26 Super Smart Celebs Who Have Ivy League Degrees!
by Morgan DeBoest
It seems like each celebrity takes a different path to success. Some are born into famous families; some grow up acting and fall into a career; and others get their college degrees like the rest of us. Whether they attend college after being a child star or use it as leverage to make it big, celebrities need a good education, too. Read on to find out which of your favorite celebrities have Ivy League degrees.
In 1997, this I Love You Man actress and all-around cool lady graduated from Harvard with degrees in religion and philosophy. That same year, she landed her first TV role on the mini series “The Last Don.”
Mindy Kaling, writer and star of her show “The Mindy Project,” graduated from Dartmouth in 2001 with a degree in playwriting.
While Jane Lynch got her bachelor’s degree from Illinois State University, she went on to receive a master’s degree in acting from Ivy League school Cornell.
Friday Night Lights, American Horror Story, and Nashville star Connie Britton earned her degree in Asian studies from Dartmouth College and went on to study acting with Sanford Meisner at the Neighborhood Playhouse.
“All of Me” singer John Legend was an English major singing in an a capella group at the University of Pennsylvania before he got his first major break in 1998, working on Lauryn Hill’s album The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill.
John Krasinski, who played lovable Jim Halpert on The Office and is now married to the gorgeous Emily Blunt, interned at NBC’s Late Night with Conan O’Brien and graduated as an honors playwright from Brown University.
Lupito Nyong’o graduated in 2003 from Hampshire College with her bachelor’s degree in film. She spent the following years working for HIV awareness and on the 2009 documentary In My Genes. In 2012, she received her master’s degree in acting from the Yale School of Drama.
Julia Stiles, the star of 10 Things I Hate About You, Save the Last Dance, and the Bourne movies, wanted the Ivy League experience. So she went to Columbia University, where she graduated with a bachelor of arts degree in English in 2005.
Mona Lisa Smile, Sherrybaby, and The Dark Knight actress Maggie Gyllenhaal graduated from Columbia University with a degree in Eastern religions and literature in 2001. Fun fact: Her brother Jake—yeah, that Jake—also went to Columbia but never completed his degree.
James Franco dropped out of UCLA after his freshman year but enrolled again and completed his degree ten years later. Then, he enrolled in not one, but FOUR graduate programs—NYU for filmmaking, Columbia for fiction writing, Brooklyn College for fiction writing, and a low-residency poetry program at Warren Wilson College in North Carolina. In 2010, Franco began pursuing a Ph.D. in English at Yale. In April 2011, while still enrolled at Yale, Franco was accepted into the Rhode Island School of Design’s literature and creative writing program. We’ll just be over here applying to graduate programs …
Dean Norris, who played DEA agent Hank on Breaking Bad, was the first person in his family to go to college—so naturally, he chose Harvard. He graduated in 1985.
Actress and beloved star of The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt Ellie Kemper graduated from Princeton in 2002. She played field hockey for one year before quitting to focus on theater.
Resident queen of Hollywood Meryl Streep is an alumna of the Yale School of Drama and Vassar College. Obviously.
Sigourney Weaver graduated from Stanford with a BA in literature in 1971 and went on to attend the Yale School of Drama, from which she graduated in 1974 (a year before Meryl Streep).
Ivanka Trump, the eldest daughter of Donald Trump, successful businesswoman, and mother of three, attended the Wharton School of Business at the University of Pennsylvania after transferring from Georgetown.
“SNL” player and actress Vanessa Bayer studied at the University of Pennsylvania and graduated in 2004 before breaking into the improv scene in Chicago, which led her to “SNL” and New York.
Comedian, actress, and former “SNL” cast member Jenny Slate graduated from Columbia in 2004. Because she went to the Ivy League school mostly because it was in New York, her college years were “defined more by acting and comedy than by classroom pursuits,” Slate says.
Movie director superstar (The Hurt Locker, Zero Dark Thirty) Kathryn Bigelow started out as an painter and lived in a studio in an old bank vault in what’s now Tribeca while she attended the Whitney Independent Study Program. After that, she transitioned to film and attended Columbia’s School of Arts, where she received her master’s degree in film theory and criticism.
Oscar-winning actress Frances McDormand attended Bethany College in West Virginia and went on to graduate from the Yale School of Drama.
In 1991, Modern Family actress Julie Bowen graduated from Brown University, where she concentrated in Italian Renaissance studies.
Emmy award–winning actress Laura Linney, whom you’d recognize from Love Actually or the HBO miniseries John Adams, graduated from Brown University with a degree in theatre history.
You’ll remember her as Will’s cousin Ashley from the ’90s comedy Fresh Prince of Bel Air, but she’s all grown up now. Tatyana Ali graduated from Harvard University in 2002 with a degree in Afro-American history and government.
Academy Award–winning actress Jodie Foster graduated from Yale University magna cum laude in 1985 and returned to address graduates at commencement in 1993.
GIRLS actress and daughter of newsman Brian Williams, Allison Wiliams graduated in 2010 from Yale, where she was a member of the comedy troupe Just Add Water.