Wednesday, February 28, 2024

These 10 Colleges Produced the Most Fortune 500 CEOs

Bring your A-game in these CEO factories.

Head honchos typically share three traits: expertise, connections, and grit. But the right foundation starts with what you learn. It’s time to consider the handful of US colleges producing CEOs of Fortune 500 companies. 💯

Sounds like your cup of tea? Check out the ten next-level colleges where future CEOs are made. 💰

1. Harvard University 

Michael Bloomberg attended Harvard Business School and then received an Honorary Degree as a Doctor of Laws from the same institution.  

This Ivy League is almost 400 years old and still going strong, where its prestige attracts the cream of the crop. Students receive quality education from Nobel Prize laureate professors, so it’s no wonder that even famous dropouts like Bill Gates and Mark Zuckerberg made it big. 💯

Harvard’s success stories include Amazon’s CEO Andy Jassy, who took both his undergraduate and Master’s degrees in the same institution before leading the retail giant after Jeff Bezos. 

💼 Number of Fortune 500 CEOs: 41
🏫 School type: Private 
💰 Cost of Attendance: $82,950 to $87,450

2. University of Pennsylvania (UPenn)

 Tory Burch is a UPenn graduate with a BA in Art History and founder of the women’s fashion label after her namesake. 

UPenn would make its founder, Benjamin Franklin, proud with its top-ranking programs and discoveries funded by billions of dollars. 🤑 It’s also apparent that the entrepreneurial spirit is inspired in its students across all disciplines — a sign that it’s definitely one of those colleges producing CEOs.

One of the largest American corporations, Johnson & Johnson, was formerly headed by Alex Gorsky, a UPenn Wharton School MBA graduate. 🤵

READ MORE: These Are the Top 25 Richest Colleges in the US

💼 Number of Fortune 500 CEOs: 23 
🏫 School type: Private
💰 Cost of Attendance: $73,494 to $89,028

3. Stanford University 

Google’s co-founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin both took graduate studies in computer science at Stanford University. 

Want to think like a CEO? Immerse yourself in Stanford University right in the hub of Silicon Valley, where you’ll have easy access and exposure to great minds. 🧠

Credit goes to Frederick Emmons Terman, Dean of Engineering at Stanford from 1944 to 1958, for pioneering the tech startup culture in the area. Disruptive companies (like Google) founded by Stanford graduates call the valley home —  a testament to Stanford’s reputation as one of those colleges producing CEOs. 💯

💼 Number of Fortune 500 CEOs: 22
🏫 School type: Private
💰 Cost of Attendance: $87,833

4. Northwestern University

Stephen Colbert transferred from Hampden–Sydney College to Northwestern University as a theater major before his rise to fame as a comedian, writer, and television host.

Leading a Fortune 500 company requires strong teamwork with diverse individuals and thinking out of the box. Northwestern University’s robust innovation and research programs (with more than a billion-dollar funding 😲) make it an ideal launchpad for future leaders. 

Plus, did you know its top-ranking Kellogg School of Management produced the CEOs of Intuit (Sasan Goodarzi) and ExxonMobil (Darren Woods)? 🤑

💼 Number of Fortune 500 CEOs: 20
🏫 School type: Private
💰 Cost of Attendance: $91,290 (on or off-campus living)

5. Columbia University 

US President Barack Obama smiles while giving a speech
The fifth-oldest Ivy League university is one of the colleges producing CEOs of Fortune 500 companies, as well as four US presidents like Barack Obama. Photo: Depositphotos

Students who want to be leaders in their fields can take their pick among Columbia’s renowned and top programs in political science, economics, and computer science. Take it from the former Xerox CEO Ursula Burns, also known as the first black woman leader of a Fortune 500 company. 🏆

Aside from churning out CEOs, Columbia University also counts prominent politicians among its alumni: one of America’s founding fathers, Alexander Hamilton, and the 44th US president, Barack Obama.

