The position of governor or any other elected government official is a position of public trust. This trust is given to individuals who the people believe have the integrity and capability to manage government resources and deliver public services for the benefit of their constituents.
College degrees equip governors with invaluable knowledge that they need to do their job! For the state executives who have applied what they learned to serve their people well, we owe it to the colleges and universities that did their share in molding these state leaders into what they have become.
What Does It Take to Become A Government Official?
Unfortunately, no law or policy defines the educational or professional qualifications of people who want to run for public office. The irony of a democratic government is that it gives anyone the freedom to vie for public office as long as they are citizens of good standing in the United States.
As far as the election for state leaders is concerned, colleges and universities have but a minute role in shaping the opinion of the electorate. It would be up to the people to decide who to trust among the candidates.
While educational qualifications and track record of professional experience have a big impact on a candidate’s ability to govern a state, it is still their connection, appeal, and public image that make them win elections.
To give you an idea of the educational attainment of each of our state governors, we’re dedicating this page to share with you this very important information.
50 Governors and the Degrees They Hold
Here’s a list of our 50 governors and the degrees they’ve earned, including the colleges and universities they graduated from:
Governor: Kay Ivey
Bachelor of Science in Secondary Education, 1967 – Auburn University
Kay Ellen Ivey was born in Camden, Alabama on October 15, 1944. She is the 54th and incumbent governor of Alabama. As the Lieutenant Governor of Alabama, she was sworn into office on April 10, 2017, after the duly elected governor, Gov. Robert Bentley (D), resigned due to an ethics investigation. In 2018, she joined the gubernatorial race and was elected to a full term which will end on January 16, 2023.
Governor: Mike Dunleavy
B.A. in History, 1983 – Misericordia University
M.A. in Education, 1992 – University of Alaska Fairbanks
Michael James Dunleavy was born on May 5, 1961, in Scranton, Pennsylvania. He was sworn into office as the 12th governor of Alaska on December 3, 2018, with his current term to end on December 5, 2022.
Dunleavy earned his high school diploma from Scranton Central High School in 1979. Aspiring to become a teacher, he took an undergraduate degree program in history at Misericordia University, a Pennsylvania university, and later earned a master’s degree in education from the University of Alaska Fairbanks. After years of working as an educator, Dunleavy entered politics and served in the senate before becoming a governor.
Governor: Doug Ducey
Bachelor of Science in Finance, 1986 – Arizona State University
Douglas Anthony Ducey is the 23rd governor of Arizona. A native of Toledo, Ohio, he took his oath of office as Arizona governor on January 5, 2015, and was reelected in 2018 for a term that ends on January 1, 2023.
Before his political career and after completing a degree from Arizona State University, Ducey worked as an executive for sales and marketing for Procter and Gamble, joined an ice cream chain where he became CEO, and later on joined a film editing company as its chairman.
Governor: Asa Hutchinson
B.S. in Accounting, 1972 – Bob Jones University
Juris Doctor, 1975 – University of Arkansas
Asa Hutchinson is Arkansas’ 46th governor. He was born in 1950 in Bentonville, Arkansas. He became the state governor in 2015 and was re-elected for a second term that will end on January 1, 2023.
Before he was elected as governor of Arkansas, Hutchinson served in the US congress representing the Third Congressional District of Arkansas. He was also one of the 13 House Managers who served as prosecutors during the impeachment trial of President Bill Clinton.
Governor: Gavin Newsom
B.S. in Political Science, 1989 – Santa Clara University
Gavin Christopher Newsom is the current and 40th governor of California. He was sworn into office on January 7, 2019, to serve for a term that will end on January 2, 2023.
Newsom was born in October 1967 in San Francisco, CA. He’s the son of former California Court of Appeal Judge William Newsom, who passed away in 1995.
Before becoming governor, Newsom served as lieutenant governor of California and as mayor of San Francisco.
Governor: Jared Polis
B.A. in Politics, 1996 – Princeton University, Princeton, NJ
Jared Schutz Polis is the 43rd and present governor of Colorado. He was born in 1975 in Boulder, Colorado. He swore into office on January 8, 2019, to serve for a term that will end on January 10, 2023.
Before becoming a governor, Polis was a member of the 113th congress, where he openly admitted that he was gay and he upholds the rights of the LGBT.
Governor: Ned Lamont
B.A. in Sociology, 1976 – Harvard University
MBA, 1980 – Yale School of Management
Edward “Ned” Miner Lamont Jr. Is the 89th and current governor of the state of Connecticut. He took oath on January 9, 2019, for a term that ends on January 4, 2023. He was born in January 1954 in Washington D.C.
