Celebrities With Surprising College Degrees

Most celebrities aren’t really thought of as intellectuals — unless they’re famous for being smart, like Neil deGrasse Tyson or Bill Nye. In reality, a lot of famous folks know way more than we give them credit for.

Some of them have college degrees that might surprise you. Keep reading to find out what Ron Jeremy was doing before he made a sharp left turn into the adult film industry, and which Monty Python star almost became a lawyer.

Brian May Has A Ph.D. In Astrophysics

Photo Credit: Roberto Ricciuti/Redferns
Photo Credit: Roberto Ricciuti/Redferns

Brian May of the band Queen got his Bachelor of Science in Physics, with honors, in the ’70s. In 2007, he went back to school to finish up his Ph.D. in Astrophysics at Imperial College London.

His doctoral thesis was on the motions of interplanetary dust. That sounds pretty rock and roll to me.

Ken Jeong Is A Doctor Of Medicine

Photo Credit: Mireya Acierto/Getty Images
Photo Credit: Mireya Acierto/Getty Images

That’s right, Ken Jeong is an actual medical doctor. Yes, the same guy who jumped naked out of a trunk in The Hangover. He graduated from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill School of Medicine with his M.D. in 1995.

Ken Jeong doesn’t practice medicine anymore. He’s thrown himself into acting, and honestly, we think he made the right choice.

Did you know that Vinny from Jersey Shore has a degree? Read on to find out what it’s in!

Lisa Kudrow Has A Bachelor’s In Biology

Photo Credit: Tibrina Hobson/Getty Images
Photo Credit: Tibrina Hobson/Getty Images

Lisa Kudrow’s father was a renowned physician and researcher who did work in the field of headaches. Before she went into acting, Lisa was planning on following in her father’s footsteps.

She got a Bachelor of Arts in Biology at Vassar College, and she even worked on her father’s research team. Keep reading to find out which KISS member could have been your sixth-grade teacher.

Lionel Ritchie Has A Bachelor’s In Economics

Photo Credit: Harry Herd/Redferns
Photo Credit: Harry Herd/Redferns

Lionel Ritchie got his bachelor’s in economics at the Tuskegee Institute. While he was there, he met the musicians who later joined his first band, the Commodores. He graduated in 1974.

He had to put his studies on hold while he was touring, but he eventually went back to school to finish his degree.

Gene Simmons Has A Bachelor’s In Education

Photo Credit: Santiago Felipe/Getty Images
Photo Credit: Santiago Felipe/Getty Images

Can you imagine KISS frontman Gene Simmons as a middle school teacher? He actually has an Associate Degree from Sullivan County Community College and a Bachelor of Arts in Education from Richmond College.

He even taught sixth grade before he became “The Demon.” He formed KISS in 1970, just after he finished his studies. Read on to find out which desperate housewife isn’t so desperate after all.

Rooney Mara Has A Bachelor’s In Psychology, International Social Policy, And Nonprofits

Photo Credit: Christopher Polk/Getty Images
Photo Credit: Christopher Polk/Getty Images

Rooney Mara graduated from the Gallatin School of Individualized Study at New York University. She got her bachelor’s degree in a whole bunch of subjects. She graduated in 2010 with more knowledge than most people can fit into their brains.

Psychology, international social policy, and the formation of nonprofit organizations seem like a big course load.

Weird Al Yankovic Has A Bachelor’s In Architecture

Photo Credit: Kelly Sullivan/Getty Images
Photo Credit: Kelly Sullivan/Getty Images

Weird Al Yankovic graduated from California Polytechnic State University with a Bachelor of Arts in Architecture. Right after he graduated, he realized that architecture wasn’t the best fit for him.

He decided to work in a mail room at a radio company in Culver City while he worked on his music in his spare time. Eventually, his music career took off, and the rest is history.

Eva Longoria Has A Master’s In Chicano Studies

Photo Credit: Jerritt Clark/Getty Images
Photo Credit: Jerritt Clark/Getty Images

In 2013, Eva Longoria graduated with a Master of Arts in Chicano Studies from California State University, Northridge. She also has a Bachelor’s degree in Kinesiology from Texas A&M University.

When she got her Master’s, Eva Longoria excitedly said, “You’re never too old or too busy to continue your education!”

