Q&A on the News

Q: I was surprised to read in your column that Karen Handel, running for office in the 6th Congressional District, does not have a college degree. Are there any educational requirements to run for Congress?

–Tina Budnitz, Peachtree Corners

A: No. While most modern congressmen and congresswomen do have bachelor's, graduate or professional degrees, it is not required. There are only three requirements for members of the U.S. House of Representatives – and none of them involve level of education.

In Article I, Section 2, the U.S. Constitution establishes these conditions for members serving in the U.S. House of Representatives:

  • Representatives must be at least 25 years old.
  • They must have been a citizen of the United States for at least seven years.
  • At the time of their election, they must be an inhabitant of the state they were elected to represent.

According to the U.S. House website, the Constitution “placed notably few hurdles between ordinary citizens and becoming a member of the U.S. House of Representatives,” in part because the founders wanted the House to be the legislative chamber closest to the people.

Handel attended Prince George’s Community College in Largo, Md., as well as the University of Maryland’s University College, but does not have a degree.

Fast Copy News Service wrote this column; Keith Still contributed. Do you have a question? We’ll try to get the answer. Call 404-222-2002 or email q&a@ajc.com (include name, phone and city).