As governor of Connecticut, Lamont is known for signing legislation to legalize online gambling, sports betting, and cannabis.
Governor: John Carney Jr.
Bachelor of Arts, 1978 – Dartmouth College
MPA, Urban & Agency Management, 1984 – University of Delaware
John Charles Carney Jr. is the present and 74th governor of the state of Delaware. He has served as governor since January 17, 2017. He was reelected for another term that will end on January 21, 2025. Carney was born in 1956 in Wilmington, DE but was raised in Claymont.
Before becoming a politician, Carney was an American football coach for the University of Delaware, where he earned his master’s degree in public administration. He also served in two other government agencies, as finance secretary of Delaware and Chief Administrative Officer for New Castle County.
Governor: Ron DeSantis
B.A. in History, 2001 – Yale University
Juris Doctor, 2005 – Harvard Law School
Ronald Dion DeSantis is the 46th and current governor of Florida. He was born on September 14, 1978, in Jacksonville but grew up in Orlando and Dunedin, Florida. He was sworn in as the state’s governor on January 8, 2019, for a term that will end on January 3, 2023.
Before he was elected governor, DeSantis was elected to the US House of Representatives to represent Florida’s 6th District.
As governor, DeSantis is known for his refusal to enact many restrictions to prevent the spread of the coronavirus pandemic.
Governor: Brian Kemp
B.S. in Agriculture – University of Georgia
Brian Kemp is the present and 83rd governor of Georgia. He was born on November 2, 1963, in Athens, GA, where he grew up. He was sworn in on January 14, 2019, to serve as governor until January 9, 2023.
After graduating from Clarke Central High School, Kemp enrolled at the University of Georgia to take part in its agriculture degree program.
Before vying for an elected position, Kemp was an operator and manager of a real estate investment business. He was also a founding director of First Madison Bank and a member of the board of St. Mary’s Hospital.
Governor: David Ige
B.S. in Electrical Engineering, 1979 and MBA in Decision Sciences/Finance, 1985 – University of Hawaii – Manoa
Born on January 15, 1957, in Hawaii, David Yutaka Ige is an electrical engineer who is serving as the eighth and present governor of the state of Hawaii. He was sworn in as governor on December 1, 2014. He was reelected in 2018 for a new term that ends on December 5, 2022.
Ige is the first candidate in Hawaii history to defeat an incumbent governor in a primary.
Governor: Brad Little
B.S. in Agribusiness, 1977 – University of Idaho
Bradley Jay Little was born on February 15, 1954, in Emmet, Idaho. He is the state’s 33rd and current governor, whose term will end on January 2, 2023.
Little is a member of a family of ranchers and politicians. Before he was elected governor, he worked as a manager of the family’s ranching operations. He also represented his father on a temporary assignment in the Senate’s Finance and Resources Committees when the latter fell ill.
Governor: Jay Robert B. Pritzker
B.A. in Political Science, 1987 – Duke University
Juris Doctor, 1993 – Northwestern University Pritzker School of Law
Jay Robert “J. B.” Pritzker was born on January 19, 1965, in Atherton, California. He is the 43rd governor of the state of Illinois. Pritzker assumed office as governor on January 14, 2019, for a term that will terminate on January 9, 2023.
A member of a wealthy Jewish family, Pritzker went into business before aspiring for an elected government position. He started several capital investments that created numerous jobs for Americans. In 2008, the Chicagoland Chamber of Commerce awarded Pritzker of its Entrepreneurial Champion Award for his contributions to promoting job creation and economic development.
Pritzker is an heir to the Hyatt international hotel chain. In mid-2021, his net worth was estimated at $3.5 billion.
Governor: Eric Holcomb
B.A. in U.S. History, 1990 – Hanover College
Born in Indianapolis, Indiana on May 2, 1968, Eric Joseph Holcomb is presently serving as the 51st governor of Indiana. He first assumed office as governor in 2017 after winning the election and was reelected in 2020 for a second term that ends on January 13, 2025.
Holcomb graduated from Pike High School in Indianapolis and enrolled at Hanover College to take part in an undergraduate degree program in history. He obtained his Honorary Doctor of Laws degree from Anderson University of South Carolina on May 11, 2019.
Before his candidacy for an elected government position, Holcomb served in the US Navy and worked for Rep. John Hostettler of the US House of Representatives.
Governor: Kim Reynolds
Bachelor’s Degree in Liberal Studies, 2016 – Iowa State University
Kimberly Kay Reynolds was born on August 4, 1959, in Truro, IA, and raised in St. Charles City of the same state. She is the 43rd and present governor of Iowa. Reynolds was serving as lieutenant governor of the state but took office as governor on May 24, 2017, to replace Gov. Terry E. Branstad (R), who resigned to assume the post of U.S. Ambassador to China.
