10 Surprising Celebrities Who Are Highly Educated

If you’re going back to school, it can be tempting to get bogged down in the daily grind of classes, studying, paper writing, rinse, and repeat. It’s easy to forget that there’s a life beyond your three or four years of post-secondary education, where it won’t really matter what grades you got, but how you’re able to think, write, speak, and present yourself. Some people get jobs in their fields, but others use that knowledge to reach beyond their degree and achieve mastery using a different set of skills.

Although it may not seem like you need a degree to be a good actor, there are some that are secretly extremely highly educated, and who still pursue their academic interests even after hitting the jackpot in Hollywood. Here are some celebrities who you may not have realized are very highly educated.

1. Ken Jeong

The hilarious comedian who totally stole the show in this summer’s blockbuster Crazy Rich Asians often discusses his unique rise to fame in interviews.

Ken Jeong’s first major role was in Knocked Up as an awkward doctor, which he was able to pull off because at the time, he was an actual doctor. He got an undergraduate degree at Duke University, then went to medical school at UNC Chapel Hill School of Medicine, where he graduated with his M.D. in 1995. He first refined his stand-up routine when he was completing his internal medicine residency in New Orleans, and shortly after that became a licensed physician.

He’s even developed his own sitcom about a goofy Korean-American doctor called Dr. Ken, which premiered on ABC in 2015 but was unfortunately cancelled after two seasons.


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2. Natalie Portman

Academics has always been a priority for Natalie Portman, who even skipped the premiere of Star Wars: Episode I – The Phantom Menace so she could study for her high school final exams. Portman received her B.A. in Psychology from Harvard in 2003, and while she was there, she contributed to a study entitled “Frontal lobe activation during object permanence: data from near-infrared spectroscopy”, and wrote articles for the Harvard Crimson, the daily student newspaper.

Although she started acting at a young age and has had a career that’s spanned almost 25 years so far, Portman has shown no signs of leaving the academic world. After she graduated from Harvard, she took graduate courses in her home country of Israel, and even did a guest lecture at Columbia on terrorism and counterterrorism.

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3. Ashley Judd

Even though Ashley Judd is related to big names in the country music industry, and has her own illustrious career in Hollywood, she’s never shirked her academic responsibilities.

Raised by a single mom, Judd moved around a lot as a child, and attended several different schools before graduating high school and enrolling in the University of Kentucky, where she graduated with a degree in French and a number of minors including art history, theater, and women’s studies. She enrolled in a mid-career master’s degree in Public Administration from Harvard University, which she completed in 2010. Since then, she’s enrolled in a PhD program at UC Berkeley in Public Policy but has not yet completed her degree.

In addition to her extensive film and TV experience, Judd is also a Goodwill Ambassador for the UNFPA.

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