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20 Celebrities Who Went to Harvard University

Harvard University is one of the most prestigious universities in the world, producing eight US presidents and 161 Nobel Prize winners—not to mention Elle Woods in Legally Blonde.

Many celebrities who attended the university in Cambridge, Massachusetts, before becoming famous, as well as those who entered after becoming famous, are among its alumni.

Are you curious to know 20 celebrities who went to Harvard? Do not look below!

Here are 20 celebrities who attended Harvard:

1-    Natalie Portman

Natalie Portman played Padmé Amidala in the Star Wars prequel trilogy in the early 2000s. Portman was studying at Harvard at the same time, in a galaxy not so far, far away.

After graduating from high school, the actress enrolled at Harvard in 1999 to pursue a bachelor’s degree in psychology, which she earned four years later.

She received her first Oscar nomination for Closer a year after graduating.

2-    Conan O’Brien

Before becoming the late-night talk show king, O’Brien was a brilliant student who graduated as valedictorian from high school (professionalessayservice, 2021)

He enrolled at Harvard and majored in History and Literature, graduating in 1985 with a Bachelor of Arts degree magna cum laude.

O’Brien wrote for the Harvard Lampoon magazine while at Harvard.

3-    Matt Damon

Matt Damon enrolled in the class of 1992 but dropped out 12 credits shy of graduation to play the lead in the film Geronimo: An American Legend.

However, college was also the foundation for his Hollywood success.

Damon, who grew up in Cambridge, Massachusetts, wrote an early treatment for Good Will Hunting for an English assignment while attending Harvard.

He began working on the script seriously with his friend Ben Affleck, and once the film was released, the pair won the Academy Award for Best Original Screenplay.

4-    Mira Sorvino

Mira was a good student at Harvard before her roles in Romy and Michelle’s High School Reunion and Mighty Aphrodite.

She earned a degree in East Asian studies from Harvard magna cum laude in 1989, and while there, she helped found the Harvard-Radcliffe Veritones, one of Harvard’s co-ed a cappella groups.

Sorvino studied as an exchange student at CIEE in Beijing for a year, where she acquired fluency in Mandarin Chinese.

5-    John Lithgow

John Lithgow decided he wanted to be an actor after seeing Gilbert and Sullivan’s Utopia Limited at Harvard.

Lithgow, a resident of Adams House, graduated with an A.B. magna cum laude in history and literature in 1967 and went on to obtain a Fulbright Scholarship to study at the London Academy of Music and Dramatic Art.

He went on to have a famous and celebrated career on stage, on television, and in film.

6-    Colin Jost

Colin Jost studies history and literature at Harvard, focusing on Russian and British literature. He graduated with honors in 2004.

However, his time as the editor of the Harvard Lampoon may have prepared him for a career in comedy.

Colin got a job in the writers’ room at Saturday Night Live a year after graduating, and he’s been there ever since. Colin is presently the co-anchor of Weekend Update as well as a lead writer.

7-    Rashida Jones

Rashida Jones, the daughter of Peggy Lipton and Quincy Jones, was named “most likely to succeed” by her classmates in high school. They were dead on.

Jones studied religion and philosophy at Harvard after initially intending to be a lawyer. Jones graduated in 1997.

The Parks and Recreation star was a member of the Hasty Pudding Theatricals, Harvard Radcliffe Dramatic Club, Harvard Opportunes, Black Students Association, and the Signet Society while at Harvard.

8-    Mark Zuckerberg

Zuckerberg’s father had a tradition of giving his children the choice of attending college or starting their own businesses. Facebook’s CEO decided to attend college and arrived on campus in 2002 to study psychology and computer science. He left to concentrate on his business, which would eventually become Facebook.

In retrospect, he joked that if all he wanted to do was be an entrepreneur, his parents probably thought he should have taken the money and managed a franchise. In 2017, Zuckerberg received an honorary degree from Harvard.

9-    John Lithgow

In 2017, Lithgow became the 24th recipient of the Harvard Arts Medal, which honors a Harvard alumnus for excellence in the arts. After studying History and Literature, he received his magna cum laude in 1967. In 2005, he became the first professional actor to deliver a commencement address at Harvard.

10-    Henry Kissinger

Kissinger arrived in the United States as a German immigrant in 1938, bringing with him a dog named Smokey. When Kissinger was 24, he was accepted to Harvard and concealed the puppy in his dorm room. He was not universally welcomed on campus since some believed that after serving in World War II, Harvard should not have allowed him. Even though detractors dubbed him a war criminal, Kissinger graduated summa cum laude. He’d even joined Phi Beta Kappa and written a 388-page thesis in his senior year that forced all future government theses to be limited to 150 pages.

11-    Donal Logue

Logue, like his parents, was raised to be a hard worker. He stated that it is usual in Irish families for children to be trained to be self-sufficient and to start earning money at the age of ten. As a result, even while attending Harvard, Logue worked as a security guard and janitor to supplement his income. While in university, he had Harrison Ford as an ethics professor.

