Donald Trump, business mogul and 45th president of the United States, is a graduate of the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania.
However, Trump’s college education and academic record have long been the subject of interest and speculation. This article provides an in-depth look at Trump’s educational background, including the different schools he attended and what he studied.
New York Military Academy (1959-1964)
After some behavior issues at his initial school, Trump’s parents enrolled him at age 13 in the New York Military Academy (NYMA), a private boarding school in upstate Cornwall, New York (). The academy emphasized rigid structure, military-style discipline, and athletic participation. Trump thrived at NYMA, becoming a star athlete and rising to the rank of cadet captain by his senior year ().
Academics and Activities
At NYMA, Trump did well academically, especially in math and science courses. He played varsity football, soccer, and baseball, and served as a team captain (). Classmates said Trump excelled at managing and motivating teammates. Trump also participated in school marching drills, attaining several medals for neatness and precision. He graduated from NYMA in 1964.
Fordham University (1964-1966)
Trump began his college career at Fordham University in the Bronx, one of New York City’s Jesuit Catholic institutions. He entered the business administration program at Fordham, hoping to build the skills and contacts needed to succeed in real estate ().
Academics and Activities
At Fordham, Trump maintained solid grades and joined a fraternity. However, he was reportedly bored with the curriculum and wanted a more urban campus experience (). After two years at Fordham, Trump decided to transfer to the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania.
Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania (1966-1968)
The Wharton School, part of the Ivy League’s University of Pennsylvania, is considered one of the most prestigious business schools in the world. Trump enrolled in the real estate focused program at Wharton as a junior transfer student in 1966.
Academics and Activities
Trump continued earning good grades at Wharton and joined another fraternity. He took courses in finance, management, marketing, and real estate. Trump chose to specialize in real estate, the area that most interested him ().
Trump has often boasted of his academic success at Wharton, although his exact academic record remains private. Trump completed his bachelor’s degree in economics at Wharton in 1968.
Despite Trump’s claims of being “first in his class” at Wharton, there is no evidence to support this (). His peers do not remember Trump as an exceptional student. Due to the nature of transfer credits, it is unclear what Trump’s final GPA was at graduation. Critics argue Trump exaggerates his academic achievements at Wharton for political purposes.
After finishing his degree, Trump did not pursue traditional further education like an MBA or law degree. He joined his father’s real estate company in New York, learning the business first-hand. Trump helped manage his father’s housing projects in Queens and Brooklyn in the 1970s ().
In the decades since, Trump has received several honorary degrees from schools, although he does not hold any other earned academic credentials. Trump’s practical real-world experience became his primary education in real estate finance and deal-making.
Donald Trump took an uncommon path through higher education on his way to business success. His disciplined military school experience provided structure before moving onto Fordham and the elite Wharton School. Trump did not follow the typical academic trajectory after college either. However, his unorthodox educational background led him to the top of the real estate world and eventually the U.S. presidency.
- The New York Times. “Chasing the Ghosts of New York Military Academy.” https://www.nytimes.com/2019/11/08/nyregion/trump-military-academy.html
- Biography. “Young Donald Trump: Athletic Energy” https://www.biography.com/news/young-donald-trump-athletic-energy
- InsideHook. “Donald Trump’s Epic Baseball Career at Military Academy.” https://www.insidehook.com/article/sports/donald-trump-baseball-career-new-york-military-academy
- Fordham Observer. “Trump’s History At Fordham.” https://fordhamobserver.com/32004/opinions/trumps-history-at-fordham/
- USA Today. “Trump transferred to Wharton after his father ‘backdoor’ intervened.” https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/politics/onpolitics/2018/05/21/donald-trump-jr-dad-didnt-have-go-wharton/627800002/
- Penn Archives. “Donald J. Trump Penn Alumni Card.” https://archives.upenn.edu/exhibits/penn-people/biography/donald-j-trump
- The Daily Pennsylvanian. “Penn has ‘no record’ of Donald Trump completing the ‘superior’ Wharton degree he claims to hold.” https://www.thedp.com/article/2020/11/donald-trump-wharton-upenn-records
- Washington Post. “Trump learned about business by shadowing his father.” https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/post-politics/wp/2016/04/03/donald-trumps-lesson-from-his-father-impact-his-cities-bottom-line-not-social-mobility/
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