Universities that have produced the most U.S. presidents

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April 4, 2019

Universities that have produced the most U.S. presidents

Famous alumni are among the most valuable marketing assets for any university. After all, there's no better proof of the quality and efficacy of your degree than the fact that you share it with an award-winning author, successful CEO, or internationally known politician. Though any alumni with cachet will do, one job comes with an undeniable level of prestige: president of the United States. What student wouldn't want to apply to the institution that educated a former resident of the White House?

To discover which colleges have the most bragging rights, Stacker scoured historical biographies and news sources to compile a list of the universities that have produced the most U.S. presidents. The results are ranked from universities with the fewest alumni who ended up in the Oval Office to the universities with the highest number of graduates who became president. Any ties were broken by the school that had the most recent graduate who achieved the highest office in the land.

In total, 32 out of the 44 total presidents graduated from college. Though Donald Trump is the country's 45th president, the United States technically has had only 44 presidents, since Grover Cleveland's two non-consecutive terms are counted separately. George Washington, Abraham Lincoln, Andrew Jackson, Martin Van Buren, Zachary Taylor, Millard Fillmore, Andrew Johnson, and Cleveland never completed college. Unless it's specifically stated, each president on this list received his undergraduate degree at his alma mater. Click through the slideshow to discover which schools produced the most presidents and find out whether any universities in your home state—or even your alma mater—can claim this distinction.

You may also like: Where every U.S. president went to college

#28. University of North Carolina

- Number of presidents: 1
- Presidents: James K. Polk
- Location: Chapel Hill, North Carolina

Before he got into politics, James K. Polk studied at the University of North Carolina. He started school there as a sophomore, graduated with honors, and went on to study law with Nashville lawyer Felix Grundy.

#27. Bowdoin College

- Number of presidents: 1
- Presidents: Franklin Pierce
- Location: Brunswick, Maine

Franklin Pierce started at Bowdoin College at age 15, and his youthfulness had a big impact on his studies. He had such a bustling social life in college—he even became friends with writer Nathaniel Hawthorne—that he was last in his class. Eventually, he rededicated himself to schoolwork and graduated in 1824.

#26. Dickinson College

- Number of presidents: 1
- Presidents: James Buchanan
- Location: Carlisle, Pennsylvania

James Buchanan might have graduated from Dickinson College, but there was no love lost between him and his alma mater. When he began his studies there in 1807, he said the school was in “wretched condition” and he actually was expelled in 1808 for bad behavior. After pledging that he would no longer misbehave, Buchanan was readmitted and eventually graduated with his degree.

#25. Kenyon College

- Number of presidents: 1
- Presidents: Rutherford B. Hayes
- Location: Gambier, Ohio

After attending Norwalk Seminary in Ohio and another private institution in Connecticut, Rutherford B. Hayes enrolled at Kenyon College. He went on to become valedictorian and graduated in 1842.

#24. Williams College

- Number of presidents: 1
- Presidents: James A. Garfield
- Location: Williamstown, Massachusetts

James A. Garfield began his education at the Eclectic Institute in Hiram, Ohio, where he also worked as a school janitor to fund his schooling. As a 23-year-old junior, Garfield transferred to Williams College, where he would later graduate with honors.

#23. Union College

- Number of presidents: 1
- Presidents: Chester A. Arthur
- Location: Schenectady, New York

Chester A. Arthur entered Union College as a sophomore in 1845 to study the traditional classical curriculum. He became known as quite the prankster during his time there, though it didn't interfere with his studies; Arthur graduated in the top third of his class and became a member of Phi Beta Kappa.

#22. Miami University

- Number of presidents: 1
- Presidents: Benjamin Harrison
- Location: Oxford, Ohio

Benjamin Harrison started his studies at Farmers College before enrolling at Miami University. He went graduated in 1852, then studied law under a Cincinnati lawyer.

#21. University of Cincinnati College of Law

- Number of presidents: 1
- Presidents: William Howard Taft (law)
- Location: Cincinnati, Ohio

William Howard Taft can claim two universities on this list as of alma maters: Yale, where he completed his undergraduate studies, and the University of Cincinnati, where he studied law.

#20. Ohio Central College

- Number of presidents: 1
- Presidents: Warren G. Harding
- Location: Iberia, Ohio

Warren G. Harding began his education at Ohio Central College when he was 14. After editing the college newspaper, he graduated with a bachelor of science degree in 1882.

#19. Amherst College

- Number of presidents: 1
- Presidents: Calvin Coolidge
- Location: Amherst, Massachusetts

Though Calvin Coolidge was only a fair student in elementary school, he managed to gain admission to prestigious Amherst College and eventually graduated cum laude in 1895. During his time at Amherst, Coolidge joined the Republican Club and the Phi Gamma Delta fraternity.

#18. Stanford University

- Number of presidents: 1
- Presidents: Herbert Hoover
- Location: Stanford, California

Despite failing grades, Herbert Hoover was determined to attend Stanford University, and just barely managed to pass the entrance exam. He majored in geology, was class treasurer of his junior and senior classes, and managed the football and baseball teams during his time there.

#17. United States Army Command and General Staff College

- Number of presidents: 1
- Presidents: Dwight D. Eisenhower
- Location: Fort Leavenworth, Kansas

Though Dwight D. Eisenhower became president of Columbia University in 1948, he began his education at the United States Military Academy in West Point, N.Y. After serving in Panama, Eisenhower enrolled in the U.S. Army Command and General Staff College to study history, military science, and philosophy.

