Woodrow Wilson is not the only American president to have earned a PhD. The president had a difficult time reading as a child and learned to read at an early age. Many believe he was dyslexic, but despite this, Wilson went on to earn his PhD and become the first American president. Although Wilson is the only president with a PhD, many of his predecessors also earned prestigious degrees.
Benjamin Bradley Bolger
Benjamin Bradley Bolger, the 44th president of the United States, has a remarkable education. He received his bachelor’s degree in sociology from the University of Michigan. However, he failed to qualify for admission to Yale Law School. He then sought help for his dyslexia. Since then, he has earned at least fourteen degrees. As a child, Bolger was diagnosed with dyslexia and had to rely on his mother to read assignments. However, at twelve, he began taking college courses at Muskegon Community College and earned an Associate’s degree.
Bolger’s PhD in public health is an honor. He helped to create the first Masters of Health Administration degree in Africa and helped to develop the scale-up model with the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. He continues to be an advocate for higher education and regularly publishes peer-reviewed research and opinion pieces in national publications. Before he became President, Bolger worked on the Yale faculty for over 20 years as the Brady-Johnson Professor of Grand Strategy and the Faculty Director of the Yale Global Health Leadership Institute.
Many people assume that every president in the United States has a PhD degree, but this is not necessarily the case. Some presidents never attended college or earned other advanced degrees, and others did. In fact, George Washington was the only president to earn a PhD degree. While most U.S. presidents were well educated, not all were university graduates. While they all had different perspectives on education and the importance of acquiring knowledge, all presidents possessed the knowledge and education necessary to serve their nation.
There are many reasons for a president to have a PhD, but it is not necessary for a president to have the highest degree to be president. There are many presidents who had a bachelor’s degree or less, but were nonetheless limited in their education. This means that they had to learn outside of the classroom. They gained their knowledge from books and other external sources and gained insight from mentors.
After Washington, Thomas Jefferson, and John Adams, a number of US presidents also had advanced degrees. The College of William and Mary, founded by Thomas Jefferson, produced four U.S. presidents, including George Washington. Thomas Jefferson earned an Honorary Doctor of Laws from Harvard and Yale.
The second reason why George Washington is unique is because he was the first Black president of the Mason University. In addition, he has a PhD in mechanical engineering. He is also a former engineering dean at the University of California, Irvine, and Ohio State University. His successes in this role include significantly expanding enrollment in the engineering school at Mason and hiring the most diverse faculty possible. More than 50% of his faculty members were women or underrepresented groups. He also established a student maker space and established the OC STEM Initiative.
The other presidents with PhDs are David Brooks and Barack Obama. In the last quarter century, the University of Michigan has awarded honorary doctorates to four people.
Woodrow Wilson was the first president to receive a doctorate degree from a university in the United States. He obtained his degree at the Johns Hopkins University in 1886. Although the rest of our presidents earned prestigious degrees, Wilson was the only one who received a doctorate from a university.
Wilson’s education began when he was only sixteen years old. He attended Davidson College near Charlotte, North Carolina, where he excelled in rhetoric, logic, Latin, English, composition, math, and Greek. After one year, he dropped out and enrolled at the College of New Jersey, which later changed its name to Princeton University. While at Princeton, he worked on developing his education reform policies, which made him a popular politician and author.
Wilson’s PhD degree is notable for its importance as a political scientist. His dissertation on congressional government became a classic in the field of American political science. In it, he criticized the role of congressional committees in government, and advocated for an executive-controlled government instead of a legislative body. He also criticized the functioning of the constitutional “separation of powers” and argued that these committees facilitated corruption.
Woodrow Wilson was born in Virginia and raised in the South. His father was a Presbyterian minister of Irish descent. His family was a staunch Southerner. His father had served in the Confederate army during the Civil War. His church also served as a field hospital for Union soldiers and prisoners of war. The Wilsons’ early years were marked by his father’s Presbyterianism.
Wilson’s career in politics has spanned four decades. After being elected governor of New Jersey in 1910, Wilson was an advocate of social reform and welfare. As a president, Wilson passed the Underwood-Simmons Act, which created the Federal Reserve System and reduced tariffs. In addition, he passed the Clayton Antitrust Act, which aimed to promote business competition.
Andrew Johnson, the only president with a PhD degree, was born in Tennessee and never attended college. Instead, he taught himself to read and write. At sixteen, he married Eliza McCardle, who taught him arithmetic and reading. After their marriage, Johnson served in the state legislature, and later in 1843, he was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives. He served in that office for ten years.
Johnson, the only president with a PhD degree, was a man of vision. His first inaugural speech described democracy as a Jacob’s ladder, and he envisioned a progressive democracy. Despite his modest background, he nonetheless embodied the values of the nineteenth century.
The case against Johnson was not resolved by the Senate before his death, but it did end up involving the Tenure of Office Bill. The Senate voted on Article 11 in May 1867, but only 35 senators voted in favor, while 19 senators voted against. Despite this lopsided result, Johnson was not removed from office.
While it is true that education is important for success, it doesn’t necessarily mean that you need a PhD. Some presidents didn’t even attend college. They studied outside of the classroom, through books and external sources, and learned from mentors. However, their education was more than sufficient for their goals.
Andrew Johnson was born in Raleigh, North Carolina on December 29, 1808. His parents were Jacob and Mary (“Polly”) Johnson. His father died when he was three years old. His mother had apprenticed him to a tailor, where he learned reading and writing.
Franklin Pierce is the only president in American history with a PhD degree. He served as President in 1850 during the Civil War and was a staunch abolitionist who hoped to find a middle ground between slavery and freedom. His policy efforts helped avoid the breakup of the Union and the death of more than 600,000 Americans.
Founder Dr. Frank S. DiPietro, who was appointed President of Franklin Pierce University in 1962, served as the school’s fourth president. He also served as its chancellor for ten years. After he retired, he became a trustee emeritus.
Born in New Hampshire, Pierce studied law at Bowdoin College before entering politics at twenty-four. After a brief stint as a state legislator, he was appointed New Hampshire’s U.S. Attorney in 1845. He also served as a brigadier general in the Army during the Mexican-American War. He was widely regarded as a moderate candidate by Democrats and was nominated as their presidential candidate at the 1852 Democratic National Convention.
While in office, Pierce suffered from a cough. His wife had tuberculosis. As a result, she often coughed blood, which is known as hemoptysis. She was also extremely religious and shy. The close friend Nathaniel Hawthorne wrote a biography of Pierce’s wife, Jane. Hawthorne neglected to mention that Jane Pierce prevented her husband from drinking whenever he was around her.
Governor Peterson also received numerous honorary degrees during his tenure. A number of them are listed below. The Governor also received an Alumni Service Award from Dartmouth College in 1983.
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