What do future Jersey Shore stars major in? Read on to find out.

Gabrielle Union Has A Bachelor’s In Sociology

Photo Credit: Dia Dipasupil/WireImage
Photo Credit: Dia Dipasupil/WireImage

Gabrielle Union has a Bachelor of Science in Sociology from the University of California, Los Angeles. Her original plan was to go into law after she finished her undergraduate studies. In her final year of college, she started working at a modeling agency, and the owner of the agency encouraged her to go into modeling.

She started acting pretty soon after she graduated. Acting is way more glamorous than law, anyway.

Wanda Sykes Has A Bachelor’s In Marketing

Photo Credit: Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty Images
Photo Credit: Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty Images

Comedian Wanda Sykes earned her degree in marketing in1986 from Hampton University. She used her degree to land a job at the NSA as a contract specialist.

In1987, she tried comedy for the first time. The world found out just how funny she is, so she left the marketing world behind and became a full-time entertainer.

David Spade Has A Bachelor’s In Business

Photo Credit: Gilbert Carrasquillo/FilmMagic
Photo Credit: Gilbert Carrasquillo/FilmMagic

You probably don’t think of David Spade as a serious businessman, but he actually graduated from Arizona State University with a Bachelor’s in Business in 1986.

He was already performing stand-up and making people laugh while he was in college. Eventually, he decided to make comedy his full-time career.

Chris Martin Has A Degree In Latin And Greek

Photo Credit: Kevin Mazur/Getty Images
Photo Credit: Kevin Mazur/Getty Images

Coldplay frontman, Chris Martin, met his bandmates while he was still a student at University College London. He didn’t put his studies on hold to pursue music, though.

He managed to balance school and music until he graduated with first-class honors with a degree in Ancient Latin and Greek Studies.

Ron Jeremy Has A Master’s In Special Education

Photo Credit: Gabe Ginsberg/FilmMagic
Photo Credit: Gabe Ginsberg/FilmMagic

Adult film performer (to put it tactfully) Ron Jeremy has a pretty surprising academic background. He has a Master’s of Education in Special Education from Queens College.

He wasn’t making much money as a teacher, so he decided to go into adult films. That’s what we in the business call a complete 180.

Rowan Atkinson Has A Master’s In Electrical Engineering

Photo Credit: Eamonn M. McCormack/Getty Images
Photo Credit: Eamonn M. McCormack/Getty Images

Mr. Bean might not be the brightest bulb on the Christmas tree, but Rowan Atkinson, the man who brings him to life, is actually a wiz with lightbulbs of all kinds. He got a Master’s of Science in Electrical Engineering from the Queen’s College, Oxford.

He was already performing while he was in university. Ultimately he left the electrical life behind and became a comedic legend.

John Cleese Has A Bachelor’s In Law

Photo Credit: Clemens Bilan/Getty Images
Photo Credit: Clemens Bilan/Getty Images

John Cleese would have been a lawyer if it weren’t for Mony Python. He graduated from Downing College, Cambridge, where he got his Bachelor’s in Law.

He joined Cambridge’s theatre troupe, the famed Cambridge Footlights, met his writing partner Graham Chapman, and took to comedy like a fish to water. Nobody expects a sudden career shift!

Vinny Guadagnino Has A Bachelor’s In Political Science

Photo Credit: Axelle/Bauer-Griffin/FilmMagic
Photo Credit: Axelle/Bauer-Griffin/FilmMagic

Jersey Shore’s Vinny Guadagnino got his Bachelor of Arts in Political Science from the College of Staten Island. Surprisingly, he graduated with a 3.9-grade point average. He also says that he has a “Master’s in womenry.”

Maybe he should have got a Master’s in something else… like speaking properly or being a gentleman.

Will Ferrell Has A Bachelor’s In Sports Information

Photo Credit: Gabe Ginsberg/Getty Images
Photo Credit: Gabe Ginsberg/Getty Images

Will Ferrell graduated from the University of Southern California in 1990 with a Bachelor of Arts in Sports Information. In 2017, Ferrell received an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters Degree from the same school.

The sports information program actually no longer exists. Ferrel said, “Yes, you heard me, sports information. 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.”

