From Campus to Capitol: The Top Southern Alma Maters for Congress Members

From Campus to Capitol: The Top Southern Alma Maters for Congress Members

Maizie on November 1, 2016

College rivalries are fierce, especially in the South. But which Southern schools can claim the most alumni in today’s US Congress? And did your own university make the list?

Magoosh analyzed data from every college and university across the US to find out how many current congressmen and women graduated from each. Below is a ranking of Southern schools and colleges that have produced the most members of today’s US congresspersons.

To learn more about the educational backgrounds of current members of Congress, visit Degrees of Red and Blue.

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1st Place 

Each 1st place school has ten alumni currently in U.S. Congress.

University of Florida

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  • Rep. Jeff Miller (R-FL): B.A. Journalism
  • Rep. John Mica (R-FL): B.A. Education
  • Rep. Corrine Brown (D-FL): M.A. Education
  • Rep. Debbie Wasserman Shultz (D-FL): B.A. & M.P.S. (Master of Political Science)
  • Rep. Evan Jenkins (R-WV): B.A. Business Administration
  • Rep. Gus Bilirakis (R-FL): B.A. Political Science
  • Rep. Ander Crenshaw (R-FL): J.D.
  • Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL): B.A. Political Science
  • Rep. Tom Rooney (R-FL): M.A. Political Science
  • Rep. Ted Yoho (R-FL): B.A. Agriculture & DVM (Doctor of Veterinary Medicine

Fun Fact: 9 out of 10 UF alumni in U.S. Congress chose to stay in-state and rep Florida. That’s 9 Gators currently repping the Sunshine State! #GatorNation

University of Virginia

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  • Rep. Mark Sanford (R-SC): MBA
  • Sen. Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV): M.Ed. (Master of Higher Ed Counseling)
  • Rep. Andy Barr (R-KY): B.A. Government and Philosophy
  • Rep. Sean Patrick Malone (D-NY): B.A. International Relations & J.D.
  • Sen. Angus King (Ind-ME): J.D.
  • Sen. Bill Nelson (D-FL): J.D.
  • Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX): J.D.
  • Rep. Randy Forbes (R-VA): J.D.
  • Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee (D-TX): J.D.
  • Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI): J.D.

Fun Fact: There are 9 more UVA alums in today’s Congress than VT alums. Something to smack talk about at the next Commonwealth Cup?

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2nd Place

Each 2nd place school has seven alumni currently in U.S. Congress.

University of Georgia

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  • Rep. Austin Scott (R-GA): B.A. Risk Management and Insurance
  • Rep. Buddy Carter (R-GA): B.A. Pharmacy
  • Sen. Johnny Isakson (R-GA): B.A. Business Administration
  • Rep. Tom Graves (R-GA): B.A. Business Administration
  • Rep. Ander Crenshaw (R-FL): B.A.
  • Rep. Rob Woodall (R-GA): J.D.
  • Rep. Dina Titus (D-NV): M.P.S. (Master of Political Science)

Fun Fact: UGA doesn’t only produce U.S. politicians. Its list of famous alumni also includes Abd Al-Karim Al-Iryani, the Prime Minister of Yemen from 1998 to 2001. He got his Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees in Agriculture at UGA. (source)

University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

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  • Rep. Rob Wittman (R-VA): M.P.H. (Master of Public Health)
  • Rep. Susan Davis (D-CA): M.S.W. (Master of Social Work)
  • Rep. Jim Cooper (D-TN): B.A. History and Economics
  • Rep. Mick Mulvaney (R-SC): J.D.
  • Rep. Gwen Graham (D-FL): B.A. Political Science
  • Rep. Virginia Foxx (R-NC): B.A. English and Sociology
  • Rep. David Price (D-NC): B.A. History

Fun Fact: It’s no wonder budding politicians are attracted to this university. UNC is home to Campus Y, a nationally-renowned social justice center founded in 1859. Campus Y is home to many international and service organizations and has consistently been the center of progressive movements within UNC. (source)

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3rd Place 

Each 3rd place school has six alumni currently in U.S. Congress.

