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What do most billionaires study?

Billionaires come from a variety of educational backgrounds, but there are some common threads in what most study before making their fortunes. Here’s an overview of the most popular college majors and fields of study among the world’s wealthiest people.

Business and Finance

Studying business, finance, accounting, economics, or entrepreneurship is perhaps the most common path to becoming a billionaire. Getting a solid education in these fields provides knowledge about money management, investing, markets, consumer behavior, and what it takes to start and run a successful company. Many billionaires majored in business, finance, or economics as undergraduates before going on to get MBAs or other master’s degrees in business-related fields. Examples of billionaire business school graduates include Jeff Bezos (Princeton, electrical engineering and computer science), Warren Buffet (University of Nebraska, business administration), Larry Ellison (University of Chicago, computer science), and Michael Bloomberg (Harvard Business School).

Why Business and Finance?

A business or finance education gives future billionaires important hard skills in areas like financial analysis, accounting, management, and business strategy. It also equips them with a mindset primed for spotting opportunities, taking calculated risks, and turning ideas into profitable enterprises. Whether they built their fortunes as entrepreneurs, investors, or corporate executives, an educational foundation in business and finance provided many billionaires with fundamental tools for making smart money decisions and managing wealth.


Studying engineering is another common path taken by billionaires, especially those who made their fortunes in technology. Engineering teaches problem-solving skills, technical knowledge, and how to build innovative products and systems. About 10% of billionaires worldwide have engineering degrees. Examples include Elon Musk (University of Pennsylvania, physics and economics), Bill Gates (Harvard, no degree), Larry Page (Stanford, computer science), and Jeff Bezos (Princeton, electrical engineering and computer science).

Why Engineering?

The analytical thinking, computing skills, and understanding of systems gained from an engineering education enables some billionaires to develop cutting-edge technologies, fill technical gaps in the market, and build enormously successful tech companies like Microsoft, Amazon, Google, and SpaceX. The rise of the tech sector has created ample opportunities for engineer-billionaires over the past few decades.


Studying science can also provide a pathway to extreme wealth for innovators who apply scientific knowledge to create profitable new products, services, and technologies. About 7% of global billionaires majored in science disciplines like physics, biology, chemistry, mathematics, or statistics. Notable science major billionaires are Sergey Brin (Stanford, mathematics and computer science), Jack Ma (Hangzhou Teacher’s Institute, English), and Phil Knight (University of Oregon, accounting).

Why Science?

A strong foundation in scientific principles, research methods, and analytics equips some billionaires to make innovations in their fields and build hugely successful science or tech-based businesses. Scientific training supports the development of logical thinking, experimentation skills, and fact-based decision making that aid in turning discoveries into real-world solutions with money-making potential.


Studying law is a less common direct route to becoming a billionaire, but some do find extreme wealth through law-related enterprises. About 5% of global billionaires majored in law or legal studies. Examples include John Malone (Yale Law School), Ralph Lauren (no degree), and David Duffield (Cornell, engineering and business).

Why Law?

For lawyer-billionaires, studying law provides knowledge to aid in setting up law firms or other legal services companies. It also gives them the expertise to manage complex transactions, regulatory environments, and high-stakes business deals that allow them to profit handsomely as investors, entrepreneurs, or corporate executives.


Studying the humanities like literature, philosophy, history, linguistics, or classics doesn’t lead directly to extreme wealth. But a small number of billionaires do major in these fields. Examples are David Geffen (University of Texas, Austin – dropped out), George Soros (London School of Economics – philosophy), and Ralph Lauren (Baruch College – dropped out).

Why Humanities?

Though not a clear path to riches, some billionaires find that humanities studies help spark their creativity, open their minds, improve communication abilities, or make them better leaders. Liberal arts degrees can provide a well-rounded education and vital soft skills that complement strong business acumen.

No College Degree

It’s possible to become a billionaire without a college degree, though it is increasingly rare. About 20% of global billionaires did not graduate from college. Famous billionaire college dropouts include Bill Gates, Mark Zuckerberg, Michael Dell, Larry Ellison, and Amancio Ortega.

Succeeding Without a Degree

While lack of a degree did not hold these famous billionaires back, it likely made achieving such extreme wealth more difficult. Most advise going to college if possible to gain knowledge, skills, and opportunities that support success in business and investing.


While there is no singular educational path to becoming a billionaire, studying business, finance, engineering, and science are the most common majors among the ultra-wealthy. A college education likely expands skills and thinking abilities that increase odds of massive financial success in technology, investing, or entrepreneurship. But some super-driven individuals can reach billionaire status even without a degree through grit, brilliant ideas, hard work, and luck.