The first female governor of Iowa, Reynolds was elected to a full term in 2018 and ends on January 10, 2023.
Governor: Laura Kelly
BS Psychology, 1971 – Bradley University
MS in Therapeutic Recreation – Indiana University
Laura Jeanne Kelly is the 48th and current governor of the state of Kansas. She was born on January 24, 1950, in New York City. She was sworn into office in 2019. Her term ends on January 9, 2023.
As a graduate of the Baccalaureate degree program in Psychology and a master’s degree in Therapeutic Recreation, Kelly worked at Rockland Children’s Psychiatric clinic as a recreation therapist and at the National Jewish Hospital for Respiratory and Immune Diseases as director of recreation therapy.
In 1988 Kelly became the executive director of the Kansas Recreation and Park Association and in 2004, she was elected to the state Senate. She served four terms before becoming governor of Kansas.
Governor: Andy Beshear
BA in Political Science/Anthropology, 2000 – Vanderbilt University
Juris Doctor, 2003 – University of Virginia School of Law
Andrew Graham Beshear is the 63rd and incumbent governor of the state of Kentucky. He was born in 1977 in Louisville, KY. He is the son of Steve Beshear, the 61st governor of Kentucky.
After graduating from Henry Clay High School in Lexington, he proceeded to Vanderbilt University in Nashville, TN to pursue an undergraduate degree program in political science/anthropology. He graduated in 2000, then enrolled at the University of Virginia Law School and earned a Juris Doctor degree in 2003.
Before his election to public office, Beshear was a partner in a law firm named Stites & Harbison, specializing in consumer and nonprofit law. He was also elected as attorney general of the State of Kentucky, a position he held from 2016 to 2019.
Governor: John Bel Edwards
Bachelor’s Degree in Engineering, 1988 – United States Military Academy
Juris Doctor, 1999 – Louisiana State University
John Bel Edwards is the 56th and incumbent governor of Louisiana state. He was born on September 16, 1966, in East Baton Rouge Parish, Louisiana. He swore in on January 11, 2016, for a term that lasts until January 8, 2024.
Edwards spent his early years in Amite City, LA, earned his high school diploma from Amite High School, then proceeded to the U.S. Military Academy to study Mechanical Engineering. He obtained a Juris Doctor degree from Louisiana State University in 1999.
Edwards served in the U.S. Army as an airborne ranger for eight years and practiced his law profession before seeking elected office, particularly as a representative of District 72 in the U.S. House of Representatives.
Governor: Janet Mills
Bachelor of Arts, 1970 – University of Massachusetts Boston
Juris Doctor, 1976 – University of Maine Law School
Janet Trafton Mills is the 75th and present governor of Maine. She swore into office on January 2, 2019. Her term as governor will end on January 4, 2023.
Mills served as assistant attorney general from 1976 to 1980. She was the first female criminal prosecutor and attorney general for Maine. Incidentally, she is also the first woman to serve as state governor.
Governor: Larry Hogan
Bachelor’s in Government and Political Science, 1978 – Florida State University
Lawrence Joseph Hogan Jr. Is the 62nd and incumbent governor of Maryland. He was born on May 25, 1956, in Washington D.C. He was sworn to office in 2015 and got a fresh new term when he won his 2018 reelection bid. His new term will end on January 18, 2023.
Hogan is the son of Lawrence Hogan Sr., a former member of the U.S. House of Representatives. He represented the fifth congressional district of Maryland from 1969 to 1975.
Before seeking an elected government position, Hogan Jr. worked in the cabinet of Gov. Robert L. Ehrich. He also founded the Hogan Companies, which is a group of companies engaged in brokerage, consulting, and property development business.
Governor: Charlie Baker
Bachelor’s Degree in English, 1979 – Harvard University
MBA, 1986 – Northwestern University Kellogg Graduate School of Management
Charles Duane Baker Jr. is the 72nd and incumbent governor of Massachusetts. He was elected on January 8, 2015. In his 2018 re-election bid, he won another term that will end on January 5, 2023. Baker was born in 1956 in Elmira, New York but grew up in Needham, MA.
Baker completed secondary education at Needham High School in 1975. He then proceeded to Harvard College, where he took part in the university’s bachelor’s degree program in English. A few years later, Baker went to Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management to study MBA. After graduation, he landed work at the Massachusetts High Technology Council as director of corporate communications.
In 1991, Baker was appointed to the position of Undersecretary of Health and Human Services for the state of Massachusetts. He became the secretary of the same department in 1992.
