Celebrities and Higher Learning: 10 Stars with College Degrees


You might be surprised by the academic accolades of some celebs, including two residents of the “JerseyShore” house. While some celebs found fame straight out of high school, others pursued more education with a different career track in mind. Then there are the celebs who achieved star-status only to head back to school for the degree they put off for fame and fortune.

Eva Longoria

This “Desperate Housewives” star and L’Oréal spokesmodel juggled books with pageantry in her early 20’s. In 1998, Longoria earned her Bachelor of Science degree in Kinesiology from Texas A&M University-Kingsville. That same year, she was crowned Miss Corpus Christi, USA, which led her toLos Angelesand kick-started her acting career. Longoria hasn’t had much use for her kinesiology expertise in acting, but it did come in handy in her prior career as an aerobics instructor.

Jenni “JWOWW” Farley

JWOWW from “JerseyShore” has not one, but two degrees – in computer programming and graphic design. At 21, JWOWW earned her degree in computer programming and later went on to graduate from New York Institute of Technology with a BFA in fine arts and animation. JWOWW put both degrees to use with her own company that she started prior to “JerseyShore,” Jenni Farley Designs Inc.

Natalie Portman

It’s hard to believe, but at the same time that Natalie Portman was playing Queen Amidala in the “Star Wars” prequels, she was also the queen of academics, studying psychology atHarvardUniversity. In 2003, Portman completed her bachelor’s degree, and has publicly embraced academia over acting, telling the “New York Post” in 2002, “I’d rather be smart than a movie star.”

Mayim Bialik

After “Blossom” was cancelled in 1995, the show’s star, Mayim Bialik, was accepted to both Harvard and Yale, but decided to stay inCaliforniaand attended UCLA instead. After earning a bachelor’s degree in 2000 in Hebrew, Jewish studies, and neuroscience, she went on to earn a Ph.D in neuroscience in 2008. Bialik’s credentials no doubt help her play her new role of neuroscientist Dr. Amy Farrah Fowler on “The Big Bang Theory.”

Bridget Marquardt

Playboy Bunny and star of “The Girls Next Door,” Bridget Marquardt, went from a bachelor’s degree to living with the biggest bachelor of them all, Hugh Hefner. She earned a degree in communications and public relations fromCaliforniaStateUniversity,Sacramentoin 1998. Marquardt then went on to earn her master’s in communications at University of the Pacific inStockton,Californiain 2001. That same year, she moved toLos Angelesto pursue acting and, after a few visits to thePlayboyMansion, was asked to move in as a resident bunny.

Shaquille O’Neal

In 2000, Shaq completed his bachelor’s degree in general studies atLouisianaStateUniversity. He made a layup to grad school in 2005, earning his MBA online from theUniversityofPhoenix. Despite his height, O’Neal is down-to-earth and practical when it comes to his education. He’s stated, “It’s just something to have on my resume (for) when I go back into reality…. Someday I might have to put down a basketball and have a regular 9-to-5 like everybody else.”

Ron Jeremy

Prior to his prolific career in porn, Ron Jeremy earned a bachelor’s degree in education and theater atQueensCollegeas well as a master’s in special education. Jeremy occasionally lectures at colleges and universities; however the lecture topic is almost always the adult film industry. Although he’s said he wouldn’t mind teaching again at some point, Jeremy is realistic about the possible reactions, stating, “If parents see me with a kid, they’ll want to call 911.”

Vinny Guadagnino

As the only “JerseyShore” star who’s been filmed reading a book, it should come as no surprise that Guadagnino had his sights set on higher learning beforeSeasideHeights. He earned his bachelor’s degree in political science from The College of Staten Island, graduating with a 3.9 GPA. Guadagnino applied to law school while filming the first season of “JerseyShore,” but for now the bar will have to take a backseat to the bars.

Lionel Richie

Before Lionel was on vinyl he was causing a racket on the court at Tuskegee Institute inAlabama, which he attended on a tennis scholarship. Richie graduated fromTuskegeewith a major in economics and was a member of the Kappa Kappa Psi and Alpha Phi Alpha fraternities. Richie hasn’t really used his economics degree in his singing career, althoughTuskegeedid serve as a meeting ground for the Commodores.

Gene Simmons

Prior to becoming a Kiss rocker, Gene Simmons, was “Chaim Weitz,” a grade school teacher in Spanish Harlem. In 1970, at age 21, he earned a degree in education fromRichmondCollegeinStaten Island,New York. Simmons hasn’t had to count on his teaching degree since becoming a rock icon and probably couldn’t go back if he tried. He was allegedly fired from the profession for replacing the Shakespearean curriculum with Spiderman comics.

Honorable mentions for stars who have some college education but didn’t get their degree include: Cindy Crawford, who studied chemical engineering at Northwestern University; Ben Affleck, who left both the University of Vermont and Occidental College; and Kanye West, whose brief stint at Chicago State University inspired the name of his debut album, “The College Dropout.”