Thanks to LegiStorm’s database on Congressional staff and information from National Center for Education Statistics on college enrollment across the country, we can take the guesswork out of understanding the educational paths of Congresses’ behind the scenes workers.
Let’s start with the basics: which universities send the most graduates to Capitol Hill? Considering only bachelors degrees, this flight map shows the Top 25 producers of congressional aides, with George Washington University predictably coming out on top. Also unsurprisingly, a host of D.C.-bubble colleges—American, Virginia, Georgetown, Maryland—make the top 10. If you want to work in Congress, being educated next door helps.
And before you start shouting, “But, most of these are schools with huge enrollments! We should expect them to dominate smaller schools in how many staffers they produce,” we already have you covered. The map above plots the top producing schools (again, bachelor’s degrees only), but this time adjusting for the number of students enrolled in the school. In other words, this map shows how many congressional staffers the school graduated per 1,000 enrolled students. Here we see small, private schools showing that they have strong pipelines to the Hill.
Coming out on top is Sewanee, the College of the South with 11.56 staffers per 1,000 students, followed by Washington and Lee (10.5) and Claremont McKenna (8.42). Notice all of the deep south state schools disappear using the per capita metric and we see an influx of northeast schools—including Harvard—pop up (presumably because the NE has a disproportionate number of small, private schools). Interestingly, the only two that show up in the top 25 in both number of graduates and on a per capita basis is American and the College of William and Mary.
Finally, based on anecdotal evidence, many of the schools that make the list of top per capita institutions have strong DC-based internship programs, which grant students the opportunity to live and intern in Washington, and ultimately lower the barrier to entry for ultimately becoming Hill staffers. (See Washington and Lee’s, Claremont McKenna’s, and Hamilton College’s DC internship program websites for examples).