University of Mississippi 

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  • Sen. Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH): M.P.S. (Master of Political Science)
  • Rep. John Fleming (R-LA): B.S. Pharmacy & M.D.
  • Rep. Gregg Harper (R-MS): J.D.
  • Sen. Roger Wicker (R-MS): B.A. Journalism and Political Science & J.D.
  • Sen. Thad Cochran (R-MS): B.A. Psychology & J.D.
  • Rep. Trent Kelly (R-MS): B.A. Business Administration & J.D.

Fun Fact: These congressmen aren’t the only high-profile law school graduates from University of Mississippi. Legal thriller writer John Grisham also got his J.D. at Ole Miss Law and served as a U.S. Representative for Mississippi from 1984-1990. (source)

University of Miami 

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  • Rep. Patrick Murphy (D-FL): B.A. Business Administration
  • Rep. Carlos Curbelo (R-FL): B.A. Public Administration & M.P.A.
  • Rep. Frederica Wilson (D-FL): M.Ed. (Master of Elementary Education)
  • Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL): J.D.
  • Rep. Tom Rooney (R-FL): J.D.
  • Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL): D.Ed. (Doctor of Higher Education)

Fun Fact: Marco Rubio isn’t the only one to come out of UM with presidential dreams. Former president of Perú, Fernando Belaúnde Terry, also attended UM and studied architecture before transferring. (source)

University of Alabama

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  • Rep. Gary Palmer (R-AL): B.A. Operations Management
  • Rep. Chris Collins (R-NY): MBA
  • Sen. Richard Shelby (R-AL): B.A. Pre-Law; LLB
  • Rep. Bradley Byrne (R-AL): J.D.
  • Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-AL): J.D.
  • Rep. Mo Brooks (R-AL): J.D.

Fun Fact: We all know UA churns out a crimson tide of all-star athletes. But did you know the school has also produced more than 40 political activists, attorneys, and national and state politicians? Among the most notable are Maud McLure Kelly, the first woman to practice law in Alabama, and William Brockman Bankhead, former Speaker of the House. (source)

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4th Place

Each 4th place school has five alumni currently in U.S. Congress.

Louisiana State University

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  • Rep. Steve Scalise (R-LA): B.S. Computer Programming
  • Rep. Jeff Fortenberry (R-NE): B.A. Economics
  • Rep. Charles Boustany (R-LA): M.D.
  • Sen. Bill Cassidy (R-LA): B.A. Biochemistry & M.D.
  • Rep. Ralph Abraham (R-LA): B.A. Veterinary Medicine & M.D.

Fun Fact: LSU must really trust the governing abilities of its student body. The school’s student government controls $5.5 million a year to do things like support student initiatives and fund the SG Newspaper Initiative that provides free copies of The Advocate, Wall Street Journal, and The New York Times. (source)

Vanderbilt University 

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  • Rep. French Hill (R-AR): B.A. Economics
  • Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-TN): B.A. Latin American History
  • Rep. Steve Cohen (D-TN): B.A.
  • Rep. Leonard Lance (R-NJ): J.D.
  • Rep. Luke Messer (R-IN): J.D.

Fun Fact: These congressmen must have had really stellar SAT scores. Vanderbilt is known as one of the most selective universities in the U.S. In 2016, it only accepted 8.8% of its 28,700 applicants. (source)

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5th Place

Each 5th place school has four alumni currently in U.S. Congress.

University of South Carolina

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  • Rep. Tom Rice (R-SC): B.A. Accounting, M.A.Acct. & J.D.
  • Rep. Trey Gowdy (R-SC): J.D.
  • Rep. Joe Wilson (R-SC): J.D.
  • Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC): B.A. Psychology & J.D.

