30 Millionaire PhDs

You are probably already aware that several top billionaires and multi-millionaires dropped out of college and still succeeded. However, it’s also true that there are many successful people with graduate degrees — even doctorates. In fact, we recently published a list of doctorate-holding billionaires. This list here is the counterpart – a list of doctorate-holding multi-millionaires.

The purpose of this list is not so much to establish an exact ranking — since net worth can change daily — but for three reasons:

  1. To show the diversity of backgrounds of millionaire PhD holders.
  2. To show that having a PhD or equivalent doctorate does not limit you to an academic career and non-millionaire status. In fact, the number of U.S. millionaires hit a high in 2013 at 9.63M individuals or households (the previous high was 9.2M in 2007), and there is evidence that high-income Americans are well-educated.
  3. To give a relative measure of wealth between the people on this list.

While most of the entrants in this list have had careers in the areas of politics, sports, entertainment and business, their PhD topics are quite diverse, though some variation of physics pops up fairly often.


  • Doctoral degrees considered here include PhD, EdD (Doctor of Education), DSc/ ScD (Doctor of Science; considered an advanced PhD/ doctorate degree).
  • The net worth figures published here are compiled from multiple sources but should not be thought of as accurate, due to stock price fluctuations, spending, taxes, etc. Rather, the values should give a sense of magnitude of net worth.
  • Net worth for the PhD/doctorate-holding members of the U.S. 114th Congress are collected from OpenSecret and Ballotpedia. (Side note: the 113th Congress marked the first time that the majority of members were millionaires.)
  • Background info for these politicians was first retrieved from House.gov’s online library clerk. While 23 of the members of the 114th Congress have PhD, EdD or DMin (professional doctorate) degrees, only a handful have net worth of $1M or more.
  • Colleges/ universities appearing more than once in the list are described in detail only once, the first time they appear.
  • Links have been provided to as many institutions, organizations and companies as possible.

30. Russell G. Chew / Herman Ostrow School of Dentistry of USC

Russell G. Chew has the interesting distinction of having a background in dentistry yet spending much of his career in the aviation industry. He was a Managing Director of American Airlines before leaving there, followed by COO of the FAA (Federal Aviation Administration), a COO and later senior adviser for Jetblue Airways, and a senior adviser and managing partner for Nexa Capital Markets. His net worth is estimated at between $1.1-2.1M based on SEC filings.

Chew graduated with a bachelor’s at Stanford University and a PhD in dentistry at University of Southern California (USC) Herman Ostrow School of Dentistry. USC, located in Los Angeles, CA, was established in 1880. The Herman Ostrow School of Dentistry was established in 1897 as USC’s School of Dentistry, changing names in 2010 thanks to a large gift from benefactor and alumni Dr. Herman Ostrow. Ostrow has numerous master’s and PhD programs in dentistry specialties, as well as an online master’s degree option.

29. Paul Krugman / MIT

Paul Krugman is an economist, a columnist for the New York Times, and is a Distinguished Professor of Economics at Princeton University. He has previously taught at Yale University, Stanford University and MIT as well, and has been awarded Nobel Memorial Prize amongst other recognitions. He has an estimated net worth of $2.5M.

Krugman graduated with a BA in economics from Yale University and a PhD in economics from Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT, 1977). MIT, located in Cambridge, MA, was established in 1861. It is a private research university that is widely considered as a top institution worldwide. MIT alumni, faculty and staff have collectively received many dozens of awards and honors, including the Nobel Prize, Rhodes Scholar and more. At the doctoral level, MIT offers both PhD and ScD (Doctor of Science) degrees, as well as an interdisciplinary MD-PhD at Harvard Medical School.

28. Dan Lipinski / Duke University

Daniel William Lipinski is a Democratic politician and a U.S. Congressman serving in the 114th Congress. He has been involved in politics working for Representatives since 1988, after earning his BS degree. He taught at University of Notre Dame and University of Tennessee for five years in total. His net worth based on public filings is $2.70M.

Lipinksi graduated with a BS from Northwestern University, a master’s in engineering-economic systems from Stanford University, and a PhD in political science from Duke University (1998).

Duke, located in Durham, NC, was established in 1838, originally as Brown School. It underwent a number of name changes before taking its current name in 1924, thanks to an endowment from industrialist James Duke. It is a private research university that is highly placed by several private college ranking systems. Duke offers over PhD options in over 50 departments.

