Requirements to be President of the United States

American Presidents Are Mostly Rich, Married and Christian

The constitutional requirements to be president are pretty straightforward: You've got to be a "natural born" citizen of the United States. You've got to be at least 35 years old. And you're required to have lived within the United States for at least 14 years. 

But there's much, much more to becoming the most powerful person in the free world. Most presidents are highly educated, wealthy, white, Christian and married, not to mention a member of one of the two major political parties.

But they're not among the requirements of being president.

Here's a look at the requirements of being president.

National Archives - Truman Library

Every president elected to the White House in modern history has held at least a bachelor's degree. Most have earned advanced degrees or law degrees from Ivy League schools. But you're not constitutionally required to have a college degree, or even a high school diploma, to be the leader of the most powerful nation on earth. Read more ... More »

Republican Ben Carson said he doesn't think a Muslim should be president of the United States.
Republican Ben Carson said he doesn't think a Muslim should be president of the United States. Getty Images News

The U.S. Constitution makes it clear that no "religious Test shall ever be required as a Qualification to any Office or public Trust under the United States" - despite what one of the Republican presidential candidates said in 2016 about banning Muslims being president. Read more ...

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U.S. Sen. John McCain
Sen. John McCain was born in 1936 at the Coco Solo Naval Air Station in the Panama Canal Zone. Both parents were U.S. citizens. In April 2008, the U.S. Senate approved a non-binding resolution recognizing that McCain is a natural born citizen. Getty Images

To be President, you must be a "natural born" citizen, according to Section I, Article II of the U.S. Constitution. So what exactly is a natural born citizen? It's not as clear as you might think. Read more ... More »

Sen. Ted Cruz
Republican U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas. Andrew Burton/Getty Images

You don't have to be born inside the United States to be eligible to serve as president of the United States as long as one of more of your parents were American citizens at the time of birth. The child of parents who are U.S. citizens, regardless of whether he or she is born abroad like U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz, fits into the category of natural born citizen under most modern interpretations. Read more ... More »

James Buchanan
Portrait of James Buchanan, who served as the nation's 15th president from 1791-1868. National Archives/Getty Images News

There's been only one bachelor president in U.S. history: James Buchanan. Modern voters are skeptical of unmarried politicians and tend to vote for those with families. They want to elect not just a president, but a First Family and First Lady as well. Here's a look at our only bachelor president. Read more ... More »

Gerald Ford
President Gerald Ford served as president of the United States but was never elected to the office. Chris Polk/FilmMagic

There have been five presidents in American history who never actually won a presidential election. The most recent was Republican Gerald Ford, the 38th president of the United States. How in the world does that happen? Read more ... More »

President Bill Clinton
President Bill Clinton was often criticized for waffling. The White House

If you want to be president of the United States, you've got to be only 35 years old. The nation has never elected a 35-year-old president. But it has elected a 42-year-old, Theodore Roosevelt, who is America's youngest ever. Here's a look at the five youngest president in history. Read more ... More »

Bush delivers 2002 State of Union
Bush delivers his 2002 State of the Union address. Whitehouse Photo

Here's the cold, hard reality: The net worth of every modern American presidents is in the millions of dollars. But there are also stories of hardship such as Harry S. Truman, the poorest president in modern U.S. history. The Democrat was one of the "saddest cases of presidential hardship" and could barely provide for his family, historians and scholars say. He's the exception, not the rule. Read more ... More »

Ralph Nader
Getty Images

Ross Perot, Ralph Nader and George Wallace made quite an impact on the presidential race in the years they ran. But they ran as independents and played the role of spoiler, not the victor. The chances of winning the presidency as an independent are infinitesimal. Here's why. Read more ... More »

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Murse, Tom. "Requirements to be President of the United States." ThoughtCo, Jan. 30, 2016, thoughtco.com/requirements-to-be-us-president-3368134. Murse, Tom. (2016, January 30). Requirements to be President of the United States. Retrieved from https://www.thoughtco.com/requirements-to-be-us-president-3368134 Murse, Tom. "Requirements to be President of the United States." ThoughtCo. https://www.thoughtco.com/requirements-to-be-us-president-3368134 (accessed May 21, 2018).