Most Popular Degrees for Entrepreneurs

Do you ever look at successful entrepreneurs and wonder how they got where they are? For some, it was a case of relentless determination and others were simply born into the right family – or a combination of both. Choosing the right degree can be one route to success and can arm you with the skills and knowledge to set you up for success. That’s why we’ve analyzed the degrees obtained by the world’s top billionaires.

Most Popular Degrees With Billionaires

One way to identify the best course of action for entrepreneurial success is to look at those who already made it. The current richest man in the world, Elon Musk has a dual degree in physics and economics. Whereas his rival, Mark Zuckerberg is a Harvard drop-out, as documented in the 2010 biographical film, The Social Network.

We took a look at the top 100 billionaires in the world and traced their educational history to understand which degrees are most commonly held by the world’s richest entrepreneurs. Engineering took the top spot, with Economics coming in a close second. Somewhat surprisingly, Arts degrees held a higher percentage than Maths degrees. The fifth most common degree among billionaires was no degree at all – showing that the university of life can sometimes provide the best education to set you up for success.

Top degrees of billionaires and entrepreneurs
The most popular degrees among the world's top 100 billionaires


  • Bernard Arnault, CEO of LMVH, the world’s largest luxury goods company studied engineering at the École Polytechnique.
  • Jeff Bezos, founder and former CEO of Amazon studied engineering and computer science at Princeton University.
  • Michael Bloomberg, co-founder and CEO of Bloomberg L.P, studied electrical engineering at Johns Hopkins University and then went on to obtain an MBA from Harvard Business School.


  • Elon Musk, CEO of Tesla, SpaceX and more, completed a joint-honours degree in economics and physics at the University of Pennsylvania.


  • Warren Buffett, CEO of Berkshire Hathaway and prominent investor, studied business administration at the University of Nebraska before going on to obtain a master’s in economics from Columbia Business School.

No degree

  • Famously, the Meta CEO, Mark Zuckerberg dropped out of Harvard, where he was studying psychology and computer science. Likewise, Bill Gates also dropped out of Harvard after three semesters before going on to found the multi-trillion dollar company, Microsoft.

Computer Science & Science

  • Google founders, Larry Page and Sergey Brin both graduated in computer science at Stanford University.


  • You don’t have to study a STEM subject to become a billionaire, as demonstrated by Francoise Bettencourt Meyers, Jacqueline Mars, Carl Icahn, Jack Ma, MacKenzie Scott and Abigail Johnson who all obtained degrees in various Arts/Humanities disciplines and are now counted in the top 100 billionaires – albeit some via inheritance.


  • Mathematician and hedge fund manager, Jim Simons has a bachelor’s degree in mathematics from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology as well as a PhD from the University of California, Berkeley.


  • Giovanni Ferrero studied Marketing at Lebanon Valley College before going on to become the joint CEO of the confectionary company, Ferrero SpA with his late brother Pietro.

Our research also showed that the countries with the most billionaires from the top 100 list are the United States, with China and Russia also sharing a large proportion.

Which Degree Will Make You the Most Money?

With the rising cost of living and inflation rates, it may be wise to consider following a more lucrative career path. Our research showed that the most common degrees among billionaires are Engineering and Economics. Therefore, it’s not surprising that further research from CNBC confirms Engineering is one of the most lucrative paths for students to follow.

  1. Electrical engineering
    Average salary: $110,000
  2. Computer engineering
    Average salary: $104,000
  3. Pharmacy, pharmaceutical sciences, and administration
    Average salary: $100,000
  4. Chemical engineering
    Average salary: $100,000
  5. Computer science
    Average salary: $100,000
  6. Aerospace engineering
    Average salary: $100,000
  7. Materials engineering and materials science
    Average salary: $98,500
  8. Engineering mechanics, physics, and science
    Average salary: $95,000
  9. Mechanical engineering
    Average salary: $95,000
  10. Industrial and manufacturing engineering
    Median salary: $90,000

What Are the Benefits of a Degree?

  1. Acquiring business skills is crucial for launching and running a successful business. Pursuing a business degree specifically can help you gain knowledge in essential areas such as finance, marketing, accounting, operations, and management.
  2. Building a professional network is also essential. Sometimes it’s not what you know, but who you know. Fellow students, professors, and guest lecturers can be valuable contacts for the future. These connections may lead to job opportunities, potential business partnerships, investors, or advisors.
  3. A degree from a reputable university lends credibility and legitimacy to your entrepreneurial venture. Something you may notice in the above list of billionaires’ degrees is not the degree itself but the institution. A prestigious alma mater can be helpful both for networking and for seeking funding from investors.
  4. Broadening your thinking is another advantage of higher education. Exposure to different subjects, perspectives, and case studies can help broaden your thinking. As an entrepreneur, you need to be able to assess situations from different angles.
  5. Learning how to learn is also vital for entrepreneurs. Higher education teaches you how to think critically, carry out research, and constantly learn new information. These self-learning skills are essential for entrepreneurs and for building resilience for the inevitable challenges you’ll face as a business owner.
  6. Accessing resources is another benefit of pursuing higher education. Universities often provide resources like mentors, incubators, and accelerators that can support you in starting a successful company.

As the cliche goes, ‘do what you love and you’ll never work a day in your life’. There’s no point in selecting an engineering degree if you have no interest in maths or science and a finance degree is not much use to somebody who hates economics. Choosing a degree purely for the potential it has to land you in the top 100 billionaires of 2032, is not the best course of action. If you’re not interested in what you do, you won’t have the staying power to see it through the many years it takes to become successful. And at the end of the day, passion and drive are more important than credentials when it comes to starting your own business.

Written by:
Alice is one of Expert Market's resident software experts, helping businesses improve their efficiency or reach, with an emphasis on productivity software, CRM and telecommunications.