15 Brainy Black Celebrities with Startling Degrees


1. Syleena Johnson

Twenty-one years after dropping out of college to pursue a music career, this R&B Divas Atlanta star decided to return to school. She just graduated from Kaplan University with a degree in nutrition science. Congrats, Syleena! 


2. Regina Belle

Congrats, Regina! After leaving Rutgers University to pursue a (very successful!) music career more than 30 years ago, gospel songstress Regina Belle returned to the university to get her degree. She graduated last month with a Bachelors in Africana studies. And P.S. She performed a brief concert at her commencement ceremony.

Photo Credit: Gabe Ginsberg/FilmMagic

Photo Credit: Gabe Ginsberg/FilmMagic

3. Michael Jordan

We bet you had no idea that this NBA All-Star has a degree in geography. He dropped out of the University of North Carolina in 1984 to enter the NBA draft, but returned two years later to complete his geography degree.


4. Rashida Jones

We bet Quincy is proud of his daughter. Before she was a red carpet staple, Rashida was busy earning her degrees in religion and philosophy from Harvard.


5. Lionel Richie

There’s more to Lionel than just his smooth voice! The “Hello” singer attended Tuskegee University on a tennis scholarship and graduated with a degree in economics.


6. Wanda Sykes

If stand-up didn’t pan out for Wanda, she had a back-up career in marketing. The comedienne holds a marketing degree from Hampton University.


Photo Credit: Getty Images

7. Dwayne Johnson

Kudos to The Rock! After being arrested multiple times by the age of 17, Dwayne decided that he wanted to turn his life around. He enrolled in college to pursue a degree in criminology and physiology.

Photo Credit: Nomi Ellenson/FilmMagic

Photo Credit: Nomi Ellenson/FilmMagic

8. Montel Williams

What can’t the man do? The soldier-turned-talk-show-host has an engineering degree from the Naval Academy. We love it!


9. Keisha Knight Pulliam

Was Keisha a sociologist in a former life? In 2001, The Cosby Show actress graduated from Spelman College with a degree in sociology.

Photo Credit: Jason LaVeris/FilmMagic

Photo Credit: Jason LaVeris/FilmMagic

10. Shaquille O’neal

Basketball, schmasketball. Shaq’s true passion lies in education. In 2012, the basketball star returned to Barry State University to get his doctorate in education. The reason? “I promised my parents I would follow my passion for education!” he toldABC News. Awww.

Photo Credit: Jason LaVeris/FilmMagic and Valerie Macon/Getty Images

Photo Credit: Jason LaVeris/FilmMagic and Valerie Macon/Getty Images

11. Sanaa Lathan

This smarty pants has two degrees from two distinguished colleges. She graduated from the University of California-Berkeley with a degree in English (surprise!), then she went on to pursue a master’s at Yale with a degree in drama (not-so-surprise!).

Photo Credit: Getty Images

Photo Credit: Getty Images

12. Regina Hall

Can you imagine Regina Hall getting the latest scoop on all things news? The Think Like a Man actress graduated from New York University with a degree in journalism.


13. Tatyana Ali

Little Ashley Banks is all grown up! After finishing her run on The Fresh Prince, she went on to obtain a Bachelor’s in anthropology from Harvard.

Photo Credit: Getty Images

Photo Credit: Getty Images

14. Angela Bassett

Beauty and brains—wowza. This Ivy-league educated legendary actress has a degree in African-American studies… from Yale!

Photo Credit: Jim Spellman/WireImage

Photo Credit: Jim Spellman/WireImage



15. Hill Harper

We can barely keep track of all of Hill’s degrees. In addition to a B.A. from Brown, actor/author has a law degree from Harvard AND a Masters degree in public administration from the Kennedy School of Government. Talk about brainpower.

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  1. Brian July 27, 2015 at 6:49 pm

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