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TOP 10 Schools That Launch Their Alumni to Stardom:
Where to Go to College to Be a Major Celebrity

where stars go to college

If you have ever daydreamed about chatting Emma Watson up in the library or bumping into Timothée Chalamet on your way to classes – first of all, I totally feel you. Second, your secret is safe with me – years in the essay writing services business have taught me discretion.

Yet what if I tell you that this is not as impossible as it may seem? Celebs love learning stuff too! Moreover, they go to the same colleges that accept people like you and me. Okay, who am I kidding, you have way more chances than me, being absolutely fabulous, but a girl can dream.

Anyway, I am not trying to influence your college application decision or anything, but here is a totally unrelated top list of colleges with the most stars among their alumni and undergrads. Some of them became famous after they had turned the tassel on their graduation caps. Others decided to enroll while already gathering their share of Emmys, Grammys, Oscars, and whatnots. Still, if you plan a career in show biz and see college as a social and networking springboard, one of these should definitely be on your “reach” or “target” list.

New York University

New York University proudly takes first place with nearly twice as many famous alumni as any other school: 12 Grammy Award winners, 25 Tony Award Winners, and (drumroll, please) 38 Academy Award winners. Plus, one Twitter founder.

A great deal of credit for this must go to its renowned Tisch School of the Arts. Plus, the Big Apple is kind of a hub for acting, musical theater, artistic scene, etc. No wonder NYU is a forge of talent. Among the celebs who attended the New York University are:

  • actors Angeline Jolie (Maleficent), Anne Hathaway (Les Misérables), Alec Baldwin (It’s Complicated), Billy Crystal (When Harry Met Sally), Timothée Chalamet (Dune), Dylan and Cole Sprouse (Suite Life of Zack and Cody), Mary-Kate, Ashley, and Elizabeth Olsen, Billie Lourd (Scream Queens), Dakota Fanning (Once Upon a Time in Hollywood), John Cusack (High Fidelity), Regina Hall (Girls Trip), Philip Seymour Hoffman (The Hunger Games), Idina Menzel (Cinderella), Mahershala Ali (Green Book), Sterling K. Brown (This Is Us), Kristen Bell (The Good Place), and Camila Mendes (Riverdale)
  • performers and musicians Lady Gaga, Donald Glover, and Mark Ronson
  • Academy Award-winning directors Martin Scorsese, Spike Lee, and Woody Allen
  • comedians Andy Samberg, Aziz Ansari, Adam Sandler
  • entrepreneur, philanthropist, and co-founder of Twitter, Jack Dorsey

Some of them, like Spike Lee, even came back to teach classes, so try your luck! I wouldn’t mind having an autograph each time my essay is graded.

University of California, Los Angeles

Based in Los Angeles, no wonder this Public Ivy League School boasts quite a few A-listers among its former students. Among those who attended the university are famous actors like Leonard Nimoy and George Takei (Star Trek), Mayim Bialik (The Big Bang Theory), Nicolas Cage (Face/Off), Mila Kunis (Black Swan), Mariska Hargitay (Law & Order: SVU), Gabrielle Union (Bring It On), Jack Black (The Holiday), Rob Reiner (The Wolf of Wall Street), and James Franco (Freaks and Geeks).

Other UCLA alumni of filmmaking fame are Oscar-winning director Francis Ford Coppola, screenwriter Dustin Lance Black, producer Ben Stiller, and The Simpsons stars Nancy Cartwright and Harry Shearer.

Among younger talents who went to college after they got famous are actors Ariel Winter(Sofia the First), Sofia Carson (Descendants), Kristen Stewart (Twilight), and a model Emily Ratajkowski.

University of Southern California

USC is a global center for arts and research, claiming Neil Armstrong – the first man on the Moon – among its famous alumni. When it comes to earthly fame, USC School of Cinematic Arts has produced more Oscar and Emmy winners than any other school in the world. Here are the names you will recognize:

  • actors Alexander Ludwig (The Hunger Games), Nolan Gould (Modern Family), Lily Collins (Emily in Paris), Miranda Cosgrove (iCarly), Bridgit Mendler (she graduated from USC before enrolling in Harvard Law School), Regina King (If Beale Street Could Talk), Topher Grace (Traffic), America Ferrera (Ugly Betty), Forest Whitaker (The Last King of Scotland), Daryl Hannah (Kill Bill), Tom Selleck (Sex and the City), and Storm Reid (Euphoria) who is currently enrolled and shares the room with a model Natalia Bryant
  • directors and producers George Lucas (yeas, the George Lucas, as in Star Wars creator), Ron Howard (Solo), Ryan Coogler (Black Panther), and Shonda Rhimes (Grey’s Anatomy)
  • musician Michael Peter Balzary (Flea from Red Hot Chilly Peppers)
  • comedians Judd Apatow and Will Ferrell

Juilliard School

Another nationally recognized school in New York, this prestigious performing arts institution is Alma Mater for many musicians, dancers, and actors. The top employers of Juilliard School graduates are Metropolitan Opera, Boston Symphony Orchestra, Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra, and The Walt Disney Company. Unsurprisingly, quite a few celebrities known for their work on stage graduated from Juilliard, including singers and actors like Laura Linney, Patti LuPone, and Yo-Yo Ma, a musician with a whopping 19 Grammys under his belt.

Actors are also numerous among its alumni, including Adam Driver (Star Wars), Danielle Brooks (Orange Is the New Black), Jessica Chastain (Molly’s Game), Viola Davis (The Suicide Squad), Andre Braugher (Brooklyn Nine-Nine), Marcia Cross (Desperate Housewives), Glenn Howerton (Serenity), Bradley Whitford (Get Out), and Anthony Mackie (Captain America). There is also an older bunch of hard-hitting names like Robin Williams, Kevin Spacey, Christine Baranski, Val Kilmer, and Kevin Kline.

