Which Colleges and Universities Have the Most Alumni Who Are CEOs of Fortune 500 Companies?

Which Colleges and Universities Have the Most Alumni Who Are CEOs of Fortune 500 Companies?

Business executives, and Chief Executive Officers (CEOs) in particular, are frequently linked to significant financial rewards. They have the potential to earn big salaries, bonuses, stock options, and other monetary incentives, which may be alluring to people looking to grow financially.

“Which academic institutions have been the cradle of today’s Fortune 500 CEOs?” This intriguing subject occurs in the vibrant center of business, where decisions change industries and organizations shape economies.

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Which colleges and universities have the most alumni who are now Fortune 500 CEOs? Our research team dug into the data to find the answers.

The research team at Academic Influence searched the company bios of all of the Fortune 500 CEOs in 2021 to find the colleges and universities they graduated from as well as the subject(s) they earned a degree in. The team then analyzed this data to find the colleges and universities that have the most alumni who are Fortune 500 CEOs as well as the most commonly earned undergraduate and graduate degrees among the 500. Read on to see which colleges and universities have the most alumni who are now Fortune 500 CEOs.

What is a Fortune 500 company? The list of Fortune 500 companies is compiled by Fortune magazine every year and recognizes the 500 largest companies in the U.S. To be considered as a Fortune 500, a company must meet specific criteria, including being based in the United States and publicly traded on a major stock exchange. Additionally, the Fortune 500 list is determined by the annual revenue each company earned during the fiscal year and includes public as well as private companies.

The 500 CEOs of these U.S. companies have had much success and are now worth millions, and in some cases, they are even worth billions and are among the richest people in the world. But we are not here to talk about their vast wealth: We are thinking about where these successful business men and women got their start.

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Which Colleges and Universities Have the Most Alumni Who Are CEOs of Fortune 500 Companies? - Academic Influence School Rankings - Infographic

By AcademicInfluence.com

Which College or University Has the Most Fortune 500 CEO Alumni?

Harvard University, a highly prestigious Ivy League school, boasts that they have the most alumni who are Fortune 500 CEOs, with 41 having attended Harvard for their undergraduate degree or graduate degree. Thirty-five of the Fortune 500 CEOs earned a graduate degree at Harvard and 9 of the CEOs went there for their undergraduate degree, some of which attended Harvard for both.

Of the CEOs that attended graduate school there, a majority graduated from Harvard’s Business School, with 28 having received their Master of Business Administration (MBA) degree.

Which bigwig CEOs attended Harvard University? All of these Fortune 500 CEOs earned their MBAs from Harvard. Some of the names include:

Other Harvard graduates, including John Thain, Lloyd Blankfein, Robert Iger, Indra Nooyi, Meg Whitman, and Jeffrey Immelt were “Former Fortune 500 CEOs.”

Below is a list of the colleges and universities that proved to be popular choices for the most successful business executives in the United States.

The 10 Colleges and Universities With The Most Alumni Who Are Fortune 500 CEOs

Willard Straight Hall at Cornell

Which Degree Did the Most Fortune 500 CEOs Earn at College?

Engineering was the most common undergraduate degree earned by Fortune 500 CEOs, with 19.2% of the CEOs having earned an engineering degree across a wide variety of specialties. Out of these 96 CEOs, mechanical engineering was the top specialty for 26 CEOs, while electrical engineering was a close second, with 23 CEOs having earned an electrical engineering degree.

After engineering, economics was the second most common of the 500 degrees, with 11.8%, or 59 CEOs, having earned an economics degree during their time in undergrad studies. Other business majors that proved to be popular undergrad degrees for Fortune 500 CEOs include business administration, accounting, and finance.

We take a closer look at Fortune 500 CEOs with an engineering degree in our article Why Do Many Engineering Students Become Fortune 500 CEOs?.

The most common graduate degree was a Master of Business Administration (MBA), which 41% of all of the Fortune 500 CEOs have earned. The second most common was a Juris Doctor degree, earned by just 5% of the CEOs.

Which CEOs of Fortune 500 Companies Dropped Out of College?

Not all of the Fortune 500 CEOs completed a college degree, though. Seven CEOs dropped out of their undergrad program, and one dropped out during grad school. You may be surprised to see which of these famous Fortune 500 CEOs dropped out, as some of them are now the world’s richest people. Below is a list of the Fortune 500 CEOs who dropped out of college but still went on to become very successful.

