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46 Overachieving Stars With Ph.Ds or Degrees From Ivy League Schools

Sarah grew up in Monterey, CA and now lives in Los Angeles. When she's not writing, you can find her enjoying a good book, fine wine, sunflowers and long walks on the beach.

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Celeb smarty pants

Dimitrios Kambouris/Getty Images
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Celeb smarty pants

There are people who are born talented, and then there are people who are born ridiculously talented, gorgeous and off-the charts charismatic — but just because someone's reached super-star status, that doesn't mean they don't also need an education to fall back on. 

We already know that most famous people are accomplished singers, actors, dancers, or athletes (and sometimes all of the above), but there's also a pretty long list of celebs who have sought higher education despite (or before) their success in Hollywood. And we're not just talking a run-of-the-mill bachelor degree, here. These guys have either gone above and beyond to receive their Ph.D or have attended extremely prestigious Ivy League schools.

It's obvious that most stars value hard work (we all know how hard it is to make it big), and for these celebs, their work ethic applies to the classroom as well. If the entertainment biz ever fails, this batch of smarties will be A-OK.

Originally published September 2015. Updated July 2017.

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Mayim Bialik

Brian To/WENN
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Mayim Bialik

Bialik earned a doctorate in neuroscience from UCLA in 2007.

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Meryl Streep

Dennis Van Tine/Future Image/WENN
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Meryl Streep

After getting her B.A. at Vassar College, Streep received her M.F.A. from the Yale School of Drama in 1975.

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Maggie Gyllenhaal

Brian To/WENN
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Maggie Gyllenhaal

Gyllenhaal graduated from Columbia in 1999 after studying literature and Eastern religions.

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Amanda Peet

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Amanda Peet

The actress graduated from Columbia with a degree in history in 1994.

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Paul Giamatti

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Paul Giamatti

Giamatti got his degree in English from Yale in 1989 and an M.F.A. from Yale in 1994.

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Lupita Nyong'o

Joe Alvarez
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Lupita Nyong'o

The Oscar winner got her master's in acting from the Yale School of Drama in 2012.

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David Duchovny

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David Duchovny

The actor has a B.A. in English Literature from Princeton, a master's from Yale and is working towards a Ph.D.

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Elizabeth Banks

Cinzia Camela/WENN
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Elizabeth Banks

Though she played ditzy really well in The 40-Year-Old Virgin, she graduated magna cum laude from Penn in '96.

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Connie Britton

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Connie Britton

Britton majored in Asian studies with a concentration in Chinese at Dartmouth.

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Wladimir Klitschko

JLN Photography/WENN
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Wladimir Klitschko

The boxer earned his Ph.D. in sports science back in 2001.

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Conan O'Brien

PNP/WENN
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Conan O'Brien

Coco graduated magna cum laude from Harvard in 1985.

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Angela Bassett

Brian To/WENN
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Angela Bassett

She got her B.A. in African American studies from Yale in 1980 and a M.F.A. in drama from the school in 1983.

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Julie Bowen

Nicky Nelson/WENN
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Julie Bowen

The Modern Family actor earned her diploma from Brown University in 1991.

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Natalie Portman

Joe Alvarez
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Natalie Portman

The Oscar winner received a degree in psychology from Harvard in 2003.

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Rashida Jones

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Rashida Jones

Jones graduated in 1997 from Harvard, where she studied religion and philosophy.

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Jodie Foster

Brian To/WENN
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Jodie Foster

Foster got a degree in literature from Yale in 1985.

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John Krasinski

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John Krasinski

Krasinski graduated with honors as a playwright from Brown in 2001.

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Tatyana Ali

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Tatyana Ali

The Fresh Prince star graduated from Harvard with a degree in anthropology in 2002.

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Edward Norton

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Edward Norton

Norton graduated with a B.A. in history from Yale in 1991.

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Brooke Shields

IZZY/WENN
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Brooke Shields

Shields graduated from Princeton in 1987 with a degree in French literature.

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Elisabeth Shue

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Elisabeth Shue

The actress finished her degree in government at Harvard in 2000.

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Jane Lynch

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Jane Lynch

Lynch holds an M.F.A. in theater from Cornell University.

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Tommy Lee Jones

Dave Bedrosian/Future Image/WENN
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Tommy Lee Jones

Jones played football for Harvard and graduated cum laude with a B.A. in English in 1969.

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Shaquille O'Neal

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Shaquille O'Neal

Shaq got his doctorate degree in leadership and education at Barry University in 2012. 

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Sigourney Weaver

Dennis Van Tine/Future Image/WENN
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Sigourney Weaver

Weaver got her undergrad degree from Stanford before getting her M.F.A. at the Yale School of Drama in 1974.

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Vanessa Bayer

WENN
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Vanessa Bayer

This comedian studied communications at Penn and graduated in 2004.

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Liev Schreiber

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Liev Schreiber

Schreiber received a degree from the Yale School of Drama in 1992.

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Jordana Brewster

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Jordana Brewster

Brewster got her B.A. in English from Yale in 2003.

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Matthew Fox

WENN
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Matthew Fox

Fox received his degree in economics from Columbia in 1989.

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Julia Stiles

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Julia Stiles

Stiles got her degree in English literature from Columbia in 2005.

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Laura Linney

Adriana M. Barraza/WENN
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Laura Linney

Linney graduated from Brown University in 1986 and went on to study acting at Juilliard.

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Ashley Judd

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Ashley Judd

Judd earned a master's in public administration from Harvard's Kennedy School of Government in 2010.

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Frances McDormand

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Frances McDormand

McDormand earned her M.F.A. at the Yale School of Drama in 1982.

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Aisha Tyler

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Aisha Tyler

Tyler holds a degree in environmental policy from Dartmouth.

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Ellie Kemper

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Ellie Kemper

Kemper graduated from Princeton in 2002 with a degree in English.

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Anderson Cooper

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Anderson Cooper

The silver fox graduated with a political science degree from Yale in 1989.

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Mira Sorvino

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Mira Sorvino

Sorvino majored in Eastern Asian studies and graduated from Harvard in 1989.

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Jenny Slate

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Jenny Slate

Slate graduated from Columbia in 2004 with a degree in English literature.

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Donald Trump

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Donald Trump

Trump received his B.S. from the Wharton School of Finance at Penn in 1968.

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Bill Cosby

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Bill Cosby

Cosby was granted a doctorate in education from the University of Massachussetts.

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Kathryn Bigelow

WENN
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Kathryn Bigelow

Bigelow studied film theory and criticism at Columbia, where she earned her M.F.A.

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John Legend

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John Legend

The crooner graduated from Penn in 1999 after studying English with an emphasis in African American lit.

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James Franco

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James Franco

Franco is as quirky as he is smart — he has an M.F.A. from Columbia anda Ph.D from Yale.

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Wentworth Miller

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Wentworth Miller

This badass Prison Break star broke out of Princeton (with a degree) in 1995.

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Malia Obama

Pool/Getty Images
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Malia Obama

After taking a gap year, the President's daughter plans to attend Harvard in 2017.

 

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