27. Judy Chu / California School of Professional Psychology

Judy Chu is a Democratic politician and a U.S. Congresswoman serving in the 114th Congress (term ending Jan 3, 2017). She won five terms as Mayor of Monterey Park and was on city council before that. She taught psychology in the Los Angeles Community College system, and East Los Angeles College, for many years, before her involvement in state and federal politics. She has the distinction of being the first Chinese American woman elected to U.S. House of Representatives (in 2009). Her net worth based on public filings is $3.11M (in 2009).

Chu graduated with a BA in math from UCLA and a PhD in psychology from Alliant International University‘s California School of Professional Psychology (1979). Alliant is based in San Diego, with campuses elsewhere in California, Hong Kong and Tokyo. It is the 2001 merger of the older California School of Professional Psychology (CSPP, established 1969) and United States International University (USIU, established 1952). CSPP is now part of Alliant and has expanded its original goal of providing PhD training in psychology with a variety of degree programs.

26. David E. Price / Yale University

David Eugene Price has had a long dual career as both a professor and a politician. Price graduated with a BA from UNC-Chapel Hill, a BD (B. Divinity) from Yale University, and a PhD in political science from Yale (1969). He taught at Yale from 1969-1973 and at Duke University from 1973-1986 and 1995-96. He has been a U.S. Congressman for the Democratic Party in North Carolina from 1987 to present (excepting part of the two calendar years 1995-96). He is currently an incumbent and his term in the U.S. 114th Congress ends Jan 3, 2017. His net worth is estimated from official filings to be about $3.2M.

Price’s PhD alma mater, Yale, is located in New Haven, CT, and was established in 1701 as Collegiate School, being renamed to Yale College in 1718 for benefactor Elihu Yale. It became Yale University in 1887 and is a private research university which is part of the Ivy League. Yale has the privilege of awarding the first PhD in the United States. The Department of Political Science currently lists their PhD students or recent graduates who are on the job market.

25. Condoleezza Rice / University of Denver

Condoleezza Rice is a political scientist probably best known for serving in President George W. Bush’s administration as United States Secretary of State and National Security Adviser, as well as an adviser to his father, President George H.W. Bush. Part of her career includes teaching as a political science professor at Stanford University. Her net worth is estimated at $4M.

Rice graduated with a BA from University of Denver, a master’s in political science from University of Notre Dame, and a PhD in political science from University of Denver (DU, 1981). DU, located in Denver, CO, was established in 1864 as Colorado Seminary. It has graduate programs offered through 14 schools and colleges.

24. Tom Cole / University of Oklahoma

Tom Cole is a Republican politician and U.S. Congressman in the U.S. 114th Congress (until Jan 3, 2017). He was already involved in politics while an undergrad at college, staffing for a U.S. Representative. He spent time serving in the Oklahoma state senate. Prior to getting more deeply involved in politics, he spent time at the University of London as a Fulbright Fellow, and did research elsewhere as a Thomas J Watson Fellow. His net worth is estimated at $4.57M based on public filings.

Cole graduated with a BA in history from Grinnell College, an MA in British history from Yale University and a PhD in British history from University of Oklahoma (1984). University of Oklahoma (OU), located in Norman, OK, was established in 1890. It is a public research university with over 70 doctoral programs.

23. Alice Costandina Titus / Florida State University

Alice Costandina Titus, aka Dina Titus, is a Democratic politician and U.S. Congresswoman in the 114th session (term until Jan 3, 2017), following her father and uncle’s footsteps into politics. She spent 20 years as a Nevada state senator before election into the House of Representatives. Her net worth is estimate at $4.75M based on public filings.

Titus graduated with a bachelor’s from the College of William and Mary, a master’s from University of Georgia and a PhD from Florida State University. She taught at North Texas State University and then UNLV (University of Nevada, Las Vegas) for a total of over 30 years. Florida State University (FSU), located in Tallahassee, FL, was founded in 1851. It is a public research university that is considered a Budget Ivy school. FSU has over 60 doctoral programs covering many more majors.

22. Noam Chomsky / UPenn

Avram Noam Chomsky is probably more widely known for his social justice activism — especially in criticism of U.S. foreign policy, but he wears many hats, including being a widely-respected and highly-cited linguist, a philosopher and highly-acclaimed intellectual and more. In addition to developing a number of theorems in linguistics, he has authored 120 books on linguistics, foreign policy, politics, social justice and other topics. His linguistic work has influenced people in many fields of study, especially the Chomsky Hierarchy, which has its applications in computer science. His net worth is estimated to be between $2-5M.

Chomsky graduated with a BA, MA and a PhD in linguistics, all from University of Pennsylvania (UPenn). He taught for nearly 20 years at Massachusetts Institute of Techology (MIT) in the Department of Modern Languages (now known as the Department of Linguistics and Philosophy).

