U.S. Presidents with College Education: From Learners to Leaders

Earning a college degree is not a requirement to become America’s commander-in-chief, but history tells us that the vast majority U.S. Presidents valued a college education.

Throughout history 34 out of 44 presidents earned at least a college degree – and 32 percent of those earned an advanced degree.

But did education contribute to their leadership ability?

Consider what President John F. Kennedy once said: “Let us think of education as the means of developing our greatest abilities, because in each of us there is a private hope and dream which, fulfilled, can be translated into benefit for everyone and greater strength for our nation.”

We live in a nation where we have the opportunity to gain an advanced education to better our lives. By choosing to invest in your education you have the ability to create positive changes in your life, your career and one day, maybe even your nation.

Below is a list of U.S. presidents and the college education they received, including the schools they attended and the academic degrees they received. These leaders helped shape the future for our nation. Perhaps their academic achievements will inspire you to become a leader in the future.

An Ordered List of our President’s College Education

1. George Washington, 1789 - 1797George Washington

College Attended: College of William and Mary
Degree Earned: Surveyor's License

2. John Adams, 1797 - 1801

College Attended: Harvard University
Degrees Earned: Bachelor’s degree; Master’s degree

3. Thomas Jefferson, 1801 - 1809

College Attended: College of William and Mary
Degree Earned:  Bachelor’s degree

4. James Madison, 1809 - 1817

College Attended: Princeton University
Degree Earned: Bachelor’s degree

5. James Monroe, 1817 - 1825

College Attended: College of William and Mary
Degree Earned: Bachelor’s degree

6. John Quincy Adams, 1825 - 1829John Quincy Adams

College Attended: Harvard University
Degrees Earned: Bachelor’s degree; Master’s degree

7. Andrew Jackson, 1829 - 1837

College Attended: None

8. Martin Van Buren, 1837 - 1841

College Attended: None

9. William Henry Harrison, 1841

Colleges Attended: Hampden-Sydney College; University of Pennsylvania
Degree Earned: Did not graduate

10. John Tyler, 1841 - 1845

College Attended: College of William and Mary
Degree Earned: Bachelor’s degree

11. James K. Polk, 1845 - 1849
James Polk

College Attended: University of North Carolina
Degree Earned: Bachelor’s degree

12. Zachary Taylor, 1849 - 1850

College Attended: None

13. Millard Fillmore, 1850 - 1853

College Attended: None

14. Franklin Pierce, 1853 - 1857

College Attended: Bowdoin College
Degree Earned: Bachelor’s degree

15. James Buchanan, 1857 - 1861

College Attended: Dickinson College
Degree Earned: Bachelor’s degree

16. Abraham Lincoln, 1861 - 1865
Abraham Lincoln

College Attended: None

17. Andrew Johnson, 1865 - 1869

College Attended: None

18. Ulysses S. Grant, 1869 - 1877

College Attended: U.S. Military Academy
Degree Earned: Graduate

19. Rutherford B. Hayes, 1877 - 1881

Colleges Attended: Kenton College; Harvard Law School
Degrees Earned: Bachelor’s degree; Bachelor of Laws

20. James A. Garfield, 1881

College Attended: Williams College
Degree Earned: Bachelor’s degree

21. Chester A. Arthur, 1881 - 1885
Chester A. Arthur

Colleges Attended: Union College; State and National Law School
Degrees Earned: Bachelor’s degree; did not graduate

22. Grover Cleveland, 1885 - 1889

College Attended: None

23. Benjamin Harrison, 1889 - 1893

College Attended: Miami University
Degree Earned: Bachelor’s degree

24. Grover Cleveland, 1893 - 1897

See #22, only president to serve two
non-consecutive terms.

25. William McKinley, 1897 - 1901

Colleges Attended: Allegheny College; Albany Law School
Degrees Earned: Did not graduate; Bachelor of Laws

26. Theodore Roosevelt, 1901 - 1909

College Attended: Harvard University
Degree Earned: Bachelor’s degree

27. William Howard Taft, 1909 - 1913
William Howard Taft

Colleges Attended: Yale University; University of Cincinnati College of Law
Degrees Earned: Bachelor’s degree; Bachelor of Laws

28. Woodrow Wilson, 1913 - 1921

Colleges Attended: Princeton University; Johns Hopkins University
Degrees Earned: Bachelor’s degree; Doctoral degree

29. Warren G. Harding, 1921 - 1923

College Attended: Ohio Central College
Degree Earned: Bachelor’s degree

30. Calvin Coolidge, 1923 - 1929

College Attended: Amherst College
Degree Earned: Bachelor’s degree

31. Herbert Hoover, 1929 - 1933

College Attended: Stanford University
Degree Earned: Bachelor’s degree

32. Franklin D. Roosevelt, 1933 - 1945
Franklin D. Roosevelt

College Attended: Harvard University
Degree Earned: Bachelor’s degree

33. Harry S. Truman, 1945 - 1953

Colleges Attended: Spalding’s Commercial College; University of Missouri-Kansas City School of Law
Degree Earned: Did not graduate

34. Dwight D. Eisenhower, 1953 - 1961

College Attended: U.S. Military Academy
Degree Earned: Graduate

35. John F. Kennedy, 1961 - 1963

College Attended: Harvard University
Degree Earned: Bachelor’s degree

36. Lyndon B. Johnson, 1963 - 1969

College Attended: Texas State University-San Marcos
Degree Earned: Bachelor’s degree

37. Richard Nixon, 1969 - 1974
Richard Nixon

Colleges Attended: Whittier College; Duke University School of Law
Degrees Earned: Bachelor’s degree; Bachelor of Laws

38. Gerald Ford, 1974 - 1977

Colleges Attended: University of Michigan; Yale Law School
Degrees Earned: Bachelor’s degree; Bachelor of Laws

39. Jimmy Carter, 1977 - 1981

College Attended: U. S. Naval Academy
Degree Earned: Graduate

40. Ronald Reagan, 1981 - 1989

College Attended: Eureka College
Degree Earned: Bachelor’s degree

41. George H. W. Bush, 1989 - 1993

College Attended: Yale University
Degree Earned: Bachelor’s degree

42. Bill Clinton, 1993 - 2001
Bill Clinton

Colleges Attended: Georgetown University; Yale Law School
Degrees Earned: Bachelor’s degree; Juris Doctor

43. George W. Bush, 2001 - 2009

Colleges Attended: Yale University; Harvard Business School
Degrees Earned: Bachelor’s degree; Master’s degree

44. Barack Obama, 2009 - Present

Colleges Attended: Columbia University; Harvard Law School
Degrees Earned: Bachelor’s degree; Juris Doctor

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As an Inbound Marketing Manager at Rasmussen College, Grant creates helpful, student-focused articles to educate, encourage, and motivate current, past, and future students in an effort to promote a learning culture that changes and builds lives.

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