30 Celebrities with Surprising College Degrees — Best Life (2023)

Most of your favorite celebrities either studied acting in college or went straight from high school into a life of the arts. But, hey, not all of them. Some, like Aziz Ansari, went into academia with a completely different profession in mind, before being lured onto the stage. Others, like Natalie Portman, went to college once they were already famous, in order to pursue other interests alongside their screen careers. And others, like Danica McKellar, have made such major accomplishments in another profession that they're basically leading double lives. Read on to find out which famous celebrities also have surprising college degrees. And for more fascinating celebrity trivia, check out17 Celebs You Had No Idea Were So Tall.

1

Mayim Bialik: Neuroscience

30 Celebrities with Surprising College Degrees — Best Life (1)

Turns out Bialik is just as much of a genius as the one she plays on The Big Bang Theory. She earned her Ph.D. in neuroscience from the University of California, Los Angeles, focusing on obsessive compulsive disorder among people with Prader-Willi syndrome, a rare condition in which the hypothalamus malfunctions.

2

Natalie Portman: Psychology

30 Celebrities with Surprising College Degrees — Best Life (2)

Little known fact: Portman skipped the premiere of Star Wars: Phantom Menace because she was studying for her high school exams. She had two papers published in scientific journals while she was still in high school, and graduated from Harvard University with a B.A. in Psychology.

"I don't care if [college] ruins my career," Portman has said. "I'd rather be smart than a movie star." Turns out she's both! And speaking of the epic franchise,Here's Everything We Know aboutStar Wars: Episode IX.

3

Eva Longoria: Kinesiology

30 Celebrities with Surprising College Degrees — Best Life (3)

The Desperate Housewives star earned herBachelor's in kinesiology—the study of the mechanics of body movement—from Texas A&M University-Kingsville. And for more on the secret lives of celebrities, here are 30 Celebs with Amazing Hidden Talents.

4

Carrie Underwood: Mass Communications

30 Celebrities with Surprising College Degrees — Best Life (4)

The country music star graduated magnum cum laude from Northeastern University, in 2016, with a bachelor's degree inmass communications. If she hadn't hit it big on American Idol, the singer and actress has said she would've pursued a career in TV news.

5

Aziz Ansari: Marketing

30 Celebrities with Surprising College Degrees — Best Life (5)

Like his Parks and Recreationalter ego,the comedy superstar originally wanted to become an entrepreneur. He majored in marketing at NYU, but decided the culture ultimately wasn't for him.

"I wasn't aware of that whole finance culture of kids who wanna work at Goldman Sachs and all that stuff and blah blah blah. It was just…not interesting to me,"he toldPasteMagazine.

6

Chris Martin: Greek and Latin

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The Coldplay frontman completed a degree in Greek and Latin at the University College London, where he met his three future bandmates:Will Champion (Anthropology), Jonny Buckland (Mathematics), and Guy Berryman (who studied engineering, then architecture, before dropping out).

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"I went to London like Dick Whittington looking for gold," Martin told BBC Radio." I didn't have a cat but about 12 bags and my dad had to drive me there. I arrived at this big place called Ramsay Hall, Tottenham Court Road—brilliant—and I met Johnny and everything changed."

7

Rashida Jones: Comparative Religion

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Jones is another Harvard alum, who went to college with the intention of becoming a lawyer, but changed her mind because of the O.J. Simpson trial.

"The O.J. Simpson trial was disillusioning for me," Jones wrote in LA Magazine. "It was the first time I realized that sometimes privilege can trump justice. It seemed insane to me that the man could have so much evidence stacked against him and still, because he managed to get a great defense team, be acquitted…I hated the fact that Simpson was in any way representing justice for black people in California. I had wanted to be a lawyer, but after that I decided to do something else."

She graduated in 1997 with a degree in comparative religion, but was also involved in several theater productions while on campus, and landed her first TV series role before she even finished college.

8

Will Ferrell: Sports Information

30 Celebrities with Surprising College Degrees — Best Life (8)

In 1990, Ferrell graduatedfrom the University of Southern California with a degree in Sports Information, which most people don't even know exists.

"Yes, you heard me, sports information,"he joked in a commencement speech at his alma mater in 2017. "A program so difficult, so arduous, that they discontinued it eight years after I left. Those of us with sports information degrees are an elite group. We're like the Navy SEALs of USC graduates. There are very few of us, and there was a high dropout rate."

As Ferrell implies, "Sports Information" doesn't really exist anymore, but you can still combine your interest in athletics and business by getting a degree in Sports Management.

