Harvard most likely university for US presidents

But research shows Yale University graduates are most productive in Congress

October 18, 2016
Harvard Business School
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It has long been observed that an undergraduate degree from the universities of Oxford or Cambridge is the most likely educational path for UK prime ministers and politicians.

A new analysis shows that a similarly elite training ground exists among US presidents, with Harvard University producing more leaders of the country than any other institution.

Yale University comes second in the list of the most common routes to becoming president from university directory website Trade-Schools.net, while the US Military Academy is third, Princeton University is fourth and the College of William and Mary is fifth.

While three Ivy League universities make the top five, almost half (46 per cent) of leaders attended an institution outside this elite group.

The study also found that more than a quarter (28 per cent) of US presidents did not have a college degree, including Abraham Lincoln and George Washington. However, it has been more than 50 years since the country elected a president without a college education.

The research of the educational backgrounds of every US president also shows that the most common undergraduate degrees are history, economics, international affairs and political science, while a quarter of leaders have a postgraduate degree.

Harvard also tops the list of the most common alma maters of current members of Congress, only 1 per cent of whom do not have an undergraduate degree.

However, when the members are divided along party lines there are differing results; for example, almost a fifth (19.4 per cent) of Democratic congressional members enrolled at Harvard, while only about a tenth (11.3 per cent) of Republicans claimed the same.

The second and third most common undergraduate schools for Republicans are Texas A&M University and the US Military Academy, both of which do not feature in the top 10 for Democrats, while the next most popular colleges for Democrats are the University of California system and Stanford University.

When looking at the average percentage of bills passed and resolutions adopted by graduates from each university, Yale is found to have the most productive Congress members; 14 per cent of successful bills and resolutions stemmed from members who attended the university.

Graduates from the University of Florida (13 per cent), Dartmouth College (12.4 per cent) and the University of Missouri (12.3 per cent) also make productive politicians.


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