50 Brainy Celebrities Who Attended Ivy League Schools

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Celebs Who Attended Ivy League Schools
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Let’s clear something up: Just because you’re a wildly successful Hollywood star, that doesn’t mean you’re not smart. In fact, there are plenty of intelligent celebrities who are not only gorgeous and charismatic, but attended Ivy League schools too.

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We already knew some of these actors were brainy—Natalie Portman and Rashida Jones are both Harvard grads, and Emma Watson famously made the decision to go to school at Brown University in 2009. But others are more under-the-radar. For example, did you know that Glee funny lady Jane Lynch went to Cornell University, or that Mindy Kaling graduated from Dartmouth?

MORE: 10 Celebrities Who Have Doubled as College Professors

Click through the gallery to see 50 smart celebrities who went to Ivy League schools.

A version of this article was originally published in May 2016.

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STYLECASTER | Ivy League Celebrities | Connie Britton, John Krasinski, Mindy Kaling

Click through the gallery to see 50 smart celebrities who attended Ivy League schools.

Photo: Getty Images. Design: StyleCaster.
STYLECASTER | Ivy League Celebrities | Michelle Obama
Michelle Obama

Michelle Obama graduated from Princeton University in 1985 and went on to earn her degree from Harvard Law School in 1988.

Photo: Mark Wilson/Getty Images News.
STYLECASTER | Ivy League Celebrities | Mayim Bialik 2018
Mayim Bialik

The Big Bang Theory's Mayim Bialik returned to UCLA in 2007 to earn her Ph.D. in neuroscience.

Photo: Allen Berezovsky/Getty Images Entertainment.
STYLECASTER | Ivy League Celebrities | Mindy Kaling
Mindy Kaling

Funny gal Mindy Kaling graduated from Dartmouth in 2001, and in her book Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? she joked that she went to the Ivy League school to "pursue [her] love of white people and North Face parkas." With her theater degree, she continued on to TV fame (and racked up nearly 12 million followers on Twitter).

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STYLECASTER | Ivy League Celebrities | Connie Britton
Connie Britton

Actress Connie Britton majored in Asian studies with a concentration in Chinese at Dartmouth College.

Photo: Jemal Countess/Getty Images.
STYLECASTER | Ivy League Celebrities | Emma Watson
Emma Watson

Emma Watson’s decision to attend Brown University caused quite the stir in 2009. Since then, she took a brief leave of absence to focus on her acting career, but returned to finish her degree.

Photo: Christopher Polk/Getty Images for PCA.
STYLECASTER | Ivy League Celebrities | Rashida Jones
Rashida Jones

Rashida Jones is another female comedian with brains: In 1997, the actress graduated from Harvard (a celebrity favorite, it seems). Although she pursued a degree in acting, she also demonstrated her musical abilities by writing scores for the university's illustrious Hasty Pudding Club.

Photo: Imeh Akpanudosen/Getty Images.
STYLECASTER | Ivy League Celebrities | Natalie Portman
Natalie Portman

Natalie Portman has a reputation in the industry for being brainy, and with good reason. The actress attended Harvard University and emerged with a degree in psychology in 2003.

A former professor commented on her academic performance, stating that "she is a very determined person and capable of focused effort over a sustained period. She is now demonstrating the results of that determination and focus."

She also speaks Hebrew, French, Arabic, German and Japanese. Not too shabby.

Photo: Isaac Brekken/Getty Images.
STYLECASTER | Ivy League Celebrities | John Legend
John Legend

John Legend attended the University of Pennsylvania, receiving scholarship offers from Harvard, Georgetown, and Morehouse before settling into his alma mater.

In 1998 (a year before his graduation), a college friend introduced him to Lauryn Hill, who recruited him to play piano on her track "Everything Is Everything," and in 2001, another college friend introduced him to Kanye West, who later worked with him.

Photo: David Livingston/Getty Images.
STYLECASTER | Ivy League Celebrities | John Krasinski
John Krasinski

John Krasinski is known for his role as lovable Jim on The Office, though he's also quite intelligent too.