9

Rebel Wilson: Law

30 Celebrities with Surprising College Degrees — Best Life (9)

Wilson may play a lot of airheads in movies, but in real life, she earned a law degree at the University of South Wales.

"A lot of people look at me and think I'm stupid," she told Seth Meyers in 2016. "But no, I graduated from a school that's kind of like the Harvard of Australia."

10

John Legend: English

30 Celebrities with Surprising College Degrees — Best Life (10)

The acclaimed musician studied English with a concentration on African-American literature and culture at the University of Pennsylvania. During this time, he was involved in choir and a cappella groups, performed in musicals and talent shows, and wrote his own songs.

"I put a lot of energy into becoming a better artist, a better writer, and a better performer," Legend said in 2014 commencement address at his alma mater. "And in some ways, it made me a better student and a better leader. Because when you actually care about something, you want to lead."

Following graduation, he started a job at a consulting firm in Boston, but left when he realized that his true passion was music.

"We were all made to love," he said in the inspirational speech. "And I've found that we live our best lives, we are at our most successful, not simply because we're smarter than everyone else, or because we hustle harder. Not because we become millionaires more quickly. The key to success, the key to happiness, is opening your mind and your heart to love. Spending your time doing things you love and with people you love. "

11

Lisa Kudrow: Biology

30 Celebrities with Surprising College Degrees — Best Life (11)

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The Friends star earned a degree in biology from Vassar College in 1985. And to hear her really sweet behind-the-scenes story about the sitcom that made her famous, readLisa Kudrow Reveals the "Friends" Cast's Adorable Pre-Show Tradition.

12

David Duchovny: English Literature

30 Celebrities with Surprising College Degrees — Best Life (12)

Before he got into acting, Duchovny graduated summa cum laude with a degree in English literature from Princeton University. He went on to do a Masters in English at Yale which remains ABD ("All But Dissertation"), as he never finished his doctoral thesis, titled "Magic and Technology in Contemporary Fiction and Poetry." His degree didn't totally go to waste, however, as he has since published three books.

13

Kourtney Kardashian: Theater Arts

30 Celebrities with Surprising College Degrees — Best Life (13)

While her sisters opted to go straight from high school to life in the spotlight, Kourtney has a degree in Theater Arts from the University of Arizona.

14

James Franco: Creative Writing

30 Celebrities with Surprising College Degrees — Best Life (14)

You may know him primary as an actor, but Franco is a dedicated creative writer as well. In 2010, he completed an M.F.A at Columbia University, in New York City, and went on to pursue a Ph.D. in English at Yale. The year he graduated from Columbia, he debuted his short story collection, Palo Alto, and has since had several other poems and stories published in notable outlets.

15

Ashton Kutcher: Biochemical Enginnering

30 Celebrities with Surprising College Degrees — Best Life (15)

Like Wilson, you might be tempted to think of Kutcher as an airhead due to the roles he usually plays. But he actually studied Biochemical Engineering at the University of Iowa, in 1996, in the hopes of finding a cure for his brother's heart disease.

16

Rowan Atkinson: Electrical Engineering

30 Celebrities with Surprising College Degrees — Best Life (16)

He's considered one of the best silent comedians of all time, but "Mr Bean" was actually developed while Atkinson was studying Electrical Engineering at Oxford.

17

Hugh Laurie: Anthropology and Archaeology

30 Celebrities with Surprising College Degrees — Best Life (17)

Before he became a highly acclaimed actor, Laurie studied anthropology and archaeology at Cambridge. Fun fact: he was a star rower, and before a bout of mononucleosis killed his dreams, he was training for up to eight hours a day to qualify for the Olympics. To find out what other acclaimed stars scored on the play field as well as the big screen, check out25 Celebrities Who Are Secretly Amazing Athletes.

18

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Freddie Highmore: Spanish and Arabic

30 Celebrities with Surprising College Degrees — Best Life (18)

You probably know him best as the deranged lead in Bates Motel, but did you know that he managed to complete a degree in Spanish and Arabic at Cambridge while filming the terrifying series?

19

Mara Wilson: Creative Writing

30 Celebrities with Surprising College Degrees — Best Life (19)

She danced into our hearts as the supernaturally gifted lead character in Matilda, but once she attended NYU Tisch's School of the Arts, she decided to abandon acting and focus on writing.

Acting is something I did when I was a kid. I do act sometimes in friends' projects but, when I do, it's just for fun. It isactuallya hobby for me now," she told Parade in 2013. "Writingismy life now."

