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Carrie Underwood: Mass Communications with an emphasis in Journalism
After winning “American Idol,” Underwood took the wheel and returned to Oklahoma’s Northeastern State University to finish the degree that she was just three credits short of completing before the show. She graduated magna cum laude.
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Eva Longoria: Kinesiology
Don’t call her a desperate housewife! The actress earned her Bachelor’s in kinesiology — the study of the mechanics of body movement — from Texas A&M University-Kingsville. In 2013, she also completed a master’s in Chicano Studies at California State University. “You’re never too old or too busy to continue your education!” she tweeted on graduation day.
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Bradley Cooper: English
Cooper graduated from Georgetown University with honors, and he told GQ that he wrote his thesis for the English program on Vladimir Nabokov’s Lolita, and that he recalled “shedding actual tears” while reading Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet in the campus library.
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J.K. Rowling: French with additional Greek and Roman studies
The “Harry Potter” author studied at the University of Exeter, and she revealed in a Harvard commencement address that she had wanted to study English literature, while her parents wanted her to pursue a “vocational degree.” “A compromise was reached that in retrospect satisfied nobody, and I went up to study Modern Languages,” she said. “Hardly had my parents’ car rounded the corner at the end of the road than I ditched German and scuttled off down the Classics corridor.”
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John Legend: English with concentration in African-American literature and culture
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Connie Britton: Asian Studies
Everyone’s favorite mom from “Friday Night Lights” and “Nashville” got a degree in Asian Studies from Dartmouth College in 1989. That included a summer abroad in Beijing, where she was roommates with Kirsten Gillibrand, a former Democratic presidential candidate.
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Ken Jeong: M.D.
Before he played a doctor on TV’s “Dr. Ken,” Jeong was a real one. He earned his medical degree from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and began a career as a (serious) physician. “I wasn’t that jokey doctor like Patch Adams,” he told TV Guide Magazine.
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Freddie Highmore: Spanish & Arabic
As the lead actor on the hit show “The Good Doctor,” Highmore’s star is still on the rise. But in 2014, he was already acting in “Bates Motel” while finishing his degree in Spanish and Arabic from Emmanuel College, Cambridge.
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Lisa Kudrow: Biology
Before she made “Friends,” Kudrow earned a degree in biology from Vassar College in 1985. She told Public Radio International she was drawn to the subject because her father was a doctor and also that she thought biology was “going to be the answer to unlocking all the mysteries of humanity.”
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America Ferrera: International Relations
The “Superstore” star was studying at the University of Southern California when her acting career took off. A decade later, she returned and finished her degree in 2013. “I am using so much of what I learned in the School of International Relations in my life,” she said that year. “I’ve learned about the root causes of so many issues I’m passionate about and how to improve people’s lives. Sometimes the issues have taken me across the world, sometimes here in our own backyard.”
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Will Ferrell: Sports Information
Ferrell took home a degree in Sports Information from the University of Southern California in 1990, which he joked about while delivering a commencement speech there in 2017. “Yes, you heard me, sports information,” he said. “A program so difficult, so arduous, that they discontinued it eight years after I left. Those of us with sports information degrees are an elite group. We’re like the Navy SEALs of USC graduates. There are very few of us, and there was a high dropout rate.”
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Gabrielle Union: Sociology
The “Being Mary Jane” star revealed on Twitter that she earned a sociology degree from the University of California, Los Angeles, and that she paid for it with “student loans & [a] job at the book store.”
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Mayim Bialik: Neuroscience
The “Big Bang Theory” star doesn’t just play a genius on TV — she really is one! Bialik earned a Ph.D. in neuroscience from the University of California, Los Angeles. According to CNN, her research there focused on “obsessive compulsive disorder among people with Prader-Willi syndrome, a rare condition in which the hypothalamus malfunctions.” Prior to that, she studied Hebrew and Jewish studies, as well as neuroscience, in undergrad.
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Sam Hunt: Economics
The “Body Like a Back Road” singer was a star at the University of Alabama at Birmingham, but not for music — he was the quarterback of the school’s football team. While there, he studied philosophy before earning his degree in economics.
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Natalie Portman: Psychology
Portman headed to Harvard already a star, following the release of “Star Wars: Episode I – The Phantom Menace.” “I felt like there had been some mistake,” she later recalled, “that I wasn’t smart enough to be in this company, and that every time I opened my mouth I would have to prove that I wasn’t just a dumb actress.” She proved herself plenty smart — finishing a degree in psychology in 2003.
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Regina Hall: Journalism
Far before she took a “Girls Trip,” Hall earned her master’s degree in journalism from New York University. “I loved to write,” she told the Los Angeles Times. “I still write articles sometimes, but I actually wanted to produce segments for shows like ’60 Minutes.'”
