What Was Barack Obama’s Education?

Get the scoop on Barack Obama’s education, from his early childhood days through his time at Columbia University.

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Early Education

Barack Obama’s early education began in Jakarta, Indonesia where he attended elementary school at the Catholic school, Besuki. He then returned to Hawaii to attend Punahou School from the fifth grade until his graduation from high school in 1979. Obama later attended Occidental College for two years before transferring to Columbia University. He graduated from Columbia in 1983 with a B.A. in political science.

Occidental College

Occidental College is a private liberal arts college in Los Angeles, California. Founded in 1887 by clergy and members of the Presbyterian Church, Occidental College is often considered one of the most prestigious and selective colleges in the country.

Barack Obama attended Occidental College for two years before transferring to Columbia University. During his time atOccidental, Obama became involved in student government and was active in campus life. He also began exploring his interest in politics, and after attending a campus speech by activist Dick Gregory, Obama decided to pursue a career in public service.

Columbia University

After graduating from Punahou, Barack Obama attended Occidental College in Los Angeles for two years. He then transferred to Columbia University in New York City, where he majored in political science with a specialty in international relations. He graduated with a BA from Columbia in 1983.

Law School

Barack Obama graduated from Harvard Law School in 1991. He was the first African American to be elected as the president of the Harvard Law Review. After graduating from law school, Obama worked as a civil rights attorney and taught constitutional law at the University of Chicago Law School.

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Harvard Law School

Harvard Law School is one of the professional graduate schools of Harvard University, located in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Harvard Law offers four-year degree programs leading to the Juris Doctor (J.D.) and Master of Laws (LL.M.) degrees, three joint degrees with other Harvard graduate schools, and a doctorate in juridical science (S.J.D.).

Post-Law School

After Barack Obama graduated from Columbia University in 1983, he worked for a time as a community organizer in Harlem. He then attended Harvard Law School, where he was the first black president of the Harvard Law Review. Obama graduated from Harvard in 1991 and returned to Chicago.

Work as a Community Organizer

After Obama graduated from Columbia University in 1983, he moved to Chicago. There, he worked for a year at Business International Corporation, a business consulting firm, before taking a job as a community organizer with the Developing Communities Project (DCP) on the far South Side of Chicago from June 1985 to May 1988. His responsibilities included working with community leaders to set up after-school programs and organizing protests against factory closings.

Work as a Civil Rights Attorney

After law school, Barack Obama worked as a civil rights attorney. He represented people who had been discriminated against because of their race. He also worked on cases that involved voting rights and housing discrimination. In addition to his work as an attorney, Obama also taught constitutional law at the University of Chicago Law School.

Lecturer at the University of Chicago Law School

After his second year of law school, Obama became a summer associate at the Chicago law firm of Sidley & Austin. There, he worked on marketing and antitrust litigation. He was assigned to the firm’s New York office for his final year, and he graduated magna cum laude from Harvard Law School in 1991.

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After law school, Obama returned to Chicago. He worked as an attorney at the civil rights firm Davis, Miner, Barnhill & Galland and taught constitutional law at the University of Chicago Law School as a lecturer from 1992 to 2004. He also served as both chair and executive director of the Developing Communities Project, a church-based community organizing group working on issues like job creation, tenant rights, and school reform in poor neighborhoods on Chicago’s South Side.

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