Discuss as:

Yale rules the world, or does it?

By Robert Windrem, Investigative producer for special projects

One battle line not discussed in the Hillary Clinton-Barack Obama fight for the 2008 presidential nomination is the battle between Yale and Harvard.  Sen. Clinton has a degree from Yale Law School.  Sen. Obama has a degree from Harvard Law.

If Clinton becomes president, she would be the sixth US president with a degree from Yale, and the fourth consecutive.  If he goes all the way, he would become the eighth and the second straight to have a degree from Harvard.  George W. Bush has degrees from Yale (B.A.) and Harvard (M.B.A.), the only president with degrees from both.

Bush is the fifth US president with a degree from Yale, the fourth of the last six and the third consecutive.

The Yale presidents:

27. William H. Taft    BA 1878
38. Gerald Ford        Law 1941
41. George H. W. Bush  BA economics 1948
42. William Clinton    Law 1973
43. George W. Bush     BA history 1968

In fact since 1972, at least one Yale graduate has run for either president or vice president on the Democratic and/or Republican tickets. 

The Yale contenders:

1972 - Sargent Shriver
1976 - Gerald Ford
1980 - George H. W. Bush
1984 - George H. W. Bush
1988 - George H. W. Bush
1992 - George H. W. Bush and William Clinton
1996 - William Clinton
2000 - George W. Bush and Joseph Lieberman
2004 - George W. Bush and John Kerry

And that list doesn't include Dick Cheney, a Yale dropout. Bush is also the third president who was a member of Skull and Bones while at Yale, following Taft and his father George H.W. Bush.

Yale is second only to Harvard in the number of alumni who have achieved the presidency.  Seven US presidents have earned degrees from Harvard although, as noted, President Bush counts twice.

Obama, in addition to being the first African-American president and the first not born in the continental US--he was born in Hawaii--he would be the eighth president with a degree from Harvard.

Here is the list of the seven Harvard presidents:

2.  John Adams
6.  John Quincy Adams
19. Rutherford B. Hayes (Law)
26. Theodore Roosevelt
32. Franklin D. Roosevelt
35. John F. Kennedy, 
43. George W. Bush (MBA)

Other schools with more than one president among their alumni are:

William and Mary [3]
    George Washington [surveyors license], Thomas Jefferson, John Tyler

Princeton [2]
    James Madison, Woodrow Wilson

West Point [2]
    Ulysses S. Grant, Dwight Eisenhower.

And if Obama wins the presidency, that list would be expanded to include Columbia, where he has an undergraduate degree.  Franklin D. Roosevelt obtained his law degree from Columbia.

Finally, Yale and Harvard have also recently produced presidents of other nations. Harvard in fact counts the presidents of Mexico and Liberia as alumni/ae.  Felipe deJesus Calderon, the current president of Mexico, received a a Master of Public Administration from Harvard in 2000. Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf, the world's first black female president and Africa's first elected female head of state also holds the same degree from the Kennedy School, earning it in 1971.

Mexican President Ernesto Zedillo, who stepped down in 2000, earned a Ph.D in economics from Yale in 1981.