Brainy and Famous! Celebrities With Graduate Degrees
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OK, Natalie Portman doesn't have a graduate degree under her belt yet, but with her award-winning performance as Nina in the film Black Swan, the media spotlight has focused on the actress's brainy side—in high school she was a finalist in the elite Intel Science Talent Search, she went on to earn a psychology degree from Harvard, and she's taken graduate coursework at the Hebrew University of Jerusaleum.
Portman isn't the only celebrity with graduate-level smarts. Here are 13 others—actors, rockers and even a supermodel—who all have master's degrees or Ph.D.s—and we're sure Portman's bound to earn one someday soon.
Actor Hill Harper plays Dr. Sheldon Hawkes on CSI: NY—but if he wanted to, he could be a lawyer, politician or public policy guru instead. Harper has a bachelor's degree from Brown University and holds both a law degree and a master's of public administration from Harvard's John F. Kennedy School of Government.
The Emmy award-winning actress and singer Kristin Chenoweth has done everything from starring on Broadway as the good witch Glinda in the musical Wicked to guesting on the hit show Glee—and she attended Oklahoma City University where she earned both a B.F.A. degree in musical theater and a master's in opera performance. No wonder her voice sounds so wonderful live!
How would you like to be one every "world's best guitarists" list and be an astrophysicist? Before becoming the song writer and guitarist of legendary rock group Queen, Brian May earned a bachelor's of science in physics and mathematics from Imperial College London. He was enrolled in a Ph.D. program studying the "radial velocities in the zodiacal dust cloud" when superstardom hit. May abandoned his studies but never fell out of love with the subject matter. After a 30-year-hiatus, May finally finished his Ph.D. in 2007.
The actress Sigourney Weaver has certainly starred in her share of blockbuster films over the past 30 years. She's killed aliens in the Alien series, been possessed by ghosts in Ghostbusters and worked as an exobiologist on a 22nd century planet in Avatar—and she holds a bachelor's degree in English from Stanford and a M.F.A. from Yale.
The star of thrillers like Kiss the Girls and Double Jeopardy, actress Ashley Judd holds a bachelor's degree in French from the University of Kentucky. And, reflecting her humanitarian activism and interest in political causes, in 2009 she earned a master's of public administration degree from Harvard's John F. Kennedy School of Government.
If the checks from reality TV and adult films stop coming in, legendary porn star Ron Jeremy might just be able to head back to his previous career—as a teacher. Yes, it turns out Jeremy has his bachelor's degree in education and theater and a master’s degree in special education from Queens College. (And you thought he just had one, er, "talent.")
David Macklovitch is known to the world has half of electrofunk duo Chromeo, but he also holds both a bachelor's and master's degree in French literature from Montreal's McGill University. While not on tour, Macklovitch teaches at Columbia University, where he's finishing up his Ph.D. dissertation on "Theorizing the Pleasure of Reading in Eighteenth Century France."
If you're an Anglophile, you know the work of successful comedic actor Rowan Atkinson, creator of the character Mr. Bean. Atkinson's also starred in hit films like Four Weddings and a Funeral and Love Actually and it turns out he's as brainy as he is funny. He earned his B.A. at Newcastle University and has a M.Sc. in electrical engineering from The Queen's College, Oxford.
Supermodel Christy Turlington isn't just a pretty face. She's graced over 500 magazine covers, been the face of Calvin Klein, starred in George Michael's video for his hit song "Freedom" and raked in millions in endorsements—all while earning a B.A. from NYU in comparative religion and eastern philosophy and a master's in public health from Columbia University.
Call him the "punk professor." Greg Graffin, the lead singer of iconic punk rock group Bad Religion, is a rocker by day and college professor by night. Graffin was an anthropology and geology double major as an undergrad at UCLA, and stayed on to earn a master's degree in geology. He then went on to earn his Ph.D. in evolutionary biology from Cornell. Nowadays, when he's not jamming with his band, he keeps busy teaching life science classes.
What does a teen star do after her hit 1990s sitcom? Why, she earns a doctorate in neuroscience, of course! At least that's what Mayim Bialik did after the cancellation of NBC's Blossom. She triple majored as a undergrad at UCLA in Hebrew, Jewish studies, and neuroscience and then stayed on for her Ph.D., which she completed in 2008. But, she hasn't quite left acting behind to become an academic. She currently stars as, you guessed it, neuroscientist Dr. Amy Farrah Fowler, in the CBS sitcom, The Big Bang Theory.
Don't be fooled by his drug dealing stoner character from the 2008 comedy Pineapple Express because actor, writer and director James Franco hits the books hard. He received an M.F.A. from Columbia University's writing program in 2010 and he's currently enrolled in a Ph.D. program in English at Yale—all while filming his Oscar-nominated role in 127 Hours and starring on General Hospital—does he study between takes or what?
If you think James Franco is an overachiever, you clearly know nothing about action star Dolph Lundgren. Best known for playing brutal Russian boxer Ivan Drago in Rocky IV, Lundgren's been in more than 40 action films, including 2010's The Expendables. However, before all that, Lundgren was a hardcore scientist. He has a genius-level IQ of 160, speaks seven languages, earned a bachelor's degree from Sweden's Royal Institute of Technology and a master's degree in chemical engineering from the University of Sydney. Lundgren also earned a Fulbright to study at MIT, but, bitten by the acting bug, he left for Hollywood after just two weeks in the program.