Celebrity culture is all about aspiration. When thinking of famous people you look up to, you might feel encouraged to follow their educational path to success. Or if your idol has little formal education, they can make you feel a whole lot better about doing it your own way.

That’s why we researched the educational backgrounds of 125 celebrities, including Hollywood stars, professional athletes, musicians, models, popular YouTubers and famous authors.

Here’s a few findings from our analysis:

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  • The most common celebrity alma maters are New York University and UCLA.
  • The most common education level for a celebrity is high school graduate.
  • The most common subject studied by a celebrity is English language or literature.

Take a look below to see what path the world’s most famous people took to reach the top. Make sure to hover over each of the profile pics to see the name of the celebs you might not be as familiar with:

A model celebrity education

The top-educated celebrity in our study is Mayim Bialik (better known as Amy in “The Big Bang Theory”), who has a PhD in neuroscience from UCLA. She’s written books as well but ultimately returned to the limelight so she could afford to spend more time with her kids.

Two men literally at the top of their game never made it to college: Cristiano Ronaldo and Leo Messi. Ronaldo was expelled from high school at 14 and decided to quit education to concentrate on his potential as a footballer. Messi left high school in Argentina to enroll at FC Barcelona’s famous La Masia Youth Academy and graduated straight into the famous club’s first team.

No particular topic stands out as being a ‘must-study’ if you want to be a celebrity. In fact, only two of our chosen Hollywood stars even studied acting as a major, Emilia Clarke and Samuel Jackson.

What is more, many celebs have graduated from college before finding stardom and delved into subjects as diverse as biology (Lisa Kudrow), archaeology (Cole Sprouse), law (Rebel Wilson), communications & business (J. Cole), and criminal psychology (Gigi Hadid).

Others however achieved great things academically after they got super-famous, such as Natalie Portman (with a Harvard degree in psychology),  Michael Jordan (graduated from UNC with a degree in geography), and Steven Spielberg (who completed his B.A. 34 years after dropping out).

But not everyone who dropped out ended up going back to school. Lady Gaga, for example, attended NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts, but dropped out after a year to pursue her music career. And Ryan Reynolds dropped out of Kwantlen Polytechnic University, walking away from a criminology degree.

In the table below you’ll find all 125 celebs included in our study, their education level, the school they attended and what they studied:


We began our research by gathering a list of 150 celebrities from Hypeauditor’s Top 1,000 Instagram Influencers. We used various sources to find each person’s educational level, eliminating many of those who did not attend college at all. Then we sourced several other celebrities from lists created by Rasmussen, Best Life Online, and Cosmopolitan. Our last step was to narrow down our list further, curating a list of famous people from a variety of countries and diverse backgrounds.

To view the data behind this project visit bit.ly/CelebrityAlmaMaters