With a university as acclaimed and prestigious as Harvard University, it’s no wonder many of its alumni become history-making trailblazers, from presidents and politicians to musicians and Oscar-winning actors. After all, a total of eight former Presidents of the United States (from Barack Obama to John Adams) earned themselves a degree from the Cambridge, MA, institution. Impressive, right?
So, when looking at their alumni list, it’s fair to say many of its names ring a bell, including Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg, former late-night show host Conan O’Brien and Saturday Night Live star Colin Jost. And though many of these alumni are well-known, like Barack and Michelle Obama, some other graduates aren’t that well-known to the public.
Therefore, in our efforts to fix that, we’ve decided to look back at all the celebrities and familiar faces that have once called Harvard their home. And be warned, there will definitely be some surprises!
In 2003, budding actress Natalie Portman graduated from Harvard with a psychology degree. Believe it or not, she had already starred as Padmé in the Star Wars trilogy by then.
Years before being a late-night host, Conan O’Brien graduated magna cum laude from Harvard – with a degree in history and literature – in 1985.
Despite having famous parents, Peggy Lipton and Quincy Jones, Parks and Recreation star Rashida Jones put her studies first as she studied religion and philosophy at Harvard and graduated in 1997.
Before starring in Romy and Michelle’s High School Reunion, Mira Sorvino graduated magna cum laude from Harvard with a degree in East Asian studies in 1989.
Like many Hollywood actors out there, Matt Damon dropped out of college to pursue acting. Damon was 12 credits away from graduating when he said goodbye to his academics to star in Geronimo: An American Legend.
Years before becoming the President of the United States, Barack Obama completed his law degree at Harvard Law School. In 1990, Obama became the first Black president of the Harvard Law Review and, in 1991, he graduated with a magna cum laude degree
Much like her husband, Michelle Obama also graduated from Harvard Law School. The former First Lady earned her degree in 1988.
John F. Kennedy
Unsurprisingly, Obama isn’t the only President of the United States to earn a Harvard degree. John F. Kennedy earned a Bachelor of Arts in government, concentrating on international affairs, from the University in 1940.
Last year, the former president’s admission letter went viral on social media, per The Atlantic. An excerpt from the essay read, “I would like to go to the same college as my father. To be a ‘Harvard man’ is an enviable distinction, and one that I sincerely hope I shall attain.”
George W. Bush
A few years after graduating from another Ivy League School, Yale University, George W. Bush enrolled in Harvard Business School. In 1975, he earned an MBA.
Tommy Lee Jones
Men in Black star Tommy Lee Jones also graduated from the prestigious university, earning a Bachelor of Arts degree in English in 1969. Fun fact: Jones was reportedly roommates with future Vice President Al Gore.
Years before starring as Rizzo in Grease, Stockard Channing graduated summa cum laude from Harvard in 1965 with a degree in history and literature.
Much like Channing, Weekend Update co-host Colin Jost also pursued a history and literature degree at Harvard. Jost graduated cum laude in 2004.
A Hollywood legend and a Harvard grad? Turns out Some Like It Hot star Jack Lemmon was much more than a triple threat as he also graduated from Harvard in 1947 with a degree in War Service Sciences.
The Crown star John Lithgow also has a Harvard degree after earning an A.B. from the university for history and literature back in 1967.
Vengeance star B.J. Novak was a Harvard student long before his role in The Office. Novak graduated from the university in 2001 with a degree in English and Spanish literature.
In addition to being a great actor, Steve Zahn also has the academics to back them since graduating from the American Repertory Theatre at Harvard.
As anyone who’s seen The Social Network could tell you, Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg not only went to Harvard but that’s where the idea was first created. Zuckerberg ended up dropping out to pursue the idea in his sophomore year. Soon after, in 2004, Zuckerberg was awarded an honorary Doctor of Laws degree from the university.
Ashley Judd had already made a name for herself in Hollywood when she returned to academics. In 2010, the actress earned a Master of Public Administration degree from the John F. Kennedy School of Government.
Earning a degree in interdisciplinary concentration of Social Studies, Breaking Bad star Dean Norris graduated from Harvard in 1985.
Much like Matt Damon, Elisabeth Shue also dropped out of Harvard to pursue acting. Years later, however, Shue returned and earned her B.A. in political science in 2000.
During her time at Harvard, Amy Brenneman put her acting skills to good use and even co-founded the Cornerstone Theater Company. The Private Practice star graduated in 1987 with a comparative religion degree.