The 15 people on this list are known for a range of different things. Whether it’s hosting shows, playing sports, singing, or rocking out, they’re renowned for entertaining millions. Nowadays it’s not too hard to earn celebrity status, to potentially earn fame and fortune just for being known as a celebrity figure. Appear on a TV show, and you can call yourself a celeb. Do something scandalous that gets you plenty of media attention, and from then on you can label yourself as a celeb. That’s what tends to happen in today’s day and age. That’s why the stereotypical celebrity isn’t exactly someone who’s known for being smart. Actually, let me rephrase that: they might be smart in other ways, they know how to get themselves out there, work it on screen, but in terms of academic smarts, there’s not much to shout about. They’ve gotten by with what they’ve got and they’ve done pretty well for themselves too.
Having said that, quite a few notable celebs out there do have a decent education. They have degrees, plenty also have master’s degrees. But even those who possess such degrees would probably still be awarded the dunce’s cap when around the individuals on this list. These guys and girls aren’t just smart, academically, they’re super smart. You think having a master’s degree is impressive? Well, these 15 have PhDs. They’re therefore doctors as a result of having doctorates. You can’t get smarter than that. Then they even went on to achieve success in other fields, in other careers, They’re certainly not your stereotypical celebs. These are 15 celebs you might have thought were brainy, but you probably didn’t have a clue just how smart they really are. Here are 15 celebs you had no clue have PhDs.
15 One Klitschko Follows In The Other’s Footsteps
Even those of you who don’t know about your combat sports have probably heard the name Klitschko. Brothers Vitali and Wladimir ruled supreme over boxing’s heavyweight division for over a decade. They took part in some epic fights, but were pretty much untouchable in the ring, as they went about collecting all the championship belts for themselves. Both are now retired from the sport, but their reign will always be remembered.
Younger brother Wladimir idolized his brother growing up. He wanted to emulate what his brother was doing, be it in academia or in the ring. And he did. In 2000, in the Ukraine, after four years of study, Vitali was awarded his PhD in sports science. By this time, he’d already been boxing as a pro for four years, and was unbeaten; he obviously dished out more punishment than he received, so he didn’t damage too many brain cells! Wladimir began his studies soon after his brother, and was awarded his PhD in sports science in 2001. Their academic prowess and skills in the ring were just amazing. So, when they’re introduced as Dr. Ironfist and Dr. Steelhammer, you now know they weren’t just random names coined out of thin air – they’re both actually docs!
14 Big Shaq Is All That
This sporting legend will go down in history as one of the greatest players to have ever stepped on the basketball court. Shaquille O'Neal was just made for the sport, possessed all the right attributes to be a star player on the court, and he certainly didn’t disappoint. For 19 years, he wowed and amazed, and was just a star in every sense of the word. Big Shaq was also an astute man. Sure, it might not seem so, because we’ve heard about his extracurricular activities, like his sexual escapades, but he’s a very astute man. He’s got numerous other things going on aside from basketball, and other ventures which he’s involved in which will keep the money rolling in. He’s got a big brain in that head of his, and has even tried his hand at academia. Whatever Shaq does, he seems to make a success of it, and that was also the case when he studied for his doctoral degree in education.
13 Double Doctor James Franco
For all of these guys, education’s important, but for James Franco, getting an education was just a must, something he had to do. He just loves school and has said he uses education to keep him grounded. In fact, right throughout his acting career, he’s been studying, completing degree courses, and even teaching students. In between shots on set, he studies, and he never missed classes. Even when the 2011 Academy Awards were on, he missed them in favor of attending a class. That’s what you call dedication. It’s all paid off, in an academic sense. The guy’s got four master’s degrees, a PhD from Yale University, but not content with just being a doc, he’s enrolled in another PhD program in creative writing and literature at the University of Houston. If he completes his PhD, James will be an elite member of the academic fraternity; there aren’t many people with a couple of doctorates to their name.
12 Mayim Bialik – Science Buff On-Screen And In Real Life Too
Ever wondered how Mayim Bialik, the star of The Big Bang Theory, could pull off that swotty, geeky scientist persona so convincingly? Well, for Mayim it’s not really acting. Science is actually a major part of her life, so translating this passion onto the screen for her role as Dr. Amy Farrah Fowler, wasn’t really a problem. Her persona in that hit sitcom and her character in real life aren’t exactly the same though – that’d be mightily unfair! – but from an academic sense, they’re not all that dissimilar.
Mayim earned her BSc in neuroscience and then took her level of study to the next level, studying for a PhD in the subject. It took her some time because she was trying to balance her studies with her acting. She took some time off before eventually getting back on the academic horse and completing her doctorate, which she earned from UCLA in 2007.
