Bringing the Economy Home

PhDs, MDs And JDs Among Idaho Lawmakers’ Diverse Educational Backgrounds

The vast majority of Idaho legislators have a college degree. Seventy percent of Idaho’s 2013 Legislature has a bachelor’s degree or higher. U.S. Census data show 24 percent of Idaho’s general population has a bachelor’s degree or higher.

Data Sources: U.S. Census Bureau, Project Vote Smart, Idaho Legislators

Over the last month, StateImpact Idaho collected basic demographic information on Idaho’s incoming Legislature. We’ve looked at lawmakers’ ages compared with the population they represent, their occupations, and the male-female split. We want to better understand the make-up of Idaho’s Legislature and how it compares with the general population.

Idaho’s Constitution says the only two requirements for becoming a legislator are that you must be a U.S. citizen, and you must live in your county or district for at least a year before being elected.  Unlike many civilian jobs, a certain level of education isn’t required.

There are 25 people in Idaho’s incoming Legislature who don’t have a college degree.  Thirty-seven Idaho lawmakers, or 35 percent, have advanced degrees, that includes 12 JDs, two MBAs, three PhDs and three MDs.  Just 7.6 percent of Idahoans hold advanced degrees.

A large number of Idaho lawmakers attended college within the state.  There’s also a fair number of legislators who graduated from Utah’s Brigham Young University.

Their degrees or areas of study cover a broad spectrum.  Here’s a sampling:

  • Political Science
  • Agricultural Business Management
  • Social Work
  • International Relations
  • Middle Eastern Studies
  • Chemical Engineering
  • Latin American Literature
  • Mathematics
  • Forest Economics
  • Finance

*This post has been updated to reflect the fact that Rep. Mark Patterson doesn’t have a bachelor’s degree, as was first reported.


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