UPenn, located in Philadelphia, PA, was founded in 1740 and statesman Benjamin Franklin is credited with the founding. It is a private research university and a member of the Ivy league, as well as being an original Colonial College. UPenn has the distinction of having the first school of medicine in the U.S. and the first business school. UPenn offers over 70 PhD programs.

21. Virginia Foxx / University of North Carolina at Greensboro (UNC Greensboro, UNCG)

Virginia Ann Foxx is a Republican politician and Congresswoman representing North Carolina 5th in the 114th U.S. Congress (term ending Jan 3, 2017). Prior to her serving in Congress, she ran a landscape nursery, served as Deputy Secretary for Management for the State of North Carolina, and taught at Caldwell Community College and Technical Institute and Appalachian State University (also Assistant Dean). Her net worth is estimated at $5.99M, based on public filings.

Foxx graduated with a BA and an MA in teaching at UNC (University of North Carolina) Chapel Hill, and an EdD (Doctorate of Education, 1985), from UNC Greensboro. UNC Chapel Hill and Greensboro are part of the 16-university North Carolina public university system. UNC Greensboro, located in Greensboro, NC, was founded in 1891 and is designated “high research activity.” UNCG has 30 doctoral and 65 master’s programs.

20. Alan Greenspan / New York University

Alan Greenspan is an economist probably best known for his stint as the Chairman of the Federal Reserve, originally appointed by President Reagan. Prior to that he worked in various capacities for Richard M. Nixon’s presidential campaign and President Gerald Ford. He has held director and board member roles for several companies, including J.P. Morgan and Mobil Corporation. His net worth is estimated at $10M.

Despite his conservative Republican persona, he originally attended Juilliard School and played sax and clarinet. He graduated with a BS and an MA in economics from New York University. He started a PhD in economics at Columbia University, dropped out due to lack of funds for tuition, but finally completed it in 1977 at New York University Stern School of Business without having to present a dissertation.

New York University, located in New York City, was established in 1831. It is a private research university. Its Leonard N. Stern School of Business was established in 1900. NYU has graduate programs across 15 schools.

19. Robert Vaughn / University of Southern California

Robert Francis Vaughan has appeared in many TV shows and films in an acting career that stretches 60 years, back to his first appearance in the 1955 series “Medic,” He has been in several classic films as well, including “Bullitt” and “The Magnificent Seven”, In the 1960s TV spy drama “The Man from U.N.C.L.E.,” he plays agent Napoleon Solo, fighting the opponents of peace. Later, he was in the A-Team TV series. More recently, he appeared in the long-running British series “Coronation Street” and a couple of times in “Law & Order: Special Victims Unit.” His dashing good looks probably played a part in his dating three beautiful actresses and two Kennedy family women, Patricia and Kathleen. He is estimated to have a net worth of about $10M.

Vaughan entered a Journalism program at the University of Minnesota but only stayed a year, moving with his mother to Los Angeles. There, he completed a BA in drama at Los Angeles City College, an MA in drama at California State University, Los Angeles (Cal State LA), and a PhD in communications (1970) at the University of Southern California (USC). His thesis was later published as a book about blacklisting in show business.

USC, located in Los Angeles, CA, was established in 1880. It is a private research university — the oldest in the state. The university offers over 300 graduate programs through the College of Letters Arts and Sciences, as well as 17 professional schools. At the doctoral level, USC offers PhDs and professional doctorates.

18. Mayim Bialik / UCLA

Truth may be stranger than fiction in the case of Mayim Hoya Bialik. Appearing on many popular TV shows since the late 1980s — including Webster, Blossom, Curb Your Enthusiasm and more, Bialik got her big break on the early 1990s TV show “Blossom.” Currently, she plays Dr. Amy Farrah Fowler on the hit TV comedy “The Big Bang Theory,” a sort-of girlfriend to the Sheldon Cooper character and a neurobiologist/neuroscientist by day. In real life, she is also neuroscientist. She turned down Harvard and Yale and went to UCLA for both a BS and a PhD in neuroscience, with combined studies . She is also a co-host on the prank show Candid Camera (new version), has a certificate in lactation education, is an author of vegan cookbooks and writes for a a Jewish parenting Web site. Bialik’s net worth has been estimated at between $6-12M.

The University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA), located in Los Angeles, CA, was founded in 1882 (originally as State Normal School at Los Angeles). A public research university, it became part of the UC system in 1919. It is highly ranked and has many notable alumni and faculty, including Nobel Laureates and NAS (National Academy of Sciences) and AAS (American Academy of Sciences) members. In addition to having over 40 graduate (master’s and doctoral) programs, there are many concurrent and articulated degree programs which enable students to acquire two degrees in a shorter period of time.

