Where Did Barack Obama Go to College? The Full Academic Journey

Where Did Barack Obama Go to College?

So, where did Barack Obama go to college? Well, if you’re curious about the educational background of the 44th President of the United States, you’ve come to the right place. We’ll walk you through his academic life, from high school to college graduation. The journey begins with his time at an elite academy in Honolulu and ends at an Ivy League university in New York City.

NameBarack Hussein Obama II
Age62 years
D O B4 Aug 1961
OccupationFormer President of the United States

Early Years: Punahou School in Honolulu

Let’s begin with his time in high school. In Honolulu, Hawaii, at the prestigious Punahou School, Barack Obama received his diploma. He enrolled at Punahou in 1971 and graduated in 1979. Although Punahou is known for its rigorous academic program, Obama was not just a bookworm. He also showed a keen interest in sports like basketball.

The Initial Choice: Occidental College

After high school, Obama decided to head to the mainland for college. His first stop was Occidental College in Los Angeles, California. He attended Occidental for two years, from 1979 to 1981. While there, he started to get more involved in issues like social justice and politics.

In fact, some of his earliest public speeches were made during his time at Occidental. However, something was missing for him at Occidental, and soon he felt the need to transfer.

The Final Stop: Columbia University

Obama changed schools in 1981, enrolling at Columbia University in New York City. He studied in political science and focused on diplomatic affairs at this institution. At Columbia, Obama focused deeply on his studies, spending a lot of time reading and researching. Finally, he earned his Bachelor of Arts degree in 1983.

Columbia University is an Ivy League school, which means it’s one of the most prestigious institutions in the United States. It’s worth noting that his time at Columbia was crucial in shaping his worldviews Those views later became fundamental to his political career, ultimately leading him to the White House.

Why Did Obama Choose These Schools?

It’s interesting to consider why Obama made these academic choices. As a young man in Honolulu, he excelled in a challenging environment at Punahou School. That probably set the stage for him to aim for renowned colleges.

Occidental College offered him a space to grow and engage with his interests, but it was at Columbia University that he truly delved into political science. His transfer to Columbia allowed him to be in a more intellectually challenging environment in a city as dynamic as New York.

The Impact of College on Obama’s Life

It’s clear that each school had a different impact on Obama’s life. Punahou School gave him the foundational skills needed to excel in college. Occidental was the place where his interest in politics began to bud. On the other hand, Columbia University provided him with the intellectual tools he would later use as President.


Barack Obama’s academic journey was diverse and enriching. From the shores of Hawaii at Punahou School to the bustling city life of New York at Columbia University, each experience made him the person he is today. So, the next time someone asks, “Where did Barack Obama go to college?”, you’ll know the answer and understand the significant impact each institution had on his life.


Where did Barack Obama go to high school?

Barack Obama went to Punahou School, an upper-class academy in Honolulu, Hawaii. He went to this school from 1971 until his graduation in 1979.

Where did Barack Obama go to college first?

After getting graduating from high school, Obama went to Occidental College in Los Angeles, California. He was a student there from 1979 to 1981.

Did Barack Obama transfer colleges?

Yes, he did. After two years at Occidental College, Obama transferred to Columbia University in New York City. At Columbia, he majored in political science, focusing on international relations.

What degree did Barack Obama earn in college?

Obama earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in political science from Columbia University. He graduated in 1983.

Why did Barack Obama transfer from Occidental College to Columbia University?

Although the exact reasons are personal, it is known that Obama sought a more intellectually challenging environment and a chance to live in New York City. His move to Columbia allowed him to focus deeply on political science and international relations, which would later become vital in his career.

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