News & Politics

Dr. Newt Gingrich for President?

If he were elected, the former Speaker would be the first White House occupant in more than a century to hold a PhD. We take a look at the advanced degrees of presidents in history.

Newt Gingrich’s presidential bid could deliver the Oval Office its first PhD in a century. Gingrich got a doctorate at Tulane; his dissertation was on Belgian education policy in the Congo. A PhD is rare in the White House—only Woodrow Wilson had one. While the three most recent Presidents boast graduate degrees, post-college education is uncommon. Here’s a guide.


President Degree Alma Mater Fun Fact

Barack Obama


Harvard, 1991

Notable Academic Achievement: First black president of the Harvard Law Review.

Are the "birthers" right after all? In the 1990 Revue—the
law-review editors’ end-of-year parody publication—Obama’s mock bio
reads: "I was born in Oslo, Norway, the son of a Volvo factory worker
and part-time ice fisherman. . . . My mother was a backup singer for

George W. Bush


Harvard, 1975

Bush applied to go to law school at the University of Texas but
was rejected.

Bill Clinton


Yale, 1973

Met future wife Hillary Rodham in a Yale library.

Gerald Ford

LLB(forerunner of JD)

Yale, 1941

Worked as assistant football and boxing coach while earning his
law degree.

Richard Nixon


Duke, 1937

Notable Academic Achievement: Graduated third in his class and was president of the Duke Bar Association.

Nixon is the last President to receive a graduate degree from a
university other than Harvard or Yale.

Woodrow Wilson


Johns Hopkins,1886

Notable Academic Achievement: Dissertation was "Congressional Government: A Study in American

Also attended the University of Virginia School of Law but never
received a degree.

William Howard Taft


University of Cincinnati, 1880

Taft became dean of the university’s law school in 1896.

Rutherford B. Hayes


Harvard, 1845

One of Hayes’s professors was Supreme Court justice Joseph

This appears in the February 2012 issue of The Washingtonian.