackson remained a member of the board of trustees until his death.
  13. ^ Joseph Nathan Kane, Facts About the Presidents (New York: Simon & Schuster [Pocket Books], 1968 [5th printing]), 194.
  14. ^ UC.edu
  15. ^ "BU School of Law Timeline". Boston University. Retrieved 16 January 2014. 
  16. ^ a b Biography of Wilson on Princeton Web.
  17. ^ Robert H. Ferrell, Farewell to the Chief: Former Presidents in American Public Life, 1991, page 52
  18. ^ U.S. Government Printing Office, Congressional Record, Volume 108, Part 4, 1962, page 5168
  19. ^ Kaczynski, Andrew; Apper, Megan (February 2, 2015). "Here's Bill Clinton's Personnel File From His Time As An Arkansas College Professor". buzzfeed.com/. New York, NY: Buzzfeed.com. 
  20. ^ Media Inquiries, University of Chicago Law School

External Link[edit]