Fortune 500 CEOs Who Dropped Out of College

Michael Dell
CEO of Dell Technologies, dropped out of the University of Texas undergrad program.
Mark Zuckerberg
CEO of Meta Platforms, dropped out of Harvard’s undergrad program.
Richard A. Gonzalez
CEO of AbbVie, dropped out of the University of Houston’s undergrad program.
Todd Jones
CEO of Publix Super Markets, dropped out of an undergrad program at Cornell University.
Larry Ellison
CEO of Oracle, dropped out of both the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign and the University of Chicago’s undergrad programs.
Jack Dorsey
CEO of Block, dropped out of New York University’s undergrad program.
Bobby Kotick
CEO of Activision Blizzard, dropped out of the University of Michigan’s undergrad program.
Elon Musk
CEO of Tesla, dropped out of grad school at Stanford University.

Although formal education substantially helps an individual succeed and create a legacy, these Fortune 500 CEOs have proved that it’s not the only factor. To achieve notable success in the business world, entrepreneurial spirit, ingenuity, tenacity, and the capacity to take risks can all play essential roles.

It’s interesting to see how well these colleges and universities stack up when ranked on a variety of other factors as well, such as the best research universities for undergrads, the richest universities in North America, or the most affordable colleges and universities in the United States.

Alumni conference center at the University of Pennsylvania

Graduate Schools With the Most Alumni Who Are Fortune 500 CEOs

RankCollege or UniversityAlumni Who are CEOs of Fortune 500 Companies
1Harvard University41
2University of Pennsylvania23
2Stanford University22
4Northwestern University20
5Columbia University18
6University of Chicago15
7University of Michigan12
8Cornell University10
8Dartmouth College10
8University of Virginia10
11Boston College9
11University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign9
11University of Texas at Austin9
11Michigan State University8
11New York University8
11Purdue University8
11Texas A&M University8
18Georgetown University7
18Georgia Tech7
18Princeton University7
18University of Wisconsin–Madison7
22Arizona State University6
22Iowa State University6
22United States Military Academy6
22University of California, Berkeley6
22University of California, Los Angeles6
27Brown University5
27Claremont McKenna College5
27Lehigh University5
27Miami University5
27Syracuse University5
27University of Colorado Boulder5
27University of Iowa5
27Yale University5
35Boston University4
35Bucknell University4
35Indiana University4
35Massachusetts Institute of Technology4
35Pennsylvania State University4
35Rutgers University4
35University of Cincinnati4
35University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill4
35University of Notre Dame4
44Central Michigan University3
44William & Mary3
44Drexel University3
44Duke University3
44Johns Hopkins University3
44Manhattan College3
44Pepperdine University3
44Santa Clara University3
44Tufts University3
44University of Arkansas3
44University of Houston3
44University of Miami3
44University of Missouri3
44University of Nevada, Las Vegas3
44University of Rochester3
44University of Washington3
44University of Wisconsin–Milwaukee3
44Wake Forest University3
Northwestern University School of Law

The Top 3 Schools With the Most Graduate Program Alumni Who Are Fortune 500 CEOs

Harvard University

Number of Alumni: 35

Fortune 500 RankCompanyCEO
2AmazonAndy Jassy
19JPMorgan ChaseJamie Dimon
33CitigroupJane Fraser
38General ElectricLarry Culp
55Prudential Financial (U.S.)Charles F. Lowrey
94Honeywell InternationalDarius Adamczyk
95Thermo Fisher ScientificMarc N. Casper
112AmgenRobert A. Bradway
121BroadcomHock E. Tan
122CBRE GroupRobert E. Sulentic
128US Foods HoldingPietro Satriano
157McDonald’sChris Kempczinski
169General MillsJeff Harmening
175Marsh & McLennanDaniel S. Glaser
201MastercardMichael Miebach
208Automatic Data ProcessingCarlos A. Rodriguez
216Qurate RetailGreg Maffei
222KelloggSteve Cahillane
248Leidos HoldingsRoger Krone
252State StreetRonald P. O’Hanley
271DaVitaJavier J. Rodriguez
277CorningWendell Weeks
297Republic ServicesJon Vander Ark
326Liberty MediaGreg Maffei
344EMCOR GroupAnthony Guzzi
355Eastman ChemicalMark J. Costa
356CommScope HoldingCharles L. Treadway
359Constellation BrandsBill Newlands
360Insight EnterprisesJoyce Mullen
409First American FinancialKenneth D. DeGiorgio
424Booking HoldingsGlenn Fogel
443Northern TrustMichael G. O’Grady
454Blackstone GroupStephen A. Schwarzman
475Academy Sports and OutdoorsKen C. Hicks
488Roper TechnologiesNeil Hunn