He graduated from Brown University in 2001, starting out with an interest in English literature, before eventually pursuing theater. He spent the first half of his freshman year in Costa Rica teaching English to students, to boot.

Photo: Jason Merritt/Getty Images.
STYLECASTER | Ivy League Celebrities | Lupita Nyong'o
Lupita Nyong'o

Oscar winner Lupita Nyong'o attended Yale School of Drama, where she received a master's in acting.

Photo: Andrew Goodman/Getty Images for The Maui Film Festival at Wailea.
STYLECASTER | Ivy League Celebrities | Tyra Banks
Tyra Banks

Tyra Banks caused quite a stir when the America's Next Top Model host announced she was heading to Harvard Business School. Banks has indeed attended business classes at Harvard, but did not receive a degree from the graduate school because she was enrolled in a special syllabus, called the "Owner/President Management Program," which is basically a certificate program rather than an actual M.B.A. degree.

Photo: Jamie McCarthy/Getty Images.
STYLECASTER | Ivy League Celebrities | Julia Stiles
Julia Stiles

Julia Stiles graduated from Columbia University in 2005 with a bachelor's degree in English literature, not unlike her bookworm-ish 10 Things I Hate About You character, who was always reading Sylvia Plath.

Photo: Jason Kempin/Getty Images for YouTube.
STYLECASTER | Ivy League Celebrities | Brooke Shields
Brooke Shields

After starring in the racy movie The Blue Lagoon, Brooke Shields decamped to Princeton University to pursue her bachelor's degree in French literature. She graduated in 1987.

Photo: Andrew H. Walker/Getty Images.
STYLECASTER | Ivy League Celebrities | Maggie Gyllenhaal
Maggie Gyllenhaal

Maggie Gyllenhaal earned a B.A. in English literature from Columbia University in 1995. While there, she took a class with Uma Thurman’s father, Professor Robert Thurman.

Photo: Michael Loccisano/Getty Images.
STYLECASTER | Ivy League Celebrities | James Franco
James Franco

James Franco is known to dabble in a ton of various professions and projects, and the man of many talents attended quite a few prestigious schools, as well.

He holds a bachelor's degree from UCLA (where he graduated with a GPA above 3.5), received an MFA from Columbia, studied film at NYU and is enrolled at Yale University.

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STYLECASTER | Ivy League Celebrities | Elizabeth Banks
Elizabeth Banks

Elizabeth Banks graduated magna cum laude from the University of Pennsylvania in 1993. While in school, she was active in the Greek scene, as a member of the Delta Delta Delta Sorority. She met her husband, Max Handleman, on their first day of classes at the university.

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STYLECASTER | Ivy League Celebrities | Julie Bowen
Julie Bowen

Red-carpet favorite and Modern Family star Julie Bowen went to Brown University and earned a diploma in 1991. While pursuing her degree, she acted in musicals such as Guys and Dolls.

Photo: Alexandra Wyman/Getty Images For Tie The Knot.
STYLECASTER | Ivy League Celebrities | Conan O'Brien
Conan O'Brien

Conan O'Brien attended Harvard University, graduating magna cum laude with a major in U.S. history. While there, he edited the Harvard Lampoon for two years.

Photo: Donald Bowers/Getty Images for The Advertising Council.
STYLECASTER | Ivy League Celebrities | Jordana Brewster
Jordana Brewster

Jordana Brewster graduated from Yale University in 2003, despite having achieved success in Hollywood at a much younger age.

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STYLECASTER | Ivy League Celebrities | Dean Norris
Dean Norris

Breaking Bad actor Dean Norris not only graduated from Harvard in 1985 where he majored in social studies, but he also went to the prestigious Royal Academy of Dramatic Art for one year.

Photo: Ethan Miller/Getty Images.
STYLECASTER | Ivy League Celebrities | Ed Norton
Ed Norton

Ed Norton graduated from Yale University in 1991. He rowed crew competitively while studying history at the Ivy League school and took acting classes on the side. 