17. Bill Foster / Harvard University

Congressman George William Foster (aka Bill Foster), a member of the Democratic Party and 114th U.S. Congress (term ending Jan 3, 2017), had a busy career before politics (Illinois and DC), first as a young businessman co-founding Electronic Theatre Controls with his brother, and later as a physicist at Fermilab, part of the US DOE’s Energy National Laboratory. His net worth is estimated at around $18.79M, based on public filings made by members of Congress (making him the 35th wealthiest in 2013).

Foster has a bachelor’s degree in physics from University of Wisconsin-Madison (1976) and a PhD in physics from Harvard University (1983). Harvard, located in Cambridge, MA, was founded in 1636 and is named for benefactor John Harvard. It is a private research university, the oldest institution of higher learning in the U.S., and a member of the Ivy League of top-ranking universities. It counts eight U.S. presidents amongst its alumni, many living billionaires, and hundreds of Nobel laureates. It is considered to be the wealthiest university worldwide, based on its endowment (reported in the Wall Street Journal in Jun 2014 at $36.4B — a 15.4% gain over the previous fiscal year). Harvard has doctoral options for several of its schools and encourages interdisciplinary study.

16. Wayne Dyer / Wayne State University

Dr. Wayne Walter Dyer is best known for his series of self-help books, seminars, and workshops — which started with his first book, “Your Erroneous Zones.” He has since written over 40 books (20 on the NY Times bestseller’s list), has had 10 PBS specials, and has appeared countless times on TV and radio. His net worth is estimated at $20M.

Dyer graduated with a bachelor’s degree from University of Michigan, and has a DEd in education counseling from Wayne State University. He also spent time as a professor at St. John’s University.

Wayne State University (WSU), located in Detroit, MI, was founded in 1868. It is a public research university with numerous extension centers. WSU has 60 PhD programs, including 10 MD/PhD options. The Education Building (pictured above) is a Registered Michigan State Historic Site.

15. Stephen Hawking / University of Cambridge

In the 2015 Academy Awards, actor Eddie Redmayne took the Best Actor prize for his portrayal of Dr. Stephen William Hawking. Hawking, who has appeared on the TV shows “Star Trek: The Next Generation” and “The Big Bang Theory” (see Mayim Bialik’s entry, above), is probably most famous for his books, particularly “A Brief History of Time,” as well as the fact that he’s the longest-surviving documented sufferer of Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS, aka Lou Gehrig’s disease) — surpassing by many decades the measly two years his doctors gave him to live when he was diagnosed in 1963 at 21. Other notable achievements include defining Hawking Radiation and the Penrose-Hawking theorems, as well as receiving over a dozen awards, prizes, medals and titles. He is estimated to have a net worth of about $20M.

Despite being a very sociable and less than serious undergraduate student, Hawking completed a BA with Honours at the ancient University of Oxford, where both of his parents had studied. He completed a PhD at the nearly equally ancient University of Cambridge (1966), with his thesis, “Properties of Expanding Universes,” about spacetime singularities.

The University of Cambridge, located in Cambridge, England, was founded in 1209 and is amongst the oldest universities in the world (started by Oxford scholars), exceeded only by Oxford (founded approximately 1096-1167) and University of Bologna (1088, Italy). Notable Cambridge alumni include Sir Francis Bacon, Isaac Newton and Charles Darwin, as well as many other famous mathematicians, biologists/ scientists, journalists and more. Many of Cambridge’s PhD programs have a Studentship (summer work scholarship) option.

14. James Franco / Yale University

Actor James Franco doesn’t fool around. After achieving some modicum of success in the entertainment field, he decided to get back to his college studies, which he had set aside. While he received some college credits for select film work, he made up for lost time by working on multiple master’s degrees simultaneously, taught two classes (in film making and production), enrolled in a PhD program and juggled film and TV roles. He was nominated for Best Actor for the 2010 film “127 Hours”. His IMDB.com entry shows that he has no fewer than 16 projects slated for 2015. His net worth is estimated at around $22M.

Franco completed his BFA in English/ creative writing at UCLA in 2008. Shortly after, he simultaneously entered an MFA in writing at Columbia University, an MA in film making at New York University (Tisch School of the Arts), a Brooklyn College program in fiction writing, and an MFA program for writing (poetry) at Warren Wilson College (North Carolina). He completed all three MFA degrees in 2011, then enrolled in a PhD in English at Yale in 2013. He is currently enrolled at the time of writing, and thus technically only a PhD candidate, not a degree holder. However, given his ability to handle a career and multiple degrees, he is included in this list because of his proven mettle to not quit.

