List of Presidents of the United States by education

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 degree

Did not graduate from college


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 two Presidents attended foreign colleges at the undergraduate level: John Quincy Adams at Leiden University and Bill Clinton who was a Rhodes Scholar at Oxford University. (John F. Kennedy intended to study at the London School of Economics, but failed to attend as he fell ill before classes began.)

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 Army 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.

A complete list of each President and his undergraduate educational history appears below.

M.B.A. (Master of Business Administration)

School Location President(s)
Harvard Business School Cambridge, Massachusetts

J.D. or equivalent

School Location President(s)
Columbia Law School New York, New York
Duke University Law School Durham, North Carolina
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 the choice of converting their LL.B. degrees to a J.D.[4] Duke University Law School made the change in 1968,[5] and Yale Law School in 1971.[6] Theodore Roosevelt[7] and Franklin D. Roosevelt[8] were awarded posthumous J.D. degrees in 2008.[9]


School Location President(s)
Johns Hopkins University Baltimore, Maryland

Details of Presidential undergraduate education

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 EconomicsA 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
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
University of Pennsylvania Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
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
A.^ JFK enrolled, but did not attend

Graduate studies by type

Business school

School Location President(s)
Stanford University Graduate School of Business Palo Alto, California
Harvard Business School Cambridge, Massachusetts

Political science

School Location President(s)
School of Arts and Sciences, Johns Hopkins University Baltimore, Maryland

Medical school

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

Law school

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.[10] 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.

List by presidents

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

Did not attend college

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
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 Kean O'Hara's Academy[11] 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
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)
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)
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 (auditor)
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

Other academic associations

Faculty member

President(s) School Position Years
James A. GarfieldHiram CollegeProfessor of Latin, Greek, Mathematics, History, Philosophy, Rhetoric and English literature1857–1861[12]
Grover ClevelandPrinceton UniversityStafford Little Lecturer on Public Affairs1899–1908[13]
William Howard TaftUniversity of Cincinnati College of LawDean1896–1900[14]
William Howard TaftYale Law SchoolKent Professor of Law1913–1921
William Howard TaftBoston University School of LawLecturer on Legal Ethics[15]1918–1921
Woodrow WilsonBryn Mawr CollegeProfessor of Politics and History1885–1888[16]
Woodrow WilsonWesleyan UniversityProfessor of Politics1888–1890[16]
Woodrow WilsonPrinceton UniversityProfessor of Jurisprudence and Political Economy1902–1910
Harry S. TrumanYale UniversityChubb Fellow Visiting Lecturer1958[17]
Harry S. TrumanCanisius CollegeVisiting Lecturer1962[18]
Richard NixonWhittier CollegeAdjunct lecturer, taught undergraduate legal studies class1937–1942
Jimmy CarterEmory UniversityUniversity Distinguished Professor1982–Present
George H. W. BushRice UniversityPart-Time Professor of Administrative Science1978
Bill ClintonUniversity of ArkansasAssistant Professor of Law[19]1973–1977
Barack ObamaUniversity of Chicago Law SchoolSenior Lecturer[20]1992–2004

School rector or president

President(s) School Position Years
Thomas JeffersonUniversity of Virginia1st Rector1819–1826
James MadisonUniversity of Virginia2nd Rector1826–1836
James A. GarfieldHiram CollegePresident1857–1860
Millard FillmoreUniversity of BuffaloChancellor1846–1874
Woodrow WilsonPrinceton UniversityPresident1902–1910
Dwight D. EisenhowerColumbia UniversityPresident1948–1953

