Where The World’s Billionaires Went To School

It doesn’t take a bachelor’s degree to be a billionaire. But it does help. And a bachelor’s degree from one school helps much more than any other. Data published this month in the Wealth-X Billionaire Report found that more current billionaires graduated from Harvard than any other school — and it’s not even close.

Some 188 current billionaires hold undergraduate degrees from Harvard — nearly as many as the next three highest schools combined. Harvard is followed by Stanford University with 74 billionaires, the University of Pennsylvania with 64, and Columbia University with 53. Massachusetts Institute of Technology rounds out the top five with 38.

More than anything, the list shows how elitism of private, prestigious universities is a very serious culprit for the income gap and where the majority of the country and world’s wealth is going. Only one public school — the University of Michigan — cracked the top 10, coming in 10th on the list with 26 billionaires. However, the University of California-Berkeley follows in 11th place with 25 billionaires.

According to the report, Harvard’s 188 billionaires account for about 7% of the global billionaire population.

“The social elitism, prestige, and fast-track career progression often associated with a private Ivy League education undoubtedly provide a springboard towards wealth creation and, for some high achievers, billionaire status: five of the top seven-ranked billionaire universities are Ivy League schools — a select group of higher education establishments in the northeast of the U.S.,” the report reads.


When it comes to the value of degrees, the alumni network plays a massive role, the report says. “Previous Wealth-X studies have emphasized the power and influence garnered from having access to Harvard’s exclusive and highly privileged social network, which extends across numerous business sectors,” it reads. A sizable portion of Harvard’s billionaire population comes from “inherited wealth,” the report says, but the school also boasts an above average percentage of self-made billionaires. Harvard also has a higher international population of billionaires. “It is hardly surprising that the world’s premier institution for producing billionaires is a highly desirable choice for an increasingly diverse global ultra wealthy population,” the report says.

While Harvard has over 100 billionaires more than Stanford, the average net worth of Stanford’s billionaires is higher than any other school included in the top 10. “The high ranking of Stanford University, with a total of 74 billionaire alumni, owes much to its location at the heart of Silicon Valley and its close integration with the global tech giants and the innovative focus of the region,” the report reads. For the University of Pennsylvania’s 64 billionaires, the report says Wharton plays a big roll. “While the 64 billionaires that graduated from the University of Pennsylvania can be found in an array of fields, its Wharton School is renowned as a leading institution for business and economics degrees,” it reads.

Regardless, the elitism and prestige of American universities is being felt in economies worldwide.

“All of the leading institutions were American universities,” the report says, “a reflection both of the country’s dominant share of the world’s billionaire population and the established global reputation of its higher education system.”


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