Yale University’s English and Comparative Literature department had several well known writers/ philosophers on faculty, including members of the New Criticism movement (Robert Penn Warren, the first U.S. Poet Laureate, and others), as well as deconstructionist Jacques Derrida.

13. Allen Y. Chao / Purdue University

Allen Y. Chao co-founded Watson Pharmaceuticals, now known as Actavis, and served in various capacities including CEO and Chairman. He is a current board member of Impax Laboratories Inc., current board member (Chairman and Managing Partner) of Newport Healthcare Advisers, former board member of Actavis, and a former trustee of the University of California (UC) Irvine Foundation. Chao has an estimated net worth of between $17.1-26.2M, based on compensation and equity from both Actavis and Impax Laboratories.

Chao completed a PhD in industrial and physical pharmacy (1973) and in 2000 an honorary DSc (Doctor of Science), both at Purdue University. Chao donated funds towards the Chao Center for Industrial Pharmacy at Purdue University, in the Purdue Research Park, as well as towards the Chao Family Comprehensive Cancer Center at the UC Irvine Medical Center.

Purdue, located in West Lafayette, IN, was founded in 1869. Named after benefactor John Purdue, it is a public university and is the main campus of six in the Purdue system. Purdue is known for graduating a significant number of women and minority engineers and engineers in general, and also a significant number of PhDs in mechanical engineering in the Midwest. Numerous Purdue alumni, including engineers, have been part of NASA’s space flights. The university has over 100 graduate programs over various campuses – including interdisciplinary options.

12. Wladimir Klitschko / Kiev University

Wladimir Wladimirovich Klitschko is a successful boxer who has transitioned his way into acting. Nicknamed Dr. Steelhammer, he is a several-time world heavyweight boxing champion and one of the top boxers in history. He competed in the 1996 Summer Olympics in Atlanta and won gold, later selling off the medal to raise money for Ukrainian children. The multi-lingual Klitschko made Forbes highest-paid athletes 2014 list at #25 and is worth at least $28M.

The 6’6 1/2″ Klitschko has had an on/off romantic interest (recently engaged) with the very petite 5-foot actress Hayden Panettiere (Heroes, Nashville, Malcolm in the Middle), who gave birth to a baby girl, Kaya, in Dec 2014. Klitschko’s own acting career is starting to take off, with appearances in a number of films and TV shows – albeit mostly as himself. In Mar 2015, Klitschko, who weighs around 246 lbs, was filmed wrestling a 9-foot, 200 lb alligator as part of a reality show about him. He was also in a film documentary, “Klitschko,” about himself and brother Vitali (elsewhere in this list).

Kltschko received his undergraduate degree in 1996 from Pereyaslav-Khmelnitsky Pedagogical Institute (Ukraine) and his PhD in Sports Science at Kiev University (aka Taras Shevchenko National University of Kyiv) – hence his nickname, Dr. Steelhammer. The University of Kiev, located in Kiev, Ukraine (part of the former USSR), was founded in 1834 as Saint Vladimir University, and signed into charter by Emperor Nicholas I of Russia. It has undergone several name changes to its current form.

11. Martine A. Rothblatt / Barts and the London School of Medicine and Dentistry

Martine Aliana Rothblatt has the distinction of not only being a multi-millionaire PhD holder but also being one of the highest paid American CEOs. She’s also recognized as being the highest paid female/ transgender American CEO (she was born a man, Martin Rothblatt). Rothblatt founded a religion (Terasem Movement) and several companies or platforms, including United Therapeutics Corp (Unither; Chair and CEO), GeoStar and Sirius Radio – the latter being where shock jock Howard Stern has been broadcasting for several years. Rothblatt sold Sirius to found Unither in order to find a cure for her daughter’s severe illness. She also believes that the mind can be cloned digitally, and to that end, researchers have extensively interviewed her wife Bina and created a robot likeness of her. Rothblatt has also written a book, “Virtually Human,” about her beliefs. Her net worth is estimated at about $38M.

Rothblatt graduated (bachelor’s) from UCLA in communication studies, followed by a joint law (JD)/ MBA, also from UCLA. After this, she completed a PhD in medical ethics at Barts and the London School of Medicine and Dentistry. She also started studies in astronomy at University of Maryland but was hired by NASA and by a committee within the National Academy of Sciences (NAS). She has maintained an interest in satellite communications since her undergrad years, and wrote a thesis and several articles on the topic before founding GeoStar and Sirius.

