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Top 10 Celebrities with PhDs

Typically, you would find PhD holders in higher learning institutions imparting their knowledge and wisdom to students, or in research facilities trying to find the cure to human diseases such as AIDS, or in government agencies crafting policies that can make the society a better place. These well-educated professionals often go unnoticed, and their efforts are often only recognized by friends and family.

But there is a breed of PhD holders who are known far and wide, not for their academic excellence, but reasons only Hollywood spectators can tell best. Welcome to 10 celebrities with PhDs.

See Also: 10 Best Jobs Requiring a PhD


1. Mayim Balik

We know Mayim Balik as Dr. Army Farrah Fowler in the Big Bang Theory. Although she acts as a neuroscientist in the series, few would know that she is actually a neuroscientist in the real world. Balik earned her PhD in neuroscience from the University of California, Los Angeles, in 2007.

2. Shaquille O’Neal

Shaquille O’Neal was an NBA sensation in the early and mid-90s. At 325 pounds, O’Neal is one of the heaviest basketball players to ever grace the NBA. Beyond the sport that earned him four championship medals, O’Neal has excelled in terms of academic qualifications. With a PhD in leadership and education from Barry University, he has what it takes to become a university president!

3. Phil McGraw

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He is a psychologist, an author and most prominently, a TV personality. McGraw began his TV career in the 90s by appearing on Oprah Winfrey shows as a relationship and life strategy expert. Dr Phil has a PhD in clinical psychology from the University of North Texas.

4. Brian May

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Brian May, of the British rock band Queen, has a PhD in astrophysics from London’s Imperial College. His solo, Too Much Love Will Kill You, is an all-time classic.

5. Miuccia Prada

If you are fashion conscious (like yours truly), then you definitely have a Prada product in your closet, be it a perfume, shoe, watch or any other fashion accessory. Although this Italian is an established fashion designer, she plans to someday venture into politics. It is probably for this reason that she joined the University of Milan and earned a PhD in political science.

6. Condoleezza Rice

Condoleezza Rice may not be Hollywood celebrity, but she sure is a household name in the world of politics and governance. At just 19, Rice had earned a bachelor’s degree from the University of Denver. She did not stop there! At 26, she graduated with a PhD in political science from the same university. Rice has previously held the position of National Security Advisor.

7. Bill Gates

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No one seems to understand why tech geeks drop out of college. While many are yet to return to finish their studies, some are awarded honorary doctorates in appreciation of their outstanding achievements. Bill Gates, a Harvard dropout, returned to the university, in 2007, to accept an honorary Doctor of Laws degree. He may not have studied for it, but he definitely deserved it.

8. Peter Weller

Peter Weller is best known for his roles in the likes of Robo Cop and Sons of Anarchy. However, did you know that he had a PHD in Italian Renaissance Art History from UCLA? It wasn’t until he’d been acting for many years that he decided to embark on continuing his college education and achieveing his qualification in 2013. 

9. Greg Graffin

So another rock star makes it to this list. Greg Graffin, a member of the rock band Religion, loves the music just as he loves science. A graduate of Cornell University, Graffin holds a PhD in Zoology. In 2010, a bird fossil, Qiliania graffini, was named after him.

10. Brian Cox

Many known Brian Cox from his science documentaries such as Wonders of the Universe. Cox earned his PhD in high-energy particle physics at the University of Manchester, where he was also a professor of particle physics. In 2009, Cox was named one of the sexiest men alive by People Magazine.

See Also: Is a PhD Really Worth It?

Next time you see any of these people in the news, don’t dismiss them as mere attention seekers. Earning a PhD takes hard work, so their academic achievements ought to be commended.

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If your favorite celebrity did not make it to the list, and he or she has a PhD, feel free to comment below.