5-Minute Crafts
5-Minute Crafts

10 People From the Entertainment Business Who Actually Nailed College

Being a celebrity takes time and dedication, with people spending their lives building a reputable career in show business. Some celebrities, however, got their start in college before hitting the big time, while others decided to pursue academic degrees after becoming famous.

5-Minute Crafts has prepared a list of popular celebrities that have finished their studies and earned a degree from a university.

1. Dwayne Johnson — criminology and physiology

Before becoming one of Hollywood’s highest-paid actors, Dwayne Johnson got his first taste of superstardom in the 1990s when he was slamming other men in the wrestling ring as The Rock. Even before that, however, Johnson received full scholarship to the University of Miami in 1991, where he was also part of the university’s football team.

In an Instagram post, he revealed that his dream during his college days was to become a CIA agent, though he decided not to pursue this dream because of his grades. He eventually graduated in 1995 with a Bachelor of General Studies in Criminology and Physiology.

2. Natalie Portman — psychology

As an actress, she has earned prestigious accolades, including multiple Golden Globes and an Academy Award, but Natalie Portman can also boast her achievements in the academic world. Her acting career slowed down when she left high school, as she attended Harvard University from 1999 to 2003 to earn a Bachelor of Arts in psychology.

She has also notably published 2 papers in her lifetime, both under her birth name, Natalie Hershlag. In 1998, while she was still in high school, she co-authored a paper on the enzymatic production of hydrogen from sugar. Then, 3 years later, she was one of the co-authors of a scientific paper on the subject of object permanence.

3. Brian May — astrophysics

Together with his bandmates of Queen, Brian May reached the summit of the music world in the 1970s, partly due to his guitar-playing prowess. Before Queen, May was studying astrophysics at Imperial College London, but his academic career had to take a break due to the band’s rising popularity. He was persuaded to resume his doctoral studies after more than 30 years, eventually receiving his Ph.D. in Astrophysics in 2007.

May’s thesis was on the topic of zodiacal dust, which he described as “basically the dust from which the solar system forms.” His contributions to the field include being one of the founders of Asteroid Day, and he even has an asteroid named after him.

4. Eva Longoria — kinesiology and chicano studies

The actress best known for portraying Gabrielle Solis on Desperate Housewives has earned degrees in 2 different categories throughout her lifetime. First, she got a Bachelor of Science in kinesiology at Texas A&M University, where she also participated in multiple college plays.

However, her passion has always been helping other people. She said she got inspired by volunteers who worked with her sister, which introduced her to the concept of philanthropy. She fulfilled her passion and got her Master’s Degree in Chicano Studies at California State University, Northridge, while still working on Desperate Housewives. Her philanthropic work centers around her own foundation, where she provides Latina women with lessons in entrepreneurship and STEM education.

5. Dolph Lundgren — chemical engineering

Known to many as the merciless Ivan Drago in Rocky IV, the Swedish action star also has an impressive academic background. He followed in his brother’s footsteps and studied chemical engineering at the Royal Institute of Technology in Stockholm. He was the recipient of multiple scholarships and took part in exchange programs that allowed him to study abroad, most notably at Washington State University and the University of Sydney, where he got his Master’s Degree in Chemical Engineering. That’s where his academic career seemingly ended, but it was only the beginning for Lundgren.

He got a Fulbright scholarship at MIT, one of the most prestigious scholarships at one of the most respected universities for his Ph.D. studies, but it was there that he met singer Grace Jones before his time at MIT started. They fell in love, and he was introduced to show business. This led him to quit the scholarship and move to New York City to pursue a career in acting instead.

6. Megan Thee Stallion — health administration

The rapper behind “Hot Girl Summer” had a meteoric rise to fame in the early 2020s, while she was finishing up her Bachelor of Science in health administration degree at Texas Southern University. She pursued her degree as a way to pay tribute to the women in her family; she decided to open an assisted living facility in the future after seeing her grandmother become the caretaker of her great-grandmother.

One of her goals with her degree is to provide her classmates and other new college graduates an opportunity to get working experience in the assisted living facilities she plans to open. Speaking with Rolling Stone in late 2021, she said, “Nobody ever wants to hire you fresh out of college. They feel like you have no experience, so I want to create a place where you can get experience.”

7. Will Ferrell — sports information and humane letters

Jerry Perez, PacificCoastNews/EAST NEWS

Before his breakthrough in the 1990s thanks to his participation on Saturday Night Live, the famed comedian was linked to the world of sports. After graduating high school, he attended the University of Southern California to get a degree in sports broadcasting and information. However, his contributions to the sports industry allowed him to come back to the university for their commencement speech in 2017, a ceremony where he was awarded an honorary doctorate in humane letters.

At the ceremony, he addressed his original degree, stating, “Yes, you heard me, sports information. A program so difficult [...] that they discontinued it 8 years after I left. Those of us with sports information degrees are an elite group.” Regarding his newly awarded doctorate degree, he quipped, “I’ve been informed that I can now perform minimally invasive surgery, at any time or any place, even if people don’t want it.”

8. Lisa Kudrow — biology

Before making audiences laugh with Phoebe Buffay’s quirky personality, Lisa Kudrow was following in the footsteps of her father, noted headache specialist Lee Kudrow, as she attended Vassar College to get a Bachelor of Science in biology, with the intention of helping her dad’s research. The same year Friends started, Kudrow and her father were 2 of the co-authors of a research paper that attempted to find a correlation between left-handedness and both cluster headaches and migraines.

During her senior year, she would hear commercials for sitcoms on the radio, realizing that she could deliver the same lines better, which encouraged her to move on to pursue an acting career. In the commencement speech she gave at Vassar in 2010, she stated, “Vassar has stayed with me because I carried those high standards that were nurtured in me here all along the way. I knew what was good and that’s what I did and will always try to achieve good work.”

9. Shaquille O’Neal — business administration and human resource development

His list of basketball-related accolades is impressive, but his proudest achievement took place outside the court and inside the classroom. While he had to put his education at Louisiana State University on hold because of his basketball career, he promised his mother he would finish up his studies after retiring. He got his bachelor’s degree in 2000 but felt disrespected when people he worked with talked to his agents rather than talking directly to him, prompting Shaq to get his Master’s in Business Administration from the University of Phoenix in 2005.

7 years later, however, he would achieve the feat of receiving his Ph.D. in Organizational Learning and Leadership with a specialization in human resource development from Barry University in 2012. His final project focused on how people use humor and seriousness as part of their leadership styles.

10. Mayim Bialik — neuroscience

She became famous to modern audiences thanks to her portrayal of Dr. Amy Farrah Fowler, a neurobiologist that became Sheldon Cooper’s love interest in The Big Bang Theory. However, her character’s scientific background was motivated by Mayim Bialik’s actual academic credentials — she is an alumna of UCLA, where she received her Bachelor of Science and Ph.D. in neuroscience.

Her research was on obsessive-compulsive disorder, namely within individuals that have the Prader-Willi genetic syndrome. Nowadays, she prefers the life of an actress, but she is an advocate of giving girls more opportunities in education and science, saying, “It’s really neat that I get to play a neuroscientist on TV, but I think every student is inspired by something different. That’s why it’s important for us [...] to be able to provide girls with as many realistic science situations as possible. To show them that not everyone starts as a scientist but you can still be interested in it later in life.”

Do you know any other celebrities that have earned an impressive college degree? If you were a celebrity, what degree would you go for?

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