Her PhD alma mater, Barts and the London School of Medicine and Dentistry, is located in London, England, and is the result of a 1995 merger of three colleges. One is the ancient Medical College of St. Bartholomew’s Hospital (Barts), establish in 1123 and reputedly the oldest existing hospital in the United Kingdom. A second is London Hospital Medical College (teaching program established circa ~1785). The third is Queen Mary & Westfield College, which in turn was formed by the 1989 merger of Queen Mary College (1885) and Westfield College (1882). The collective medical/ dental college is now part of Queen Mary University of London, which is part of the University of London.

10. Laura Schlessinger / Columbia University

Laura Catherine Schlessinger, better known as talk radio/ TV talk show host Dr. Laura, leveraged her trademark advice style into a career — that being to interrupt callers, lecture them on morals and generally preach to them about ethics — often shocking listeners with her conservative advice and inflammatory comments, despite her own background growing up in a dysfunctional family. The show has received awards, including a Marconi Award, but she lost a number of big sponsors after using a racial slur on air in 2010. While she pulled herself off the air early in the episode and then apologized the day after, the damage was done. The show, which had peaked with around 10M listeners in the 1990s, moved to Sirius Radio (founded by Martine Rothblatt, who is elsewhere on this list) in 2011. Her net worth is estimated at $38-40M.

Schlessinger graduated with a BS at Stony Brook University and completed a PhD at Columbia University in physiology in 1974. She has training and certification in marriage and family counseling from University of Southern California and a California therapist’s license.

Columbia University, located in New York, NY, was established in 1754, originally as King’s College, becoming Columbia College in 1784 and taking its current name in 1896. It is one of the oldest higher learning institutions in the United States and is an original Colonial College (of which there are nine). Over sixty departments and programs in Columbia’s Graduate School of Arts and Sciences have a courses towards a PhD.

9. Dexter Holland / USC Keck School of Medicine

You might know him as Dexter Holland, frontman (guitarist and lead singer) of the punk rock/ skate punk band The Offspring, but the shock-haired Brian Keith Holland has a love of math and molecular biology when he isn’t being pretty fly for a white guy. In fact, despite his success in The Offspring (his net worth is estimated at $65M), Holland decided to revisit a PhD in molecular biology in 2013.

In a situation similar to Brian May of Queen (see elsewhere in this list), Holland set set aside his PhD due to the sudden success of his music career and returned to it later. At the time of writing, he is still a PhD candidate at the University of Southern California (USC) Keck School of Medicine (in the Laboratory of Viral Oncology) but has been included in this list along with actor James Franco, another PhD candidate. Holland graduated with a BS in biology and MS in molecular biology, both also from USC.

USC, a private research university, is located in Los Angeles, CA, and was founded in 1880. The Keck School of Medicine was established in 1885 as the USC College of Medicine and currently has over two dozen departments. PhD programs number over a dozen. Faculty members and students staff several nearby hospitals.

8. Vitali Klitschko / Kiev University

Vitali Klitschko, older brother of Wladimir (elsewhere on this list), is a successful boxer/ kickboxer with the nickname of Dr. Ironfist — and one of the best knockout-to-fight ratios in history. The 6′ 7 1/2″ champion has only lost twice, with a TKO and RTD. After retiring from boxing a couple of times (in 2005 and 2013), The multi-lingual Klitschko has fully transitioned into politics, becoming the Mayor of Kiev in Jun 2014. His net worth is estimated at $65M.

Like his younger brother, Klitschko has a PhD, in sports science, and is reputedly the first professional boxing champion to earn a doctorate. He also has a bachelor’s from Pereyaslav-Khmelnitsky Pedagogical Institute (Ukraine), and a Master’s in “Managing Social Development.” Both he and his brother are chess players, were on a Ukrainian stamp (2010) and are humanitarians (both are involved in UNESCO projects). Unlike his brother, Vitali did not make the 1996 Summer Olympics in Atlanta, due to a leg injury that resulted in a banned steroid in his blood.

7. Stephen Wolfram / Caltech

Stephen Wolfram showed genius at an early age, writing a book on particle physics at 14, having a paper published in a scientific journal when he was 17, writing another paper at 18, and receiving a PhD in theoretical physics in 1979 from Caltech at 20. While he started a bachelor’s degree at Oxford in his native England, word is that he quit out of boredom.

Following his PhD, he became involved in cellular automata, writing papers about it at 21, but left for Princeton when he realized Caltech would own his work. After Princeton, he went to UIUC (University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign). This effort ultimately led to his creating the Mathematica software package, reputedly making him a millionaire. He followed this success with a number of books (including three for Mathematica) and Wolfram Research (1987), which launched the Wolfram Alpha computational knowledge engine platform. Wolfram’s wife is a mathematician, and his brother also has an interest in math, having founded Computer-Based Math. His net worth has been estimated at $100M, however, as CEO, founder and primary owner of the private Wolfram Research, he could potentially be a multibillionaire, should the company ever go public. Wolfram has also spent time in various roles at UIUC (University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign) and Princeton, and is an advisory board member of neuroscience technology company NeuroVigil, Inc. (This blog post has an interesting comparison between Wolfram and another high-achieving entrepreneur, Nathan Myhrvold (#1 on this list).)