Governor: Gretchen Whitmer
BA in Communications, 1993 and Juris Doctor, 1998 – Michigan State University
Gretchen Esther Whitmer is the 49th and current governor of Michigan. She was born on August 23, 1971, in Landing, Michigan. She took an oath of office on January 1, 2019, to serve for a term that will end on December 31, 2022.
After his high school graduation from Forest Hills Central High School, Whitmer enrolled at Michigan State University and earned a baccalaureate degree in communications in 1993. In 1998, she earned a Juris Doctor from the Detroit College of Law of MSU.
Before she became governor of Michigan, Whitmer served in the House of Representatives to represent the 23rd legislative district from 2000 to 2006. She also served in the state senate from 2006 to 2015.
Governor: Tim Walz
BS in Social Science Education, 1989 – Chadron State College
MS in Educational Leadership, 2001 – Minnesota State University, Mankato
Timothy James Walz was born in 1964 in West Point, NE. He serves as the 41st and current governor of Minnesota. He took office on January 7, 2019. His term will end on January 7, 2023.
Walz graduated from Butte High School in Butte, NE, and earned an undergraduate degree in social science education from Chadron State College, a regionally accredited institution based in Minnesota, in 1989. Walz also completed a master’s degree in educational leadership from Minnesota State University, Mankato, in 2001.
Before his election as governor of Minnesota, Walz was representative for Minnesota’s 1st congressional district from 2007 to 2019.
Governor: Tate Reeves
BS in Economics, 1996 – Millsaps College
Jonathon Tate Reeves is the current and 65th governor of Mississippi. He was born on June 5, 1974, in Rankin County, Mississippi. Reeves took office on January 14, 2020, to serve for a term that will terminate on January 9, 2024.
Right after graduation from Florence High School, Reeves went to Mississippi College to enroll in its baccalaureate degree program in economics. This degree helped him acquire investment and banking knowledge which gave him a career as an investment analyst and later on as an executive in the banking industry.
Governor: Mike Parson
Michael Lynn Parson is the incumbent and 57th governor of Missouri. He was born in Wheatland, Missouri on September 17, 1955. Parson took his oath of office on June 1, 2018, to serve as governor of Missouri until January 13, 2025.
Parson completed his secondary education at Wheatland High School in 1973. He then joined the U.S. Army, where he worked for six years. Parson enrolled on separate occasions at the University of Maryland and the University of Hawaii, but he wasn’t able to complete a degree. After his stint in the army, Parson joined law enforcement and stayed in the service for 22 years.
Parson was elected Lieutenant Governor on November 8, 2016, but following the resignation of Gov. Eric Greitens effective June 1, 2018, he was sworn in as governor of Missouri.
Governor: Greg Gianforte
BS and MS in Electrical Engineering & Computer Science, 1983 – Stevens Institute of Technology
Gregory Richard Gianforte is the 25th and incumbent governor of the state of Montana. He officially served as governor on January 4, 2021, for a term that will terminate on January 6, 2025.
Gianforte was born on April 17, 1961, in San Diego, California. He completed secondary education at Upper Merion Area High School in King of Prussia, PA. In 1979.
As a student, Gianforte was gifted with technical and entrepreneurial skills. He started a software business in the 1970s while he was in high school. He also co-found a company engaged in the development of server-based LAN management systems for the banking industry, which Gianforte and his partners sold for $10 million to McAfee Associates.
Before becoming governor, Gianforte was a member of the U.S. House of Representatives, representing the at-large congressional district of Montana.
Gianforte was the wealthiest member of the 116th US Congress, which convened on January 3, 2019, to January 3, 2021.
Governor: Pete Ricketts
BS Biology, 1986 and MBA, Marketing and Finance, 1991 – University of Chicago
John Peter Ricketts, the current and 40th governor of Nebraska, was born on August 19, 1964, in Nebraska City, NE. His current term as governor began in January 2019 and ends on January 5, 2023.
Rickets graduated from Westside High School in Omaha, NE in 1982, after which he enrolled at the University of Chicago to study bachelor of arts degree in biology. He completed the degree in 1986 and, after a few years, pursued an MBA in Marketing and Finance at the University of Chicago. He earned his MBA in 1991.
Before seeking an elective position in government, Rickets spent time working for a financial firm his father, Joe Ricketts, founded.
Governor: Steve Sisolak
BS in Business, 1974 – University of Wisconsin–Milwaukee
MBA, 1978 – University of Nevada, Las Vegas
Stephen F. Sisolak is the incumbent and 30th governor of Nevada. He was born in December 1953, in Milwaukee, WI but grew up in Wauwatosa, Wisconsin, where he completed his secondary education in 1972.
Sisolak began his term in January 2019, ending in January 2023.