Berklee College of Music

This private music college in Boston, Massachusetts, is the third-highest producer of entertainers if we count the number of Grammy winners. Moreover, they are also prolific, winning over 300 Grammy Awards between them. No wonder! Founded by a pianist and composer whose name it inherited, Berklee is one of the most prominent contemporary music colleges worldwide.

Most notable are musician, songwriter, composer, and record producer Quincy Jones with 45 Grammys, Melissa Etheridge (15 Grammys), Shane Gibson (received 10 Grammys as a Korn member), Wyclef Jean (7 Grammys), Paula Cole (6 Grammys), Aimee Mann and Charlie Puth (with 4 Grammys each), and St Vincent (3 Grammys).

Yale University

This prestigious Ivy League school fosters curiosity and encourages students to explore various interests. There is no “or,” but always “and.” Maybe that’s why in addition to five US Presidents and dozens of Supreme Court Justices, Yale has quite a few Oscar winners among the alumni. Most notably: Meryl Streep (The Iron Lady), Jodie Foster (The Silence of the Lambs), Paul Newman (The Color of Money), Lupita Nyong’o (12 Years a Slave), Jennifer Connelly (A Beautiful Mind), and Frances McDormand (Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri).

Among other film stars who attended Yale are Sigourney Weaver (Alien), Edward Norton (Fight Club), Claire Danes (My So-Called Life), Paul Giamatti (Sideways), and Kathryn Hahn (Afternoon Delight). Moreover, there is a figure skating star in the class of 2022. Nathan Chen, an Olympic Champion and three-time World Champion, graduates from Yale this year.

Brown University

This highly selective private Ivy League research university is situated in Providence, Rhode Island. Famous equally for its strong liberal arts and science programs, Brown has its share of prominent personalities among the alumni, including John F. Kennedy Jr. However, it’s not all statesmen and judges. There is quite a bunch of show biz darlings as well. Notably, Tracee Ellis Ross (Girlfriends), Julie Bowen (Modern Family), John Krasinsky (The Office), and of course, the most famous witch of them all, Emma Watson of Harry Potter fame.

Apart from many actors, there are vocalists, for example, Daveed Diggs (Hamilton), and radio personalities like Ira Glass (This American Life).


Being probably the most prestigious university in the world with renowned faculty of leaders in their field, Harvard churns out presidents, Nobel Prize laureates, and billionaires like crazy. However, it doesn’t slack in the show biz department either. Famous Harvardites include:

  • actors Matt Damon (Good Will Hunting), Rashida Jones (Parks and Recreation), Tommy Lee Jones (The Fugitive), Natalie Portman (Black Swan), Mira Sorvino (Mighty Aphrodite), Ashley Judd (Star Trek Next Generation), and Yara Shahidi (Black-ish) who is attending right now along with Bridgit Mendler (Good Luck Charlie)
  • directors Darren Aronofsky (Requiem for a Dream), Damien Chazelle (La La Land)
  • musicians Tom Morello (Rage Against The Machine) and Yo-Yo Ma (yeap, he graduated from Juilliard and Harvard)
  • TV host Conan O’Brien
  • comedian Colin Jost
  • and many others

Columbia University

Another Ivy on the list, Columbia, is a home of the Pulitzer Prize, is famous for its dynamic urban vibe, boasts an intensive academic environment, and claims five Founding Fathers, three Presidents, three Chief Justices, and… thirty-three Oscar winners. Some of the famous attendees include:

  • actors Ed Harris (Westworld), Emmy Rossum (The Phantom of the Opera), Jenny Slate (I Want You Back), Julia Stiles (10 Things I Hate About You), Casey Affleck (Gone Baby Gone), Sara Ali Khan (Kedarnath), Maggie Gyllenhaal (The Dark Knight), her brother Jake Gyllenhall (Nightcrawler), though he never graduated, James Franco (apart from UCLA, Tisch, and Columbia, he also went to Brooklyn College), and Timothée Chalamet (another restless seeker, he attended only for one year)
  • directors Kathyrn Bigelow (The Hurt Locker) and James Gunn (Guardians of the Galaxy)
  • and… Yo-Yo Ma (he graduated from Juilliard and Harvard and attended Columbia, too, I swear I’m not kidding you!)


The Big Green is famous for its Ivy League status, small class sizes, vibrant Greek life, outdoorsy vibe, and lush rural setting. Like any other prestigious school on this list, Dartmouth has taught many prominent people who became famous in the world of politics, business, and academia. However, entertainment also owes a fair share of its stars to the evergreen school. Namely:

  • actors David Harbour (Stranger Things), Mindy Kaling (The Office), Connie Britton (Seeking a Friend for the End of the World)
  • producer David Benioff (Game of Thrones)
  • comedian Rachel Dratch
  • iconic TV host Fred Rogers

Moreover, Meryl Streep received an Honorary Doctor of Arts degree here after graduating from Yale. Yeah, it seems those artistic types rarely can stop at one school. Yet this is the most inspiring bit, in my humble opinion. It proves that college is the time to explore your interests, change majors and schools, and create yourself!

Haven’t found your idol on this list? Too bad! Yet the explanation is simple. The most common education level for a celebrity is high school graduate, followed by… high school dropout. In a way, they are too cool for school, being busy getting famous and all that. Still, celebs on this list have proven that, if anything, a Master’s degree or even a Ph.D. doesn’t hurt your chances of fame and glory. So get down to writing all those essays for your application and add your name to those star-studded yearbooks! I believe in you.

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