Who Is The Least-Educated U.S. President?

How much education do you need to become president? Ask some people that question, and they'll respond that formal schooling is a prerequisite for the job, while others might contend that education should be a less important part of the job description. Notably, there have been public schools in the United States since the 1630s, but the public school system as we know it today has only been around for less than two hundred years, per American Board. What's more, our current preoccupation with formal education and a college degree is also a relatively new phenomenon.

According to PBS, in fact, as recently as 1900, American youth rarely finished high school, and far fewer went to college. There is, in fact, no degree requirement to become president, and examining presidential history shows that throughout the history of the U.S., men with all kinds of educational backgrounds have occupied the office. In light of that, who is the least-educated U.S. president?

Andrew Johnson never went to school

One of the least educated American presidents is also one of history's most beloved leaders: Abraham Lincoln. Lincoln did in fact, attend some school throughout his lifetime, but he never graduated nor did he ever go to college. How does someone like Abraham Lincoln, who never went to college, become a lawyer? According to the official Abraham Lincoln website, he was self-taught and passed the bar all on his own, which today you can only do in four states, per The Balance Careers. There was, however, a member of the Lincoln administration with even less formal education than that.

Unlike Abe Lincoln, his Vice President Andrew Johnson never attended school of any kind, per Study. Johnson was a tailor before serving in the U.S House of Representatives, and he was the Governor of Tennessee before he became a U.S. senator and then vice president, according to Miller Center. Johnson was also the first president ever to be impeached after assuming the office of president following Lincoln's assassination. Would more formal education have changed that outcome for Johnson? That's unlikely. What's for certain, though, is that from the first president to be assassinated to the first to be impeached, the least-educated presidents are also two of the most notable.