Where Did Kamala Harris Go to College?

The vice president credits her educational background and life experiences for how she ended up in the nation's second-highest public office.
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Jessica Bryant is a higher education analyst and senior data reporter for BestColleges. She covers higher education trends and data, focusing on issues impacting underserved students. She has a BA in journalism and previously worked with the South Fl...
Updated on May 15, 2023
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  • Vice President Kamala Harris attended Howard University, an HBCU, as an undergraduate student.
  • She later attended the University of California, Hastings College of Law where she earned her JD degree.
  • Despite graduating more than 30 years ago, Harris continues to praise her experience at Howard as one of the most important in her life.

Vice President Kamala Harris takes pride in her educational journey — so much so that she credits her experiences as an undergraduate college student for propelling her career in politics and public service.

So why did the California native choose a college across the country, in Washington, D.C.?

The vice president has said she knew she wanted to attend a historically Black college or university (HBCU) and enrolled in Howard University in 1982.

Attending Howard was a dream come true, Harris has said, as she grew up hearing stories about the institution from her aunt who is also an alum.

While at Howard, Harris represented first-year students on the College of Arts and Sciences Student Council, became a member of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc., and served on the institution's debate team.

She graduated from Howard in 1986 with a bachelor of arts degree in economics and political science.

Today, she frequently looks back at her time at Howard as one of the most important aspects of her life.

"The thing that Howard taught me is that you can do any collection of things, and not one thing to the exclusion of the other," Harris told Howard Magazine. "You could be homecoming queen and valedictorian. There are no false choices at Howard."

Following her journey at Howard, Harris returned to California to attend the University of California, Hastings College of Law, which has since been renamed the University of California College of the Law, San Francisco. While in law school, Harris served as president of the Black Law Students Association.

She graduated in 1989, earning a juris doctor (JD) degree and was admitted to the California Bar in 1990.

How Vice President Harris Continues to Celebrate Her Education

Though it's been more than 30 years since Vice President Harris graduated from both Howard and law school, she continues to celebrate her education today.

She frequently returns to her undergraduate alma mater to support and encourage current students, as well as to host campaign events.

Just last month, Harris visited Howard to criticize lawmakers who are seeking to restrict and ban reproductive rights across the country.

Beyond her many visits to campus, Harris regularly speaks of her experiences in college as ones that were not only formative for herself but also for her peers who looked like her.

"That was the beauty of Howard," she wrote in her 2019 memoir. "Every signal told students that we could be anything — that we were young, gifted and Black, and we shouldn’t let anything get in the way of our success."