If hearing about celebs getting their meals for free makes you shake your head, then what if we told you celebs don’t have to spend all the time, money and stress to get a doctorate degree either? That’s right. There’s no studying or sleepless nights for these celebs. Every year various Universities across the world honour various individuals, and most importantly, celebrities, by giving them an honourary doctorate degree.
There is lots of controversy surrounding the handing out of doctorates from accredited Universities, but before you get up in harms, there are a few things you should know about honourary doctorates. When a celeb receives one, they can’t just walk down to the University and ask for a job teaching in the subject they hold their doctorate in. Sure, they can be called “Doc” if they really want, but this honour is supposed to be recognition of the contributions they have made to the field in which they are being honoured.
An honourary doctorate is just that, honourary. There is not academic credit or merit behind it. I guess you could say it is payment for giving a speech at the commencement ceremony. Not sure which celebs are Doctors? There is a long list of celebs who have received a doctorate (some more deserving than others). Here is our top 10 list of celebs, PH.D.
10 Alexander Skarsgard
This HBO True Blood star who is known for his hot, steamy, and aggressive vampire sex scenes, is more than just some sexy fictional dead guy. Born in Stockholm, Sweden, Skarsgard is no stranger to the stage. His career began when he was eight, where he appeared on stage and on television. At the age of 16, Skargard left showbiz to attend school and gain some life experiences. In 2001 he entered back into the entertainment biz, taking a part in the film Zoolander. It wasn’t until 2008 when Skargard joined the vampire movement as “Eric Northman” that his career began to soar. True Blood brought Skargard fame, fortune...and a doctorate degree? In 2011 Skarsgard was awarded an honourary arts degree from Leeds University in England, proof that he has “made it”.
9 Ben Affleck
Everyone knows the story of Ben Affleck and BFF Matt Damon living hand to mouth, writing their own Academy Award winning screen play, which broke them from Hollywood’s B list into the limelight. Before this happened, Affleck was no stranger to Hollywood. He began his career at a young age appearing in commercials and television specials. He would continue to further his career during his teenage years, and would finally break through on the big screen in 1993 in Dazed and Confused. What rags to riches story would be complete without a doctorate? In 2013 Affleck was awarded a Doctor in Fine Arts degree from Brown University. During his convocation speech, Affleck famously said “now I surpass Matt Damon!”
8 Oprah Winfrey
If you are surprised by seeing Oprah’s name on the list, then you don’t know Queen O. Born to a teenage mother, Oprah was raised by her grandmother until she was six. By the time Oprah was three, her grandmother had taught her how to read and write. When it came time for Oprah to attend school, she skipped grades because of her ability to read and write. Knowing this, it should come as no surprise that Oprah has not 1, not 2 but 3 honourary degrees. In 2002 she was given a Doctor of Fine Arts degree from Princeton, in 2009 a Doctor of Humane Letter degree from Duke, and most recently a Doctor of Laws degree from Harvard in 2013. You get a degree! You get a degree! Everyone gets a degree!
7 Kermit the Frog
Kermit the Frog is arguably Jim Hensen’s most famous Muppet. If you think you have to be a human celebrity to receive an honourary doctorate, you would be wrong. Yes, Kermit the Frog, a puppet, has received an honourary doctorate. Where could a puppet become a doctor? Southhampton College. In 1996 Kermit received a Doctorate of Amphibious Letters from this New York based College. Think Kermit is not worthy of a doctorate? Tell that to Miss Piggy. We dare you.
6 William Shatner
William Shatner, although having landed roles in various films and television shows, became a house hold name in 1966 when he became Captain James T. Kirk in the short three season Star Trek series. Trekkies were thrilled when Shatner would return to the big screen as Captain Kirk from 1979 right until the early 90s in the Star Trek films. Shatner’s impressive career ranges from manning the U.S.S. Enterprise, to cutting down travel costs, so it should come as no surprise that in 2011 Shatner was given an honourary doctorate from McGill University, putting a smile on the faces of Trekkies around the world.
5 Celine Dion
To say Celine Dion has come a long way from the shy 12-year-old girl from Charlemage, Quebec is an understatement. In 1991 Dion became a force to be reckoned with when the Grammy and Oscar winning song “Beauty and the Beast” made Dion an international singing sensation. From her various rewards to her lavish Las Vegas wedding to manager Rene Angelil, Dion is a Canadian icon and inspiration for all. In addition to her fame and awards, in 2008 Dion received an honourary doctorate from Lavel University.
4 Steven Tyler
From Aerosmith to American Idol, Steven Tyler’s career has been long and distinguished. It would just be wrong if along the way he didn’t obtain the title of doctor. Like many rock stars before him, in 2003 Steven was given the honourary title of doctor when he received a doctorate from Berklee College of Music.
3 Sir Sean Connery
Before Sir Sean Connery became the face of James Bond, he held down various different jobs including being a milk man and coffin polisher. When Connery was 23, he left the milk cans and coffins behind and entered into the world acting. In 1962, Connery broke through as James Bond, and things only went up from there. In 2009 Connery received an honourary doctorate from Napier University in Edinburgh, forever turning him into Bond, Dr. James Bond.
2 Meryl Streep
When Meryl Streep was first bitten by the acting bug, she thought opera is where she should be. In 1977 she appeared in her first movie Julia and it was a huge success. One year later, she was nominated for an Oscar for her second film The Deer Hunter. Meryl Streep is many things; a 19-time Academy Award nominee, 3-time Academy Award winner, and the recipient of 4 honourary doctorates. These doctorates include a Doctor of Fine Arts from Yale, Princeton, Harvard, and most recently in Meryl was given an honourary doctorate from Indiana University. Surprisingly, she has yet to receive a doctorate in fashion design.
1 Jack Nicholson
Here’s Jackie! Jack Nicholson is arguably the coolest guy on the plant, so it should come as no surprise that Nicholson is our number 1 celeb who has received an honourary doctorate. Nicholson appeared in his first film 1958, but wouldn’t be until 1969 that Nicholson would burst onto Hollywood's A List. In 1975 Nicholson won his first Oscar, and would go on to win two more and receive 12 nominations. Like many celebrities before him, Jack received a Doctor of Fine Arts degree from Brown University in 2011.
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