Northwestern University

Number of Alumni: 19

Fortune 500 RankCompanyCEO
10Exxon MobilDarren Woods
65MerckRobert M. Davis
70AllstateThomas J. Wilson
90Northwestern MutualJohn E. Schlifske
153Union PacificLance M. Fritz
235AramarkJohn J. Zillmer
240Illinois Tool WorksErnest Scott Santi
258W.W. GraingerDonald G. Macpherson
260BallJohn A. Hayes
267Keurig Dr PepperBob Gamgort
295Edward JonesPenny Pennington
322Murphy USAAndrew Clyde
363Yum China HoldingsJoey Wat
380IntuitSasan K. Goodarzi
413Owens CorningBrian Chambers
439VeritivSalvatore A. Abbate
446NCRMichael D. Hayford
456Fortune Brands Home & SecurityNicholas Fink
461EquinixCharles J. Meyers

Stanford University

Number of Alumni: 18

Fortune 500 RankCompanyCEO
9AlphabetSundar Pichai
22General MotorsMary Barra
40IntelPat Gelsinger
85NikeJohn Donahoe
99Capital One FinancialRichard Fairbank
100TeslaElon Musk
115NetflixReed Hastings
150CumminsTom Linebarger
160PG&EPatricia K. Poppe
184NvidiaJensen Huang
221GapSonia Syngal
276eBayJamie Iannone
320Dick’s Sporting GoodsLauren Hobart
329SpartanNashTony Sarsam
340Air Products & ChemicalsSeifi Ghasemi
366AndersonsPatrick E. Bowe
419Jefferies Financial GroupRichard B. Handler
497NetAppGeorge Kurian

The Most Common Graduate Degrees of Fortune 500 CEOs:

  • M.B.A.: 204
  • J.D.: 24
  • Master’s in management: 10
Low Memorial Library at Columbia University

The Top 3 Schools With the Most Undergraduate Program Alumni Who Are Fortune 500 CEOs

Cornell University

Number of Alumni: 9

Fortune 500 RankCompanyCEO
43Procter & GambleJon Moeller
69Publix Super MarketsTodd Jones
171Carrier GlobalDavid Gitlin
217WayfairNiraj Shah
239LoewsJames S. Tisch
293Marriott InternationalAnthony Capuano
354Regeneron PharmaceuticalsLeonard Schleifer
411Toll BrothersDouglas C. Yearley, Jr.
416Arthur J. GallagherJ. Patrick Gallagher Jr

Harvard University

Number of Alumni: 9

Fortune 500 RankCompanyCEO
2AmazonAndy Jassy
24CenteneSarah London
34Meta PlatformsMark Zuckerberg
128US Foods HoldingPietro Satriano
208Automatic Data ProcessingCarlos A. Rodriguez
226Edison InternationalPedro J. Pizarro
334Interpublic GroupPhilippe Krakowsky
427CloroxLinda Rendle
485Electronic ArtsAndrew Wilson

University of Pennsylvania

Number of Alumni: 8

Fortune 500 RankCompanyCEO
26ComcastBrian Roberts
98The Travelers CompaniesAlan D. Schnitzer
100TeslaElon Musk
320Dick’s Sporting GoodsLauren Hobart
359Constellation BrandsBill Newlands
394Global PaymentsJeffrey S. Sloan
424Booking HoldingsGlenn Fogel
425Williams-SonomaLaura J. Alber
The University of Chicago

The Most Common Undergraduate Degrees of Fortune 500 CEOs

Frequently Asked Questions

What role do alumni networks play in the success of graduates becoming Fortune 500 CEOs?

Alumni networks can play a significant role in the success of graduates becoming Fortune 500 CEOs. Alumni networks allow students to connect with other graduates who have gone on to have prosperous professions. These connections may result in career-advancing mentorships, alliances, partnerships, and job recommendations.

Who is the highest-paid among the Fortune 500 CEOs?

Elon Musk, CEO of SpaceX and Tesla Motors (TSLA) is the highest-paid CEO in 2023, with a net worth of $190 billion.

What other colleges and universities, besides those that produced Fortune 500 CEOs, were home to today’s big business leaders?

Top-ranking colleges and business schools today with superior undergraduate degrees and internationally acclaimed MBAs and graduate business programs include Purdue University, Yale University, Princeton University, Georgetown University, Boston College, Boston University, Brown University, New York University, University of Wisconsin School of Business, and the University of Southern California Business School.

Some of the institutions mentioned comprise the Big Ten Schools of the Big Ten Conference known for their excellent academic reputations and massive financial endowments.

If you are interested in finding out which schools top the list for the best research universities, check out 50 Best Research Universities for Undergrads, and if you are looking for the top public colleges, take a look at the 50 Best Public Colleges and Universities.

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