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Rebel Wilson: Law
The “Pitch Perfect” favorite confirmed on “Late Night with Seth Meyers” that she graduated law school in 2009 at the University of New South Wales. “A lot of people look at me and think I’m stupid,” she said, “But no, I graduated from a school that’s kind of like the Harvard of Australia.”
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Chris Martin: Greek & Latin
After boarding school, the Coldplay front man headed to University College London, where he completed a degree in Greek and Latin. UCL also happens to be where he met all three of his bandmates.
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Uzo Aduba: Voice Performance
“Orange is the New Black’s” two-time Emmy winner took home a Voice Performance degree from Boston University’s School of Music in 2005. She returned in 2017 to give the commencement address, telling students, “It wasn’t so long ago that I was waking up at 7:50 in the morning in West Campus and making my way down to [the College of Fine Arts] for an 8 a.m. ear training and sight-reading class.”
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Danai Gurira: Social Psychology
After killing it for years on “The Walking Dead,” Gurira made a major impression in 2018’s “Black Panther.” But back in 2001, she was wrapping up her time at Minnesota’s Macalester College, where she studied social psychology. “I was really looking at race, population, gender and how we psychologically function in a way that affects our societal outcomes around those issues,” she told Rolling Stone.
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J. Cole: Communications
In 2007, the rapper graduated summa cum laude from St. John’s University in the NYC borough of Queens, majoring in communications and minoring in business. He earned a 3.82 GPA but didn’t get his actual physical degree until 2015 because he owed money for a missing library book.
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John Cho: English
Cho earned a degree in English at the University of California, Berkeley, but that’s also where he became interested in acting. “I was in this writing group and this fellow in it was directing a play,” he told SFGate.com. “He literally said, ‘How tall are you and what do you weigh?’ I think somebody got sick and he needed to know if I fit the costume. It was really like two lines.”
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Kourtney Kardashian: Theater Arts
The eldest Kardashian sibling started her studies at Dallas’ Southern Methodist University before transferring to the University of Arizona, where she completed a degree in Theater Arts with a minor in Spanish.
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Cole Sprouse: Geographical Information Systems
In between his time on “The Suite Life of Zack and Cody” and “Riverdale,” Sprouse took the time to earn a degree in 2015 from New York University’s Gallatin School of Individualized Study. He created his own major of Geographical Information Systems, which he explained on “Live With Kelly and Ryan” as “basically like virtual cartography.” His twin brother Dylan also attended NYU, earning a degree in video game design.
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Rashida Jones: Comparative Religion
Jones, star of “Parks and Recreation” and “The Office,” graduated from Harvard in 1997 after studying comparative religion. Her entertainment interests were clearly already forming, though, as she was also a member of the Harvard-Radcliffe Dramatic Club and musical director of a co-ed a cappella group called the Harvard Opportunes.
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Ben McKenzie: Economics & Foreign Affairs
The “Gotham” and “The O.C.” star graduated from the University of Virginia in 2001. “The ability to study econ and foreign affairs during the day and perform onstage at night was a true blessing,” he later told the school’s alumni magazine. “I’m not sure I would have had the opportunity to receive such a well-rounded education anywhere else.”
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Laverne Cox: Dance
The “Orange is the New Black” actress originally attended the Alabama School of Fine Arts before transferring to Marymount Manhattan College, where she earned a B.F.A. in Dance, according to her official site bio. “My first week there a guest teacher saw me in the hall and thought I would be perfect for a play he was doing in the theater department,” Cox wrote in the bio. “This was the first of many plays I did with the theater department even though I was a dance major. While this was frowned upon, I never played by the rules.”
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Whitney Port: Gender Studies
“The Hills” star completed a degree in gender studies from the University of Southern California. “The worst part was probably having to take classes that you weren’t really interested in,” she told College Magazine.
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Rooney Mara: Psychology & Nonprofits
Mara spent a year at George Washington University before transferring to New York University’s Gallatin School of Individualized Study, where she focused on psychology and nonprofits. “I traveled a lot,” she told Vogue. “I’d go to Kenya for a month and get credit for that.”
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Aziz Ansari: Marketing
The “Master of None” and “Parks and Recreation” star majored in marketing at New York University because he was interested in being an entrepreneur. “But it was such a weird culture,” he told Paste Magazine. “I wasn’t aware of that whole finance culture of kids who wanna work at Goldman Sachs and all that stuff and blah blah, blah. It was just … not interesting me.” Still, he finished the degree because he “was just able to coast by and work on stand up.”