Arnold Schwarzenegger Has A Bachelor’s In International Business And Economics

Photo Credit: Robert Cianflone/Getty Images
Photo Credit: Robert Cianflone/Getty Images

Arnold Schwarzenegger’s stint as the governor of California may not be as surprising as we all thought. The man we know and love as the Terminator got a Bachelor of Science in International Business and Economics from the University of Wisconsin-Superior.

As far as we’re concerned, his brain is as impressive as his huge muscles.

Hugh Laurie Has A Bachelor’s In Anthropology And Archaeology

Photo Credit: Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty Images
Photo Credit: Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty Images

Hugh Laurie comes from a well-educated family. Academia was somewhat of a “family tradition” for the Lauries. Hugh graduated from Selwyn College, Cambridge.

He got a Bachelor’s Degree. His major was Archaeology and Anthropology, with a concentration in social anthropology. I wonder if all of that anthropology helped him in his acting career.

Freddie Highmore Has A Bachelor’s In Spanish And Arabic

Photo Credit: Greg Doherty/WireImage
Photo Credit: Greg Doherty/WireImage

Even though Freddie Highmore became a successful actor at a young age, he still thought it was important to go to college and get a degree.

In 2014, he got a Bachelor’s in Spanish and Arabic from Emmanuel College, Cambridge. He graduated with a double first, the British equivalent of first-class honors.

Carrie Underwood Has A Degree In Mass Communications

MARK RALSTON/AFP/Getty Images
MARK RALSTON/AFP/Getty Images

Carrie Underwood is quite the achiever. As you may or may not know, Underwood was victorious when she tried out on American Idol. And once she won that, she decided to go back to Oklahoma to finish her degree.

At Northeastern State University, she was only three credits short of obtaining her degree before she left for American Idol. She went back to earn her bachelors in Mass Communications with an emphasis in Journalism. She also graduated magna cum laude.

Aziz Ansari Has A Bachelor’s In Marketing

Ricardo DeAratanha/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images
Ricardo DeAratanha/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images

Bring on the funny talk. Master of None creator Aziz Ansari has steadily climbed the ranks in the entertainment industry. From not having too big of a role in Parks and Recreation, to creating and starring in his own show is marvelous. Does his degree in marketing from New York University have something to do with that?

At first, he interesting in being an entrepreneur, and in many ways, he is. He revealed in an interview “it was such a weird culture” during his time at NYU. Still, he coasted by and earned it.

J. Cole Has A Bachelor’s In Communications

Kyle Gustafson / For The Washington Post via Getty Images
Kyle Gustafson / For The Washington Post via Getty Images

The rapper Jay-Z signed first to his label Roc Nation has the talents and smarts. J. Cole (Jermain Cole) attended St. Johns University in New York while chasing his music dreams. In his downtime, Cole would make music and do performances on the campus, all while he was the president of the BSU (Black Student Union).

Cole graduated in 2007 summa cum laude while majoring in Communications and minoring in business. He didn’t get his degree until 2015, however, because he owed some money for a missing library book.

Natalie Portman Has A Bachelor’s In Psychology

Isaac Brekken/Getty Images
Isaac Brekken/Getty Images

“I felt like there had been some mistake,” she later recalled, “that I wasn’t smart enough to be in this company, and that every time I opened my mouth I would have to prove that I wasn’t just a dumb actress.”

A conflict she had within herself, she handled mightily by grabbing her degree from Harvard. She went already a star, just after the release of Star Wars and came back with the paper to show that she wasn’t just some dumb actress.

Kourtney Kardashian Has A Bachelor’s In Theatre Arts

Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call
Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call

Before the Kardashians became household names, the oldest sister had to think about navigating life without all the fame and money. That’s why Kourtney Kardashian attended Southern Methodist University in Dallas, spending two years there. Then, she decided to finish the rest of her undergrad the University of Arizona.

She graduated in 2002 with a degree in Theater Arts while minoring in Spanish. Up until the infamous tape involving Kim leaked, Kourtney was living like she wouldn’t one day have to work as hard.

Ben McKenzie Has A Bachelor’s In Economics And Foreign Affairs

Ricardo DeAratanha/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images
Ricardo DeAratanha/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images

Who knew the Gotham and O.C. star was so well accomplished? Ben McKenzie attended the University of Virginia and graduated in 2001 in Economics and Foreign Affairs. He later recalled how much of a blessing it was for him to have this opportunity.

