20 Celebrities Who Graduated From Ivy League Schools (PHOTOS)

Nanci Theoret | Sep 22, 2015 Celebrities

It’s almost not fair: Beauty and brains? Although many Hollywood celebrities have earned a college degree (perhaps as a backup should the acting thing not work out), an elite few are among the minuscule percentage of Ivy League graduates. 

From Oscar and Emmy winners to entertainers who make us laugh out loud, and even a reality TV star with authentic business credentials, these celebrities pack a lot of brainpower. Some are bound to surprise you with their Ivy League diplomas.


Image via © Johns PKI/Splash News/Corbis

  • Meryl Streep: Yale University

    1

    Considered among the best actresses ever, Streep is a shining example of the Yale School of Drama. Nominated a whopping 19 times for the Oscar and the winner of three statues, the actress earned a Masters of Fine Arts in 1975.

  • Natalie Portman: Harvard University

    2

    The 2010 Oscar winner for Black Swan fell back on her psychology degree from Harvard when creating the role of a troubled ballerina in the dark drama. Portman, who speaks six languages, graduated with honors in 2003.

  • Mindy Kaling: Dartmouth College

    3

    The hilarious star of The Mindy Project and former Office cast member performed with The Dog Day Players improv troupe at Dartmouth College. She also created “Badly Drawn Girl,” a comic strip for the student newspaper. Kaling graduated with a theater degree in 2001.

  • Emma Watson: Brown University

    4

    The Harry Potter star traded in her invisibility cloak for a cap and gown, graduating from Brown University in May 2014 with an English lit degree. Watson enrolled in 2009, continued to act during her Ivy League education and after a year hiatus completed requirements in five years.

    More from The Stir:  Then & Now: 10 Awkward Female Child Stars Who Grew Up to Be Gorgeous (PHOTOS)

  • James Franco: Columbia University

    5

    The handsome actor, poet and jack of various trades earned a Masters of Fine Arts from Columbia University and continues his academic pursuits at Yale.

  • Ivanka Trump: University of Pennsylvania

    6

    She’s not just a pretty face in the Trump Organization empire nor on dad's The Apprentice and Celebrity Apprentice. The former model and business owner (she has a fashion and accessories line, among other ventures) is the real deal, graduating cum laude in 2004 from the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School pf Business with a bachelor’s degree in economics.

  • Rashida Jones: Harvard University

    7

    Jones, the daughter of legendary music producer Quincy Jones and another Office alum, was born into the entertainment business and graduated in 1997 with an acting degree from Harvard. She even followed in her father’s footsteps in college, writing scores for the school’s famous Hasty Pudding Club.

  • B.J. Novak: Harvard University

    8

    Also a member of the Hasty Pudding Club and yet another former Office star and director, the funnyman graduated from Harvard in 2001 with a degree in English literature. He also worked on the infamous Harvard Lampoon and staged a variety show while on campus.

    More from The Stir: What 10 'Dowdy' TV Actors Look Like In Real Life (PHOTOS)

  • John Krasinski: Brown University

    9

    The Office hottie chose Brown University, where he studied English lit and spent freshman year teaching English to students in Costa Rica. He graduated in 2001.

  • Lupita Nyong'o: Yale University

    10

    Two years after earning her master’s degree in acting from the prestigious Yale School of Drama, Nyong’o won the Oscar for best supporting actress for her role in Twelve Years a Slave. She speaks four languages, including Swahili and Luo.

  • Maggie Gyllenhaal: Columbia University

    11

    The 2015 Golden Globe winner for the mini-series The Honourable Woman graduated from Columbia University in 1995 with a bachelor’s degree in English literature. While attending Columbia, Gyllenhaal took a class lead by Uma Thurman’s father, Robert Thurman, an acclaimed expert on religion and spirituality, including world philosophy and Buddhist science.

  • Julie Bowen: Brown University

    12

    Before she was part of Modern Family, the two-time Emmy award winner was a student at Brown University, performing in school musicals and traveling abroad to Italy during her junior year. She graduated in 1991 with a degree in Italian Renaissance studies.

    More from The Stir: 20 TV Virgins Who Finally Had Sex & Had Us Glued to the Tube (PHOTOS)

  • Conan O'Brien: Harvard University

    13

    A member of Harvard’s class of 1985, the comedian graduated magna cum laude with a bachelor’s degree in American history. At Harvard, the smarty pants (he was also valedictorian of his high school) served for two years as editor of the Harvard Lampoon. 

  • Angela Bassett: Yale University

    14

    Before her breakout Hollywood role in How Stella Got Her Groove Back, the beautiful Bassett attended Yale on an academic scholarship and completed her bachelor’s degree in African-American studies in 1980. She earned her master’s three years later from the Yale School of Drama and performed on Broadway the following year. That's two Ivy League degrees, kapow! 

  • Ron Livingston: Yale University

    15

    Before he was Berger in Sex and the City and starred in Office Space and Band of Brothers, Livingston was a Yale classmate of fellow actors Paul Giamatti and Edward Norton, even directing Norton in a student production. The hunk graduated in 1989 with a Bachelor of Arts in English and theater arts.

  • Jane Lynch: Cornell University

    16

    The former Glee star is the first female Cornell University grad to earn a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. Lynch earned her Master of Fine Arts in 1984 from the Ivy League school after studying acting for her undergraduate degree in her home state of Illinois.

    More from The Stir: 20 TV & Movie Actors Who Were Once Professional Athletes (PHOTOS)

  • Whitney Cummings: University of Pennsylvania

    17

    The creator of Whitney and 2 Broke Girls and one of our favorite panelists on Chelsea Lately interned as a TV journalist while studying communications and film. She graduated magna cum laude in 2004 from the University of Pennsylvania.

  • Edward Norton: Yale University

    18

    He burst onto the Hollywood scene in the role of Aaron in 1996’s Primal Fear, five years after graduating from Yale. Norton was a member of the school’s rowing team and majored in history while taking acting classes.

  • Julia Stiles: Columbia University

    19

    Before she graduated from Columbia University in 2005 with a bachelor’s degree in English literature, Stiles was among a group of crime-solving teens in the early 1990s TV show, Ghostwriter, and had a starring role in 1999’s 10 Things I Hate About You.

  • Liev Schreiber: Yale University

    20

    Schreiber was cast in bit roles before his breakout in the second installment of the Scream trilogy. A would-be screenwriter, he graduated with a master's degree in 1992 from the Yale School of Drama and also attended the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art in London. 

    More from The Stir: 17 Celebrities Who You Won't Believe Used to Live In Their Cars (PHOTOS)

More