Where all the 2020 Democratic candidates went to college and grad school

Elizabeth Warren, née Herring, with her debate partner Karl Johnson

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Elizabeth Warren, née Herring, with her debate partner Karl Johnson
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Elizabeth for MA
  • There are currently 15 major Democratic candidates running for president in 2020, and they all boast impressive resumés.
  • Ten out of the 15 declared candidates attended an Ivy League university for undergrad or grad school, nine have law degrees, and two are Rhodes scholars.
  • Here’s where the declared Democratic candidates attended college and graduate school.
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

There are currently 15 major Democratic candidates running in one of the most crowded fields in history – and they all boast impressive resumés.

They grew up in places as far-flung as Hawaii, Indiana, and upstate New York – attending a mix of elite private schools, public schools, and home-school.

Ten out of the 15 declared candidates attended an Ivy League university for undergrad or grad school, nine have law degrees, and two are Rhodes scholars.

One of the candidates, Rep. Tulsi Gabbard, was elected to serve in the Hawaii state legislature and completed two overseas deployments in the US Army before earning a bachelor’s degree from Hawaii Pacific University.

Here’s where the declared Democratic candidates attended undergraduate and graduate school.


Former Vice President Joe Biden earned his bachelor’s degree from the University of Delaware in 1965, and got his law degree from Syracuse University.

Read more about Joe Biden’s campaign.


South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg was a Rhodes scholar at Oxford University after graduating from Harvard University in 2004.

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Pete Buttigieg outside the Pembroke College lodge in 2005
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The North American Pembrokian

Buttigieg got off to a rough start when he was “ejected” from an economics class at Oxford for “lack of preparation,” but managed to redeem himself.

“I was terrified. This had never happened to me,” Buttigieg, a high school valedictorian and Phi Beta Kappa inductee at Harvard University, recalled to The North American Pembrokian. He committed himself to the discipline of economics, earning himself a “nice job” commendation at the end of the term.

“One of the toughest parts during that time,” he said, “was trying to ignore all the folks having fun singing and drinking” at a bar across from his room.

Read more about Pete Buttigieg’s campaign.


Sen. Elizabeth Warren initially earned a debate scholarship to George Washington University, but dropped out to get married. She later earned a bachelor’s degree from the University of Houston and a law degree from Rutgers University.

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Elizabeth Warren, née Herring, with her debate partner Karl Johnson
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Elizabeth for MA

Warren’s debate partner Karl Johnson described her as “very smart” and “very articulate.” Her teammate Joe Pyror said, “if she went into something, she went all in.”

Warren’s passion for argumentation and logic stayed with her.

She went on to become a law professor at the University of Pennsylvania and Harvard, and is now a US senator and presidential candidate.

Read more about Elizabeth Warren’s campaign.


Rep. Tulsi Gabbard made history as the youngest person elected to the Hawaii State Legislature at age 21, and earned a degree in business administration from Hawaii Pacific University after serving overseas in the army.

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Tulsi Gabbard in her office as a Hawaii legislator.
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Tulsi for Hawaii

Read more about Tulsi Gabbard’s campaign.


Bernie Sanders got his start in political activism while a student at the University of Chicago during the 1960s.

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Bernie Sanders in a University of Chicago yearbook photo from the mid 1960s
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University of Chicago

In a 2015 New Yorker profile, Sanders, who grew up in Brooklyn, New York, described himself as a “mediocre” student in the classroom, saying he learned “infinitely more on the streets and in the community.”

In the summer of 1963, he was arrested and fined $25 during a protest over segregation in Chicago schools – a photo of which was captured by the Chicago Tribune.

Read more about Bernie Sanders’ campaign.


Sen. Cory Booker won a football scholarship to Stanford University, where he played on the football team. He went on to study at Oxford on a Rhodes scholarship and earn a degree from Yale Law School.

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Cory Booker as a college football player
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Stanford University Football Team/Twitter

Booker was a star football recruit during high school, and joined the team at Stanford in the fall of 1987.

