Dead Presidents

Historical facts, thoughts, ramblings and collections on the Presidency and about the Presidents of the United States.

By Anthony Bergen
Posts tagged "Presidential Education"
Could you talk a bit about interesting information about presidents' educations? Like who had lots of degrees or who had surprisingly little in the way of education? Do you think there is an unwritten yuk about educational requirements for the office presently?
deadpresidents deadpresidents Said:

Well, we’ve had eleven Presidents who never graduated from college: George Washington, Andrew Jackson, Martin Van Buren, William Henry Harrison, Zachary Taylor, Millard Fillmore, Abraham Lincoln, Andrew Johnson, Grover Cleveland, William McKinley and Harry Truman.  Most of those Presidents had very little education at all.  Andrew Johnson never went to school.  At all.  He didn’t spend one day in school at any level.  He taught himself to read with borrowed or gift books that he received while he was an indentured servant to a tailor.  When Johnson got married at the age of 18, his 16-year-old wife taught him how to write and do arithmetic.  On the other side of the ledger, Woodrow Wilson was the only President with a doctorate, George W. Bush was the only President with an MBA, and Bill Clinton was a Rhodes Scholar who attended Oxford for a while.  Of course, many of the earlier Presidents had extensive, classical educations and were fluent in several languages.  There have been 27 Presidents who passed the bar exam.

As for your second question, I think that there’s an unwritten rule today about education requirements for everything.  If you don’t have a college degree, you have far less opportunities open to you, no matter what your life experience might be.  And many people — myself included — had fewer opportunities to go to college from the outset because of where we were from or where we went to school.  So, it’s not just limited to the Presidency.

Asker Anonymous Asks:
Did any president not go to Ivy League or otherwise prestegious (spelling?) University? (Excluding the presidents that never went to college, of course)
deadpresidents deadpresidents Said:

Most definitely.  There were many Presidents who attended non-Ivy League universities:

•Thomas Jefferson:  College of William and Mary, Williamsburg, Virginia
•James Monroe:  College of William and Mary, Williamsburg, Virginia
•William Henry Harrison:  Hampden-Sydney College, Hampden-Sydney, Virginia (Attended 1787-1790 but did not graduate)
•John Tyler:  College of William and Mary, Williamsburg, Virginia
•James K. Polk:  University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, North Carolina
•Franklin Pierce:  Bowdoin College, Brunswick, Maine
•James Buchanan:  Dickinson College, Carlisle, Pennsylvania
•Ulysses S. Grant:  United States Military Academy, West Point, New York
•Rutherford B. Hayes:  Kenyon College, Gambier, Ohio
•James Garfield:  Williams College, Williamstown, Massachusetts
•Chester A. Arthur:  Union College, Schenectady, New York
•Benjamin Harrison:  Miami University, Oxford, Ohio
•William McKinley:  Allegheny College, Meadville, Pennsylvania
•William Howard Taft:  University of Cincinnati Law School, Cincinnati, Ohio (Also earned a degree from the Ivy League’s Yale)
•Woodrow Wilson:  Earned Ph.D from Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, Maryland (Also earned a degree from the Ivy League’s Princeton)
•Warren G. Harding:  Ohio Central College, Iberia, Ohio
•Calvin Coolidge:  Amherst College, Amherst, Massachusetts
•Herbert Hoover:  Stanford University, Palo Alto, California
•Dwight D. Eisenhower:  United States Military Academy, West Point, New York
•Lyndon B. Johnson:  Southwest Texas State Teachers College, San Marcos, Texas
•Richard Nixon:  Whittier College, Whittier, California; Duke University Law School, Durham, North Carolina
•Gerald Ford:  University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, Michigan (Also earned a degree from the Ivy League’s Yale University Law School)
•Jimmy Carter:  United States Naval Academy, Annapolis, Maryland
•Ronald Reagan:  Eureka College, Eureka, Illinois
•Bill Clinton:  Georgetown University, Washington, D.C. (Also spent two years at Oxford University in England and earned a law degree from the Ivy League’s Yale University Law School)
•Barack Obama:  Spent two years at Occidental College, Los Angeles, California before transferring and earning degrees from the Ivy league’s Columbia University and Harvard Law School
•Jefferson Davis:  Transylvania University, Lexington, Kentucky before transferring and graduating from the United States Military Academy, West Point, New York