Colleges that gave Fortune 500 CEOs their start

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A college degree won't guarantee career success, but getting one can be a step in the right direction toward becoming an industry leader.

Of the 100 CEOs leading companies at the top of this year's Fortune 500 list, at least 97 have a bachelor's degree. U.S. News looked at the educational backgrounds of the CEOs from the top 100 companies on the Fortune 500 list, which was released June 4. The educational background for three CEOs could not be confirmed.

Where the CEOs earned their degrees varies as much as the types of companies they lead.
Irene Rosenfeld, one of the few women on the list, studied psychology at Cornell University on her way to becoming chairwoman and chief executive officer at Mondelez International, which makes snacks such as Chips Ahoy! and Ritz crackers, and was ranked No. 91 by Fortune.

On the other end of the academic spectrum, Donnie Smith studied animal science at University of Tennessee on his journey to​ becoming president and CEO at Tyson Foods​, which is famous for stocking grocery store shelves with chicken, beef and pork. Tyson was ranked No. 83 by Fortune.

At least 55 ​CEOs studied topics more typically associated with being a moneymaker, such as business, accounting and engineering, and many did so at top-ranked National Universities. These universities ​offer a full range of programs for undergraduate, graduate and doctoral students.
Fortune magazine annually ranks companies by their total revenues within their respective fiscal years.

A table highlighting U.S. schools that awarded at least two undergraduate degrees​ to the Fortune 100 CEOs is below. The rank of their school is also included. The table is sorted by total number of degrees awarded per institution.

School (state)​ Number of CEO graduates U.S. News rank and category
Cornell University (NY) 3 15, National Universities
Harvard University (MA) 3 2, National Universities
Princeton University (NJ) 3 1, National Universities
Texas A&M University—College Station 3 68 (tie), National Universities
Yale University (CT) 3 3, National Universities
Brown University (RI) 2 16 (tie), National Universities
Purdue University—West Lafayette (IN) 2 62 (tie), National Universities
Tufts University (MA) 2 27 (tie), National Universities
University of Michigan—Ann Arbor 2 29, National Universities
University of Missouri—St. Louis 2 RNP*, National Universities
University of North Carolina—Charlotte 2 201 (tie), National Universities
University of Pennsylvania 2 8 (tie), National Universities

*RNP denotes an institution that is ranked in the bottom one-fourth of its ranking category. U.S. News calculates a rank for the school but has decided not to publish it.

Sources: Company websites, Fortune Magazine, CNBC, Bloomberg BusinessWeek, Forbes, Dallas News, LinkedIn, college and university websites.

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Copyright 2015 U.S. News & World Report

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