School trustee or governor

President(s) School Position Years
George WashingtonCollege of William and MaryChancellor1788–1799
George WashingtonWashington CollegeAllowed use of his name, Benefactor, Board of Governors1782–1799
George WashingtonWashington and Lee UniversityBenefactor[21]1796
Thomas JeffersonUniversity of VirginiaBoard of Visitors1819–1826
James MadisonUniversity of VirginiaBoard of Visitors1819–1836
James MadisonMadison College (Pennsylvania)Allowed use of his name, Benefactor (contributed funds - $2000 in 1827 dollars - towards founding)[22]1827
James MonroeUniversity of VirginiaBoard of Visitors1826–1831
John Quincy AdamsHarvard UniversityBoard of Overseers1830–1848
Andrew JacksonUniversity of NashvilleBoard of Trustees1806–1845[23]
Martin Van BurenUniversity of the State of New YorkBoard of Regents1816–1829
John TylerCollege of William and MaryChancellor1859–1862
Millard FillmoreUniversity at BuffaloChancellor1846–1874
Franklin PierceNorwich UniversityBoard of Trustees1841–1859
James BuchananFranklin & Marshall CollegePresident, Board of Trustees1853–1865
Rutherford B. HayesThe Ohio State UniversityBoard of Trustees1881–1893
Rutherford B. HayesWestern Reserve UniversityChairman of the Board of Trustees1881–1893
Rutherford B. HayesOhio Wesleyan UniversityBoard of Trustees1884–1893
James A. GarfieldHiram CollegeBoard of Trustees1866–1881
James A. GarfieldHampton UniversityBoard of Trustees1877–1881
Benjamin HarrisonPurdue UniversityBoard of Trustees1895–1901
Grover ClevelandPrinceton UniversityBoard of Trustees1901–1908
William McKinleyAmerican UniversityBoard of Trustees1899–1901
Theodore RooseveltAmerican UniversityBoard of Trustees1900–1919
Theodore RooseveltHarvard UniversityBoard of Overseers1895–1901, 1915–1916
William Howard TaftYale UniversityMember of the Yale Corporation1901–1913
William Howard TaftHampton UniversityBoard of Trustees1909–1930
Warren G. HardingAmerican UniversityBoard of Trustees1921–1923
Calvin CoolidgeAmherst CollegeBoard of Trustees (life member)1921–1933
Herbert HooverStanford UniversityBoard of Trustees1923–1960
Herbert HooverAmerican UniversityBoard of Trustees1945–1950
Franklin D. RooseveltHarvard UniversityBoard of Overseers1917–1923
Franklin D. RooseveltVassar CollegeBoard of Trustees1923–1945
Dwight EisenhowerEisenhower CollegeNamesake, fundraiser1965–1969
John F. KennedyHarvard UniversityBoard of Overseers1957–1958
Jimmy CarterMercer UniversityBoard of Trustees2012–present
Ronald ReaganEureka CollegeBoard of Trustees1947–1953, 1967–1973, 1974–1980

See also


  1. "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2008-11-01. Retrieved 2008-11-11.
  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". 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. New York Sun, "Presidents Roosevelt Honored With Posthumous Columbia Degrees", September 26, 2008
  8. Columbia Law School, "Theodore and Franklin Roosevelt to Receive Posthumous Law Degrees from Columbia Law School", September 25, 2008
  9. Johnson, Mary; Kelly, Erin St. John (October 9, 2008). "Presidents Roosevelt Awarded Law Degrees Posthumously: 26th and 32nd U. S. Presidents Become Official Graduates of Columbia Law School; Made Official Members of the Classes of 1882 and 1907". New York, NY: Columbia Law School.
  11. Johnston, J. Stoddard (1913). "Sketch of Theodore O'Hara". The Register of the Kentucky Historical Society. Frankfort, KY: State Journal Company. p. 67.
  12. Joseph Nathan Kane, Facts About the Presidents (New York: Simon & Schuster [Pocket Books], 1968 [5th printing]), 194.
  13. Leitch, Alexander (1978). "Biography, Grover Cleveland". A Princeton Companion. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press. Retrieved July 29, 2018.
  14. Archived 2006-04-28 at the Wayback Machine.
  15. "BU School of Law Timeline". Boston University. Retrieved 16 January 2014.
  16. 1 2 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". New York, NY:
  20. Media Inquiries, University of Chicago Law School
  21. "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2013-01-03. Retrieved 2013-01-17.
  22. 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.
  23. 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.
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