11 Brian May – It’s Never Too Late
For Brian May, being the lead guitarist for the legendary band Queen wasn’t enough. Being a part of such a successful rock group, you’d have thought Brian May would’ve taken it easy. The cash was rolling in, always has been, and after living that whole rock and roll lifestyle during his younger days, his later years would be the perfect time to ease back and enjoy the fruits of his labor. But no, Brian May wasn’t quite satisfied with being a rock legend. First of all, just being accepted into a postdoctoral program from the world-renowned Imperial College is impressive enough. But studying for a PhD in mathematics and physics? That’s just on another level of smartness.
Those of you who’ve studied physics at any level can probably testify to that, but to make it the basis for postdoc research – wow! Due to all of his other commitments, it took May 30 years to earn his PhD, which he earned in 2007 at the ripe old age of 60. That’s one seriously impressive achievement to go along with his heap of others!
10 Dr. Cosby - The Funny Guy’s A Clever Guy Too
Bill Cosby’s been in the limelight for a hell of a long time, and although there have been plenty of high moments, there’s been lots that he’d probably want to forget, and banish from people’s memories if that was at all possible. Let’s focus on one of the highs of Bill’s life. A major high for him, something he deems to be the proudest moment of his life, is when he was awarded a doctorate in the mid-70s at the age of 39. Getting an education was always a massive thing for Cosby. It was instilled within him by him mom while he was growing up that getting an education was very important.
As a youngster, he actually didn’t really pay any attention to this. He flunked the tenth grade three times, and even though somehow, he made it to university, he never actually properly finished his bachelor’s degree. But down the line, he was accepted as a part -time doctoral student, and was eventually awarded a Doctor of Education degree. This time he took it seriously, put in the hours, and it paid off. He’s since been awarded many other honorary degrees, but due to the hard work and determination, the one he worked for is certainly the one that’s going to take pride of place on his mantelpiece.
9 Miuccia Prada – One Smart Fashionista
The name Prada is synonymous with fashion, and it has been for a hell of a long time. Mario Prada founded the world-famous fashion label, way back in the early 90s, and today, it’s his granddaughter who keeps things running, who’s business acumen and fashion insight has taken the company to the next level. Miuccia Prada took over the company as a designer in the 70s. She’s since risen to become one of the most influential women in the world, in the fashion industry that is. In 2014, Forbes listed her as being the 75th most influential woman in the world, and it’s thought she has a net worth in excess of $11 bn. That’s power, serious money and power. Don’t think that she had it all handed to her on a plate either, because of her family name. She strove to make the label one of serious luxury, and had smarts to make it happen. Miuccia has a PhD in political science from the University of Milan. That’s a far cry from the fashion world she calls her own, but there are certainly transferable skills, which demonstrates she’s not your run-of-the-mill fashion designer.
8 Isa Guha – Not Your Stereotypical Scientist
Isa Guha is one sexy sportswoman, well, former sportswoman. She played cricket for the England women’s cricket team, before retiring to focus on other endeavors. These other pursuits have kept her in the limelight, and she’s blossomed into one of the most-loved sport’s presenters around. She’s hot, charming, witty, intelligent, bubbly, just has an all-round vibrant personality. It’s little wonder that when there’s a cricket event somewhere in the world, broadcasters of various networks are all eager to get her on board. But Isa’s had other interests too, which somehow, she’s managed to juggle with her sportscasting duties. While she’s risen over the years to become a top sport’s presenter, Isa’s also been completing her PhD, in neuroscience. That’s no Mickey Mouse subject. She completed her thesis this year, research into the neurodegeneration of the ageing peripheral nervous system. That all seems mightily technical. Brains as well as beauty – Isa really does possess the complete package.
7 Rachel Maddow – Whip-Smart Beauty
Those of you who have seen Rachel Maddow as a host and political commentator, can probably gather that she’s a very clever, highly-educated woman. She’s sharp between the ears alright, and it’s contributed to her making a success on her nightly TV show, The Rachel Maddow Show on MSNBC. She’s an unlikely cable news host, but now that she’s made that hosting chair her own, it’s hard to see her in a different light.
I mentioned that it’s pretty evident that Rachel’s a highly-educated woman, but I’m assuming that not many of you had a clue just how highly educated she is. She’s PhD educated, and holds a doctorate in political science from the world-renowned Oxford University in the UK. Apparently, she was a great student, and her lecturers have described her as being someone who comes along once in a generation. She’s also pretty quirky, a tad eccentric, and that blend has held her in good stead, and has made her pop a little in the often mundane media world filled with run-of-the-mill media personalities.
