Many universities that are highly ranked by U.S. News & World Report have yielded a significant number of chief executives at the nation’s largest corporations.
An analysis of the educational backgrounds of the CEOs of the top 100 companies on this year’s Fortune 500 list (the magazine’s annual ranking of American corporations based on gross revenue) revealed that the executives had a total of 42 graduate and undergraduate degrees from Ivy League schools, all of which rank in the top 20 of both U.S. News’s rankings of Best Colleges and Best Business Schools.
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Surprisingly, only a third of the CEOs hold an MBA Nonetheless, it was the most common graduate degree among the executives and six of the CEOs attained their MBA from Harvard Business School—more than any other institution (Harvard is tied with Stanford University as the top business school in U.S. News’s rankings). Fourteen of the CEOs have law degrees and 31 did not attain a graduate degree at all.
Only five of the 100 rose to the pinnacle of the corporate ladder without the aid of a bachelor’s degree, including prominent names in the technology sector: Steve Jobs of Apple, Inc. and Michael Dell of Dell, Inc.
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While usual suspects like Harvard (15 total degrees), Columbia University and the University of Pennsylvania (seven degrees each) boast the most Fortune 100 CEO graduates, there were a few outliers that yielded multiple CEOs. Auburn University, for instance, is ranked 85th among national universities and its business school is unranked, yet it was one of only 13 institutions to boast at least three CEO alumni among the Fortune 100 firms. Southern Methodist University’s 48th ranked law school also yielded three CEOs. Lower ranked schools aren’t necessarily feeding executives to lesser-known businesses. Mike Duke, for instance, CEO of Wal-Mart—the top corporation on Fortune’s list—received his bachelor’s degree from the Georgia Institute of Technology, which is ranked 35th among national universities by U.S. News. Duke did not earn a graduate degree.