Want to be a politician? Here’s what world leaders studied

Want to be a politician? Here's what world leaders studied
You don't have to study politics to gain entrance to this sector. Source: Shutterstock

If you’re an aspiring politician, you might think politics or history are the most relevant courses to kick-start your career – but what did current world leaders study to get to where they are today?

According to recent data, 21 percent of world leaders studied politics or economics at university while 17 percent of leaders – including Russia’s Vladimir Putin and Rodrigo Duterte of the Philippines – studied law.

The remaining 62 percent of world leaders study a whole range of subjects from business and finance, to medicine, education and engineering – so while no class can teach you ‘how to achieve world domination’, it seems there is no single path to getting there either.

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The breadth of degrees studied should be a breath of fresh air for students looking to pursue a career in politics but don’t know what to study. Family pressure or concerns about competitiveness of the field could dissuade many students from committing to the subject, but data shows that many passions can lead to a successful political career.

With 83 percent of world leaders holding some form of post-secondary qualification, it’s a good idea to earn a degree if you hope to join them one day – unless you plan to climb the ranks in the military like many current leaders in Africa and Asia.

Studying abroad is an especially interesting experience if you plan to be a politician, instilling empathy towards global cultures as you begin to understand your place in the world, and develop a more globalised political perspective.

Only 7 percent of leaders studied business and finance, followed by 5 percent who studied maths or science disciplines. Eight percent studied the arts and humanities, while 7 percent pursued engineering and architecture.

Trends for what course global politicians studied also varies widely based on the region in question. In Europe for example, a quarter of leaders chose law as their major, while African politicians demonstrate a strong military background.

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This indicates the diversity of political backgrounds that come to lead the world. By studying a subject you’re truly passionate about, or a programme you believe is vital for your line of politics, you’re more likely to have a broader perspective to inform your political ideas.

The Americas are perhaps the most educationally-diverse region, with leaders studying everything from environmental geography (Canada’s Justin Trudeau) to Cuban President Miguel Díaz-Canel’s pursuit of electrical engineering.

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Some African leaders also hold university qualifications, includian Gambian leader Adama Barrow who has a real estate diploma, and Zanzibar President Ali Mohamed Shein, who has a PhD in clinical biochemistry and metabolic medicine.

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These global differences are important to consider when choosing your course , since even if you study abroad, your professional journey as a politician is likely to begin back in your home country.

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