After graduating from Wauwatosa West High School, Sisolak enrolled at the University of Wisconsin–Milwaukee to study Bachelor of Science in Business which he completed in 1974. In 1978, he earned an MBA degree from the University of Nevada, Las Vegas.
Before he was elected governor, Sisolak was a member of District 2 of the Nevada State Board of Regents from 1999 to 2008 and the US House of Representatives, representing District A of the Clark County Commission in Nevada from 2009 to 2019.
Governor: Chris Sununu
BS in Civil/Environmental Engineering, 1997 – Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Christopher Thomas Sununu is the duly elected 82nd and current governor of New Hampshire. He was born in November 1974 in Salem, NH. Sununu’s current term will end on January 4, 2023.
Sununu finished his secondary education at Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology in Fairfax, VA in 1993. Shortly thereafter, he enrolled at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology to pursue an undergraduate degree in mechanical engineering/environmental technology in 1998.
Before he was elected governor, Sununu served in the New Hampshire Executive Council from 2011 to 2017. He is the son of New Hampshire’s former governor John H. Sununu and brother of senator John E. Sununu.
Governor: Phil Murphy
AB in Economics, 1979 – Harvard University
Philip Dunton Murphy is the current governor of New Jersey. He was sworn in as the 56th chief executive of New Jersey on January 16, 2018, for a term that will end on January 20, 2026.
Murphy was born on August 16, 1975, in Needham, MA. He finished his secondary education at Needham High School in 1975 and completed his college education at Harvard University in 1979 with a bachelor of arts degree in economics.
Before he was elected governor, Murphy worked with Goldman Sachs, a global investment management firm. He later worked for the US government and served as the US Ambassador to Germany from 2009 to 2013.
Governor: Michelle Lujan Grisham
Bachelor of Arts, 1981 and Juris Doctor, 1987 – University of New Mexico
Michelle Lynn Lujan Grisham is the 32nd and current governor of the state of New Mexico. She swore into office on January 1, 2019, to serve as governor of the state until January 1, 2023.
Lujan was born in 1959 in Los Alamos, New Mexico, and grew up in Santa Fe.
Ms. Lujan Grisham finished her secondary studies at St. Michael’s High School in 1977 and earned a BA in University Studies from the University of Mexico in 1981.
Before seeking an elected office, Lujan Grisham served as state secretary of health and Bernalillo County commissioner. She was later elected to the US House of Representatives and won the election for governorship on November 6, 2018.
Governor: Kathy Hochul
BA in Political Science, 1980 – Syracuse University
Juris Doctor, 1983 – Catholic University
Kathleen Hochul, a lawyer and former private practitioner, is the incumbent and 57th governor of the state of New York. She took office on August 24, 2021, to replace former governor Andrew Cuomo who resigned over allegations of sexual harassment.
Hochul was born in August 1958, in Buffalo, NY. She graduated from the Maxwell School of Syracuse University in 1980 with an undergraduate degree in political science. In 1984, Hochul, who was born Kathleen Courtney, completed her Juris Doctor from the Catholic University Columbus School of Law.
Governor: Roy Cooper III
Bachelor of Arts, 1979 – University of North Carolina Chapel Hill
Juris Doctor, 1982 – University of North Carolina School of Law
Roy Asberry Cooper III is the present and 75th governor of North Carolina. He was born on June 13, 1957, in Nashville, NC. He was re-elected for a second term which will end on January 1, 2025.
Before his election for governor of North Carolina, Cooper was a member of North Carolina’s House of Representatives from 1987 to 1991, served as NC senator from 1991 to 2000, and worked as the state’s attorney general from 2000 to 2016.
Governor: Doug Burgum
Bachelor of University Studies, 1978 – North Dakota State University
MBA, 1980 – Stanford University Graduate School of Business
Douglas James Burgum is the 33rd and incumbent governor of North Dakota. He was born in August 1956 in Arthur, North Dakota. Burgum was sworn in as governor on December 15, 2016 and was reelected for a second term in 2020, which will end on December 15, 2024.
Prior to his election to public office, Burgum was a good entrepreneur with excellent technological skills in computing and IT. He played a major player in the development and success of an accounting software company, Great Plains Software which they sold to Microsoft for $1.1billion in 2001.
Governor: Mike DeWine
BS in Education, 1969 – Miami University of Ohio
Juris Doctor, 1972 – Ohio Northern University College of Law
Richard Michael DeWine, the 70th and incumbent governor of Ohio, was born on January 5, 1947, in Yellow Springs, OH. He was sworn in January 2019 to serve a term that will end on January 9, 2023.
