Did You Know These 5 Celebrities Have PhDs?
- Student Tips
You know them from pro sports, your favorite shows and movies, top pop songs, and designer labels. What you don’t know about them? Behind their star-studded lives are hard work and unquestionable intelligence. Regardless of their fame and fortune (which probably helps pay for say, a laundry service—wouldn’t that be nice?), these stars have the passion to pursue what truly rocks their world. Star power shines a little brighter for these PhD celebrities.
1. Shaquille O’Neal, PhD in Education
If ever there was a PhD candidate to research and defend the virtues of humor in leadership, it’s Shaquille O’Neal. In 2011, he retired from the NBA as a Celtic after playing for a range of pro teams. In 2012, the NBA star earned his doctorate in education from Barry University in Miami, FL. His focus? How CEO’s and business leaders use humor in the workplace—and why it’s important for success. Though he left his undergraduate experience early to play for the NBA, he later returned to Louisiana State to finish is BA. In an interview with ABC News, he said, “Only the children can call me Shaq, the adults have to address me as Dr. O'Neal.” We do. Quite happily.
2. Brian May, PhD in Astrophysics
A champion not only of Queen, but also the spatial sciences, Brian May began his PhD studies in the early 1970s at Imperial College in London. With Queen’s blossoming success, he put his celestial aspirations on hold, but the passion remained. In 2007, May returned to Imperial College and submitted his revised dissertation in 2007. In 2015, he met with New Horizons team at NASA and got to review the first images of Pluto in real time. May currently continues his work with the Imperial Astrophysics Group. Talk about rocking the world…
3. Mayim Bialik, PhD in Neuroscience
Child-star of the 90s hit Blossom and grown-up star of The Big Bang Theory, Dr. Bialik’s television personas parallel her real life in some capacity—she’s a brilliant scientist. A neuroscientist, actress, and mother, Dr. Bialik earned her degrees at the University of California at Los Angeles. She earned her PhD in 2007. Her dissertation was called “Hypothalamic Regulation in Relation to Maladaptive, Obsessive-Compulsive, Affiliative, and Satiety Behaviors in Prader-Willi Syndrome.” She’s written a book about how neuroscience informs parenting, in addition to writing a middle school neuroscience curriculum. She also has her own website, Groknation.com, a platform for discussions on current events, Hollywood, parenting, women, culture, and faith. How does she do it all?
4. Miuccia Prada, PhD in Political Science
Granddaughter of Prada powerhouse Mario Prada, the Italian designer, has enough to brag about in her own right. She earned her PhD in political science from the University of Milan. One of the world’s top designers and fashion intellectuals, Prada says in a Guardian article, “I was conservative because of my parents, but when I was 14 I wanted to be different.” She adds, “I had to be the first one to have an idea. The same obsession still drives me in my work, never doing things like the others. It’s been a constant strand in my life.” Her love of fashion and politics catapulted her to where she is today.
5. James Franco, PhD in English
With a wide range of accomplishments, the actor will add a doctorate in English from Yale University to his list—all while working on film and writing projects. Widely-known for his Hollywood fame, Franco also writes and directs short films and TV shows. His Hollywood life has inspired his intellectual life, and continues to do so. In 2006, he finished his undergraduate degree in creative writing at UCLA, then earned an MFA at Columbia, and studied at a filmmaking program at New York University, and a fiction-writing program at Brooklyn College.
Alyssa Walker is a freelance writer, educator, and nonprofit consultant. She lives in the White Mountains of New Hampshire with her family.