Where Did Ron DeSantis Go to College?

The Florida governor and 2024 Republican presidential candidate earned degrees from two Ivy League universities, which now he claims are
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Updated on December 18, 2023
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  • Despite his public disdain for "elite" universities, the Florida governor earned two degrees from Ivy League institutions himself.
  • DeSantis earned his undergraduate degree in history from Yale University and tacked on a second Ivy League degree when he graduated from Harvard Law School.
  • In April, DeSantis received an honorary doctorate in humanities from Liberty University.

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis has been grabbing national headlines for his culture war policies, which include new laws impacting the LGBTQ+ community, his takeover of New College of Florida, and attempts to reconstruct higher education in the state.

Among the most controversial bills DeSantis signed in the last two years are bills attempting to eliminate "woke" ideology across Florida's educational system such as the Stop the Wrongs to Our Kids and Employees (Stop WOKE) Act.

Now, the Florida governor is also a top Republican candidate for U.S. president, duking it out with Mike Pence, Nikki Haley, Tim Scott, Vivek Ramaswamy, and Chris Christie to take on frontrunner Donald Trump.

"Truth must be our foundation, and common sense can no longer be an uncommon virtue. In Florida, we proved that it can be done," he said in a video posted on X announcing his candidacy. "We chose facts over fear, education over indoctrination, law and order over rioting and disorder. We held the line when freedom hung in the balance."

Indeed, higher education reform will apparently play a big part in his presidential campaign. The country has spent hundreds of billions propping up a broken university system that charges too much tuition and yields substandard results, DeSantis claims in his policy paper, "Declaration of Economic Independence."

The Republican presidential candidate's political career started back in 2012 when he was elected to Congress, but his political stances started to form well before then, when he was surrounded by "strident leftism" at Yale University.

DeSantis Went Ivy, in a Big Way

After a successful baseball career at Florida's Dunedin High School, DeSantis traveled north to Yale University in the late '90s, where he studied history and served as captain of the Yale Bulldogs varsity baseball team, all while working several jobs to afford school.

The Yale Daily News revealed that DeSantis, as a senior captain, considered himself as more of a teacher than a motivator on the baseball field. He graduated from Yale with his bachelor of arts, magna cum laude, in 2001.

Later in 2014, DeSantis won the Yale Baseball Man of the Year award during the Yale Baseball Leadoff Dinner, according to the Yale Daily News.

"I wasn’t someone destined to go to the Ivy League. … The fact that we had the camaraderie of Yale baseball made Yale a positive experience for me," DeSantis said at the dinner.

Following his graduation, DeSantis left New Haven, Connecticut, and taught history at Darlington School, a private school in Rome, Georgia. DeSantis then went on to receive his law degree from Harvard Law School, where he graduated in 2005 with cum laude honors, and earned a commission in the U.S. Navy as a judge advocate general (JAG) officer.

DeSantis then deployed to Iraq as an advisor to a U.S. Navy SEAL commander. During his service, he received a Bronze Star Medal for Meritorious Service and the Iraq Campaign Medal.

According to The New Haven Register, despite his academic and athletic dedication at Yale and Harvard, DeSantis heavily criticizes his Ivy League education in his new book, "The Courage to be Free: Florida's Blueprint for America's Revival."

After "withstand[ing] seven years of indoctrination in the Ivy League," DeSantis wrote in his book that having Yale and Harvard on his resumé has since served as a "Scarlet Letter" in his political career, since grassroots conservatives were "understandably skeptical" of those institutions.

An Honorary Doctorate

"I am honored to be here, and I look forward to the battles ahead. I will fight the good fight. I will finish the race. I will keep the faith," DeSantis said to a room of graduating seniors on April 14 at Liberty University's convocation.

Liberty University, "a distinctively Christian academic community" in Lynchburg, Virginia, claims to have the world's largest gathering of Christian students during convocation, where they hosted more than 80 nationally known speakers during spring graduation.

The governor shared the importance of fighting for truth in the midst of a "woke" culture.

Following his address, Provost and Chief Academic Officer Scott Hicks declared DeSantis an "honorary graduate" of the university. He received an honorary doctorate of humanities for "his service to God, family, [the] country, and Florida", according to Florida's Voice, a network based out of southwest Florida.