10 Celebrities Who Went Back to School and Graduated

You’ve probably heard the old adage, “You’re never too old to go back to school.” When it comes to the following ten stars, you’re never too old or too famous to hit the books. Here’s a look at 10 celebrities who returned to school.

10. Ashley Judd
Although she had just one class left at the University of Kentucky, Ashley Judd opted to leave UK in 1990 and pursue her acting career. In 2007, she finally completed her bachelor’s degree in French. In 2010, she graduated from Harvard’s mid-career master’s program in public administration.

9. Troy Aikman
In 1989, the Dallas Cowboys made Aikman the top NFL Draft pick. Although he had only two courses left to complete, he left UCLA and appeared to never look back. At least, until 2009, when he enrolled, completed his final two classes, and was awarded his B.A. in sociology.

8. Steven Spielberg
In 1966, Steven was just one credit away from graduating with a degree from California State University, Long Beach, when he made the decision to leave and begin directing professionally for Universal. Despite achieving a tremendous level of success, he returned and completed his bachelor’s degree at the age of 55 in 2002.

7. Shaquille O’Neal
After three years at Louisiana State University (LSU), Shaq made the decision to turn pro in 1992, though he promised he would complete his degree. In 2002, he fulfilled his promise and received his bachelor’s degree in general studies. He continued on and received his MBA from the University of Phoenix online. However, in 2014, he officially became Dr. O’Neal when he earned his Ph.D. in Education from Florida’s Barry University. (Keep in mind that this was not an honorary degree. He earned it!)

6. Elisabeth Shue
While attending Wellesley College, Elisabeth made the decision to try out for a television commercial and transfer to Harvard. Both were life changing decisions. In 1985, she had one semester left at Harvard when she opted to dropout and concentrate on her budding career. In 2000, she finally graduated from Harvard with her BA in political science.

5. Oprah Winfrey
Although she only had one course left to take, Oprah made the decision to leave Tennessee State University in 1974 because she was already getting broadcast media jobs. In 1987, she was hosting a national talk show and had been nominated for an Academy Award when the college asked her to speak at the commencement ceremony. She declined because she felt she had not earned the right because she had not graduated herself. Instead, she completed the course and received her bachelor’s degree in Speech Communications and Performing Arts.

4. America Ferrera
After taking the title role in Ugly Betty in 2002, America left the University of South California (USC) Dornsife during her freshman year. However, she returned and graduated with her bachelor’s degree in international relations in 2013.

3. Carrie Underwood
When she auditioned for American Idol in 2004, Carrie was your typical college third year college sorority girl at Oklahoma’s Northeastern State University. After winning, her career went into overdrive and she didn’t return, though she promised to do so. In 2006, she returned and graduated with a B.A. in mass communications.

2. Michael Jordan
Selected 3rd in the 1984 NBA draft, Michael Jordan left the University of North Carolina (UNC) after his junior year to take his spot on the Chicago Bulls. Despite being a legend in the making, he returned to UNC in 1986 to finish up his B.A. in Cultural Geography.

1. James Franco
Although he started classes at the UCLA in 1996, James quickly dropped out to become an actor (and work at McDonalds). In 1999, he starred in his breakthrough role on Freaks and Geeks, which was quickly followed by his film debut in Never Been Kissed. Despite becoming a star and earning big roles, he returned to UCLA in 2006 and completed his degree through an accelerated program in two years. He immediately enrolled at Columbia University, while also taking courses at NYU (earned his MFA in filmmaking), Brooklyn College (earned his MFA in fiction writing), and North Carolina’s Warren Wilson College (earned his MFA in poetry). In 2010, he earned his Masters in Fine Arts from Columbia and enrolled at Yale University to pursue a Ph.D. English, which he is currently still working on.

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