Prior to his election as governor, DeWine held numerous government positions, including Assistant Prosecutor, Attorney General, member of the Ohio State Senate, member of the House of Representatives, and Lieutenant Governor.
Governor: Kevin Stitt
Bachelor’s Degree in Accounting, 1996 – Oklahoma State University
John Kevin Stitt is the current and 28th governor of Oklahoma. He was born on December 28, 1972, in Milton, Florida but grew up in Norman, OK. Stitt was sworn in as governor on January 14, 2019, to serve until January 9, 2023.
Stitt graduated from Oklahoma State University with a bachelor’s degree in accounting. He was a natural salesman and an excellent entrepreneur. As a student, he was already engaged in door-to-door sales of educational products to pay part of his college fees. He was the first person in the company’s history to be a top seller in the first year of being a salesperson.
Stitt is the founder and former chairman and CEO of Gateway Mortgage Group, a company he started less than 20 years after his graduation with only $1,000 as capital. Today, Gateway has become a midsize company with more than 1,500 employees nationwide.
Governor: Kate Brown
BA in Environmental Conservation, 1981 – University of Colorado, Boulder
Juris Doctor, Environmental Law, 1985 – Lewis and Clark Northwestern School of Law
Katherine Brown is an American lawyer serving as the 38th and current governor of the state of Oregon. She was born in 1960 in Torrejón de Ardoz, Spain but grew up in Minnesota. Her father was an eye doctor serving in the U.S. Air Force in Torrejón Air Base.
Brown assumed office on February 18, 2015, three months after the election, when Governor John Kitzhaber resigned due to a public corruption scandal. Brown, who served as secretary of state at the time, succeeded the governor after winning a special election on November 8, 2016. Brown served the remaining two years of Kitzhaber’s term.
Brown ran for re-election for the governorship in 2018 and won. Her current term ends January 9, 2023.
Prior to her election as governor of Oregon, Brown served in Oregon’s House of Representatives from 1991 to 1997, the senate of Oregon from 1997 to 2009, and as Oregon’s secretary of state from 2009 to 2015.
Governor: Tom Wolf
BA in Government, 1972 – Dartmouth College
MA in Philosophy, 1978 – University of London (UK)
Ph.D. in Political Science, 1981 – Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Thomas Westerman Wolf is the 47th and current governor of Pennsylvania. He was born on November 17, 1948, in Mount Wolf, Pennsylvania but grew up in York County, PA. He took office on January 20, 2015, but was re-elected for a second term that will end on January 17, 2023.
Wolf completed his secondary education at the Hill School in Pottstown, PA. He then enrolled at Dartmouth College to pursue a bachelor’s degree in government. He graduated in 1972 and went on to earn a master’s degree in philosophy from the University of London in 1978. In 1981, Wolf earned a Ph.D. in political science from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
Prior to his election as governor, Wolf served as the head of Pennsylvania’s Department of Revenue.
Governor: Dan McKee
BA in Education/Political Science, 1973 – Assumption College, Worcester, MA
Master of Public Administration, 2005 – Kennedy School of Government (Harvard University)
Daniel James McKee is the current and 76th governor of Rhode Island. He served as lieutenant governor of Rhode Island but took office as governor on March 2, 2021.
McKee’s current term will end on January 3, 2023. He was born on June 16, 1951, in Cumberland, RI, and completed secondary education at Cumberland High School.
After graduation from high school, McKee went to Assumption College in Massachusetts to pursue a BA degree in Education, majoring in Political Science. He completed this degree in 1973. McKee completed a master’s degree in public administration in 2005 at the Kennedy School of Government while serving as mayor of Cumberland.
Prior to becoming governor of Rhode Island, McKee served as a member of the Cumberland Town Council, Cumberland town mayor, and Rhode Island lieutenant governor.
Governor: Henry McMaster
BA in History, 1969 – University of South Carolina
Juris Doctor, 1973 – University of South Carolina School of Law
Born on May 29, 1947, in Columbia, South Carolina, Henry Dargan McMaster is an attorney by profession. He is currently serving as the 117th governor of South Carolina.
McMaster was elected as lieutenant governor of South Carolina from 2015 to 2019 but took office as governor on June 24, 2017, when Governor Nikki Haley resigned to assume the post of Ambassador to the United Nations. McMaster served Haley’s term, but he won in the 2018 election to earn a fresh term as governor that will end on January 11, 2023.
Before taking office as governor, McMaster served as Republican Party chairman, the Attorney General of South Carolina, SC Ports Authority chairman, and lieutenant governor of South Carolina.
Governor: Kristi Noem
BA in Political Science, 2011 – University of South Dakota
Serving as the 33rd governor of South Dakota, Kristi Lynn Noem is the first woman governor of the state. She took office on January 5, 2019, to serve for a term that will end on January 3, 2023.
