- There’s no degree requirement to become one of the world’s richest billionaires. However, many billionaires hail from some of the world’s most prestigious universities
- Some of the billionaires from schools like Yale, the University of Mumbai, and Cornell gained their wealth through inheritance. They later expanded their business and assets to grow their fortune
- Many newcomers have joined the ranks of billionaire alumni, mostly founders or investors in technologically progressive organizations
According to Forbes, there are about 2,755 billionaires in the world. Of the world’s richest, many — such as Bill Gates or Mark Zuckerberg — never completed their undergraduate education before becoming billionaires. However, those who did complete their university education seemed to have been drawn toward particular schools — both across the United States and the rest of the world.
Attending any of these universities obviously isn’t a guaranteed track to billionaire-ism. However, there does appear to be a strong correlation between certain schools and some of the world’s richest individuals. About 70% of the Forbes 400 members attended 140 other schools and 37 simply dropped out, but a select group of schools boasts the most billionaire alumni. Find a roundup of these billionaire mass-producing schools below.
University of California, Berkeley
Known as California’s flagship public university, Berkeley claims 11 billionaire alumni as of 2022. You may have already heard of Intel co-founder Gordon Moore, reportedly worth about $12.1 billion. Alice and David Schartz met while attending Berkley, and they later went on to co-found the biotech firm Bio-Rad laboratories.
More recent billionaire alumni include Harvard biology professor Timothy Springer, who made his money with early investments in the Moderna vaccine, as well as DoorDash CEO Tony Xu. He saw his wealth spike along with demand for food delivery.
Columbia University was founded in 1754 and is a privately funded institution of higher education. As of 2021, Columbia University in New York City boasted eleven billionaire alumni for a combined wealth of $40.9 billion.
Among the most notable are Robert Kraft, owner of the NFL New England Patriots. There’s also telecom founder and college soccer player Rocco Commisso. Other wealthy alumni members mostly made their fortunes as investors, real estate developers, and hedge fund managers.
Founded in 1769, Ivy League member Dartmouth College is the ninth oldest institution of higher education in the United States. As of 2022, about ten of its alumni can claim billionaire status.
One of its wealthiest alumni is Leon Black, an American investor best known as the co-founder of private equity firm Apollo Global Management. Investor Stephen Mandel Jr. and Pegasystems founder (plus World Open Chess Tournament champion) Alan Trefler are also counted among Dartmouth’s richest alums.
Another of the Ivy League schools to produce a significant number of billionaires, Princeton University can brag a $288.4 billion combined net worth between its wealthy alumni. Amazon founder Jeff Bezos and his ex-wife MacKenzie Scott attended Princeton and make up a staggering 80% of billionaire alumni wealth.
Out of the 11 Princeton billionaires alumni as of 2022, other members include former Google CEO Eric Schmidt, as well as self-made former eBay and Hewlett-Packard CEO Meg Whitman.
Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Located in Cambridge, Massachusetts, MIT is known for its role in modern technology and science. A few of MIT’s 14 billionaires inherited their billionaire statuses, such as Koch Industries CEO Charles Koch and his brother William. However, they expanded their presence in the oil and coal industries after graduation.
Other MIT billionaires include self-made mathematician, hedge fund manager and philanthropist Jim Simons, reportedly worth $23.5 billion. The rise of new technologies has likewise contributed to the growing fortunes of BeiGene CEO John Oyler and crypto firm founder Sam Bankman-Fried.
University of Southern California
A private research university and center for arts, technology, and international business, the University of Southern California includes some big names in its 15-billionaire alumni roster.
Star Wars creator George Lucas represents a major portion of the $58.5 billion combined alumni worth. He sold Lucasfilm to Disney in 2021 for a cool $4.1 billion. Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff is worth the most of all USC alumni with $8.4 billion. Other notable members include the Public Storage family of Wayne Hughes and his children.
Cornell is known for a broad collection of prestigious alumni. Notable members include the SC Johnson siblings heirs, who share their family name with the university’s Samuel Curtis Johnson Graduate School of Management. Each of the three sibling alumni is worth a few billion dollars.
As of 2022, Cornell can claim 18 billionaire alumni with the arrival of Robert Langer. He is a scientist who invested a 3% stake in the biotech firm Moderna. Chuck Feeney was once among Cornell’s billionaires, but gave away his $8 billion fortune to various causes via his philanthropic organization, the Atlantic Philanthropies.
One of the few non-U.S. universities to rank high for producing billionaires, Mumbai University has one of the highest enrollment rates in the world. The university boasts 20 billionaires, many of whom inherited their riches. They have a combined worth of $162.8 billion.
Notable wealthy alumni include Asia’s richest billionaire, Mukesh Ambani. He’s the director and largest shareholder of Reliance Industries, a multinational conglomerate with diverse interests across telecommunications, energy, and other industries. Mukesh and his brother Anil inherited their wealth and assets from their father.
Located in New Haven, Connecticut, Yale ranks No. 5 among the Ivy League institutions. It’s produced 21 billionaires across diverse interests with a combined worth of $140.8 billion. Members of the Mars family (owners of the candy bar of the same name), collectively worth approximately $90 billion, graduated from Yale.
Among the other 21 billionaires from Yale are co-founders of Pinterest, Ben Silbermann and Paul Sciarra. There’s also FedEx founder Fred Smith. Joseph Tsai, the owner of the Brooklyn Nets, also graduated from Yale and has a net worth of $11.6 billion.
Located in California, Stanford University has an unreal ability to produce billionaires. It’s already the alma mater of 28 billionaires, with a combined worth of $124.4 billion. Many of those 28 members joined the billionaire club quite recently. Stanford will undoubtedly send more in the future, too. Many of these alumni include founders of technologically progressive companies, such as Zillow and Carvana.
Yahoo co-founder Jerry Yang is also among Stanford graduates. He was even elected as chair the university’s board of trustees. Other tech-focused graduates from Stanford include Snapchat co-founder, Evan Spiegel, and PayPal co-founder, Peter Thiel.
University of Pennsylvania
The 28 billionaires of the University of Pennsylvania (Penn State, among the Ivy League crews) make up a mind-boggling combined worth of $284.8 billion. Among these wealthy graduates are the notorious tech leader Elon Musk and even former president Donald Trump.
Penn also hosted billionaires from wealthy families. The children and grandchildren of cosmetics founder Estee Lauder are one such example. Most of these individuals attended the Wharton School of business, with the exception of casino magnate Steve Wynn who studied English literature.
Harvard University takes the top spot as the last but not least of the Ivy League schools, with 29 billionaires graduating from its ranks. Many of these billionaires made their fortunes in finance and investment, such as early Bitcoin backers Cameron and Tyler Winklevoss.
Los Angeles Clippers owner (and former Microsoft CEO) Steve Ballmer likewise graduated from Harvard. Ballmer later hired a billionaire Harvard dropout, Gabe Newell. Other notable billionaires, such as Mark Zuckerberg and Bill Gates, left Harvard to start their careers. That means that Harvard could have otherwise boasted up to 32 billionaires, if those dropouts had finished their degrees.