Aside from facilitating one famous touchdown that led to Stanford upsetting Notre Dame in 1990, Booker largely found himself overshadowed by his teammates, many of whom went on to play in the NFL.

Read more about Cory Booker’s campaign.


Andrew Yang attended the prestigious Phillips Exeter Academy, Brown University, and Columbia Law School.

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Andrew Yang, second from left, with his brother and parents at his graduation from Brown University in 1996
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Friends of Andrew Yang

Yang, the son of two successful Taiwanese-American immigrants, was raised in upstate New York.

“My brother and I grew up pretty nerdy. We also grew up believing in the American Dream-it’s why my parents came here,” he writes on his campaign website.

After a “brief stint” as a corporate lawyer, Yang worked at a software company and a healthcare startup before being the CEO of test-prep company Manhattan Prep.

Read more about Andrew Yang’s campaign.


Sen. Amy Klobuchar attended Yale University for her undergraduate studies, and was later classmates with former FBI Director James Comey at the University of Chicago Law School.

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Sen. Amy Klobuchar while a law student in the 1980s
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University of Chicago Law School

Both Klobuchar and Comey graduated in the class of 1985, termed “the happy class” by professors for their love of social events and throwing parties.

“Certainly that was part of my class’s philosophy. We took serious classes and were as competitive as the next group, but we decided to have a lot of fun, too. We had a class that really liked each other,” she added.

Read more about Amy Klobuchar’s campaign.


Billionaire financier Michael Bloomberg attended Johns Hopkins University for his undergraduate degree and went on to get a Masters in Business Administration from Harvard Business School

Read more about Michael Bloomberg’s campaign.


Businessman Tom Steyer earned a bachelor’s degree from Yale University and a Masters in Business Administration from Stanford University.

Read more about Tom Steyer’s campaign.


After graduating from San Antonio’s Thomas Jefferson High School, Julian and his twin brother Joaquin Castro both went on to Stanford University and Harvard Law School.

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Joaquin Castro, left, and Julian, right, in their senior yearbook photos.
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Thomas Jefferson High School Yearbook

“They were regular kids, but at the same time you knew they were going to do something great. They were very smart,” former chemistry teacher Carita Thomas told Texas Public Radio.

After graduating from law school, both brothers returned to San Antonio and went into public service. Joaquin became a Texas state legislator and is now a member of Congress.

Read more about Julian Castro’s campaign.


Rep. John Delaney earned a bachelor’s degree from Columbia University and went on to Georgetown University Law Center, where he met his wife.

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Friends of John Delaney

“My amazing wife, April, and I met as law students at Georgetown University – I’ll never regret rearranging my entire class schedule just to make sure I was in all the same classes as the smart, beautiful first-year law student from Idaho,” Delaney wrote on his campaign website.

Read more about John Delaney’s campaign.


Marianne Williamson grew up in Houston, Texas and studied theater at Pomona College in Southern California for two years before dropping out to pursue a career as a singer.

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Marianne Williamson’s yearbook photo at Bellaire High School in 1970
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Bellaire High School Class of 1970 Yearbook

Williamson, the daughter of a prominent immigration lawyer, is one of two Texan presidential candidates. She graduated from Bellaire High School in 1970.

“Growing up in Texas in a liberal household, I was made deeply aware of issues of social justice,” she writes on her campaign website. “My father had grown up in poverty; he was insistent that we be aware of how fortunate we were, and always attendant to the needs of those who were not.”

Read more about Marianne Williamson’s campaign.


Former Gov. Deval Patrick of Massachusetts earned both his bachelor’s degree and a law degree from Harvard University.

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Soprano Renee Fleming (L) and former Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick watch as graduating students arrive for the 364th Commencement Exercises at Harvard University in Cambridge, Massachusetts May 28, 2015.
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REUTERS/Brian Snyder

Read more about Deval Patrick’s campaign.


Colorado Sen. Michael Bennet also earned his bachelor’s degree from Wesleyan and a JD from Yale Law School.

Read more about Michael Bennet’s campaign.

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