Employer Insights

/ 8 months ago /

 Article by Andrew Frobisher

Entrepreneurial Education

One of the most important things that people consider when they’re weighing up their choices for university or college is what it could do for their future career prospects, but if you want the best chance of success, where should you be looking to study?

We’ve analysed the educational careers of every self-made billionaire in the world, to find out where and what they studied on their way to the top.

Where Did the World’s Richest People Study?

Harvard University has created more billionaires than any other institution.

40 of the world’s richest entrepreneurs did so without attending university. 

In total, the 851 billionaires that we looked at studied at 487 different schools around the world, but the university that has produced the most self-made billionaires was Harvard, with 51 graduates going on to accumulate a combined net worth of $377bn, with a further 20 studying at Harvard Business School.

In second place was Stanford University, with 34 billionaire graduates, including Google founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin, who met at the university.

Just three of the top ten universities were based outside the US: Fudan and Peking, both in China, as well as Moscow State University in Russia.

However, it turns out that you don’t necessarily need to go to university at all to be successful. 

40 of the world’s richest entrepreneurs decided not to attend university, starting their business straight out of high school, including Ralph Lauren and Richard Branson.

The majority of the world’s self-made billionaires have studied in the US, with 615 degrees gained in the country, followed by China on 150 and Russia on 92.

What Did the World’s Richest People Study?

Over half of self-made billionaires have studied a Bachelor of Arts/Science degree.

62 of the world’s richest people dropped out of university (including Bill Gates and Mark Zuckerberg).

You might expect the world’s richest business people to have economics or business degrees, but the vast majority hold a Bachelor of Arts and Science degree.

The second most popular choice was a Master of Business Administration (MBA), studied by 148 billionaires, followed by Master of Science (94) and Doctorate (38).

Also interesting to note is that 62 self-made billionaires actually dropped out before completing their degrees, including the heads of two of the biggest companies in the world, Mark Zuckerberg and Bill Gates.

This number is even higher if we look just at the top 50 richest people, with 8 (16%) having dropped out of university.

How Many Degrees do the World’s Richest People Hold?

Almost a third (31%) of the world’s richest self-made entrepreneurs hold multiple degrees.

1 – 548

2 – 227

3 – 35

4 – 3

The majority of self-made billionaires just hold one academic degree, although some have pursued even further education, with 227 holding two, such as perhaps both a Bachelor’s and a Master’s.

A small number have three degrees to their name, while just 3 out of over 800 have managed to find the time to pursue four degrees, such as hedge fund manager Cliff Asness, who graduated from the University of Pennsylvania with dual degrees, before completing an MBA and a Doctorate from the University of Chicago!

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All education information was sourced from Forbes. Note that we only looked at billionaires listed on the site’s 2019 World’s Billionaire’s list, who were listed as ‘self-made’ and for which education information was available.

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