John Legend, Lupita Nyong’o & More: 18 Top Celebs With Ivy League Educations

John Legend arrives at the 2019 iHeartRadio Music Awards which broadcasted live on FOX at Microsoft Theater on March 14, 2019 in Los Angeles, California.
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May. 15 2019, Updated 4:36 p.m. ET

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Hollywood isn't typically a place people think of when considering great college or university educations, but John Legend, Lupita Nyong’o and Mindy Kaling — amongst others — earned impressive Ivy League degrees.

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Some of them didn’t just attend Ivy League schools but graduated magna cum laude or with honors. Lupita Nyong’o earned an MFA at Yale. Ashley Judd received her graduate degree from Harvard. Elizabeth Banks graduated magna cum laude from the University of Pennsylvania. And in John Legend’s case, he enrolled at his Ivy League school at just 16.

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There are great levels of intelligence, dedication and hard work on display here ... and maybe even some surprises.

1. Elizabeth Banks:

Elizabeth Banks attends Featured Session: Elizabeth Banks with Aidy Bryant during the 2019 SXSW Conference and Festivals at Austin Convention Center on March 10, 2019 in Austin, Texas
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From the Hunger Games to Modern Family to Wet Hot American Summer, Banks has graced our screens with wit, beauty and humor. And completing that package, according to BestLifeOnline.com, is that she graduated magna cum laude from the University of Pennsylvania in 1993.

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2. John Legend:

John Legend arrives at the 2019 iHeartRadio Music Awards which broadcasted live on FOX at Microsoft Theater on March 14, 2019 in Los Angeles, California.
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Legend was a child prodigy. He was offered scholarships to Harvard and Georgetown but decided to go to the University of Pennsylvania. Even more impressive, according to InStyle, is that Legend enrolled at just 16 years old. According to BestLifeOnline.com, Legend was introduced to Lauryn Hill a year before he graduated in 1998 and the next thing you know he was playing piano on her track “Everything is Everything.”

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3. Mindy Kaling:

// Mindy Kaling
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A young Kaling attended Dartmouth where she initially studied Latin. According to BestLifeOnline.com, Kaling switched her major to theater and graduated in 2001. She jokes in her book Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? that she went there to pursue her “love of white people and North Face parkas.”

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4. Ellie Kemper:

Ellie Kemper speaks onstage during the 71st Annual Writers Guild Awards New York ceremony at Edison Ballroom on February 17, 2019 in New York City.
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Ellie Kemper — another former Office star — attended Princeton where, according to BestLifeOnline.com, she played field hockey. According to InStyle she graduated in 2002 with a BA in English.

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5. Jon Krasinski:

John Krasinski arrives at the 25th Annual Screen Actors Guild Awards at the The Shrine Auditorium on January 27, 2019 in Los Angeles, California.
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Finishing up the Office tour, let’s hear it for Krasinski who, according to BestLifeOnline.com, attended Brown University. He began his stint studying English Lit, and the first half of his freshman year was spent teaching English to students in Costa Rica. He ultimately switched majors graduating with a degree in theater.

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6. Angela Bassett:

Angela Bassett attends the Paley Center For Media's 2019 PaleyFest LA - '9-1-1' held at the Dolby Theater on March 17, 2019 in Los Angeles, California.
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Angela Bassett is a double threat when it comes to awesome college degrees. As if graduating from Yale with a BA in African American studies wasn’t enough Bassett, according to InStyle, Bassett returned to the Yale School of Drama where she earned an MFA.

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7. Sigourney Weaver:

Sigourney Weaver attends the Stephane Rolland show, during Paris Fashion Week - Haute Couture Spring Summer 2020, on January 22, 2019 in Paris, France.
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She fought with Aliens and battled the Gatekeeper in Ghostbusters. But maybe nothing was more work for Weaver than earning a BA in English from Stanford and then later attending the Yale Drama School (according to InStyle).

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8. Maggie Gyllenhaal:

Maggie Gyllenhaal is seen leaving the Oscar De La Renta fashion show at the Cunard Building during New York Fashion Week on February 12, 2019 in New York City
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According to BestLifeOnline.com, Gyllanhaal attended Columbia University where she received her BA in English Literature. One of her teachers was Professor Robert Thurman — father to another acting legend, Uma Thurman. According to InStyle, Maggie’s younger brother, Jake Gyllenhaal, also attended Columbia where he was majoring in Eastern Religions before dropping out after two years.

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9. Shonda Rhimes:

Shonda Rhimes attends the 2019 Vanity Fair Oscar Party at Wallis Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts on February 24, 2019 in Beverly Hills, California.
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Ever wondered how Rhimes keeps coming up with the best shows? Maybe it’s because, according to InStyle, she earned a degree in English and Creative Writing from Dartmouth in 1991. According to NewsOne, Rhimes is the first Black woman to develop/executive produce a Top 10 network series and her series Grey’s Anatomy is now the longest running medical drama in US TV history.

