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Celebrities Who Have Surprising College Degrees

Photo Credit: Lisa Maree Williams / Getty Images and Dimitrios Kambouris / Getty Images for Glamour
Photo Credit: Lisa Maree Williams / Getty Images and Dimitrios Kambouris / Getty Images for Glamour

Most times, we think of celebrities as one-trick ponies, only capable of doing whatever it is they do in the entertainment industry – acting, singing, dancing, etc. However, many celebrities were pursuing other endeavors before they achieved their fame. Here is a list of people with surprising degrees we never could have guessed. Keep reading to learn more!

Lionel Richie

Lionel Richie with his hands clasped in front of his stomach.
Lionel Richie on October 27, 2015, in New York City. (Photo Credit: Monica Schipper / Getty Images for DuJour)

Lionel Richie has been singing for over 50 years and has earned his fair share of awards, including four Grammy Awards and an Academy Award for Best Original Song. However, before he entered the entertainment industry, he earned an economics degree with a minor in accounting from Tuskegee University in 1974.

Sigourney Weaver

Headshot of Sigourney Weaver.
Sigourney Weaver on December 12, 2022. (Photo Credit: Jesse Grant / Getty Images for 20th Century Studios)

Sigourney Weaver made her first on-screen appearance in 1977 as a walk-on in Woody Allen’s Annie Hall and swiftly moved onto the franchise that would cement her as a formidable actress in Hollywood – Alien (1979). However, before any on-screen time, she earned a bachelor’s degree in literature from Stanford, followed by a master’s degree in acting from Yale.

Meryl Streep

Headshot of Meryl Streep.
Meryl Streep on February 12, 2017, in London, England. (Photo Credit: Samir Hussein / WireImage / Getty Images)

With three Academy Awards, Meryl Streep certainly pursued the right career for her talents, and her academic history helped her to achieve such a successful career. In 1971, she graduated from Vassar College with a bachelor’s in drama and costume design, going on to earn a Master of Fine Arts in Drama from Yale.

Rowan Atkinson

Headshot of Rowan Atkinson.
Rowan Atkinson on June 19, 2022, in London, England. (Photo Credit: Karwai Tang / WireImage / Getty Images)

Before becoming the iconic Mr. Bean, Rowan Atkinson attended Newcastle University, where he earned his Bachelor of Science in Electrical and Electronic Engineering in 1975. He then went on to earn his Master of Science in Electrical Engineering from The Queen’s College, Oxford, that same year.

Art Garfunkel

Headshot of Art Garfunkel.
Art Garfunkel on April 12, 1996, in New York, New York. (Photo Credit: Larry Busacca / Getty Images)

Art Garfunkel of Simon & Garfunkel, the American folk rock duo that swept the charts in the 1960s, doesn’t just have an affinity to music. Before taking to the stage, he pursued a degree in art history, going on to earn his master’s in mathematics education from Teachers College, Columbia University, in 1967.

Dolph Lundgren

Dolph Lundgren holding his hands in fists in front of him.
Dolph Lundgren on August 11, 2014, in Hollywood, California. (Photo Credit: Frazer Harrison / Getty Images)

Dolph Lundgren has quite the academic background. He graduated from The Royal Institute of Technology in Stockholm before attending the University of Sydney, where he graduated with a Master’s in Chemical Engineering in 1982. He received a Fulbright Scholarship to MIT in 1983, but upon arriving in the US, changed course to become an actor instead.

Brian May

Headshot of Brian May.
Brian May on May 9, 2017, in London, United Kingdom. (Photo Credit: Dave J Hogan / Getty Images)

The lead guitarist of Queen, Brian May, received his Bachelor of Science degree in Physics in the 1970s before reaching superstardom alongside Freddie Mercury and the rest of their rock group. Several years later, he re-enrolled at Imperial College to complete his PhD in Astrophysics and has worked with NASA on multiple occasions since.

Brooke Shields

Headshot of Brooke Shields.
Brooke Shields on April 19, 2022, in New York City. (Photo Credit: Theo Wargo / Getty Images)

Brooke Shields is the definition of a child star, beginning her career at just 11 months old. As a child, she worked for several years but took a hiatus in between her work to pursue an education. She enrolled at Princeton University in 1983 and graduated with a bachelor’s degree in French literature in 1987 before returning to acting and modeling once again.

Samantha Franco

Samantha Franco is a Freelance Content Writer who received her Bachelor of Arts degree in history from the University of Guelph, and her Master of Arts degree in history from the University of Western Ontario. Her research focused on Victorian, medical, and epidemiological history with a focus on childhood diseases. Stepping away from her academic career, Samantha previously worked as a Heritage Researcher and now writes content for multiple sites covering an array of historical topics.

In her spare time, Samantha enjoys reading, knitting, and hanging out with her dog, Chowder!