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Where Did Most U.S Presidents Attend College?

Updated: June 5, 2024 | Published: February 20, 2020

Updated: June 5, 2024

Published: February 20, 2020


Any future White House hopeful or American history buff is bound to ask which university claims the most U.S. presidents as alumni? Out of all the many prestigious universities, which of them produced the most U.S presidents? You’re probably also wondering how many presidents went to Ivy League schools. Well, here’s everything you’ll want to know as you attempt to follow in the footsteps of some of the world’s greatest leaders!

Our former U.S. Presidents that will always inspire us to follow our dreams, commemorated here at Mount Rushmore.

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Which University Claims The Most U.S. Presidents As Alumni?

1. Harvard University

Unsurprisingly, Harvard takes first place when it comes to which university claims the most U.S. presidents as alumni. Harvard University is the oldest school in the nation, founded in 1636 in Cambridge, Massachusetts. In fact, the university has actually existed longer than the presidential office itself.

Eight U.S. presidents went to Harvard, starting with John Adams, followed by John Quincy Adams, both Roosevelts, and John F. Kennedy, who received 6 undergraduate degrees from Harvard University. Barack Obama, George Bush, and Rutherford Hayes attended Harvard Law and Business schools.

Vice presidents Al Gore and Elbridge Gerry also attended Harvard University.

2. Yale University

The runner up after Harvard is Yale University, claiming 5 U.S presidents as alumni. Presidents that attended Yale University include William Howard Taft, George H.W Bush, and George W. Bush for his undergraduate studies, prior to attending Harvard University. Both Gerald Ford and Bill Clinton attended Yale Law School as well.

First Lady Hilary Clinton also attended Yale University, which is where she and Bill met for the first time.

South Carolina senator John C. Calhoun, who served for two terms under John Quincy Adams and Andrew Jackson, was the earliest vice president to graduate from Yale. For two decades straight from 1989-2009, at least one president earned at least one degree from Yale University.

3. College Of William and Mary

College of William and Mary was founded in the 1600s and was attended by three U.S. presidents: Thomas Jefferson, James Monroe, and John Tyler.

It is the second-oldest higher education institution in the U.S., and today is public, however when these three presidents attended it was private. Although George Washington never completed a formal degree, he was the first president to earn a surveyor’s certificate from the College of William and Mary.

4. Princeton University

U.S. former presidents James Maddison and Woodrow Wilson attended Princeton University.

Woodrow was in fact the only U.S. president to obtain a PhD degree and was also the 13th president of Princeton University before being elected as president of the United States. Woodrow also taught politics and law at Princeton, where he earned his undergraduate degree. Today, Princeton’s School of Public and International Affairs is named after him.

John F. Kennedy also attended Princeton University for a short time before transferring to Harvard. Several vice presidents attended Princeton University, including Aaron Burr, George M. Dallas, and John C. Breckinbridge.

5. United States Military Academy At West Point

Ulysses S. Grant and Dwight D. Eisenhower are the only 2 U.S. presidents who attended the United States Military Academy At West Point. They are also 2 of the most important military generals in American history. Jimmy Carter also attended a military academy, however, it was the U.S. Naval Academy.

Yale University, the runner up after Harvard, where 5 U.S Presidents attended before they were elected.

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6. Columbia University

Barack Obama was once believed to be the only U.S. president to have graduated from Columbia University, as he completed his undergraduate degree at Columbia.

However, in 2008, both Theodore Roosevelt and Franklin D. Roosevelt were awarded with posthumus JDs from Columbia Law School, technically making them the most recent presidential graduates of Columbia University. They both attended law school at Columbia, however they both withdrew before completing their degrees in the 1800s and 1900s.

Daniel Tompkins, the vice president who served under James Monroe also attended Columbia University, and President Dwight Eisenhower was also the president of Columbia for a few years.

7. Stanford University

Herbet Hoover attended Stanford University in 1891 when the school was first founded, and may have even been the first student to attend the school. Hoover earned a degree in geology, and did humanitarian and mining work before becoming elected as president.

Today, there are many monuments in his honor on campus at Stanford University. John F. Kennedy also attended Stanford Business School, but withdrew prior to graduating.

8. University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

The 11th president of the United States, James K. Polk, was the only president to have attended the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. He excelled greatly in his studies, and today some of the campus is named after him. He is most famous for expanding the size of the country.

9. Georgetown University

While most U.S presidents attended Harvard and Yale, there are a few other schools that they went to, as well as vice presidents. Many went to small private schools, such as Williams College, Amherst, and Bowdoin. Georgetown is ninth in line when it comes to which university claims the most U.S. presidents as alumni.

Bill Clinton attended Georgetown University for his undergraduate degree, before continuing his studies at Yale Law School and Oxford. Lyndon B. Johnson, the vice president who served under John F. Kennedy, also attended Georgetown Law, but dropped out.

10. University Of Virginia

Not one U.S president graduated from the University of Virginia — however, several were part of its founding. Thomas Jefferson was responsible for the Charlottesville, Virginia school in 1819 after completing 2 terms as president of the United States. Jefferson, Madison and Monroe were also some of the first to serve on the board of the University of Virginia.

Woodrow Wilson also attended the University of Virginia later on for law school, but left without graduating. Former vice president and U.S. senator Alben Barkley graduated from law school here in 1900.

How Many Presidents Went To Ivy League Schools?

There are 12 Ivy League schools in the United States that are considered to be the best, but believe it or not, there are many presidents that didn’t go to Ivy League schools. Of the 44 men who served as president, only 16 of them graduated from Ivy League schools, and only 32 of them graduated from college overall.

There are 9 presidents that never attended college whatsoever, including George Washington, Andrew Jackson, Martin Van Buren, Zachary Taylor, Millard Fillmore, Abraham Lincoln, Andrew Johnson, Grover Cleveland, and Harry Truman.

Only around three-quarters of U.S. presidents attended college. In fact, there are no educational requirements to become president. The United States Constitution states that there are three requirements in order to be eligible for presidency: that they are U.S. born, have lived in the U.S. for at least 14 years, and are over 35 years old. There are no educational requirements.

Nonetheless, presidential alumni make for invaluable assets to promote any university, and for any presidential hopeful, they will surely want to follow in the footsteps of their great leaders.

When it comes to which university claims the most U.S. presidents as alumni, Harvard University takes the gold medal, responsible for the education of 8 different U.S. presidents.