12-    James Blake

Blake is well-known as a professional tennis player. His parents, who volunteered in the Harlem Junior Tennis programs, were his instructors when he first started playing the sport as a child. However, his parents created in him the value of academics, but Blake was dead intent on following the sport professionally.

As a result, he was undecided about attending Harvard. His brother, Tom, who had also attended Harvard and was an excellent tennis player, persuaded him that the university would provide opportunities in both academics and sports. Blake was the first freshman to be named All-American, and he was named ITA Collegiate Player of the Year in his sophomore year.

13-    Barney Frank

Frank was the first US congressman to come out as gay. It was no surprise given his reputation for sticking to his political ideas and battling for them. He was interested in politics and would debate with his Harvard roommate. Even before coming out, he introduced the first homosexual rights bill in Massachusetts as a state senator in the early 1970s. Such landmarks became key points of discussion during his lectures at Harvard University, where he returned to teach.

14-    Chris Hughes

When Zuckerberg was a freshman at Harvard, fate conspired to make Hughes his roommate. Hughes was working in the Hicks House library at the time, earning $10 per hour. Hughes was interested in addressing his own part in Facebook after assisting Zuckerberg with the site’s marketing, user experience, and media attention, so the two roommates started talking about it. Although Hughes wanted a 10% interest in the company, Zuckerberg granted him 2%, earning Hughes $500 million when Facebook went public in 2012 (Rosenthal et.al, 2022)

15-    Ashley Judd

This “Double Jeopardy” contestant resolved to pursue a Ph.D. at Harvard University, claiming that it was not for the sake of prestige, but rather to become a more effective activist. Her master’s degree in public administration was previously from the same university. She had previously majored in French studies at the University of Kentucky, but her degree was postponed for 17 years because Judd failed to complete papers for a course substitute. Before applying to Harvard, the actor considered studying public health at the University of California, Berkeley.

16-    Hill Harper

Harper earned his J.D. from Harvard Law School after graduating with honors in 1992. He met Obama on the basketball court while on a university, and they hit it up. Because of an effort started by the actor, the two frequently played basketball at a maximum-security jail. Because Harper participated in an outreach program for black kids, an inmate wrote him a letter in which he stated that Harvard students did not connect with inmates. As a result, Harper planned a basketball game in the prison and invited Obama and a few other pals to attend. The actor stated that the performance had a favorable impact on Obama because he was the first president to visit a prison while in office.

17-    Al Gore

The former US Vice President was so determined to study at Harvard that he did not apply elsewhere. Gore claimed that he was motivated by the fact that it was the top university in the world and that President John F. Kennedy had also attended. Gore, like Obama, was determined to make a difference in college, so he ran for president of the freshman council on the second day after arriving on campus.

18-    Barack Obama

Obama made an impression not only with his attire of tight jeans and a sweatshirt but also with his determination to make a difference at the institution. In class, he was always attentive, preferring to sit in the front row and hear everyone’s contribution to whatever topic was being addressed. Going to Harvard seemed like a family tradition because his father had also continued his studies there; it’s no surprise that Obama cried when he handed off his daughter, Malia, at the elite school.

19-    John F. Kennedy

When JFK submitted an essay in hopes of being admitted to the famous university, he just used five phrases to persuade the admissions committee. According to Town & Country Magazine, his main motivations for attending Harvard were that the university had something concrete to give him and that his father was an alumnus. He was only 17 years old when he submitted his application, and he arrived on campus in 1936 to pursue his Bachelor of Arts degree in government. He received his degree in 1940.

20-    Michelle Obama

Unlike her husband, who spoke too much, this former first lady impressed her law professor Charles Ogletree so much that he claimed she was a much better fit for the oval office. Although Obama was excellent, the professor stated that if his wife had run for president, she could have easily won, but Ogletree did not believe she would.

Nonetheless, Ogletree was fortunate to have met Michelle because she almost did not get into Harvard due to a letter of reference from her Princeton professor that provided a brutally honest reaction. Fortunately, once Michele impressed the professor at Princeton University, he sent her another recommendation letter, which led to her admission to Harvard.

Key Point Take Away!

You can also get into Harvard University if you focus on your grades and get the Professional Essay Help for Harvard application form to make your application stand out. 


PES, 2021. Top Ten Hollywood Celebrities Who Went To Harvard. Online available at https://celebritytoob.com/celebrities-who-went-to-harvard/ [Accessed Date: 11-june-21]

Rosenthal, R., Denmark, F., Aronson, E., Zimbardo, P.G., Freedman, J., Greenwald, A.G. and Hatfield, E., Thomas Fraser Pettigrew University of California at Santa Cruz, USA (1956; Harvard University; Gordon Allport).

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