Scott Walker could be the first presidential nominee without a college degree in 50 years

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If Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker runs for president in 2016, he'll be the first nominee without a college diploma in half a century.

According to a new Pew Research Center analysis, Harry Truman, elected in 1948, was the last president to serve without a college degree. Barry Goldwater was the last nominee to run, in 1964, without a degree.

In fact, since George H.W. Bush was elected in 1988, every president has held not only a college degree, but a degree from an Ivy League school, according to Pew. If his son, Jeb Bush, were elected, he would be the first president since his father without an Ivy League degree. The younger Bush earned a degree in Latin American studies from the University of Texas at Austin before moving to Florida to start a real estate development company.

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While Walker is clearly an anomaly among potential presidential candidates, he's the norm among Americans.

Only around a third of all people 25 and older in the United States have a bachelor's degree or higher degree, according to the Digest of Education Statistics.

Walker has done just fine for himself. He dropped out of Marquette University during his senior year to take a job with the American Red Cross before entering politics and working his way to the governor's mansion.


But his story is getting harder to replicate. The gap in earnings between college graduates and those with a high school diploma is greater than ever. Even with the burden of student debt, college is likely to pay off and more students are taking that to heart, meaning we're not likely to hear another story like Walker's - about a person without a degree running for president - anytime soon.

Emily DeRuy is a Washington, D.C.-based associate editor, covering education, reproductive rights, and inequality. A San Francisco native, she enjoys Giants baseball and misses Philz terribly.

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