20 Celebrities Who Graduated From Ivy League Schools

Meet the alumni organization of Hollywood's educational elite.

20 Celebrities Who Graduated From Ivy League Schools

Meet the alumni organization of Hollywood's educational elite.

circle

It’s no surprise to learn Anderson Cooper studied political science at Yale (Jodie Foster and Lupita Nyong’o also have degrees from the school), but we had no idea Mindy Kaling (who went to Dartmouth) and John Legend (who has a degree from the University of Pennsylvania) were part of Hollywood’s educational elite. Harvard could practically have its own red carpet for reunions and UPenn’s alumni magazine could rival InStyle for the number of famous faces on its pages. Besides having looks and talent to spare, the stars on this list were all smart enough to graduate from Ivy League schools. It’s as good a Plan B as any (if their red carpet careers don’t last). And for more astonishing A-lister facts, learn the 20 Celebrities Who Are Way Older Than You Thought.

Mindy Kaling Ivy League Schools

1
Mindy Kaling

The Wrinkle in Time star studied Latin at Dartmouth before switching to theater. She graduated in 2001 with a degree in playwriting. In her book Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? she went to the Ivy League school to “pursue [her] love of white people and North Face parkas.” And for more fun celeb coverage, don’t miss the 50 Crazy Celebrity Facts You Won’t Believe Are True.

John Legend Ivy League Schools

2
John Legend

The music man nabbed scholarships from Harvard, Georgetown, and Morehouse before deciding to attend the University of Pennsylvania. A year before his graduation in 1998, a friend introduced him to Lauryn Hill, who recruited him to play piano on “Everything Is Everything.” A few years later another classmate suggested he meet Kanye West. The rest is Grammy history.

Natalie Portman Ivy League Schools

3
Natalie Portman

The Oscar-winning actress is one of the brainiest people in Hollywood. She attended Harvard University, where she earned a degree in psychology in 2003. She also speaks Hebrew, French, Arabic, German, and Japanese. During her time at Harvard, she went by Natalie Herschlag, her given name, and tried to blend into the crowds. She once told the New York Post, “I’d rather be smart than a movie star.” For more on Portman, check out which line of hers made the 30 Most Awkward Celebrity Awards Show Moments of All Time.

Lupita Nyong'o Ivy League Schools

4
Lupita Nyong’o

The Black Panther star and Oscar winner attended Yale School of Drama, where she received a master’s in acting. She was obviously paying attention in class.

Allison Williams Ivy League Schools

5
Allison Williams

Growing up in Connecticut, news anchor Brian Williams’ daughter wasn’t allowed to act professionally until she graduated from college. The Get Out and Girls actress studied English and archaeology at Yale and didn’t get a part in Yale’s big musical as a freshman. Instead, she joined the improv group and found she had a knack for comedy.

ashley judd ivy league schools

6
Ashley Judd

In 2010, she went back to school to pursue a master’s in public administration from the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University. Today she’s schooling Hollywood on how to establish equitable practices in the workplace as one of the most articulate spokespeople of the #MeToo movement.

Mira Sorvino Ivy League Schools

7
Mira Sorvino

The Oscar winner earned a degree in East Asian studies at Harvard University. The actress has talked extensively about her interest in other cultures—something she nurtured in college. She wrote her thesis on racial conflict in China. While in school, she spent a year in Beijing and became fluent in Mandarin.

Anderson Cooper Ivy League Schools

8
Anderon Cooper

The CNN anchor studied political science (no surprise there) at Yale University and graduated in 1989. He also interned with the CIA.

Connie Britton Ivy League Schools

9
Connie Britton

We had no idea the versatile actress majored in Asian studies with a concentration in Chinese at Dartmouth College.

Rashida Jones Ivy League Schools

10
Rashida Jones

The multi-talented actress studied religion and philosophy at Harvard but graduated in 1997 with a degree in acting. As student, she wrote scores for the university’s well-known Hasty Pudding Club. She wanted to become a lawyer but changed her mind after the OJ Simpson trial. And for more celeb fun facts, here are the 20 Celebs Way Older Than You Thought. 

Jodie Foster Ivy League Schools

11
Jodie Foster

Her greatest wish was to “live a normal life” while attending Yale University where she earned bachelor’s degree in literature in 1985. The two-time Oscar winner somehow managed to keep her head down and her grades up despite the worldwide attention she received as a freshman at the school when would-be assassin John Hinkley shot President Ronald Reagan in 1981 in hopes of impressing the actress.

David Duchovny Ivy League Schools

12
David Duchovny

The actor got a B.A. from Princeton in English literature in 1982. He went on to get his master’s in English lit from Yale University, but the truth was out there. He bailed on his Ph.D. studies at the school after being bitten by the acting bug as a result of being cast in a beer commercial.

Ellie Kemper Celebrities Older Than You Thought

13
Ellie Kemper

The Office and Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt star played field hockey at Princeton University. She followed in the footsteps of her mother, who was one of the first women to attend the prestigious university.

Conan O'Brien Ivy League Schools

14
Conan O’Brien

He was his high school’s valedictorian and attended Harvard University. The late night host graduated magna cum laude with a major in U.S. history. While there, he edited the Harvard Lampoon for two years. For some of his best bits, check out the 30 Most Outrageous Late-Night TV Moments of All Time.

elizabeth banks ivy league schools

15
Elizabeth Banks

The actress and director graduated magna cum laude from the University of Pennsylvania in 1993. She was a sorority sister of Delta Delta Delta Sorority. She met her husband, producer Max Handleman, when they had a class together.

Julie Bowen Ivy League Schools

16
Julie Bowen

The Modern Family star went to Brown University where she acted in the school’s productions of musicals, including Guys and Dolls.

Tommy Lee Jones Ivy League Schools

17
Tommy Lee Jones

As a student at Harvard, his roommate was Al Gore. The actor later appeared in the iconic weeper, Love Story, where he played Ryan O’Neal’s roommate who was a student at—you guessed it—Harvard.

Dean Norris Ivy League Schools

18
Dean Norris

The Breaking Bad actor graduated from Harvard in 1985 where he majored in social studies and then went to study at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art.

Maggie Gyllenhaal Ivy League Schools

19
Maggie Gyllenhaal

Her younger brother Jake dropped out before graduating, but the actress stuck it out and earned a B.A. in English literature from Columbia University. Uma Thurman’s father, professor Robert Thurman, was one of her professors.

John Krasinski Ivy League Schools

20
John Krasinski

The everyman actor and husband to Emily Blunt went to Brown University where he started out studying English literature (He spent the first half of his freshman year in Costa Rica teaching English to students) before switching his major to theater. And for more wild Hollywood trivia, don’t miss the 20 Craziest Celebrity Rumors of All Time.

Diane Clehane is a New York-based journalist and the author of Imagining Diana A Novel and Diana: The Secrets of Her Style.

To discover more amazing secrets about living your best life, click here to sign up for our FREE daily newsletter!

Best Life
Live smarter, look better,​ and live your life to the absolute fullest.
Get Our Newsletter Every Day!
Enter your email address to get the best tips and advice.
close modal
close modal
GET YOUR FREE GIFT
SUBSCRIBE