A higher education can often lead to a much bigger chance of success. Many celebs out there might not be able to show off what they’ve learned in college in their field. Some folks with a degree in chemistry won’t use those nifty skills in a fight scene, and others with a degree in electrical engineering would be out of luck putting that knowledge to good use in a sitcom.
It’s hard to imagine how being a neuroscientist would help you host a talk show, but believe it or not, there are numerous celebrities who are secretly … kind of geniuses. We’re counting down the top 12, starting with …
12) Natalie Portman
Oscar-winning actress Natalie Portman didn’t let her acting career get in the way of obtaining her college education. While she was busy filming the “Star Wars” prequels, the actress attended Harvard University to study psychology. In 2003, she graduated from the Ivy League school with her bachelor’s degree.
11) Dolph Lundgren
Before landing the iconic role of Ivan Drago in the 1985 film “Rocky IV,” Dolph Lundgren was busy getting his college work done. The chemistry buff received his degree in chemistry from Washington State University, a degree in chemical engineering from the Royal Institute of Technology, and a master’s degree in chemical engineering from the University of Sydney.
10) Mayim Bialik
After the hit sitcom “Blossom” ended in 1995, actress Mayim Bialik attended UCLA and put acting on the side. In 2007, she graduated with a Ph.D. in neuroscience. Three years later, she would find herself playing a neuroscientist in the hit CBS sitcom “The Big Bang Theory,” which earned her four Emmy nominations.
9) Conan O’Brien
Conan O’Brien sharpened his writing skills inside Harvard University. During his time there, he was the president of The Harvard Lampoon, which was the college’s humor magazine. To make things more interesting, Conan attended the college at the same time as his future NBC boss Jeff Zucker. He would eventually graduate magna cum laude in 1985.
8) Rowan Atkinson
Rowan Atkinson attended Newcastle University, which is where he received his degree in Electrical Engineering. The English comedian would go on to gain his Master’s degree at The Queen’s College. While attended the college, he met writer Richard Curtis and composer Howard Goodall, who would collaborate with Atkinson in the sitcoms “Black Adder” and “Mr. Bean.”
7) David Duchovny
Before he started hunting for aliens, David Duchovny was busy dishing out poetry at Princeton University, where he graduated Phi Beta Kappa with a B.A. in English Literature. After getting a Master’s degree in English Literature from Yale University, he intended to go for his Ph.D., but he never got around to finishing it.
6) Ken Jeong
While Ken Jeong was performing stand up comedy, he was busy working on being a licensed physician. The Detroit native gained his M.D. degree at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. His wife and fellow physician Tran Ho told him to focus on acting as a full time career. The Teen Choice Award nominee would turn his experience as a physician into a sitcom titled “Dr. Ken.”
5) Edward Norton
Edward Norton got the acting bug when he was a kid, and his time at Yale University only made him want it more. While at the college, the Boston native worked on productions with fellow actors Ron Livingston and Paul Giamatti. In 1991, he graduated with a Bachelor’s degree in history.
4) Lisa Kudrow
Originally, Lisa Kudrow was going to follow in her dad’s footsteps and do research on headaches. The Los Angeles native graduated from Vassar College with a Bachelor’s degree in biology. She would leave her father’s staff to further her acting career, which includes numerous Emmy nominations for her work on “Friends,” “The Comeback,” and “Web Therapy.”
3) Harry Hill
One of the most interesting things about Harry Hill is that the English comedian studied neurosurgery at the University of London. After a while, Hill quit the profession to focus on comedy. In 2014, he gained an honorary degree from the college for his contribution to television and the arts.
2) Brian May
Brian May is one of the few musicians out there with a Ph.D. The Queen guitarist originally set off to get his certificate in astrophysics, but he put it on hold in 1974 when the English rock band began to blow up. After over 30 years, May received his Ph.D from Imperial College London. He even has an asteroid named after him.
1) David Otunga
Before his stint in the WWE, professional wrestler David Otunga was a full time lawyer. The Chicago native graduated from Harvard Law School and worked at the Sidley Austin law firm, which was also the former workplace for Michelle Obama. When he’s not in the ring, he’s a legal analyst on HLN and CNN.
While most celebs don’t really go on the same path they originally plotted out when they started college, having a degree is certainly a great thing to fall back on if the acting or music career doesn’t pan out. It also makes the resume look a bit nicer for any sort of auditions or interviews lined up in the future. Whatever the case may be, the time spent working for that piece of paper is simply part of the journey called life, and luckily, these 12 stars didn’t find it so hard to pay back their student loans.