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Top 5 Colleges if You Want to Work at White House

*****GovLoop has partnered with CampusSplash for a series of Back to School Articles****

You were on the debate team. You’ve seen every episode of West Wing. You are shocked when people don’t know the current Chief of Staff of our fine country.

Of course you want to work at the White House. So how do you get a job at the White House? What schools provide a path to those long nights of Diet Cokes and saving the world?

Using data from GovLoop and LinkedIn, we’ve researched the profiles of White House staffers and found out the top 5 schools where White House employees went.

Does it surprise you that 4 of 5 schools are in D.C.?

1) George Washington University – At only .7 miles walking away, GWU is the closest school to the White House and the most prevalent. Students flock to GWU to be in the nation’s capitol where the action happens and it pays off with a ticket to the White House. Guess being the most expensive school in America does pay off in the end.

2) Georgetown University – Georgetown has produced a long list of political leaders from former President Clinton to Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia (no, we won’t mention the Allen Iverson years). And added to the list is a bunch of White House employees working behind the scenes helping run our country.

3) University of Michigan– Who knew there was a direct line from The Big House to the other big house (White House)? With a top 10 public policy school and a top 10 political science program, University of Michigan is full of super smart political nerds looking for the first trip to move to D.C and the Big House. Notable alumni included former President Gerald H. Ford.

4) University of Maryland – The White House has had a love/hate relationship every since famous Maryland drop-out Carl Berstein won a Pulitzer for Public Service for his coverage of the Watergate scandal. President Obama recently hosted a townhall event in College Park at University of Maryland. No doubt a lot of his staff were proud to see him at their alma mater. Now if the Terps could just get their basketball team back up the top 25, those Georgetown/Maryland trash-talking could get heated in the White House.

5) American University –It is only fitting that one of the top 5 feeder schools to the White House has the word America in its name, Eagle as its mascot, and is in the Patriot league. Attend this school in the idyllic trees of Northwest and with professors like Bob Lehrman, former speechwriter for Vice President Al Gore, giving the lectures, you are well-equipped to make the move to the Oval Office.

Bonus – From our friends at Campussplash
Top 5 Majors if You Want to Be a Senator

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Avatar photo Katelyn Keegan

First a comment about American University. AU’s mascot is the Eagle, not the Patriot. They are in the Patriot League for sports however.

Second, since the study looks at profiles on LinkedIn and GovLoop and leaves us to assume they didn’t speak with actual staffers – is it considering only those who are younger employees or a cross section? For many who work in the White House this is part of a longer term career path. Also, as some people find themselves with jobs in the White House they are already in the area and thus decide to pick up Graduate Degrees from the Top 5 schools you have mentioned. So I guess, my question is are we looking at only first bachelors degrees or are we also looking at graduate degrees?

Chris Poirier

Does it bother anyone else that things as important as this are still based on whether you went to the “right school” rather than you have the “right skill set”….

Carol Davison

I’m a little saddened at the expense of 60% of the schools. Students without means are at a disadvantage when that possibly make them more qualifiied for the job of serving Americans!


Chris Poirier

That’s more or less my point. The cost, location, and name of the school means nothing these days. If you went to a state school, but learned from professionals that are experts in their field, have practical experience, etc who’s to say that school doesn’t produce equally and/or more skilled people upon graduation?
I’d put plenty of civil servants up against the WH staff any day that “only” had state educations…and I bet it wouldn’t even be close who understood their issues better. In fact, it’s my reasoning of why most administrations suffer from their staffs. They get talked into brining in ivy and “top name” school educated people, instead of people with the appropriate skills, experiences, AND education.
Not that I’m any superman, but I left GWU after 1 year in a graduate program due to cost and the simple fact I wasn’t being challenged or educated. (In case anyone wants to bring up, “you were probably failing card, I had a 3.75 GPA.) Though I certainly was paying for the experience, I decided I wanted to actually learn my area instead of pay for the “right” to graduate from a school with a “name”. In the end I saved 75% on the cost of my M.S. and at the end of the day, I learned far more, got practical experience, and it still says “M.S.” on my resume and at time of initial eligibility review by OPM/HR that’s all that matters.


Chris – I agree with you but I think part of the problem/advantage of local schools is they help you understand the system – not that the system deliberately is trying to pick from these schools. Anyone can apply for a White House internship and potentially get it. The value of being in DC at a school like these is the career counselor helps you get the real scoop and can refer you to someone who had that internship or worked there before.

Actually I think a big problem with large organizations is that they try so hard to make it not about who you know – bureaucratic language and extremely formal – that it actually backfires as no one can understand the process so helps people who know people who know how to navigate the process (mouthful eh).

Every large organization I’ve ever applied for (govt and private sector) is like that – so formal that the formal channel is a black hole which only emphasizes need for informal channels and who you know

Chris Poirier

Ah good sir, but the discussion has focus on the school (by name more so than by location.) We don’t See CUA, Howard, UMUC, George Mason, and the list go on make that list do we? So, it’s not just geographics is it? (If it were geographics then my argument would ring true as I am more than positive CUA, Howard, and GMU have equally if not overly qualified candidates that also share the geography.) There is obviously something else in the mix and that something isn’t exactly a secret, sadly this town truly can be about who you know more often than not…(In fact I have CUA friends that were well suited for internships and PMFs but didn’t even score interviews despite having interned on the Hill, spent the last six years in DC, did well academically etc. Equally I have friends that did little more than attend Georgetown and GWU and landed PMF positions with little effort.)

My point is the system is broken..which you mention as well..so the question is how do we make government work about the skills and the person and not the degree (piece of paper and or who issued it.)?


Very good point…more than just location – I missed that piece.

Another piece would be what’s the size of school? The bigger school would have more people at WH if same % as others. Which may be helping Maryland but shows GMU and UMUC should really be on list

David Kuehn

One of my favorite parts on coming to work for the federal government was the diversity of backgrounds. I worked and continue to work with very bright people who grew up from every region of the U.S. and overseas and attended elite private universities located on the coasts, large public universities from the midwest, and all schools in between. Not having to attend the “right” school provides an advantage to the U.S. government over many foriegn governments where political and bureacratic leaders come from a very narrow list of schools.