If Scott Walker were elected president of the United States, he would stand out as one of only a handful of current world leaders who did not complete their college education.
The Republican governor of Wisconsin dropped out of Marquette University in the spring semester of his senior year, in 1990, just short of completing his degree.
The state’s Democratic Party claims Walker, who had been active in student politics, was forced out of school for his role in a scheme to destroy newspapers that were critical of him.
But Walker maintains that he left Marquette as a career decision, and the university said in a statement that he voluntarily withdrew as a student in good standing.
Regardless of the reason behind his decision to leave college without a degree, Walker – widely believed to be a 2016 Republican candidate – would be the first U.S. president without one since Harry S. Truman.
The 33rd president, who was elected in 1948, was unable to complete his college studies due to his family’s financial troubles just after high school and then after losing a government job later, when he was in his mid-30s.
Nine other U.S. presidents — including George Washington, Andrew Jackson, and Abraham Lincoln – did not earn college degrees. The last president before Truman without a degree was William McKinley, re-elected in 1900.
The majority of current world leaders, elected or otherwise, have graduated from some type of college or university.
Most of those who failed to complete their degrees either dropped out to participate in various revolutionary movements or engage in civil warfare.
Algeria President Abdelaziz Bouteflika, Cuba President Raúl Castro, Eritrea President Isaias Afwerki, and Nicaragua President Daniel Ortega each interrupted their college studies to join revolutionary groups.
Congo President Joseph Kabila abandoned his studies to join his father in overthrowing the government, and East Timor President Taur Matan Ruak fought guerilla warfare as part of a separatist group against the Indonesian government.
Rwanda President Paul Kagame also joined a guerilla movement, Yoweri Museveni’s National Resistance Army, after completing high school.
Very little is known about the early life of South Sudan President Salva Kiir Mayardit, including his date of birth, but he began fighting as a teenager in the First Sudanese Civil War.
Bolivian President Evo Morales was raised by subsistence farmers and did not complete his high school education, and he admits he never developed a love of reading.
South Africa President Jacob Zuma never received formal schooling because he went to work as a young boy after his father died, although he eventually taught himself to read, write, and speak several languages.
Djibouti President Ismaïl Omar Guelleh also failed to complete high school, but he joined the civil service and eventually rose to be head of the country’s secret police and then a cabinet member under his uncle’s government.
Dési Bouterse, president of Suriname, did not complete high school and was conscripted into the Dutch army, and Chad President Idriss Déby earned a pilot’s license in France but does not hold a traditional degree.
Fiji President Epeli Nailatikau joined the military after leaving high school and eventually rose to the rank of brigadier general.
Haiti President Michel Martelly became a successful musician after he was expelled from a military academy.
Like Walker, Paraguay President Horacio Cartes dropped out of college for a career opportunity — starting a currency exchange business that earned millions but eventually landed him in jail for 60 days in a fraud investigation.
Swedish Prime Minister Stefan Löfven dropped out of college to work as a welder and quickly became a union leader.
Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan, president of the United Arab Emirates, was appointed at age 18 to two high-ranking government posts and eventually succeeded his father as president.
Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro became interested in left-wing politics while in high school and decided to purse training as a community organizer in Cuba instead of attending college.
Tomislav Nikolić, the Serbian president, has been accused of buying a master’s degree from the University of Novi Sad without attending a single class or exam, because his diploma lacks a stamp and no other students recall seeing him.