Many of our favorite celebrities from television and film have gone to school and graduated with a degree in their chosen field. However, many went to school for a variety of subjects other than acting and theater. Some have even earned their education through non-traditional school programs like graduate certificate programs online.
Among the top paid movie stars, a complete college education is few and far between. A Forbes.com story from June 2007 reported that of the 20 best paid actors in Hollywood, only two had completed their college degree – Adam Sandler and Cate Blanchett. These 20 entertainment professionals earned a total of $529 million during the previous year.
Many superstars at this level don’t finish their college education simply because they don’t need it. Unlike other career paths, the livelihood of an actor or actress depends less on personal intelligence and more on effective promotion, either through self-promotion or agent representation. Although most roles require research, it’s not important to actually be an economist or brain surgeon in order to play one on TV.
Many scoff at reality television stars for getting into difficult situations and making immature decisions. Surprising to find out that many of these stars actually have college degrees from accredited institutions. Jenni Farley, known to fans of MTV’s Jersey Shore as JWoww, has earned two bachelor’s degrees, one in computer programming and one in graphic design. Vinny Guadagnino, also of Jersey Shore fame, graduated from CUNY Staten Island with a political science degree and a 3.9 GPA. Even two of the Kardashians have graduated from college, Kourtney in 2001 from the University of Arizona and Rob in 2009 from the University of South California.
Among well-known celebrities in television and film, the adage that your major doesn’t matter as much as the diploma holds true. Ray Romano gets laughs with his dry humor in Everybody Loves Raymond, but his intelligence led him to study accounting at Queens College in Flushing. Halle Berry and George Clooney are both great performers, but went to school for journalism instead of theater arts. Courtney Cox of Friends fame went to the Mount Vernon College for Women to study interior design and architecture. Ashton Kutcher, whose career skyrocketed by portraying Michael Kelso on That ‘70s Show, studied biochemical engineering at the University of Iowa.
Actors are often jacks of all trades, masters of none. Completion of any degree program requires a lot of work ethic and critical thinking ability, skills that are important to the entertainment professional. But read that actor bio a little more closely next time and you might find out that your favorite star isn’t just a comic genius, but may also be able to design a building or make a killer ceviche.