Noem was born on November 3, 1971, in Watertown, SD but grew up on their family farm in Hamlin County. She completed secondary education in 1990 at Hamlin High School. Noem enrolled at Northern State University to pursue higher education but gave up her studies to run their family farm due to her father’s death. She went back to college years later and completed a bachelor’s degree in political science at South Dakota State University.
Prior to her term as governor, Noem served in the South Dakota House of Representatives, representing District 6.
Governor: Bill Lee
BS in Mechanical Engineering, 1981 – Auburn University
William Byron Lee is the duly elected, current, and 50th governor of the state of Tennessee. He was sworn into office in January of 2019 to serve as Tennessee’s governor until January 21, 2023. He was born in 1959 in Franklin, TN.
Lee graduated from Franklin High School, then enrolled at Auburn University and graduated in 1981 with a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering.
Prior to his election as governor, Lee was a farmer, businessman, and engineer by profession. His family owns a 100-acre cattle ranch in Franklin, TN.
Governor: Greg Abbot
Bachelor of Business Administration – Finance, 1981 – University of Texas at Austin
Juris Doctor, 1984 – Vanderbilt University Law School
Gregory Wayne Abbott was born in November 1957 in Wichita Falls, Texas. He finished secondary education at Duncanville High School and then enrolled at the University of Texas at Austin, where he completed a bachelor’s degree in business administration. Aspiring for graduate education, Abbot proceeded to Vanderbilt University Law School and earned his Juris Doctor degree in 1984.
Abbot became a lawyer in the same year and practiced his profession as an attorney at the law firm Butler and Binion LLP from 1984 to 1992. In 1993, he left the law firm to work as a district court judge in Houston’s 129th District Court. In 1995, President George W. Bush appointed Abbot to the Texas Supreme Court.
It was in 2002 when Abbot first held elected office. His first position was Texas attorney general from 2002 until 2015, when he left the post to run for Texas governorship. He won and assumed office in the same year. In 2018, Abbot was re-elected for a second term that will end on January 17, 2023.
Governor: Spencer Cox
BA in Political Science, 1998 – Utah State University, Logan, UT
Juris Doctor, 2001 – Washington and Lee University School of Law
Spencer James Cox is the 18th and current governor of the state of Utah. He was born on July 11, 1975, in Fairview, UT. He took the oath of office on January 4, 2021, for a term that ends on January 6, 2025.
Cox completed secondary education at North Sanpete High School. He then proceeded to Snow College in Ephraim, UT, to enroll in an associate degree. He enrolled at Utah State University and earned a bachelor’s degree in political science in 1998. Cox then proceeded to Washington and Lee University School of Law to pursue a Juris Doctor degree which he completed in 2001.
Cox worked in the private sector right after law school. He was the general counsel and vice president of CentraCom Interactive, an internet and fiber-optic communication company in Utah from 2003 to 2013.
Before he became governor, Cox served as a city councilor and mayor of Fairview, county commissioner of Sanpete, member of the Utah House of Representatives, and lieutenant governor of the state.
Governor: Phil Scott
BS in Industrial Education, 1980 – University of Vermont
Currently serving as the 82nd governor of the state of Vermont, Philip Brian Scott has served three consecutive two-year terms as governor of the state. Unlike other US states that allow four-year terms to elected governors, New Hampshire and Vermont allow their governors to serve for only two years per term.
After winning the 2016 gubernatorial election, Scott was sworn into office on January 5, 2017. His third and current term will end on January 5, 2023.
Before he became governor, Scott was a member of the Vermont State Senate. He also served as lieutenant governor of the state from 2011 to 2017.
Governor: Glenn Youngkin
BA in Managerial Studies and BS in Mechanical Engineering, 1990 – Rice University
Master of Business Administration, 1994 – Harvard Business School
Glenn Allen Youngkin is the current and 74th governor of Virginia. He was born on December 9, 1966, in Richmond, VA. He was inducted into office on January 15, 2022, to serve for a term that will end on January 17, 2026.
Youngkin finished high school at Norfolk Academy in 1985 then enrolled at Rice University to pursue BS in Managerial Studies and BS in Mechanical Engineering degrees which he completed in 1990.
After graduating from Rice University, Youngkin worked in an investment bank, but he left the company in 1992 to pursue an MBA. In 1994, Youngkin earned an MBA degree from Harvard Business School and joined the global management consulting firm McKinsey & Company.
Prior to his bid for the governorship of Virginia, Youngkin was the president and co-CEO of a global investment firm, The Carlyle Group.
