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How educated is the 118th Congress?

By Lee Cleveland - March 4, 2023

According to a recent report from the Pew Research Center via the U.S. House and Senate biographical data, almost all of the U.S. representatives and senators in the 118th Congress possess a college degree, which is a continuation of an established pattern from previous years. Specifically, 94% of federal representatives hold at least a bachelor’s degree, and all Senators except for one have a bachelor’s degree or higher.

This analysis includes all of the 535 voting members of Congress seated as of March 3, 2023.

Since the 79th Congress (1945-46), the number of House and Senate members with college degrees has been on the rise. In fact,  56% of House members and 75% of senators had a bachelor’s degree or higher in that period. And by 1993-94, the 103rd Congress had seen a dramatic increase in the percentage of members holding bachelor’s degrees – reaching up to 90%. This has been the case in each Congress since then and continues to this day, with over nine-in-ten members having at least a Bachelor’s degree.

A huge portion of House representatives (64%) have attained a higher education degree beyond their bachelor’s, and only five representatives (1%) hold an associate degree without any further schooling while five percent of the members (22 in all) don’t possess a degree of higher learning.

Of the 100 current senators, a whopping 78 have at least one graduate degree and Republican Markwayne Mullin of Oklahoma is the sole senator without even an undergraduate degree. He holds an associate degree from Oklahoma State University of Technology.

Congress vs U.S. Averages
The current Congress is more educated than the average U.S. population, where only 38% of American adults aged 25 and over have a bachelor’s degree or higher, including 14% with a graduate degree or more, per Census Bureau data in 2021.

Political Parties
The level of academic attainment varies somewhat based on political party. In the House, 95% of Democrats and 93% of Republicans have a bachelor’s degree or higher. Additionally, 73% of Democrats have a graduate degree compared to 55% of Republicans.

Of the 22 Representatives without a college degree, 14 are Republicans. In the Senate, there is an almost equal number of Members from both parties who possess undergraduate and post-graduate degrees.