20

Gabrielle Union: Sociology

30 Celebrities with Surprising College Degrees — Best Life (20)

Perhaps known best for the teen cult classic Bring It On, Union graduated from UCLA with a degree in sociology. For more great flicks like the cheerleading classic, check outThe 40 Greatest Teen Movies Ever—Ranked.

21

Arnold Schwarzenegger: Economics

30 Celebrities with Surprising College Degrees — Best Life (21)

By the time he was 31, Schwarzenegger was already regarded as the greatest bodybuilder in the world. But the Mr. Olympia champion wanted to have brains as well as brawn, so, in 1979, he earned a bachelor's degree in international business and international economics from theUniversity of Wisconsin, Superior.

"The career he was aiming for needed some kind of credibility," Rhea S. Das, a professor who helped recruit him, said in a 2003 article in relation to his run for governor of California. "He realized the lack of a degree would be a hole in the fabric."

22

Rooney Mara: Psychology

30 Celebrities with Surprising College Degrees — Best Life (22)

Before she became an acclaimed actress, Mara earned a degree inpsychology, international social policy, and nonprofits from New York University'sGallatin School of Individualized Study in 2010.

30 Celebrities with Surprising College Degrees — Best Life (23)

He may play the fool in The Hangover, but he's actually a licensed physician who graduated fromDuke Universityin 1990 and obtained hisM.D.at theUniversity of North Carolina at Chapel Hill School of Medicinein 1995. While he may have given up his practice in favor of acting, his knowledge probably comes in handy in his lead role on the ABC sitcom Dr. Ken.

24

Gerard Butler: Law

30 Celebrities with Surprising College Degrees — Best Life (24)

Before he was leading us into battle in the epic war film 300,Butler earned a degree from the University of Glasgow School of Law. Following graduation, he accepted a position as a trainee lawyer at a firm, but often missed work due to his hard partying. At the age of 25, he finally moved to London to become an actor, and the rest is history.

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25

Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson: Criminology

30 Celebrities with Surprising College Degrees — Best Life (25)

We all know he was one of the best pro wrestler's in the world before he became a bona-fide action hero, but did you know he earned a Bachelor of General Studies degree in criminology and physiology from the University of Miami in 1995? Unfortunately, this wasn't the happiest of times for him, but he got through it. To learn more, readHere's How Dwayne Johnson Overcame His Crippling Depression.

26

Brooke Shields: French Literature

30 Celebrities with Surprising College Degrees — Best Life (26)

The long-time model and actress earned a Bachelors Degree in French Literature at Princeton in 1987, and the title of her senior thesis was, "The Initiation: From Innocence to Experience: The Pre-Adolescent/Adolescent Journey in the Films ofLouis Malle,Pretty Baby,andLacombe Lucien." Which is pretty much as sexy as a senior thesis can get.

27

David Spade: Business

30 Celebrities with Surprising College Degrees — Best Life (27)

In 1986, the comedian earned a bachelor's degree in business from Arizona State University, long before he became a household name on Saturday Night Live andJust Shoot Me!. For more great sitcoms, check out20 Beloved TV Shows from the 1990s You've Totally Forgotten about.

28

"Weird Al" Yankovic: Architecture

30 Celebrities with Surprising College Degrees — Best Life (28)

Yes,Alfred Matthew"Weird Al"Yankovic earned his bachelors degree in, of all things, architecture, from the California Polytechnic State UniversityinSan Luis Obispo.

29

Brian May: Astrophysics

30 Celebrities with Surprising College Degrees — Best Life (29)

You know him as the bushy-haired lead guitarist in Queen, but he also graduated with a Bachelor of Science degree in Physics from Imperial College, London, in 1968, and was awarded a Ph.D. in astrophysics from his alma mater in 2007 for work that he started as early as 1971.

30

Danica McKellar: Mathematics

30 Celebrities with Surprising College Degrees — Best Life (30)

Following The Wonder Years, McKellar majored in mathematics at the University of California, where she coauthored a scientific paper titled, "PercolationandGibbs statesmultiplicity forferromagneticAshkin–Teller modelson

30 Celebrities with Surprising College Degrees — Best Life (31)

," now known as theChayes–McKellar–Winn theorem. For more celeb trivia, check out40 Stars Who Started Out on Soap Operas.

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FAQs

Who is the most educated celebrity? ›

Meryl Streep

She is also one of the most highly educated. Before collecting an array of Oscars, Meryl collected diplomas. She graduated from Vassar College 81with a B.A. in 1971.

