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Where every U.S. president went to college

  • Where every U.S. president went to college

    More than 66% of high school grads between the ages of 16 and 24 are currently enrolled in college, up from just 9% of Americans in 1950 between the ages of 20 and 24. That nation-wide trend is reflected in the educational histories of America's presidents. While a college degree is mostly standard for modern politicians, this wasn't always the case. In fact, several American presidents never went to college, opting instead to pursue work, politics, or the military. Abraham Lincoln never attended college. William Henry Harrison did, and even enrolled in medical school—but he never completed his studies.

    Stacker pored through presidential historical societies and libraries,, and the Library of Congress to create a list of where every U.S. president went to college—if they did at all. Read on to discover where your favorite presidents went to school, which programs they did or didn’t finish, and what they studied. Perhaps you even share an alma mater with an American leader.

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  • George Washington

    School: Never attended college

    George Washington's education is a bit contested. Some sources say he never went to college, while others say he enrolled for a time at the College of William and Mary. Nonetheless, he did not have a college degree—though William and Mary did issue him a surveyor's license.

  • John Adams

    School: Harvard College (undergraduate)

    John Adams started the legacy of Harvard alumni-turned-presidents, which still continues today. He attended from 1751 to 1755. His time at the school helped develop his love of books.

  • Thomas Jefferson

    School: College of William and Mary (undergraduate)

    Thomas Jefferson enrolled at the College of William and Mary when he was 17. He graduated after two years and went on to study law with his legal mentor George Wythe.

  • James Madison

    School: Princeton University (undergraduate)

    Due to poor health, James Madison had to wait two years before heading to college. When he did eventually attend in 1769, he enrolled at what was then the College of New Jersey—now Princeton—and studied a full range of subjects. He graduated in 1771, but stayed another year to study Hebrew and political philosophy, making him the college's first "graduate student."

  • James Monroe

    School: College of William and Mary (undergraduate, did not graduate)

    James Monroe enrolled at the College of William and Mary in 1774, expecting to study law. Two years later, however, he left school to fight in the American Revolution.

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  • John Quincy Adams

    Schools: University of Leiden (undergraduate, transferred), Harvard University (undergraduate)

    When John Adams, former president and father of John Quincy Adams, relocated to Amsterdam in 1780, his son studied at the University of Leiden. John Quincy left the school in 1781 and traveled around Europe. When he returned to the U.S. in 1785, he went to Harvard as an advanced student and graduated two years later.


  • Andrew Jackson

    School: Never attended college

    As a young man growing up in the Carolinas at the end of the 18th century, Andrew Jackson's early education was inconsistent. As an older teenager, he decided to read law and became a lawyer in Tennessee after two years.

  • Martin Van Buren

    School: Never attended college

    Like many other young men at the time, Martin Van Buren did not go to college. Instead, he worked as a law clerk, eventually learning enough to become a lawyer in 1803.


  • William Henry Harrison

    Schools: Hampden-Sydney College (undergraduate, did not graduate), University of Pennsylvania (medical school, did not graduate)

    Homeschooled for most of his early life, William Henry Harrison was just 14 when he began undergraduate studies at Hampden-Sydney College. He studied the classics and history there for three years before his father insisted he withdraw. Next, he briefly enrolled at the University of Pennsylvania's medical school, dropping out when his father died and joining the military in 1791. Harrison was the first president to die in office.

  • John Tyler

    School: College of William and Mary (undergraduate)

    John Tyler was destined to go to the College of William and Mary. He enrolled in the college's prep school when he was 12, then graduated from the actual college in 1807 when he was 17.

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