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15 Celebrities with College Degrees

Natalie Portman

Before she danced her way into our hearts and psyches in Black Swan, this Oscar-winning actress earned her Bachelor of Science degree in psychology. 

 

She graduated from Harvard University in 2003, despite the fact that she’d been acting since her first film Leon: The Professional in 1994.

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Julia Stiles

With popular teen films under her belt like Save the Last Dance and 10 Things I Hate About You, Julia Stiles was already a darling of Hollywood when she decided to take a hiatus from acting and pursue her college degree.

In 2005 she earned her Bachelor of Arts in English literature at Columbia University in New York.

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Will Ferrell

Before he found his fame on Saturday Night Live and films like Elf, Will Ferrell didn’t quite know what he wanted to be when he grew up. After high school, he enrolled in the University of Southern California and began to study sports broadcasting. 

In 1990 he graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in sports information and landed an internship at a TV station but found that he didn’t like the work. It wasn’t until a few years later when his mother suggested it that Ferrell decided to audition to be a comedian on a comedy sketch show.

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Mayim Bialik

Not only did she play one on The Big Bang Theory, but in real life she’s actually a real neuroscientist! Although Mayim has been acting in Hollywood since she was a child, she took a break from acting in 1996 when she decided to enroll at UCLA.

In the year 2000, Bialik received her bachelor of science in neuroscience with minors in Hebrew and Jewish studies. She even went back for her Ph.D. in neuroscience and graduated as Dr. Mayim Bialik in 2007.

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Carrie Underwood

Have you ever wondered why Carrie is so comfortable in front of a camera? That’s because while she was leaving her competition in the dust on American Idol, the country music superstar was also attending college for mass communications with an emphasis on journalism. 

In 2006 Underwood graduated with a Bachelor of Arts, magna cum laude from Northeastern State University in Oklahoma.

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Rebel Wilson

When we see Rebel Wilson on the screen in movies like Pitch Perfect and Isn’t it Romantic, our first thought is that she’s a silly, ditzy blond who can make us laugh. However, in real life she’s very intelligent.

During Grade 12 in Australia, Wilson scored a 99.3% on her Higher School Certificate. After high school, Wilson attended the University of New South Wales, which is ranked the number four school in Australia. Wilson also holds a Bachelor of Arts in theatre and performance studies.

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James Franco

It would appear that despite his Hollywood popularity in films such as Pineapple Express and Eat, Pray, Love, actor and heartthrob James Franco still doesn’t know what he wants to be when he grows up—or he’s just a lover of learning. In 2008, Franco earned his B.A. in English at UCLA. Then in 2010 he earned his Master of Fine Arts degree in creative writing from Columbia University School of the Arts, while simultaneously attending New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts, Brooklyn College. 

Franco also attended the low-residency MFA Program for Writers at North Carolina’s Warren Wilson College for poetry. As of 2011, Franco was studying for his master’s degree at Yale University, but there is no information regarding a graduation date.

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Ken Jeong

From crazy Vegas gangster to funny judge of The Masked Singer, Ken Jeong has been a comedy favorite since he appeared as the rude, but hilarious gynecologist in 2007’s Knocked Up. But Jeong wasn’t exactly a starving artist when he was discovered. From 1999 to 2006 Jeong was a practicing physician at the infamous Kaiser Permanente hospital in Los Angeles.

Dr. Ken earned his Bachelor of Science emphasis on medicine at Duke University in 1990 and then went on to the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill School of Medicine and graduated in 1995, earning him his residency in New Orleans.

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Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson

WWE breakout superstar Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson didn’t always want to follow in his father and grandfather’s footsteps. Dwayne Johnson actually earned a full scholarship to the University of Miami from playing football in high school.

While playing football and winning a national championship, The Rock studied criminology at the University of Miami. He earned a Bachelor of General Studies with concentrations in criminology and physiology in 1995. In 1996, after being cut from a professional Canadian football team, he joined WWF (now WWE) and soon shot to world-wide stardom as the company’s first-ever third-generation wrestler.

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Angela Bassett

In high school Bassett was a member of the cheerleading squad, college prep program, the debate team, student government, choir, and drama club. 

The What’s Love Got to Do with It and Black Panther actress first earned a Bachelor of Arts in African American studies at Yale before moving on to the Yale School of Drama and earning her Master of Fine Arts degree in 1983.

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Benedict Cumberbatch

Benedict Cumberbatch was always meant to be an actor. Beginning from the age of 8, Cumberbatch was always involved in drama clubs at school and made his acting debut at the age of 12. Before becoming our favorite Sherlock Holmes or Dr. Strange, he had many acting credits under his name.

Although he did take a gap year after high school to volunteer as an English teacher at a Tibetan monastery, Cumberbatch soon earned his Master of Arts in classical acting from London Academy of Music and Dramatic Art.

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Bradley Cooper

Bradley Cooper wasn’t always planning on being a Hollywood hunk. Before auditioning for the Actor’s Studio Drama School, Cooper actually studied at Villanova University before transferring to Georgetown University and eventually earning his Bachelor of Arts, with honors in 1999.

While attending Georgetown, Cooper was a member of the rowing team and acted with Nomadic Theater. He also became fluent in French and spent some time as an exchange student in Aix-en-Provence, France. He also has a master’s degree in acting from the Actors Studio Drama School 2000 at Pace University in New York.

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Meryl Streep

Meryl Streep is probably the most recognized celebrity of our time. She has an acting career that spans five decades, earning a record 21 Academy Award nominations (winning three of them), as well as a record 32 Golden Globe nominations (winning eight).

Before becoming our beloved Meryl, she attended Vassar College and graduated with a Bachelor of Arts, cum laude in 1971. After Vassar, Streep attended Yale University, earning an MFA in 1975. And if that wasn’t enough, in 1970 Meryl enrolled as a visiting student at Dartmouth College, and in 1981, Dartmouth presented her with an honorary doctor-of-arts degree.

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Cole Sprouse

After he stole our hearts as one half of the adorable character Julian in Big Daddy—but before he became the fearless leader of the Serpents in Riverdale—Cole Sprouse and his brother took a break from acting to pursue their education.

Although Cole deferred one year after high school, he eventually enrolled at New York University in 2011. In 2015, Cole earned his Bachelor of Science emphasis on humanities and archeology. He worked briefly in the field of archeology, even going so far as to unearth a mask of Dionysus on a dig in Bulgaria.

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Danai Gurira

Playwright, actress, activist, Emmy winner, Tony winner, and author! Is there anything that Danai can’t do? Many fans of Danai’s characters in The Walking Dead or The Black Panther might be surprised to learn that Danai is also a very educated woman. 

Gurira attended Macalester College in St. Paul, Minnesota after high school, earning a Bachelor of Arts in psychology in 2001. She then went on to earn her Master of Fine Arts in acting from New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts in 2004.

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