13 Celebrities who got (and almost got) Math and Science Degrees

In the weird and wonderful world of celebrities; we know everything about the current affairs of our national icons and figures; but little do we know of their backgrounds. 

So let us take you through 12 famous people who studied Mathematics and related subjects at degree level or higher. 

1. Cindy Crawford  

Not what you expected?! Cindy Crawford, the famous American model; being named as the highest paid model of the 1990’s by Forbes. Cindy Crawford didn’t complete her university degree but gained a scholarship to study Chemical Engineering (with Mathematics) at Northwestern University. In fact she only completed a quarter; but this was due to the fact she dropped out to fulfil her full time modelling career.

2. Felicia Day

An American actress, comedian, and writer. On TV, she has played Vi in the series Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Dr. Holly Marten in Eureka, and has a recurring role as Charlie on Supernatural. But did you know she double majored in mathematics and music performance, and graduated at the age of 19 in the top 4% of her class?  She was accepted to the Juilliard School of Music but chose to attend the University of Texas at Austin on a full scholarship in violin performance.

3. Bryan May

Maybe one of the more surprising celebrities to pop up on the list; the guitarist for possibly the most famous group to date, “Queen”. May has an education section on his CV that most would be jealous of. Whilst studying Physics, Mathematics and Applied Mathematics at ‘A’ Level, he went on to study mathematics and physics at Imperial College, London. As I’m sure will also come as a surprise, is that before becoming a huge hit with “Queen” Mr May, was exactly that…a mathematics teacher! He describes on his website the importance of making maths enjoyable.

“If you can improve the image of maths, it seems like a good scheme to me. I was lucky because my dad did it for me, he made it fun. If you can make it fun, you're home and dry."

4. Michael Jordan

Often described as the greatest ever NBA player, Michael Jordan, perhaps more well known for his basketball ability, studied Mathematics until his junior year at college. With all college players having to pass Maths and English at college to play on the team, Jordan excelled in Mathematics and his enjoyment for the subject was reflected in his class choices. Lucky he was good with numbers, as Michael Jordan happened to be the highest paid earner and one of only 2 players ever (Kobe Bryant) to earn over $30,000,000 in one year!

5. Harvey Bernard Milk

He was an American politician who became the first openly gay person to be elected to public office in California when he won a seat on the San Francisco Board of Supervisors. 

Harvey Milk went to New York State Teachers College at Albany and earned a degree in Mathematics.

6. Danica McKellar

American actress, mathematics writer, and education advocate. She played Kevin Arnold's on-off girlfriend Winnie Cooper in the television series The Wonder Years, and later wrote five non-fiction books: Math Doesn't Suck, Kiss My Math, Hot X: Algebra Exposed, Girls Get Curves: Geometry Takes Shape, which encourage middle-school and high-school girls to have confidence and succeed in mathematics, and Goodnight, numbers.

McKellar studied at UCLA and earned a Bachelor of Science in Mathematics with highest honors (summa cum laude) in 1998.

7. Coldplay

All four members of Britain’s best-selling band of the 21st Century happen to be intellectuals; with 4 degrees between the foursome. The degrees studied include: Ancient World studies, Astronomy, Engineering and of course the all-important Mathematics degree. Can you guess which one has the mathematics degree? Topical, mathematics can be found in the names of many Coldplay songs; including: Twisted Logic, Square One, Proof, One I Love, Major Minus and 42.

8. Rowan Atkinson

Rowan Atkinson, the guy who played “Mr. Bean”, has a master’s degree in electrical engineering.

Atkinson originally received an undergraduate degree in electrical engineering (EE) at Newcastle University before enrolling in an EE master’s program at The Queen’s College Oxford in 1975. While working towards this degree, he also pursued acting on the side with a variety of clubs, including: the Oxford University Dramatic Society; the Oxford Revue; and the Experimental Theatre Club.

9. Natalie Portman

As a student at Syosset High School on Long Island back in the late 1990s, Ms. Portman made it all the way to the semifinal rounds of the Intel Science Talent Search competition. Her project was a new “environmentally friendly” method of converting waste into useful forms of energy. She also went to Harvard University and studied neuroscience and the evolution of the mind. 

10. Hedy Lamarr

The actress considered the "most beautiful woman in Hollywood,” was a rocket scientist on the side, inventing and patenting a torpedo guidance technique she called “frequency hopping,” which thwarted efforts to jam the signals that kept the missiles on track.

11. Glen Johnson  

The Liverpool and England full back, came as a surprise to me when I read in 2012 that Johnson in his down time from playing is studying for his Mathematics degree at the Open University where he is in his 3rd and final year. Johnson admitted that he was a good mathematician at school but football got in the way of him studying the subject further. With a sport that isn’t associated or known for players who have degrees, we think that it is great players spend their time wisely, especially when so many retired players have ended up bankrupt. A thirst for knowledge and a good understanding of numbers is an essential life skill that not too many footballers possess.

12. Teri Hatcher

Of course Lois Lane would have a degree in Math! (After all she is married to Superman!!). Also known for her roles more recently in Desperate Housewives, the American actress studied Mathematics and Engineering at De Anza College in Cupertino. Whilst quite bewildering to us, the actress was the daughter of a Nuclear Physicist and Electrical Engineer; so maybe it is less bizarre now that the actress started out as a maths whizz at school and college.

13. Mayim Bialik

She plays the adorably frumpy-nerdy neurobiologist Amy Farrah Fowler on the "Big Bang Theory" sitcom. In real life, she also has a Ph.D. from U.C.L.A. in neurobiology. 

Who is the biggest surprise on the list?? 


Take a moment to celebrate some of the amazing achievements from people who had virtually no education at all.

He isn’t the one to let something like being the fourth richest man on the planet stop him from getting a good deal.

There is no Nobel Prize for mathematics, but there are equivalents...