10 Celebs with Truly Ridiculous College Majors

By Amber Hensley

What we study in college usually has some sort of influence over our future careers and hobbies, whether we end up pursuing a job in that field or not. Celebrities for example, don’t always choose to study film or theater when they’re in school. Some study literature, engineering, broadcasting or even math. This list of ridiculous college majors–think geography and opera–may or may not have prepared these celebrities for their future careers as athletes, talk show hosts and Academy Award-winning actors.

  1. Michael Jordan: Michael Jordan is widely regarded as one of the best basketball players of all time, and also one of the most admirable athletes of all time. He first garnered national attention when he played for the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, during which time he won the 1982 National Championship with his team. Also at UNC, Michael Jordan studied cultural geography, though he never graduated. Jordan dropped out one year shy of graduation to play pro.
  2. Jay Leno: Talk show host Jay Leno enjoyed a successful stand-up career and fill-in host for Johnny Carson before he became the full-time host of The Tonight Show in 1992. Since that time, Leno has become known as an iconic American entertainer and antique car collector. But before making it big, Leno was a speech therapy major at Emerson College. He graduated in 1973.
  3. Regis Philbin: Talk show host Regis Philbin has been on the air since the late 1950s, on game shows, TV specials and talk shows. On his shows, Regis enthusiastically broadcasts his support for his alma mater Notre Dame, where he majored in sociology. Philbin graduated in 1953 and took odd jobs in radio and broadcasting to gain experience for his future career.
  4. Kate Beckinsale: British film actress Kate Beckinsale has appeared in movies like Van Helsing, Underworld, Much Ado About Nothing and Click, a testament to her range as an actress and as a celebrity with a loyal cult following. Beckinsale was born and raised in London, England, and attended Oxford with the intention of studying French and Russian literature. Instead, she was offered the role of Hero in Kenneth Branagh’s film production of Much Ado About Nothing and eventually dropped out of school.
  5. Will Ferrell: Since the early 2000s, Will Ferrell has become one of the most critically and commercially successful comedians and actors in entertainment, thanks to an ever-growing film career following his popular time in Saturday Night Live. Ferrell is best known for films like Old School, Stranger than Fiction, Anchorman, and Talladega Nights, but unlike other entertainers or comedians, Ferrell didn’t study the arts in college. As a student at the University of Southern California, Ferrell majored in sports broadcasting and sports information.
  6. Eva Longoria Parker: After a mostly under-the-radar acting career, Texas-born actress Eva Longoria became an overnight obsession when she joined the cast of the new ABC television drama, Desperate Housewives. She is still one of the most popular actresses on the show, playing feisty, superficial Gabrielle Solis. Before her big break, Longoria was a beauty queen who also earned a degree in kinesiology from Texas A&M University-Kingsville. Though her major probably hasn’t helped her with her acting career, Longoria’s interested in kinesiology and sports may have led her to be attracted to her husband and San Antonio Spurs player Tony Parker.
  7. Maggie Gyllenhaal: Award-winning actress Maggie Gyllenhaal often takes on thoughtful, intelligent roles in lower budget films like Secretary and Sherrybaby. And though she’s started branching out by starring in bigger blockbusters like The Dark Knight, Gyllenhaal still likes to pursue work in theater and in films that carry a deeper meaning. It should be no surprise, then, that the pensive Gyllenhaal studied literature and Eastern religions at Columbia University in between film projects.
  8. Forest Whitaker: Forest Whitaker is an Academy Award-winning actress who is greatly respected by the acting community as well as the general public. But before he became a devoted film actor, Forest Whitaker studied opera at the Music Conservatory at the University of Southern California.
  9. Sean Penn: Sean Penn is a critically acclaimed film actor who has starred in important films like Milk, Mystic River, Dead Man Walking, and Being John Malkovich, among many others. Penn is also known as being a highly intelligent, though somewhat erratic individual, and he even spent time in jail after assaulting a photographer. But in his younger days, Penn seems to have sold himself short, studying auto mechanics at Santa Monica College.
  10. Matt Groening: The Simpsons creator Matt Groening has won 11 Primetime Emmy Awards and is a greatly respected cartoonist, screenwriter and producer. The Portland, OR, native is the son of Margaret and Homer Groening, his father being a filmmaker and cartoonist as well. Matt Groening attended The Evergreen State College in Olympia, WA, in the 1970s. Groening studied philosophy at school, before moving to LA to become a writer.

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