Where do billionaires go to university?

Are the super-rich more likely to be better educated? Or have they spurned scholarship and dedicated themselves to the serious business of being seriously rich?

According to a global census of dollar billionaires, almost two-thirds have a university degree. That means that even for countries with a high level of graduates, billionaires are disproportionately likely to have gone to university, Sean Coughlan writes in an article published by the BBC. 

In the UK, more than four out of five billionaires were in higher education – not so much rags to riches as rag week to riches.

The educational insights are from an annual profile of the uber-rich, the Wealth-X and UBS Billionaire Census, produced by the Swiss banking group and a Singapore-based financial intelligence firm.

It examines the wealth and background of more than 2,300 billionaires – and the findings undermine the image of the wealthy as being self-taught self-starters trained on the market stall.

As well as being much more likely to be graduates, a quarter have postgraduate degrees and more than one in 10 has a doctorate.

The University of Pennsylvania has produced more than any other institution, followed by Harvard, Yale, the University of Southern California, Princeton, Cornell and Stanford.

And the most likely way of making money is by dealing in money, with billionaires mostly making their fortunes through finance, banking and investment.

But there are also some indications that the geography of the super rich is changing. Reflecting India’s growing economy, the University of Mumbai is in ninth place in the league table.

The only UK university in this wealth list is the London School of Economics, in 10th place, with no place for Oxford or Cambridge.

The rise of Russia’s wealthy is reflected in the 11th place for Lomonosov Moscow State University.

But the dominance of the US universities is not simply about the US producing more billionaires. More than a quarter of the billionaires who attended US universities to take undergraduate degrees were from other countries.

This was even more the case for postgraduate courses in the US, where 39% came from overseas.

Most billionaire graduates:

  1. University of Pennsylvania
  2. Harvard University
  3. Yale University
  4. University of Southern California
  5. Princeton University
  6. Cornell University
  7. Stanford University
  8. University of California, Berkeley
  9. University of Mumbai
  10. London School of Economics
  11. Lomonosov Moscow State University
  12. University of Texas
  13. Dartmouth College
  14. University of Michigan
  15. New York University
  16. Duke University
  17. Columbia University
  18. Brown University
  19. Massachusetts Institute of Technology
  20. ETH Zurich


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