“The ability to study econ and foreign affairs during the day and perform onstage at night was a true blessing,” he later told the school’s alumni magazine. “I’m not sure I would have had the opportunity to receive such a well-rounded education anywhere else.”

Bradley Cooper Has A Bachelor’s In English

Guido MARZILLA/Gamma-Rapho via Getty Images
Guido MARZILLA/Gamma-Rapho via Getty Images

The stud, the myth, the legend Bradley Cooper is also very in tune with the English language. He went to Georgetown University and was very into the readings he read in all his classes. He was brought to immediate joy when GQ asked him about his first encounter with Paradise Lost.

He wrote his thesis on Vladimir Nabokov’s Loita. It sounds like he was very passionate about this degree and even cried tears while reading Romeo and Juliet in the campus library.

Rebel Wilson Has A Law Degree

Darrian Traynor/Getty Images
Darrian Traynor/Getty Images

One of the most popular characters from Pitch Perfect, Rebel Wilson confirmed with Seth Meyers that she indeed graduated law school back in 2009. She attended the University of New South Wales.

“A lot of people look at me and think I’m stupid,” she said, “But no, I graduated from a school that’s kind of like the Harvard of Australia.” And law, in general, isn’t the easiest subject to tackle so kudos to Wilson for this great accomplishment.

John Legend Has A Bachelor’s In English

Kevin Winter/Getty Images
Kevin Winter/Getty Images

That now makes two A-listers that were dedicated to the English major. John Legend has his bachelor’s in English with a concentration in African American literature from the University of Pennsylvania. He started his studies at the young age of 16 and ended up graduating in 1999.

The EGOT winner also performed as part of the acapella group Counterparts during his studies. It seems like Legend was always bound to be a real legend sooner or later.

JK Rowling Has A Degree In French

Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images
Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

The genius behind Harry Potter is fluent in other languages. JK Rowling studied at the Univerity of Exeter and earned her degree in French with additional Greek and Roman Studies.

Her parents wanted her to get a vocational degree but that didn’t happen. “A compromise was reached that in retrospect satisfied nobody, and I went up to study Modern Languages,” she said. “Hardly had my parents’ car rounded the corner at the end of the road than I ditched German and scuttled off down the Classics corridor.”

Danai Gurira Has A Bachelor’s In Social Psychology

Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call
Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call

Danai Gurira was beating down bad guys for years in The Walking Dead. Then she impressed even more with her performance in Black Panther and Avengers. But well before she was Wakanda, she was studying at Minnesota’s Macalester College in 2001.

“I was really looking at race, population, gender and how we psychologically function in a way that affects our societal outcomes around those issues,” she told Rolling Stone. She earned her degree in Social Psychology while there.

Ashton Kutcher Has A Bachelor’s In Biochemical Engineering

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No, we aren’t punking you. Ashton Kutcher may be one of the funniest people in entertainment, but that doesn’t mean he’s short on knowledge (people often mistake him for an airhead). The multi-talented star attended the University of Iowa where he graduated in 1996.

He earned his degree in Biochemical Engineering, which is one of the harder majors to study. He hopes to find a cure for his brother’s heart disease. Now that’s a funny, yet a nobleman for you.

James Franco Is a Ph.D Student at Yale

Axelle/Bauer-Griffin/FilmMagic
Axelle/Bauer-Griffin/FilmMagic

James Franco is a controversial star as of late, but he’s still a star. His odd behavior sometimes gets him into trouble, while his roles in the likes of Pineapple Express and The End paint him as the quintessential dumb stoner.

In the real world, James is highly intelligent, graduating from Columbia with a Masters in Fine Arts. He has been seriously invested in his education for the majority of his adult life, choosing to study for a Ph.D. at Yale alongside acting. “I go to school because I love being around people who are interested in what I’m interested in,” he told The Washington Post.

Mayim Bialik Is a Literal Neuroscientist

Photo by Paul Archuleta/Getty Images
Photo by Paul Archuleta/Getty Images

Mayim Bialik made a name for herself playing the title role in the NBC sitcom Blossom from 1991 to 1995. While Blossom wasn’t dumb by any means, she was often in a world of her own as she tried to navigate living life without a mother.

