Celebrities are usually surrounded in glamour; beautifully dressed, smiling, often with not too much to say for themselves. Amazingly there are many celebs who are not just beautiful or brawny, but brainy too. The ten celebs with PhDs that feature here are all hugely successful performers of one kind or another, mostly actors and musicians. And all are very well educated as their doctorates prove.
10 Brian May PhD in Astrophysics
British musician, songwriter and record producer, Brian May got his PhD in astrophysics in 2007. Best known as the lead guitarist for rock band Queen, he studied physics and mathematics at Imperial College London, which is part of the University of London’s Hampton School. He has stated that it took him more than three decades to research his thesis: A Survey of Radial Velocities in the Zodiacal Dust Cloud. For several years after he received his PhD, from 2008 until 2013, May was chancellor at John Moores University in Liverpool.
9 Robert Vaughn PhD in Communications
Actor Robert Vaughn made his name playing Napoleon Solo in the American series The Man from U.N.C.L.E. that was broadcast on NBC between 1964 and 1968. Two years later, in 1970, he walked off with a PhD in communications from the University of Southern California. He is one of the few celebrities to have earned a PhD in the same area of specialty that they work in, namely drama. Vaughn published his dissertation in book form two years after getting his PhD. It is called Only Victims: A Study of Show Business Blacklisting.
8 Bill Cosby PhD in Education
One of the best-known funny men in the world, American actor, musician, television producer and author Bill Cosby went to university after his world famous Bill Cosby Show ended. While studying for his PhD in education he wrote a dissertation: An Integration of the Visual Media Via Fat Albert and the Cosby Kids Into the Elementary School Curriculum as a Teaching Aid and Vehicle to Achieve Increased Learning. In addition to the PhD he studied for, he has received a bunch of honorary degrees including nine doctorates.
7 Shaquille O’Neal PhD in Education
Professional basketball player and four times NBA champion, Shaquille O’Neal quit his studies to play the game. But as soon as he got the opportunity he went back to school, and in 2012 completed his PhD in education at Barry University in Florida. Having done some acting in 12 not-so-good movies, O’Neal has stated that he’s keen to become a motivational speaker one day. He would also like to continue his studies in law school. He knows he can’t be a basketball player forever, and realizes he might need a regular job one day.
6 Peter Weller PhD in Italian Renaissance Art History
Best known for his role in RoboCop, actor Peter Weller has a master’s degree from Syracuse University in Roman and Renaissance art and a PhD in Italian Renaissance art history from the University of California in Los Angeles. Having appeared in dozens of movies and television series, Weller has also directed several films and done some voice acting. He started studying for his PhD in 2007, and announced that he had received his doctorate during the Official Star Trek Convention held in Las Vegas in August 2014.
5 Frank Beall Ryan PhD in Mathematics
Former professional footballer Frank Beall Ryan gave up the game five years after he got a PhD in mathematics at Rice University in 1965. It took him seven years of postgraduate study to get the degree, and during this time he became an assistant professor at the Case Institute of Technology. He continued to teach until 1974, after which he launched his own private computer company. Born in Forth Worth, Texas, Ryan played National Football League for the Los Angeles Rams, the Cleveland Browns, and the Washington Redskins.
4 Ken Jeong PhD in Medicine
Comic actor Ken Jeong is best known for his role as Leslie Chow in The Hangover series of movies. He hadn’t intended to become an actor, and is in fact a licensed physician in California, with a PhD in medicine. Having graduated in 1995, he worked as a doctor for quite a few years, until his wife Tran Ho, who is also a registered family physician, persuaded him to take up acting full time. Born in Detroit to South Korean parents, he’s never looked back.
3 Dexter Holland PhD in Molecular Biology
Musician, songwriter, and singer in the punk rock band The Offspring, Dexter Holland has a PhD in molecular biology from the University of Southern California. In high school in California, Holland was the top student in mathematics. He has been quoted as saying he finds it as exciting as punk rock. In 2013 he registered as a doctoral student at the Keck School of Medicine’s Laboratory of Viral Oncology and Proteomics Research where he continues to study molecular biological approaches to diseases such as HIV.
2 Mayim Bialik PhD in Neuroscience
Well known for her role as Dr Amy Farrah Fowler, a neuroscientist in The Big Bang Theory, actress Mayim Bialik has a PhD in neuroscience from the University of California in Los Angeles. She also studied the Hebrew language and Jewish Studies as part of her bachelor’s degree that she completed in 2000. Her specialty is hypothalamic activity in patients suffering from Prader-Willi Syndrome. Clearly she’s good at what she does both on and off the screen as she has been nominated twice for the Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series.
1 Greg Graffin PhD in Zoology
American musician and record producer, Gregory Walter Graffin has a PhD in zoology from Cornell University in California in the fields of anthropology, evolutionary biology, and geology. The title of his dissertation was Evolution, Monism, Atheism, and the Naturalist world-View: Perspectives from Evolutionary Biology. Best known as a punk rock singer in the group Bad Religion, which he formed with a bunch of school friends when he was just 15, Graffin has subsequently taught evolution and science at Cornel and at the University of California, Los Angeles.