While most celebrities with PhDs have earned their degrees with a lot of hard work, many have received honorary doctorates from big universities. These stars prove that an academic inclination isn’t incompatible with showbiz, or at the very least that making it big in Hollywood can get some of the biggest universities to throw degrees your way.

Here are the stars who took their education to the next level with a PhD, or managed to earn other, equally impressive degrees.

James Franco

While Franco isn’t exactly done with his PhD, he has three masters degrees. The first two are in writing, from Brooklyn College and Columbia University, and the third one, from New York University, is in directing. 

James Franco Phd

James Franco is working on earning his PhD in English at Yale University, and he’s been teaching courses in order to fulfil all the academic requierments for the title.

Mayim Bialik

Mayim Bialik Phd

Known for playing “Blossom” and Dr. Amy Farrah Fowler on “The Big Bang Theory”, Mayim Bialik is often criticised because of her anti-vaccine stance, but she’s one of the celebrities with PhDs. The actress earned her degree in neuroscience at UCLA in 2007, with a dissertation entitled “Hypothalamic Regulation in Relation to Maladaptive, Obsessive-Compulsive, Affiliative, and Satiety Behaviors in Prader-Willi Syndrome.”

Shaquille O’Neal

Shaquille O’Neal Phd

While you’d think that Shaquille O’Neal could only have an honorary degree, the basketball legend is actually a Doctor of Education (Ed.D.). After studying Human Resource Development at Barry University, O’Neal received his degree in 2012, with a dissertation focused on “The Duality of Humor and Aggression in Leadership Styles”.

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Miuccia Prada

Miuccia Prada

The talent behind two of the most renowned brands in the world, Prada and Miu Miu, Miuccia Prada never dreamed of making it big in the fashion world. Instead, she’s one of the celebrities with PhDs. Prada pursued a doctorate in political science at the University of Milan, and only got in touch with her design talent later in life.

Ken Jeong

Ken Jeong Phd

Few people quit being a doctor at 36 in order to focus on acting, but ken Jeong is one of them. Best known for his roles in “Community” and “The Hangover” trilogy, Jeong got his M.D. degree at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in 1995. After completing his internal medicine residency and working as a doctor for years, he decided to pursue acting full-time.

Oprah Winfrey

Oprah Phd

One of the celebrities with PhDs that weren’t actually earned the old fashioned way, Oprah Winfrey received two honorary doctorate degrees, one from Harvard and one from Duke University. Being North America’s only black billionaire and one of the most influential women in the world sure helped.

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Bill Cosby

Bill Cosby Phd

Another celebrity who’s earned an Ed.D., Bill Cosby wasn’t on his way to becoming a Doctor of Education when he dropped out of high school. Luckily for the comedian, he realized his education is important and earned his degree in 1976 at the University of Massachusetts Amherst. He wrote his dissertation based on personal experience in showbiz, analyzing the educational impact of Saturday morning shows.

Angela Merkel

Angela Merkel Phd

The most influential woman politician in the world, Germany’s chancellor is also one of the celebrities with PhDs. She began her political career in 1990, four years after earning her PhD in quantum chemistry at Berlin’s Academy of Sciences, focusing her dissertation on the “mechanism of decay reactions with single bond breaking”.

Brian May

Brian May Phd

Queen’s lead guitarist and songwriter has a PhD in Astrophysics! May earned his degree in 2008 at the Imperial College, with a dissertation called “A Survey of Radial Velocities in the Zodiacal Dust Cloud”. His interest in the field earned him the admiration of fellow geeks, who named an asteroid (“52665 Brianmay”) after him at the completion of his PhD.

Kerry Washington

Kerry Washington Phd

Joining the list of celebrities with PhDs, Kerry Washington graduated George Washington University in 1998, with a double major in sociology and anthropology. The actress didn’t pursue her academic ambitions, so her doctorate of fine arts is only honorary.