Fun Fact: Senator Lindsey Graham was the first person in his extended family to attend college. He got both his undergraduate and J.D. at University of South Carolina. (source)

University of Kentucky

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  • Rep. Louise Slaughter (D-NY): B.S. Microbiology & M.P.H. (Master of Public Health)
  • Rep. Andy Barr (R-KY): J.D.
  • Rep. Ed Whitfield (R-KY): B.A. Political Science, J.D.
  • Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-KY, Senate Majority Leader): J.D.

Fun Fact: More than half of UK’s alumni still live in Kentucky, including the four congresspersons above. No wonder the Wildcats’ cheering section is always so strong!

University of Tennessee

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  • Rep. Phil Roe (R-TN): M.D.
  • Sen. Bob Corker (R-TN): B.A. Industrial Management
  • Rep. Jimmy Duncan (R-TN): B.A. Journalism
  • Rep. Chuck Fleischmann (R-TN): J.D.

Fun Fact: UT is one of the oldest public universities in the U.S. and its political roots run deep. In fact, it is the only university in America with three ongoing presidential papers projects — all for presidents from Tennesseee (Andrew Jackson, James K. Polk and Andrew Johnson). (source)

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6th Place

Each 6th place school has three alumni currently in U.S. Congress.

Wake Forest University

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  • Sen. Richard Burr (R-NC): B.A. Communications
  • Rep. Donna Edwards (D-MD): B.A. English and Spanish
  • Rep. George Holding (R-NC): B.A. Classics & J.D.

Fun Fact: Burr, Edwards and Holding are in some very impressive company as Wake Forest alumni. Among the school’s most famous graduates is world-renowned poet Maya Angelou. (source)

Samford University 

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  • Rep. Dennis Ross (R-FL): J.D.
  • Rep. Martha Roby (R-AL): J.D.
  • Rep. Robert Aderholt (R-AL): J.D.

Fun Fact: The Cumberland School of Law at Samford University is the the 11th oldest law school in the country. Its graduates include all three representatives above, two U.S. Supreme Court Justices, and Cordell Hull (“the father of the United Nations”). (source)

Washington and Lee University

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  • Rep. Joe Wilson (R-SC): B.A. Political Science
  • Rep. Bob Goodlatte (R-VA): J.D.
  • Rep. Morgan Griffith (R-VA): J.D.

Fun Fact: This university used to be called Liberty Hall, so why is it called Washington and Lee today? 1. Because in 1796, George Washington endowed the school with $20K in stock (which was unheard of at the time); and 2. Because after his defeat in the Civil War, General Robert E. Lee served as the university’s president until his death. (source)

Fisk University

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  • Rep. John Lewis (D-GA): B.A. Religion and Philosophy
  • Rep. Frederica Wilson (D-FL): B.A. Elementary Education
  • Rep. Alcee Hastings (D-FL): B.A. Zoology and Botany

Fun Fact:Thanks to its Master’s-to-Ph.D. Bridge Program founded in 2010, Fisk University tops of the list of American schools that award Ph.D.s to underrepresented minorities. (source)

Florida A&M University

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  • Rep. Alcee Hastings (D-FL): J.D.
  • Rep. Corrine Brown (D-FL): B.A. Agriculture
  • Rep. David Scott (D-GA): B.S. Finance

Fun Fact: This year, Essence and Money magazine ranked Florida A&M the top HBCU (Historically Black College and University) in the nation. (source)

Georgia Tech

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  • Sen. David Perdue (R-GA): B.S. Industrial Engineering, M.S. Operations Research
  • Rep. Bill Webster (R-FL): B.S. Electrical Engineering
  • Rep. Bill Johnson (R-OH): M.S. Computer Science

Fun Fact: Georgia Tech is no stranger to big-name politicians. More than 100 years ago in 1905, former U.S. President Theodore Roosevelt visited the school’s campus to give a speech on the importance of technological education. After he finished, he took time to shake every single student’s hand.(source)

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Photo Attributions:
1 – Photo at top courtesy of Shutterstock user Melinda Fawver.