His PhD alma mater, Caltech (California Institute of Technology) is located in Pasadena, CA, and was founded in 1891. Originally named Throop University for founder Amos G. Throop, it went through a number of name changes before settling on the current Caltech in 1921. Caltech, a private research university, has a history of more than a dozen Nobel Prizes, has many notable alumni in Physics, Math, Computer Science, Geology, Astronomy, Literature, Film, and more, and manages NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory. Caltech has three categories of graduate degrees: Master of Science, Engineer’s Degree, a joint BS/MS degree, Doctor of Philosophy, and a joint MD/PhD.

6. Peter C. Farrell / University of Washington

Peter C. Farrell is the founder, Chairman (non-executive), former President and former CEO of ResMed, a company that produces sleep disorder products. The company, founded in 1989, is based in San Diego, Ca. Farrell is currently a board member of NuVasive, Inc., a medical device company that produces spine-related surgical products. He has also had executive, board and advisory roles in other companies, including Baxter International (a subsidiary; Director, Vice President), CardioDynamics International (board member), QRxPharma Ltd (Chair), Scientiaus Management (Chair), Doband Campaign Inc. (advisor) and others. Based on SEC filings for these various companies, he has most recently earned $6.2M/year (including ~$1.08M from ResMed for FY 2014) and has a total compensation of $52.8M over 15 years of filings. His net worth based on current equity holdings is at least $113.7M.

Farrell graduated with a BE in chemical engineering from University of Sydney (Australia), an MS in chemical engineering from MIT, a PhD in chemical engineering from University of Washington, and a DSc (Doctor of Science) from the University of New South Wales (Australia).

The University of Washington (UW), located in Seattle, WA, was founded in 1861. It is a public research university that is considered a Public Ivy and is a member of the AAU (Association of American Universities). In addition to regular PhD programs, it also has an Individual (interdisciplinary) PhD program which allows students to combine subjects that do not lead to a PhD.

5. Brian May / Imperial College of London

You probably know him as the lead guitarist for British rock band Queen (he composed the popular “We Will Rock You,” which is often played with “We Are the Champions, ” and “Fat Bottomed Girls”), but Brian Harold May was working on a PhD in astrophysics before the band’s popularity skyrocketed, so to speak. Like several other celebrities who have previously been enrolled in a doctoral program, May put his higher education on hold. However, he did return to it about 30 years afterwards and finished his PhD in 2007, at the Imperial College of London. In the meantime, he built up a net worth of approximately $135-175M, primarily from his music career. He has authored or co-authored several books, has an asteroid named after him, and co-founded Asteroid Day (first event will take place Jun 30, 2015).

Before Queen rose in fame, May graduated with a BS in physics and mathematics in 1971, also from Imperial College of London. Imperial College, a top-ranking public research university, was founded in 1907 by royal charter and has multiple campuses. Doctoral programs at the college fall into the category of PhD and EngD (Engineering Doctorate). The PhD programs have joint and international options.

4. Shaquille O’Neal / Barry University

Actor/ athlete Shaquille “Shaq” O’Neal had a successful career in the NBA for 19 seasons (1992-2011), playing for a total of six teams – with the Boston Celtics being the last before his retirement after the 2010-2011 season. While he is an NBA analyst TV, he found time not long before retiring from his playing days to complete an Ed.D (education doctorate) in Human Resources from Barry University in 2012. He also completed an online MBA in 2005 from the University of Phoenix. O’Neal is quoted as saying he wanted something for his resume, but with a net worth of around $350M, he’s probably not going to have to send his resume anywhere anytime soon.

Barry University, located in Miami Shores, FL, was established in 1940. It is a private university with Catholic affiliation that was originally founded as a women’s college (Bary College for Women). Besides the main campus, there are campuses in Orlando and Saint Petersburg. In addition to some adult education programs, the university specializations include teacher education, nursing, law, medical technology, podiatric medicine and others. Barry has over three dozen doctoral programs including PhD, EdD and DNP degrees,

3. Dr. Phil McGraw / University of North Texas

Phillip “Dr. Phil” McGraw, a former psychologist, first rose to fame by appearing on The Oprah Winfrey show — to which she apparently invited him to appear on after his consulting firm CSI (Courtroom Sciences, Inc.) successfully defended her in the “Amarillo Texas beef trial.” (She and a TV guest were being sued for disparaging comments about beef on an episode of her show.) After appearing regularly on Oprah’s show, McGraw later became host of his own show – a controversial, tough-love relationship and live advice show – and going on to write several self-help advice books. In 2009, Forbes had him listed at #12 in their Celebrity 100 list, and his total compensation is listed at $80M for the period Jun 2008 to Jun 2009. His net worth has been stated at different sources at between $240M-$500M.

