One life lesson that college graduates learn soon after getting their degrees is that they might not end up in a career that is related to their major. Many who majored in one subject end up working in totally unrelated fields. It is a simple, sometimes unavoidable, fact of life.
Many stars have faced this reality too. Some of the biggest A-list names have diplomas in fields you’d never expect, and some even went to some of the most prestigious colleges and universities in the world. Here are just a few of the most surprising degrees of Hollywood’s elite.
10 Conan O’Brian – History and Literature
The former late night host and comedian rose through the ranks as a comedy writer at SNL before filling in a time slot once held by David Letterman. Before that, he was a student at Harvard University, where he earned a degree in History and Literature. Conan regularly talked about his love of history on his shows. He did a destination segment at the Abe Lincoln Presidential Library, and he famously kept a mug of WWII general and late president Dwight D. Eisenhower on his desk. In some clips, you can see busts of people like Presidents Roosevelt and Kennedy in his office.
9 Natalie Portman – Psychology
The star of hit films like Star Wars and Thor is also a Harvard Graduate. She got her Bachelors in Psychology from the University in 2003, as she was still filming Star Wars with George Lucas. Portman has coauthored two scientific papers about psychology.
8 Will Ferrell – Sports Information
Fun fact: Will Ferrell never planned to become a comedian. In college, his dream was to become a sports reporter and television announcer, which is why he majored in what is called Sports Information, a field that studies and analyzes sports rules and player statistics. After striking out in sports he started doing sketch comedy. Eventually he, Cheri Oteri, and Kris Kattan were all flown out to New York to audition for Lorne Michaels. The rest, as they say, is history.
7 Carrie Underwood – Communications
One might think the American Idol winner and platinum album country singer majored in music or maybe theater arts to become the performer she is today. Underwood, in fact, has a bachelor’s degree in Communications from Northeastern State University in Oklahoma.
6 Malim Bialik – Neuroscience
Bialik did not just play a neuroscientist on TV’s The Big Bang Theory she is one in real life. She has a doctorate degree, and several years before she joined the cast of the show she was writing books advocating for young girls to take up more positions in STEM programs and careers, something she continues to do today.
5 Rebel Wilson – Law
Wilson has both a bachelor’s and a master’s degree in Law, which she received from the UNSW in Australia in 2009, just a few years before getting her iconic role in the Pitch Perfect films. Whether she was studying civil or criminal law is unknown.
4 Lisa Kudrow – Biology
Kudrow became a household name thanks to her role as Phoebe Buffay on Friends. Like all the characters on the show, she became iconic as the ditzy and outrageous hippie of the group, who believed in all kinds of weird things Phoebe was a very unscientific character and was not one for logic or hard evidence about gravity or evolution. Kudrow is almost the complete opposite of that character, however. She has a degree in Biology from Vassar. Like Natalie Portman, she is a published author in a handful of peer-reviewed scientific journals.
3 Kourtney Kardashian – Theater, Rob Kardashian – Business
People like to make fun of the Kardashians since they became famous thanks to reality TV. But the Kardashian/Jenners are much smarter than people give them credit for. Kim is studying to be a lawyer, Rob Kardashian has a business degree from the University of Southern California, and Kourtney graduated from the University of Arizona in 2002 with a degree in Theater.
2 Ashton Kutcher – Biochemical Engineering
Kutcher became famous thanks to his role as Michael Kelso, the oafish yet devastatingly handsome womanizer on That 70s Show. A cornerstone of the show’s story was his on-screen chemistry with his co-star Mila Kunis, who is now his wife. But even though Kelso is the most notoriously stupid person in Point Place, Wisconsin, in real life Kutcher has a background in one of the most challenging fields in academia. Kutcher studied Biochemical Engineering at the University of Iowa. If Michael Kelso were a real person, it is highly unlikely he could even spell the word “Biochemical.”
1 Weird Al – Architecture
Weird Al Yankovic studied at Cal Poly State University where he started school at the age of 16. Not only that, he graduated as his high school’s senior class valedictorian. Graduating as valedictorian is hard enough, but graduating college at such an early age is incredibly rare. Al started school a year early for his age and skipped the second grade. He then studied architecture while starting to dabble in comedy and music before graduating in the late 1970s. He also had his own show on his college radio station. How he went from being a future architect to being a comedy songwriter is the subject of his new biopic Weird starring Harry Potter’s Daniel Radcliffe.
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