What is the coolest degree to have? ›

  1. Artificial Intelligence. Artificial Intelligence is at the top of our list of best degrees to get for the future. ...
  2. Big Data. Big data continues to be one of the best degrees to get for the future. ...
  3. Biotechnology. ...
  4. Nursing. ...
  5. Sustainability. ...
  6. Health Information Technology. ...
  7. Medical Technology. ...
  8. Construction Management.

What is the weirdest college degree? ›

These fun majors can lead to unique jobs.
  1. Biomimicry. ...
  2. Cannabis Biology and Chemistry. ...
  3. Puppet Arts. ...
  4. Viticulture and Enology. ...
  5. Fermentation Science. ...
  6. Bicycle Design and Fabrication. ...
  7. Digital Mapping. ...
  8. Bakery Science.
16 Jun 2022

What do most actors study in college? ›

  1. Communication Degree. A degree in communications is a smart choice for an individual who is looking to become an actor or an actress. ...
  2. Drama Degree. ...
  3. Film Degree. ...
  4. Musical Theater Degree. ...
  5. Costume Design Degree. ...
  6. Stage Management. ...
  7. Screenwriting Degree. ...
  8. Directing/Theater Production.

Who is the most educated actress? ›

Vidya Balan

Although Balan came into the world of acting at the age of 16 with the iconic Television show Hum Paanch, she is one of the most educated actors in Bollywood.

What degree is future proof? ›

The bachelor's degree in information technology is a great degree for the future because it can set you on a path toward a lucrative career in a high demand field. Like many of the other technology-based degrees on this list—cybersecurity, computer science, data science, etc.

What is the rarest college degree? ›

Here are 14 of the most unusual and wacky college degrees — so you can be inspired (or feel better about your own major ).
  • Citrus Science.
  • Memeology.
  • Egyptology.
  • Bicycle Design.
  • Sexuality Studies.
  • Mortuary Science.
  • Leisure Studies.
  • Popular Culture.
5 Jan 2022

What degree is most demanded? ›

The 10 Most In-Demand Majors of 2022
  • Engineering.
  • Business.
  • Nursing.
  • Hospitality.
  • Education.
  • Computer Science.
  • Architecture.
  • Pharmaceutical Sciences.

What is the least popular major? ›

Here is the list of top 10 least popular majors in the USA.
  • Library Science. ...
  • Educational Psychology. ...
  • Drama and Theater Arts. ...
  • Human Services and Community Organization. ...
  • Clinical Psychology. ...
  • Composition and Speech. ...
  • Visual and Performing Arts. ...
  • Miscellaneous Fine Arts.

What is the hardest undergrad major? ›

What Are the 10 Most Difficult College Majors?
  • Economics – 2.95.
  • Biology – 3.02.
  • Geology – 3.03.
  • Philosophy – 3.08.
  • Finance – 3.08.
  • Physics – 3.10.
  • Computer Science – 3.13.
  • Mechanical Engineering – 3.17.
17 Sept 2022

Which college has the most celebrities? ›

These 10 Colleges Have the Most Famous Alumni
  • 10/10 Northwestern University.
  • 9/10 University Of Southern California.
  • 8/10 Berklee College Of Music.
  • 7/10 Harvard University.
  • 6/10 Yale University.
  • 5/10 University Of Oxford.
  • 4/10 Dartmouth College.
  • 3/10 The Juilliard School.
13 Sept 2021

Which country is best for acting career? ›

Best countries to study acting
  • Acting in USA.
  • Acting in UK.
  • Acting in Canada.
  • Acting in Ireland.
  • Acting in Germany.

Is acting easy or hard? ›

Acting is a tough but extremely rewarding, and most importantly, fun career choice. A lot of people dream to be actors and join the elite of Hollywood A-listers, but the path is not for everybody.

Who is the highest degree holder in the world? ›

Shrikant Jichkar (Marathi : श्रीकांत जिचकार) (14 September 1954 – 2 June 2004) was an Indian central civil servant and politician, known for having obtained 20 university degrees, and for having been elected the youngest MLA in the country at the age of 26.

Which celebrity has a PhD? ›

Doctorate
PersonDegreeKnown for
Milo AukermanPhDLead singer of the punk rock band the Descendents
Mayim BialikPhDActress on the television series Blossom and The Big Bang Theory
Michael BishopPhDBassist and lead singer of Gwar
Alexander BorodinMDClassical composer
70 more rows

What is Matt Damon's IQ? ›

Matt damon: iq of 135 | MARCA English.