Photo: Frederick M. Brown/Getty Images.
STYLECASTER | Ivy League Celebrities | Ellie Kemper
Ellie Kemper

Ellie Kemper attended Princeton University as a field hockey player, earning her degree in 2002. The Office actress followed in the footsteps of her comedian mother, who was one of the first women to attend the prestigious university.

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STYLECASTER | Ivy League Celebrities | Tatyana Ali
Tatyana Ali

Tatyana Ali, the former star of Fresh Prince of Bel Airwent to Harvard University, graduating with a degree in anthropology in 2002.

Photo: Frederick M. Brown/Getty Images for NAACP Image Awards.
STYLECASTER | Ivy League Celebrities | Laura Linney
Laura Linney

Laura Linney attended Northwestern before transferring to Brown University.

A senior lecturer in theater at the school commented, "As a student, she was bright and natural. She was delightful to work with, and she pushed herself. I don't think anyone's quite like Laura. She always had a clear focus and wonderful energy that touched everyone around her."

Photo: Eugene Gologursky/Getty Images for Gotham Magazine.
STYLECASTER | Ivy League Celebrities | Meryl Streep
Meryl Streep

Meryl Streep is widely considered one of the most distinguished actresses of all time, and she's also impressively smart.

After attending Vassar College, she continued onto the Yale School of Drama to receive a master's of fine arts degree in 1975. In the program, she reportedly felt immense pressure and harsh competition, but powered through and became, well, Meryl Streep.

Photo: Mike Coppola/Getty Images for Christopher & Dana Reeve Foundation.
STYLECASTER | Ivy League Celebrities | Jodie Foster
Jodie Foster

Despite being a successful child star, Jodie Foster graduated from Yale University with a bachelor's degree in literature in 1985.

Photo: Jason Merritt/Getty Images.
STYLECASTER | Ivy League Celebrities | Claire Danes
Claire Danes

In 1998, Claire Danes attended Yale (her father's alma mater), but—after studying psychology for two years—she dropped out to focus on her film career.

Photo: Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty Images.
STYLECASTER | Ivy League Celebrities | Matt Damon
Matt Damon

Matt Damon made an interesting choice in his college career: He attended Harvard University for almost four full years before making the decision to drop out in 1992 to pursue his acting career in Hollywood.

Photo: Julien M. Hekimian/Getty Images.
STYLECASTER | Ivy League Celebrities | Jane Lynch
Jane Lynch

Jane Lynch, the star of Gleeattended Cornell University.

Photo: Mark Davis/Getty Images.
STYLECASTER | Ivy League Celebrities | Anna Paquin
Anna Paquin

Anna Paquin went to Columbia University for one year before taking an "indefinite leave of absence" to pursue her acting career. She never returned to finish her degree.

Photo: David Livingston/Getty Images.
STYLECASTER | Ivy League Celebrities | Jake Gyllenhaal
Jake Gyllenhaal

Just like his sister Maggie, Jake Gyllenhaal also enrolled in classes at Columbia University. The only difference: Unlike Maggie, he didn't finish; he was in school for only two years, when he focused his studies on Eastern religions.

Photo: Carlos Alvarez/Getty Images.
STYLECASTER | Ivy League Celebrities | Liev Schreiber
Liev Schreiber

Liev Schreiber graduated from the Yale School of Drama in 1992.

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STYLECASTER | Ivy League Celebrities | Ashley Judd
Ashley Judd

Ashley Judd was a late bloomer.

In 2010, Ashley went back to school to pursue a master's in public administration from the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University.

Photo: Noel Vasquez/Getty Images.
STYLECASTER | Ivy League Celebrities | Angela Bassett
Angela Bassett

Actress Angela Bassett attended Yale University.

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STYLECASTER | Ivy League Celebrities | Casey Affleck
Casey Affleck

Before breaking off to pursue acting, younger sibling to brother Ben, Casey Affleck, studied physics at Columbia University.

Photo: David Buchan/Getty Images For TheWrap.
STYLECASTER | Ivy League Celebrities | Anderson Cooper
Anderson Cooper

CNN anchor Anderson Cooper graduated from Yale University in 1989.