6 Milo Aukerman – Pioneer Of Pop Punk And Plant Research
A singer and songwriter, a guy who pioneered pop punk, also has a PhD. Now that really doesn’t fit the bill. How many singers out there do you know that are docs? The perception of a punk rock singer is someone who lives that wild and rowdy lifestyle. Milo Aukerman obviously always had that side within him, and he found it a struggle to keep it under wraps while conducting his research in the laboratory, acting like a straight-laced scientist.
He just had to break free, get rid of that white coat and goggles, and let that punk rock superstar come out from within him. What was it exactly that he was doing before putting all his focus into his music career? He was a plant researcher. Yep, you read that right. He did his doctorate in biology, and then continued doing research in biochemistry, before getting a gig in a lab researching plants. He traded up for doing music gigs in front of thousands of people. The music world, and probably millions of people around the world, are grateful he made that decision.
5 Peter Weller - Hard-Earned Doctorate At 67
Peter Weller, the man who played RoboCop, is one seriously smart cookie. The actor’s just gotten better with age; he’s now 70 years old and is showing no signs of slowing down or wanting to ease back and take it easy. Education was obviously important to Peter, because for decades he balanced his studies with his acting endeavors. The medieval and renaissance art world was his area of interest, and he took to it after some friends sparked the interest, causing him to pursue it further. He completed his master’s degree in 2004, and actually taught the odd course too. Imagine rocking up to a lecture hall and seeing Peter Weller standing on the podium! This led on to further studies, and he completed his dissertation, Alberti Before Florence: Early Sources Informing Leon Battista Alberti’s De pictura in 2013, and was awarded his doctorate the following year.
4 Angela Merkel – Brains Equals Power
Chancellor of Germany Angela Merkel is one powerful woman. She’s a political powerhouse alright, and holds sway when it comes to important decisions, not just about her home nation, but regarding the world. That’s serious power; even Donald Trump seemed irked (and seemed to be shaking in his boots a little) during a recent visit!
Now, you don’t need me to tell you that Angela Merkel’s smart. Most politicians who make it to that level are (most, not all, clearly). They may be smart, have good educations, have gone to established schools and colleges, and earned noteworthy degrees, but there are probably very few in the world, if any, who are Angela Merkel smart. Her subject isn’t political science, economics, or anything like that, the degrees most politicians tend to earn. She’s a maths and science wiz. She did research at the Central Institute for Physical Chemistry of the Academy of Science in Berlin in the field of quantum chemistry, and earned a doctorate for her work. She subsequently worked as a researcher and published a number of academic papers.
3 Condoleezza Rice – A Highly Driven Woman
Here’s another powerful woman in the dog-eat-dog world of politics. Condoleezza gained fame and made a real difference under the leadership of George W. Bush. Under his reign as president, she was Secretary of State, and was instrumental in the president making a number of key decisions. Before her stint with the Bush administration, Condoleezza was involved in politics, but as a professor. She was a professor of political science, carrying on from her own education in politics. This is a woman who really was all about politics, and all about making a difference. She knew she wanted to get into that line of work from a young age, so she all the work experience and studied the relevant subjects. She took her studies far, and at the age of 26, she received her PhD in political science for looking into the politics in the state of Czechoslovakia, as it was known at the time.
2 Brian Cox – Proving Science Is Hot
This guy is a seriously big deal in the world of science, but especially in the UK. He makes women swoon with his smile, and people are amazed with his level of knowledge. As a presenter, he’s one of the best in the UK, and has been for quite some time, presenting science programs and putting in the odd appearance here and there on other shows.
Initially, it was all about music for Brian Cox. He was part of a band that actually released two albums, who ended up with a number of hits on the UK charts. His passion was for music, but his other love was physics. While attempting to make it big as a musician, he completed his BSc and master’s degrees, and then when his musical ambitions weren’t working out, he shifted his focus to studying physics full-time. Brian subsequently competed his doctorate before getting into broadcasting.
Brian Cox’s effort is to make science cool, get more people involved, and you have to say that he’s been successful.
1 Greg Graffin – Punk Rock And Animals Tickle His Fancy
Here’s another guy on this list who’s a punk rock star but is also more than a bit of a science geek. What is it with scientists and music? Many high-profile scientists have also tried their hands at making it in music – it must be an outlet, a means of letting their creativity flow. That highly professional environment of a lab can be rather stifling.
Greg Graffin’s another guy who had a serious passion for learning, which he balanced with his musical endeavors. He formed his first band at the age of 15, and at that age, that obviously took precedence. But down the line, he decided to do something about his thirst for knowledge. He decided to quench it by continuing his studies. He got his BSc, and then master’s degree, before taking things even further and earning a PhD in zoology in 2007. Graffin proceeded to lecture at UCLA, which he balanced with performing on stage. He’s worked on solo albums too. This guy likes to keep busy, pursuing his passions, and good on him, may that passion never die.