Not all celebrities choose to forgo higher education in order to get a jumpstart on their careers. These eight stars not only got their degrees first but raised the academic bar by attending one of the Elite 8.
You may know Edward Norton for his roles in blockbuster movies such as “Fight Club” and “The Incredible Hulk,” but did you know the award-winning actor is a 1991 Yale alumnus? Although he graduated with a B.A. in History, Norton took as many theater courses as he could without actually majoring in theater. At Yale, he was a competitive rower and took classes with actors Paul Giamatti and Ron Livingston
Julia Stiles, famous for “10 Things I Hate About You” and more recently “Dexter,” took a break in the midst of her acting career to attend Columbia University, where she was classmates with actress Anna Paquin. Stiles graduated in 2005 with a bachelor’s degree in English Literature, and she was one of five alumni who won a John Jay Award in 2010.
Stand-up comedian Bill Maher, known for his sarcastic attitude and political satire, graduated from Cornell University in 1978 with degrees in English and History. He often speaks about the school with contempt, saying he never had fun as a student, but he clearly has fun now as the host of HBO’s “Real Time with Bill Maher.”
Not many people knew who Rashida Jones was before 2006, when she was cast as Karen on “The Office,” and you probably wouldn’t have guessed that the actress is a 1997 alum of the prestigious Harvard University. The “Parks and Recreation” star originally hoped to become a lawyer but instead earned a degree in Philosophy and Religion before pursuing her professional acting career.
Before playing Hank Moody on Showtime’s hit series “Californication,” David Duchovny attended Princeton University with dreams of becoming a teacher and poet. The 1982 Princeton grad studied English Literature and played varsity basketball during his college years. It wasn’t until Yale graduate school that Duchovny realized his passion for acting.
Fashion designer and philanthropist Tory Burch studied at the University of Pennsylvania years before launching her luxury lifestyle brand. She graduated from UPenn in 1988 with a major in art history and as one of the founding members of the Kappa Alpha Theta sorority. Her fashion line is now carried at over 1,000 stores worldwide, and in 2010, Tory was named one of Forbes’ Most Powerful Women in the World.
You see them on your television screen and in magazines all the time, but you probably didn’t know these A-listers walked the halls of some of the best educational institutions in the country. Who said celebs can’t have beauty, talent AND brains!