Although it went relatively unknown for years, Mayim has the kind of smarts that put most of us to shame. Her Ph.D. in Neuroscience isn’t the kind of qualification most actors have, and while she returned to our screens as the super smart Amy in The Big Bang Theory, she continues to be active in the medical field, having published books on parenting and puberty.

Sacha Baron Cohen Graduated From Cambridge

Photo by Pablo Cuadra/Getty Images
Photo by Pablo Cuadra/Getty Images

Sacha Baron Cohen rose to fame in the ’90s, breaking through to mainstream success for his creation and portrayal of Ali G, an uneducated and jungle music obsessed character. Since then, Cohen has become a staple of the Hollywood scene, playing dumb characters like Borat.

It might surprise you to know that London-born Cohen attended a private school before going to one of the most prestigious colleges in England, Christ’s College, Cambridge. He graduated with an upper-second-class degree in History, while also being a part of the university dramatic society. It’s hard to imagine him being serious, isn’t it?

Alison Williams Is a Yale Grad

Photo by Rich Fury/Getty Images
Photo by Rich Fury/Getty Images

Girls star Alison Williams made a host of bad decisions as Marnie in the show, from awful romances to ditching her chosen career path for music when she couldn’t really carry a tune. Marnie may have been a sandwich short of a picnic, but Alison isn’t.

The actress wasn’t allowed to act professionally until she graduated from college — Yale to be exact. She studied English and archaeology but didn’t land a part in Yale’s big musical as a freshman. Instead, she joined the improv group and discovered where her true talent lay — comedy. Good for her.

David Duchovny Has a Master’s Degree From Yale

Photo by Showtime
Photo by Showtime

For millennials, David Duchovny isn’t as recognized for his role in The X Files. Instead, he’s hailed as the boozy writer and social dope, Hank Moody in Californication. If you’ve ever seen the show, you can’t really blame yourself for thinking that Duchovny might be a little bit of a dunce too. He isn’t.

He graduated with a BA in English Literature from Princeton University before earning his Master’s from Yale. Wanting to become a screenwriter, he thought of acting as research. “I thought, ‘Well, if I’m going to write things that are going to be performed by actors, then it’s probably helpful for me to know something about what that’s like.” Little did he know he would drop his Ph.D. to act full time.

Dr. Oz Is An Accomplished Cardiothoracic Surgeon

Photo by Robin Marchant/Getty Images for Advertising Week New York
Photo by Robin Marchant/Getty Images for Advertising Week New York

There’s no denying that most television “doctors” have some seriously questionable credentials. Most of the time, they’re little more than quacks who cashed in on the medical side of TV, but not in this case.

Dr. Oz is hailed as one of TV’s biggest idiots, but he’s actually far from it. Despite the fact that his show consists of people running around obstacle courses of gigantic body parts, The New York Times hails him as “one of the most accomplished cardiothoracic surgeons of his generation.” He’s got 5,000 open heart surgeries under his belt as well as a successful lung transplant operation. How many of us can say that?

Conan O’Brien Is a Harvard Grad

Photo by NBC
Photo by NBC

Wisecracking late-night host Conan O’Brien hardly seems stupid, but it’s still rare for a talk show host to be as intelligent as he is. He majored in history and literature at none other than Harvard University, but even back then his knack for comedy prevailed.

His classmates dubbed him the “pre-eminent jokester” in 1985, and he was the president of a semi-secret social organization called Harvard Lampoon, which published a humor magazine. His 72-page thesis studied William Faulkner and Flannery O’Connor. He graduated Magna Cum Laude and continues to speak fondly of his college days.

Harry Hill Is a Neuroscientist

Photo by Mark Robert Milan/FilmMagic
Photo by Mark Robert Milan/FilmMagic

British comedian Harry Hill may be lesser known in the United States, but he’s done very well for himself on TV across the pond. The Bafta-winning comedian has a goofy style and usually wears signature big-collared shirts. Basically, he looks like a walking cartoon.

Harry got his big break in 1992 at the age of 28, but comedy wasn’t his first career choice. He’s actually qualified in neuroscience, earning his degree at the University of London. He later quit medicine because he “Didn’t feel in control of what was happening.” Despite his comedy career, he remains on England’s list of medical practitioners.