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10. Lupita Nyong’o:

Lupita Nyong'o attends Mujeres Imparables Fireside Chat at Telemundo Center in support of 'Us' on March 21, 2019 in Miami, Florida.
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According to InStyle Nyong’o, the Oscar winner and star of Black Panther, attended Yale where she eventually took home a master’s of fine arts in acting. That MFA came in 2012 — just one year before 12 Years a Slave was released — but her talent had already firmly been established.

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11. Ashley Judd:

Actor and Changemaker Award recipient Ashley Judd attends the Changemaker Gala at L'Escale Restaurant during the 2018 Greenwich International Film Festival on May 31, 2018 in Greenwich, Connecticut.
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In 2010, according to BestLifeOnline.com, Judd hauled herself back to school to pursue her master’s in Public Administration. But Judd didn’t go to any old school ... she went to the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard. According to NPR, for over a decade Judd’s humanitarian work has focused on gender equality as well as the sexual and reproductive health and rights of women.

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12. Rashida Jones:

Rashida Jones attends The Paley Center For Media's 2019 PaleyFest LA - 'Parks And Recreation' 10th Anniversary Reunion held at Dolby Theatre on March 21, 2019 in Hollywood, California.
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Jones had wanted to become a lawyer but, according to BestLifeOnline.com, after watching the O.J. Simpson trial decided it wasn’t for her. She decided to study religion, philosophy and the arts at Harvard and graduated in 1997 with a degree in acting. While there she was a member of the Hasty Pudding Club.

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13. James Franco:

James Franco speaks onstage during the National Board of Review Annual Awards Gala at Cipriani 42nd Street on January 9, 2018 in New York City.
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Franco’s intelligence is legendary. According to Hollywood.com his IQ is a cool 130, and he scored an “almost perfect” on his SAT’s. According to BestLifeOnline.com, he graduated from Columbia’s MFA program in 2010. Franco also enrolled in Yale’s English PhD program that same year.

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14. Tommy Lee Jones:

Actor Tommy Lee Jones arrives at the premiere of 'Just Getting Started' at ArcLight Hollywood on December 7, 2017 in Hollywood, California.
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Jones attended Harvard, and his college roomie was none other than Al Gore. According to Insider.com, they were such good friends that they remained roommates for four years. Speaking of famous roommates, Senator Kirsten Gillibrand and actress Connie Britton roomed together on a study trip to China while undergrads at Dartmouth.

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15. Natalie Portman:

Natalie Portman appears on WATCH WHAT HAPPENS LIVE WITH ANDY COHEN.
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Portman isn’t just any old Oscar winner, she is among Hollywood’s smartest people. According to BestLifeOnline.com, Portman got her degree in psychology from Harvard in 2003. She can speak Hebrew, Japanese, French, German and Arabic. It’s no surprise that she told the New York Post that she’d “rather be smart than a movie star.” Portman proves you can be both.

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16. Jodie Foster:

Jodie Foster speaks onstage at Featured Session: MasterClass with Jodie Foster & David Rogier during the 2019 SXSW Conference and Festivals at Austin Convention Center on March 10, 2019 in Austin, Texas
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Foster is another smart lady. According to BestLifeOnline.com she graduated from Yale in 1985 with a BA in literature. According to Indiewire, Foster thinks her smarts have helped her career. She told them, “Maybe that is what makes my work different, or at least in the ’60s and ’70s from most actors, because I do have an intellectual approach.”

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17. Issa Rae:

Issa Rae attends The 24th Annual Critics' Choice Awards at Barker Hangar on January 13, 2019 in Santa Monica, California.
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According to InStyle, Issa Rae — or Jo-Issa Rae Diop — graduated from Stanford in 2007 with a degree in African and African American studies. Rae, known for her HBO series Insecure , already boasts two Golden Globe nominations as well as an Emmy nom. But Rae’s smarts shouldn’t come as a surprise. According to Biography.com her father is a pediatrician and her mom is a teacher.

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18. Tracee Ellis Ross:

Tracee Ellis Ross attends the 2019 Vanity Fair Oscar Party Hosted By Radhika Jones at Wallis Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts on February 24, 2019 in Beverly Hills, California.
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Ross isn’t just the star of Black-ish. According to InStyle, Ross graduated from Brown University — the Rhode Island Ivy — in 1994 with a degree in theatre. Ross had her first big break in Girlfriends and her mom, singer Diana Ross, presumably couldn’t be more proud.

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