💼 Number of Fortune 500 CEOs: 18
🏫 School type: Private
💰 Cost of Attendance: $89,587

6. University of Chicago (UChicago)

Milton Friedman was offered a scholarship to complete his bachelor’s degree at Rutgers University and his Master’s degree at the University of Chicago.

UChicago is a university best known for its public policy, economics, and philosophy programs that encourage curiosity — a skill that can get you at the top of your game, just like Brady Dougan, a business magnate and former Credit Suisse CEO. 🏦

It’s also the alma mater of the famous American thinkers economist Milton Friedman and astronomer Carl Sagan. 🌌

💼 Number of Fortune 500 CEOs: 15
🏫 School type: Private
💰 Cost of Attendance: $89,040 (on-campus) 

7. University of Michigan (UMich)

UMich graduate Tom Brady about to throw a football during NFL game season
Colleges producing CEOs of Fortune 500 companies like UMich tend to cultivate leaders in other fields like sports — just look at football MVP Tom Brady and three-time NBA All-Star Glen Rice. Photos: Depositphotos

What do former Google CEO Larry Page, former American football quarterback Tom Brady, and JetBlue co-founder David Barger have in common? They all finished their undergraduate degrees at the University of Michigan! 🏫

UMich is one of the top-ranking public colleges producing CEOs with its quality programs in IT, business, and sports — all accessible at a fraction of an Ivy League cost of attendance. 😄

💼 Number of Fortune 500 CEOs: 12
🏫 School type: Public 
💰 Cost of Attendance: $35,450 (in-state)

8. Cornell University

Ruth Bader Ginsburg, aka RBG, has multiple accomplishments, such as co-founding the first law journal on women’s rights and the Women’s Rights Project at the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU).

Cornell University prides itself on the finest business and IT programs — among many other outstanding course offerings. 🏆 So, CEOs with the caliber of Mark Bertolini (Aetna’s former chief executive) and Anne Chow (former AT&T chief executive) can be expected to graduate from here. 

Since its foundation in 1865, this school has produced high achievers, such as Bill Nye (yes, the Science Guy) and the late Associate Justice of the US Supreme Court Ruth Bader Ginsburg. 😲

💼 Number of Fortune 500 CEOs: 10
🏫 School type: Private
💰 Cost of Attendance: $66,834 (in-state attending a state contract college)

9. University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign (UIUC)

Max Levchin also co-founded PayPal with four other people from UIUC and Stanford University.

Many modern innovations are rooted in UIUC: just ask Tesla co-founder and former CEO Martin Eberhard. Tesla vehicles join the likes of the first widely used web browser (Mosaic) and the Gausebeck-Levchin test made by tech whiz alumni of the same school. 👏

Groundbreaking contributions in tech aren’t the only thing UIUC is known for — it’s also a top choice for networking thanks to its vibrant social life culture. 🥳

READ MORE: These 25 College Towns Have the Best Social Life

💼 Number of Fortune 500 CEOs: 9
🏫 School type: Public
💰 Cost of Attendance: $35,210 to $40,474 (in-state)

10. New York University (NYU) 

Martin Scorsese is a multi-awarded American filmmaker who completed his master’s degree from NYU and produced hits like The Wolf of Wall Street and Shutter Island. 

New York University is one of those colleges producing CEOs, Hollywood heavy hitters, and public servants — essentially a high-caliber student body located in the bustling Big Apple.🗽

With the right network, location, and dedicated programs to shape future top executives, NYU students are primed for career success. 🤑 The next thing you know, you might be following the footsteps of Charles W. Scharf, who’s been the CEO of Visa Inc. and Wells Fargo. 

💼 Number of Fortune 500 CEOs: 8
🏫 School type: Private
💰 Cost of Attendance: $90,222 (on or off-campus) 


Prestigious colleges have that esteemed reputation for a reason. They cultivate an environment of success that produces the next generation of trailblazers and high achievers. 

If you’re one of those rising stars, make sure to choose your college wisely. But for now, create a stellar college application to get your foot in the door of these top colleges producing CEOs. 💪

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