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11 Famous People with a PhD

Many famous people have a Bachelors degree, and some even hold a Masters degree. But it might come as a surprise that some celebrities also have a PhD – often in fields completely unrelated to what they are famous for.

#1 Mayim Bialik

We know Mayim Bialik as the nerdy, loveable Big Bang Theory regular, Dr. Amy Farrah Fowler. Although a fictional character, Dr. Fowler's expertise in Neuroscience does not stretch too far from the truth. In fact, Mayim has a PhD in Neuroscience, which she gained from UCLA. She took a break from her PhD to pursue her acting career, and returned to finish her research and write her thesis on the genetic disorder, Prader-Willi syndrome.


#2 Wladimir Klitschko

Wladimir Klitschko is a Ukranian boxer who won the Olympics gold medal for the super-heavyweight division and was known for his exceptional knockout power. Along with this great achievement, he also has a PhD in Sports Science from Kiev University. Klitschko’s combination of academic and martial prowess earned him the nickname ‘Dr. Steelhammer’. You’d have to ask him whether he found his title defence or thesis defence harder.


#3 Brian May

As the lead guitarist in one of the most famous British rock bands in the world, you wouldn't think, Brian May, who joined Queen at 23, would have time to do a PhD, would you? Well, it may have taken him 35 years, but he completed his PhD in Astrophysics from Imperial College London at the age of 59. Managing his time between his career and his studies must have been difficult, but as they say, the show must go on.


#4 Mikhail Youzhny

At the height of his career, Mikhail Youzhny was the No. 1 Russian tennis player as well as one of the top 10 tennis players in the world. He was able to gain his PhD in Philosophy from the University of Moscow, in between major tennis tournaments. For his thesis, he wrote about how different tennis players approached the game. This provided useful insight for new starters to the sport, whilst almost definitely boosting his own game play!


#5 Miuccia Prada

Miuccia Prada is one of the grandchildren of Mario Prada, who founded the fashion label Prada. As well as being a successful businesswoman and fashion designer, she also has a PhD in Political Science from the University of Milan.

Did I mention she is also a billionaire? Apparently some of us can have it all. . .


#6 Brian Cox

Brian Cox is a hugely successful English physicist, but he is best known to the public as the presenter of several science programmes such as Wonders of the Universe and Einstein’s Shadow on the BBC. His broadcasting career stemmed from his academic career. Brian Cox has a Bachelors degree, Masters degree and PhD in Physics all from the University of Manchester.


#7 Ken Jeong

The American comedian Ken Jeong is well known for performing various roles as a medical professional – performing life-threatening surgery whilst making inappropriate jokes. You’d be forgiven for assuming he's about as qualified as The Simpsons’ Dr. Nick Riviera. However, Jeong actually studied at the University of North Carolina, where he obtained an MD in Medicine.


#8 Angela Merkel

Angela Merkel studied Physics at university and went on to do a PhD in Quantum Chemistry at the Academy of Sciences in Berlin. Her scientific career was successful, and she published several papers before starting out in politics.


#9 Arthur Conan Doyle

Arthur Conan Doyle is a British writer, who created the character Sherlock Holmes. He studied Medicine at the University of Edinburgh and continued his studies in order to gain a PhD working on a degenerative disorder. It was said that he based Sherlock Holmes on his former teacher, Joseph Bell, who he greatly admired.


#10 Shaquille O'Neal

Shaquille O’Neal, a now retired, professional American basketball player is considered to be one of the greatest players in National Basketball Association (NBA) history. Being one of the tallest and heaviest players ever, a successful rap artist and having an interest in law enforcement, is not the only reason O’Neal stood out from the crowd. He obtained an online Masters in Business and went on to do a PhD in Education, which he was awarded in 2012.


#11 Kermit the Frog

The darling of Sesame Street, Kermit the Frog, was awarded an Honorary Doctorate of Amphibious Letters in 1996 from Southampton College, New York. In light of this, Kermit the Frog had to give a nerve-wracking speech to over 1000 students at the University of Oxford. He encouraged these students to protect the environment and 'go green'. I think we all need to take a leap out of Kermit's book. Oops! I meant leaf.


These celebrities are just a few examples of how doing a PhD opens up a world of possibilities. You never know where you might end up, but if you are interested in doing a PhD, it will certainly help you to get there.


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