Who is the most intelligent actress? ›

It's definitely Priyanka Chopra who's the most intelligent of all actresses in India.

Who is a smart celebrity? ›

Natalie Portman graduated from Harvard with a psychology degree. Before John Legend was a Grammy Award-winning artist, he worked for a consulting firm. Mayim Bialik played a neuroscientist on "The Big Bang" and is also a neuroscientist in real life.

Which celebrity has a PhD? ›

Doctorate
PersonDegreeKnown for
Milo AukermanPhDLead singer of the punk rock band the Descendents
Mayim BialikPhDActress on the television series Blossom and The Big Bang Theory
Michael BishopPhDBassist and lead singer of Gwar
Alexander BorodinMDClassical composer
70 more rows

Who is the highest degree holder in the world? ›

Shrikant Jichkar (Marathi : श्रीकांत जिचकार) (14 September 1954 – 2 June 2004) was an Indian central civil servant and politician, known for having obtained 20 university degrees, and for having been elected the youngest MLA in the country at the age of 26.

Who has the most PhD? ›

Benjamin Bradley Bolger (born 1975) is an American perpetual student who has earned 15 degrees and claims to be the second-most credentialed person in modern history after Michael W. Nicholson (who has 30 degrees). Like Nicholson, Bolger is from Michigan. Flint, Michigan, U.S.

Who holds most honorary degrees? ›

Tenzin Gyatso, was recognized as the reincarnation of the 13th Dalai Lama at the age of two. He is the spiritual leader of Tibet. He has received over 60 honorary doctorates from academic institutions all over the world, in addition to a Nobel Peace Prize, a Franklin D.

What celebrity has the most honorary degrees? ›

Aretha Franklin has received numerous honorary doctorate degrees from prestigious schools including Princeton University, Yale University, and the Berklee College of Music. In 2014, Franklin was one of eight honorees at Harvard University's commencement ceremony where she received an honorary Doctor of Arts degree.

What actors are also doctors? ›

10 People From Politics And Entertainment Who Are Also Doctors
  • Ken Jeong. Fox / FOX Image Collection via Getty Images. ...
  • George Miller. Brendon Thorne / Getty Images. ...
  • Michael Crichton. Leonardo Cendamo / Getty Images. ...
  • Khaled Hosseini. Leonardo Cendamo / Getty Images. ...
  • Graham Chapman. ...
  • Ron Paul. ...
  • Anton Chekhov. ...
  • Howard Dean.
4 Sept 2021

Which is the hardest degree in the world? ›

It is believed that a Bachelor of Science in Nursing or BSN is the toughest course in the world as per the Guinness Book of World Records along with courses like MBBS, BCom, IAS, IPS and Engineering, etc.

Which degree is most valuable? ›

25 of the most valuable majors for college students
  • Biomedical engineering. ...
  • Computer science. ...
  • Marine engineering. ...
  • Pharmaceutical sciences. ...
  • Computer engineering. ...
  • Electrical engineering. ...
  • Finance. ...
  • Software engineering.

What is the most educated country? ›

Canada topped the list of the most educated countries, followed by Russia, Japan, Luxembourg, South Korea, Israel, United States, Ireland, United Kingdom, and Australia. Despite focusing on education and increasing spending on the education system, India struggles to make its place on the list.

Who is the youngest PhD? ›

The youngest person to be awarded a PhD is the German child prodigy Johann Heinrich Friedrich Karl Witte (born 10 July 1800; better known simply as Karl Witte), who received his doctorate from the University of Giessen, Germany, on 10 April 1814 at the age of 13 years 283 days.

What do you call someone with 2 PhDs? ›

Someone with a double doctorate still just has the title "Doctor," in prefix form generally abbreviated to "Dr.": "Dr. So-and-So." (By the way, having two PhDs is not a standard stage in most academic careers, and it's not necessarily more prestigious than having a single PhD.

Can a person have 7 PhDs? ›

No. One PhD is enough, although it's perfectly reasonable for him to have published research in seven or more different fields of study.

Who is the most famous person today? ›

Most Famous Personalities in the World
  • Robert Downey, Jr. With assets of more than $300 million, Robert Downey, Jr. is known to be recognized as one of the highest-paid actors in Hollywood. ...
  • Justin Bieber. The famous pop singer Justin Bieber does not need any introduction. ...
  • Barack Obama. ...
  • Dwayne Johnson. ...
  • Jeff Bezos.
4 Aug 2021

Who has the most Recognisable face in the world? ›

Queen Elizabeth II, the most famous face in the world: See her many portraits, depictions.

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