#16. United States Army Industrial College

- Number of presidents: 1
- Presidents: Dwight D. Eisenhower
- Location: Washington D.C.

From 1929 to 1933, Dwight D. Eisenhower attended the United States Army Industrial College in Washington D.C. Fittingly, in 2012 it was renamed The Dwight D. Eisenhower School for National Security and Resource Strategy.

#15. United States Army War College

- Number of presidents: 1
- Presidents: Dwight D. Eisenhower
- Location: Carlisle, Pennsylvania

Dwight D. Eisenhower enrolled in the United States Army War College in 1927 and attended for one year, graduating in 1928.

#14. Texas State University

- Number of presidents: 1
- Presidents: Lyndon B. Johnson
- Location: San Marcos, Texas

Although it was known as Southwest Texas State Teachers College then, Lyndon B. Johnson attended what is now Texas State University from 1927 to 1930. He wasn't a great student, but he was passionate about extracurriculars like student government, debating, and journalism.

#13. Whittier College

- Number of presidents: 1
- Presidents: Richard Nixon
- Location: Whittier, California

Richard Nixon had academic and extracurricular success during his undergraduate day at Whittier College. He excelled in his classes, auditioned for student drama productions, and campaigned for student government.

#12. Duke University School of Law

- Number of presidents: 1
- Presidents: Richard Nixon (law)
- Location: Durham, North Carolina

The promise of a $250 scholarship motivated Richard Nixon to study law at Duke University, but once he arrived, he felt overwhelmed by the fierce competition with the other students. Strapped for cash, he bused tables to fund his education and even lived in an abandoned tool shed.

#11. University of Michigan

- Number of presidents: 1
- Presidents: Gerald Ford
- Location: Ann Arbor, Michigan

Not only did Gerald Ford double major in economics and political science during his undergraduate years at the University of Michigan, but he also played on the school's national championship football teams in 1932 and 1933.

#10. United States Naval Academy

- Number of presidents: 1
- Presidents: Jimmy Carter
- Location: Annapolis, Maryland

Jimmy Carter is the only U.S. president who studied engineering in college, thanks to the classes he took for his general bachelor of science degree at the U.S. Naval Academy. He put that knowledge to good use during his service on Seawolf-class submarines.

#9. Eureka College

- Number of presidents: 1
- Presidents: Ronald Reagan
- Location: Eureka, Illinois

Ronald Reagan worked his way through Eureka College, where he studied sociology and economics. He also played on the football team and acted in school plays during his time there.

#8. Georgetown University

- Number of presidents: 1
- Presidents: Bill Clinton
- Location: Washington, D.C.

After becoming a standout student at Hot Springs High School, Bill Clinton attended Georgetown University in Washington D.C. There, he majored in international affairs and was president of his freshman and sophomore classes.

#7. Columbia University

- Number of presidents: 1
- Presidents: Barack Obama
- Location: New York, New York

Barack Obama spent his freshman and sophomore college years at Occidental College in Los Angeles, then transferred to Columbia University. He graduated in 1983 with a degree in—what else?—political science.

#6. University of Pennsylvania

- Number of presidents: 1
- Presidents: Donald Trump
- Location: Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Though Donald Trump began his undergraduate studies at Fordham University, he transferred to the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania. He was apparently attracted by the Ivy League reputation: As he says in his book, “The Art of the Deal,” “In my opinion, that degree doesn't prove very much, but a lot of people I do business with take it very seriously, and it's considered very prestigious.”

#5. The College of William & Mary

- Number of presidents: 2
- Presidents: Thomas Jefferson, John Tyler
- Location: Williamsburg, Virginia

Two of the country's earliest presidents—Thomas Jefferson and John Tyler—studied at The College of William & Mary. Jefferson spent two years there, while Tyler started his studies there at age 15.

#4. Princeton University

- Number of presidents: 2
- Presidents: James Madison, Woodrow Wilson
- Location: Princeton, New Jersey

This Ivy League university in quaint Princeton, N.J., boasts two presidents among its alumni: James Madison and Woodrow Wilson. Both were exemplary students: Madison completed his studies in just two years, while Wilson graduated near the top of his class.

#3. United States Military Academy

- Number of presidents: 2
- Presidents: Ulysses S. Grant, Dwight D. Eisenhower
- Location: West Point, New York

It's only natural that the United States Military Academy has produced future commanders in chief. Both Ulysses S. Grant and Dwight D. Eisenhower began their military careers at this prestigious institution.

#2. Yale University

- Number of presidents: 5
- Presidents: William Howard Taft, George H.W. Bush, George W. Bush, Gerald Ford (law), Bill Clinton (law)
- Location: New Haven, Connecticut

Five U.S. presidents have earned either graduate or undergraduate degrees from Yale, including one father-son duo (George H.W. Bush and George W. Bush). William Howard Taft was the first future president to attend this Ivy League college, graduating second in his class. The remaining two were Gerald Ford and Bill Clinton, both of whom earned law degrees.

#1. Harvard University

- Number of presidents: 7
- Presidents: John Adams, John Quincy Adams, Theodore Roosevelt, Franklin D. Roosevelt, John F. Kennedy, Rutherford B. Hayes (law), Barack Obama (law)
- Location: Cambridge, Massachusetts

With seven U.S. presidents among its alumni, Harvard University claims the title of the university that has produced the most presidents. From the country's second president (John Adams) to its 44th president (Barack Obama), Harvard's alumni can certainly say their degrees come with a reputation of high achievement.

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