Governor: Jay Inslee
BS in Economics, 1972 – University of Washington
Juris Doctor, 1976 – Willamette University School of Law
Jay Robert Inslee was born in February 1951 in Seattle, Washington. He is the current and 23rd governor of Washington and one of only two governors in Washington’s history to win three consecutive terms (2013-2017, 2017-2021, and 2021-present). Inslee’s current term will end on January 13, 2025.
Before he became governor, Inslee served for 10 terms in the US House of Representatives to represent the first Congressional District of Washington.
Governor: Jim Justice
Bachelor of Arts, 1973 and Master of Business Administration, 1976 – Marshall University
James Conley Justice II is the 36th and incumbent governor of the state of West Virginia. He was born on April 27, 1951, in Charleston, WV. He is serving his second term as governor. He swore into office on January 16, 2017, and after winning his re-election bid in 2020, his current term as governor will end on January 13, 2025.
Prior to his bid for governorship of West Virginia, Justice was CEO of 102 companies. Having a net worth of $1.2 billion in September 2018, he is considered the wealthiest man in West Virginia.
Governor: Tony Evers
BS in Educational Administration, 1973
MS in Educational Administration, 1976
Ph.D. in Educational Administration, 1986
The 46th governor of Wisconsin, Anthony Steven Evers, was born on November 5, 1951, in Plymouth, WI. A staunch advocate of education and literacy, he earned a bachelor’s degree, a master’s degree, and a Ph.D. in Educational Administration. His term began on January 7, 2019 and will end n January 2, 2023.
Evers completed his secondary education at Plymouth High School in 1970 and proceeded to the University of Wisconsin, Madison, to pursue advanced degrees in educational administration.
Prior to his election as governor, Evers worked in the education sector while serving as a classroom teacher, principal, deputy state superintendent, and superintendent.
Governor: Mark Gordon
BA in History, 1979 – Middlebury College
Mark Gordon is the 33rd and present governor of the state of Wyoming. He was born in March of 1957 in New York City, NY. After winning the gubernatorial race, Gordon will serve for a term that officially started on January 7, 2019 and is to end on January 2, 2023.
Prior to his bid for the governorship in Wyoming, Gordon worked in several private companies, including their family-owned ranch in Buffalo, Wyoming. He also served as treasurer of Wyoming from 2012 to 2019.
Frequently Asked Questions
Is a college degree important for Governors in US states?
Having a college degree is not mandated by law to be a requirement for one to qualify for candidacy in the gubernatorial race. However, a college degree such as public administration and programs offering general education courses complemented with relevant professional experience and administrative skills can greatly help a governor perform his functions effectively.
That being said, higher education is not all there is to make one an effective public official and servant! A public office needs someone with years of professional experience, and excellent communication and people skills, dignity, dedication, conscience, objectivity, and impartiality.
Is there an ideal degree befitting a Governor?
As the CEO of a state, a governor needs to have a deep understanding of how things and organizations work. Ideally, he should have good knowledge of state and federal laws, public administration, leadership, human relations, communication, economics, and financial skills.
Except for curricula that offer general education courses, there is no specific program anywhere in the world that can equip an individual with all this knowledge and skills in one degree. You will need many degrees to learn all of these. Moreover, there are no colleges and universities that offer programs leading to a governor or any other elected public office.
However, there is one school that has the potential to make you learn as many practical skills as possible: It is called the university of experience!
What subjects help shape the most effective local government official?
For high school students interested in politics and who have a passion for rendering public service, today is the best time to prepare. Accumulate a deep understanding of these subjects to be a competent, well-rounded future public official. There are several affordable colleges and universities that offer these subjects:
- Public Administration
- Political Science
- Public Policy
- Public Health
- Business Management
- Criminal Justice
- Computer Literacy
Public officials who wish to strengthen their knowledge about these but have no time to attend regular classes may enroll in an accredited online school or pursue an online degree that offers some of these subjects.
Here’s a summary of the degrees that the 50 governors in the US have earned:
A high level of education from regionally accredited institutions–traditional degree programs, online degree programs, and technical college education included–equip governors with the competency to run a state and manage its affairs.
Without proper education or a degree for that matter, a chief executive of a state could become ineffective, if not incompetent. A lack of education to truly provide the right direction to this career path could potentially lead to abuse of power and dissatisfaction among constituents.
With a college degree in their belt, governors enrich their knowledge and enhance their skills by enrolling in online courses, particularly in public administration. Like any ordinary citizen, they have access to college credit and individual educational degree plan options!
Whether you are a graduate of elementary education, an associate degree, an online school degree, or a Ph.D. would not matter. It’s your heart for sincere public service that people want to see. A public office needs someone who puts public interest above their own – simply because a public office is a public trust!