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STYLECASTER | Ivy League Celebrities | Mira Sorvino
Mira Sorvino

Mira Sorvino studied psychology at Harvard University, and while there penned her thesis on racial conflict in China.

Photo: Gabriel Olsen/Getty Images.
STYLECASTER | Ivy League Celebrities | Sigourney Weaver
Sigourney Weaver

Sigourney Weaver attended Stanford University as an undergraduate before going on to graduate from the Yale School of Drama.

Photo: Rommel Demano/Getty Images.
STYLECASTER | Ivy League Celebrities | Ivanka Trump
Ivanka Trump

Ivanka Trump graduated summa cum laude from the University of Pennsylvania Wharton School of Business in 2004.

Photo: Jamie McCarthy/Getty Images.
STYLECASTER | Ivy League Celebrities | Vanessa Carlton
Vanessa Carlton

After studying ballet as a child and embarking on a successful music career, Vanessa Carlton enrolled for a semester at Columbia University in the fall of 2003.

Photo: Michael Loccisano/Getty Images.
STYLECASTER | Ivy League Celebrities | Vanessa Bayer
Vanessa Bayer

Former Saturday Night Live funny gal Vanessa Bayer graduated from the University of Pennsylvania's Annenberg School for Communication in 2004.

Photo: Andrew H. Walker/Getty Images.
STYLECASTER | Ivy League Celebrities | David Duchovny
David Duchovny

Actor David Duchovny graduated from Princeton in 1982 with a B.A. in English literature.

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STYLECASTER | Ivy League Celebrities | Jenny Slate
Jenny Slate

Actress and comedian Jenny Slate graduated from Columbia University in 2004.

Photo: Frazer Harrison/Getty Images.
STYLECASTER | Ivy League Celebrities | Tommy Lee Jones
Tommy Lee Jones

Actor and director Tommy Lee Jones went to Harvard.

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STYLECASTER | Ivy League Celebrities | Paul Giamatti
Paul Giamatti

Actor Paul Giamatti attended Yale University.

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STYLECASTER | Ivy League Celebrities | Kathryn Bigelow
Kathryn Bigelow

Oscar-winning director Kathryn Bigelow (The Hurt Locker) graduated from Columbia.

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STYLECASTER | Ivy League Celebrities | Frances McDormand
Frances McDormand

Actress Frances McDormand went to Yale.

Photo: Frederick M. Brown/Getty Images.
STYLECASTER | Ivy League Celebrities | Amanda Peet
Amanda Peet

Actress Amanda Peet went to Columbia University.

Photo: Jerod Harris/Getty Images.
STYLECASTER | Ivy League Celebrities | Donald Trump
Donald Trump

Donald Trump went to the University of Pennsylvania and studied economics.

Photo: Kris Connor/Getty Images.

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  • STYLECASTER | Ivy League Celebrities | Anna Paquin
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  • STYLECASTER | Ivy League Celebrities | Liev Schreiber
  • STYLECASTER | Ivy League Celebrities | Ashley Judd
  • STYLECASTER | Ivy League Celebrities | Angela Bassett
  • STYLECASTER | Ivy League Celebrities | Casey Affleck
  • STYLECASTER | Ivy League Celebrities | Anderson Cooper
  • STYLECASTER | Ivy League Celebrities | Mira Sorvino
  • STYLECASTER | Ivy League Celebrities | Sigourney Weaver
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  • STYLECASTER | Ivy League Celebrities | David Duchovny
  • STYLECASTER | Ivy League Celebrities | Jenny Slate
  • STYLECASTER | Ivy League Celebrities | Tommy Lee Jones
  • STYLECASTER | Ivy League Celebrities | Paul Giamatti
  • STYLECASTER | Ivy League Celebrities | Kathryn Bigelow
  • STYLECASTER | Ivy League Celebrities | Frances McDormand
  • STYLECASTER | Ivy League Celebrities | Amanda Peet
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