Many Celebrities See the Appeal of Graduate School

By Laura Morrison, April 2014

For many people, going to graduate school means taking a step that could potentially open the door to new career opportunities. For this reason, some individuals may wonder why celebrities who have achieved incredible fame and fortune would ever return to school to earn a graduate degree.

As it turns out, it's not uncommon for famous faces to enroll in graduate programs.

Famous graduate students

You might not realize it, but some of the biggest names in show business have completed master's programs. Actress Eva Longoria, for example, is the recipient of a master's degree in Chicano and Chicana studies. Fellow actress Ashley Judd holds a Master of Public Administration.

Even a few famous musicians have felt the urge to keep learning beyond the undergraduate level. This was the case with Queen lead guitarist Brian May, who earned a Ph.D. in astrophysics. Meanwhile, Art Garfunkel, one half of the famous folk duo Simon & Garfunkel, holds a master's degree in mathematics.

In recent years, modern renaissance man James Franco has been one of the most talked-about celebrity students. Franco, who's held such titles as actor, director, author, teacher and poet, famously enrolled in multiple graduate programs simultaneously.

According to, one celebrity has earned two master's degrees in writing and a third in film. As if juggling graduate school and his many creative pursuits wasn't enough, the star of such films as "This Is the End" and "Oz the Great and Powerful," is also working toward earning a Ph.D.

Franco provides insight into his graduate school decisions

Since Franco has so much experience as a graduate student, prospective master's degree seekers may benefit from knowing a little more about his reasons for returning to school. Fortunately, Franco put them in writing in an essay that appears in the new anthology "Should I Go to Grad School?" The New York Daily News recently published Franco's essay, which provides glimpses into six years of graduate school in six different programs, including what he's loved about the process.

"If anything, the best thing about graduate school is that it's a place where the things you consider sacred are also considered sacred by the people around you," Franco wrote. "There is a lot of love and hate in graduate programs, but at least I've gotten to be with people who speak my language."

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About the Author: Laura Morrison is the Web Content Manager for She earned an MBA from the Rutgers School of Business in 2010.

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