They Studied What?! 10 Celebrities with Surprising Graduate Degrees

Ashley Judd Whether you're a famous ballad singer, a slapstick comedian, or a granite-faced movie villain, it never hurts to have a backup plan. Little surprise, then, that many well-known entertainers have also pursued graduate degrees. But while some went for the obvious educational path -- can anyone really be shocked that Sigourney Weaver has a Master of Fine Arts from the Yale School of Drama? -- these 10 performers chose far more surprising options.

10 Surprising Celebrity Degrees
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They Studied What?! 10 Celebrities with Surprising Graduate Degrees

A familiar face to action film fans, Lundgren is famous as the Soviet boxer who brutalized Sylvester Stallone in Rocky IV, He-Man in Masters of the Universe and more recently, Gunnar Jensen in The Expendables. But, before his movie career, Lundgren was headed for a career as a chemical engineer: After earning a master's degree from the University of Sydney, he was studying at MIT on a Fulbright scholarship when he was discovered by actress-singer Grace Jones.

For most people, navigating a successful Hollywood career would be sufficient excuse to rest on their educational laurels. Weller, though, followed his work in Buckaroo Banzai and the Robocop franchise -- not to mention dozens of other movies and television shows -- with an academic career. In 2004, he received his master's degree in Roman and Renaissance art from Syracuse University, and he's currently working on getting his Ph.D.

While fans of The X-Files may wonder why Fox Mulder chose to study dead writers at Yale, those who've seen him in Californication probably wouldn't be surprised to discover the actor has a master's in English Lit., and was working on a (still unfinished) doctorate when he followed the siren song of Hollywood.

Actress, Blossom star, famed hat-wearer and ... neuroscientist? The co-star of The Big Bang Theory probably doesn't have to work too hard to convincingly portray of a neurobiologist on TV: She received a Ph.D. in neurobiology from UCLA in 2008.

Arguably the most famous male porn star in America, Ron Jeremy is one of the few who has made the leap into mainstream cinema, with roles in Boondock Saints, Orgazmo, 54, and several other movies. But before he became famous as "the Hedgehog," Jeremy made his living as a special-education teacher and substitute teacher in New York City. Of course, it didn't hurt that he had a master's degree in special education from Queens College.

Parsley, sage, rosemary and pi? The sound of sine waves? Before he became famous as one of the 1960s great troubadours, Art Garfunkel was working to make his mark as a mathematician. After finishing an undergraduate degree in art history at Columbia University, he moved on to a master's in mathematics. He was working on a Ph.D. in math education when musical success forced him to set aside his studies.

When it comes to writing a second act, few can beat Brian May. As the lead guitarist for Queen, May wrote or collaborated on some of the group's most famous songs, including Bohemian Rhapsody, We Will Rock You, and Fat Bottomed Girls. After a highly successful career, May decided to take it easy studying astrophysics. He received his Ph.D. in 2007 and is currently chancellor of Liverpool John Moores University.

Given her rich acting career, it's not surprising that Judd -- famous for her roles in Kiss the Girls, Double Jeopardy, and numerous other movies -- took a while to finish her undergraduate degree from the University of Kentucky. But she certainly made up for lost time later: In 2010, she received her master's in public administration from the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University.

Best known for modeling Calvin Klein jeans and Maybelline Mascara, famed model Turlington has spent the past few years in more cerebral pursuits. The author of Living Yoga: Creating a Life Practice, she studied comparative religion and Eastern philosophy at New York University, from which she graduated cum laude in 1994. She is currently working on her master's degree in public health at Columbia University.

Anyone who has seen Atkinson's antics as the clumsy Mr. Bean knows that the man is a genius when it comes to engineering hilarious slapstick. But long before he began developing outrageous scenarios for the cameras, Atkinson mastered an even more complex form of engineering: He received a master's degree in electrical engineering from Oxford University in 1975.


Bruce Watson is a senior features writer for DailyFinance. You can reach him by e-mail at, or follow him on Twitter at @bruce1971.
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