McGraw graduated with a BA in psychology in 1975 from Midwestern State University, and an MA (experimental psychology) in 1976 and PhD (clinical psychology) in 1979 from University of North Texas (UNT). UNT, located in Denton, Texas, was established in 1890 as Texas Normal College and Teacher Training Institute, going through numerous name changes before arriving at the current name in 1988. The university has 36 doctoral programs and more than twice that in master’s programs.

2. Andrew J. Viterbi / University of Southern California

Dr. Andrew J. Viterbi, an electrical engineer for the most part, has had a number of accomplishments, including co-founding Linkabit Corp (now part of L-3 Communications), Qualcomm Inc. (one of over 75 spinoffs from Linkabit), and The Viterbi Group. He also invented the Viterbi algorithm for efficient digital communications for modems, cellular, wireless and deep-space.

Viterbi completed a BS and an MS (both in Electrical Engineering) from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), and a PhD in digital communications from University of Southern California (USC) in 1963. He has taught at UCLA, UC San Diego and USC and has won numerous engineering and communications awards.

A Forbes 400 (Richest Americans) list from 2000 was cited in a 2007 Dr. Dobb’s Journal article stating that Viterbi had a net worth of about $640M. A 2009 source estimated it at $420M. Forbes has an empty profile page for Viterbi, but he has been giving some of his fortune away, including a $52M gift to USC’s School of Engineering, now named the Viterbi School of Engineering (#11 in U.S. News’ 2015 Best Engineering Schools list, tied with Texas A&M University, College Station).

1. Nathan Myhrvold / Princeton University

Not surprisingly, this millionaire PhDs list has many over-achievers and/or serious academics. Nathan Myhrvold is no different. In fact, he might be #1 on this list for good reason, for both academic and entrepreneurial success. Myhrvold is a former Microsoft CTO and was the director of Microsoft Research — spending over a dozen years at the company overall in various roles before becoming CTO. Prior to that, he founded computer startup DSR (Dynamical Systems Research), Inc. after leaving a year of a postdoc fellowship with Dr. Stephen Hawking (see elsewhere on this list) at University of Cambridge in England.

Post-Microsoft, Myhrvold founded Intellectual Ventures. The company, labeled by critics as a patent troll, holds many thousands of patents (which supplement his own patents). In 2011, he launched his voluminous and pricey Modernist Cookbook cooking science collection (6 volumes, nearly 2,500 pages, $500-650) and lecture series – which he has admitted cost him “millions of dollars” to produce. His net worth has been estimated at between $250-650M, depending on the source, although a Bloomberg article from 2010 states that he was a billionaire, which is not reflected in Forbes’ 2015 Billionaires list.

Academically, Myhrvold has a impressive set of accomplishments. Like James Franco (elsewhere on this list), Myhrvold has multiple master’s degrees (one source claims seven, but his own site says two), It starts with his beginning college at 14, at Santa Monica College. He graduated with a BA in math and an MS (geophysics and space physics) both at UCLA, followed by an MS in mathematical economics and a PhD (1983) in theoretical and mathematical physics, both at Princeton, and all by the age of 23.

Princeton, located in Princeton, NJ, was established in 1746 as College of New Jersey, taking on the current name in 1896. The university is private and is part of the Ivy League, as well as an original nine Colonial College. It has one of the highest per-student endowments in the U.S. All departments offer courses leading to a PhD, and there are multiple options for Master’s degrees and some dual degree programs.


Some of the information in this list comes from the following Web sites and pages.

  1. http://ballotpedia.org
  2. http://www.biography.com/people/miuccia-prada-21073359
  3. http://www.bloomberg.com/
  4. http://www.celebritynetworth.com/
  5. http://www.equilar.com/
  6. http://www.forbes.com/
  7. https://www.google.com/about/company/facts/management/
  8. http://library.clerk.house.gov/
  9. http://www.imdb.com/
  10. http://io9.com/
  11. http://www.nndb.com/
  12. http://www.opensecrets.org/
  13. http://www.therichest.com/
  14. http://engineering.mit.edu/about/leadership/dac
  15. http://www.pbs.org/