In this article, we’ll take a look at the 33 most famous Harvard students of all time. you can skip our in-depth look at harvard university and go straight to the 5 most famous harvard students of all time.
harvard has produced hundreds of geniuses who made the world a better place in their own way. Harvard graduates founded disruptive companies, invented new technologies, discovered new treatments, made award-winning films, and impacted the lives of billions of people around the world. It is impossible to cover all of the top Harvard students in one article. In this list we will mention some of the most notable Harvard students who achieve great milestones in various walks of life.
Some of the students on this list changed the world after graduating from Harvard, founding or working for companies like Berkshire Hathaway (NYSE: BRK-A), Microsoft Corporation (NASDAQ: MSFT), Facebook, Inc. common stock (nasdaq: fb), 21st century fox corporation (nasdaq: foxa), news corporation (nasdaq: nwsa), boeing company (nyse: ba), coca cola company (nyse: ko), and daily journal corporation (nasdaq: nwsa ) djco).
in 1636, when harvard university opened its halls, institutes of great reputation already existed in chile, colombia, argentina, peru and mexico. What made Harvard immediately replace it was that it introduced the best quality of the modern educational system. since then, the institute is ranked as one of the best universities in the world.
admission to harvard is not easy. the acceptance rate is very low. It was no more than 4.6 percent in 2020. Still, thousands of students struggle to get into Harvard each year. According to a report in Harvard Magazine, 39,041 students applied last year and only 2,037 applications were accepted, including early action applications.
The university recently shared a brief overview of admissions statistics for the class of 2023. According to this, 43,330 students applied and only 2,009 applications were accepted. This shows the level of competition to enroll in Harvard programs. Once admitted, students look forward to a great career after completing their education.
harvard university has produced many notable figures from different walks of life, including scientists, politicians, celebrities and royals etc. Some popular Harvardians include Barack Obama, J.F. kennedy, thomas stearns eliot, facebook, inc. Mark Zuckerberg, Founder of Common Stock (NASDAQ: FB), Charlie Munger of Berkshire Hathaway (NYSE: BRK-A), and Bill Gates, Founder of Microsoft Corporation (NASDAQ: MSFT).
The list given is based on each person’s level of popularity and the significant achievement/service of these former Harvard students in their respective fields. Most of the people included in this list are Nobel Prize winners, Pulitzer Prize winners, politicians, celebrities, businessmen, and more.
With this context in mind, let’s take a look at the 33 most famous Harvard students of all time.
science photo in hd on unsplash
the most famous harvard students of all time
33. look sorvino
Award winning movie star, mira sorvino is a harvard alumna. She is best known for her work in movies like Aphrodite, Mimic, The Replacement Killers, Like Dandelion Dust, Human Traffic, Norma Jean & marilyn, and many more.
32. sheryl sandberg
sheryl sandberg is a billionaire, chief operating officer of facebook (nasdaq: fb) and an entrepreneur. sandberg is also a patron of leanin.org, a nonprofit organization that works for the betterment of women. In 1995, Sandberg earned his MBA from Harvard and began working with a prestigious management firm, Mckinsey & company.
31. ralph waldo emerson
ralph waldo emerson was a popular poet, essayist, orator, philosopher, lecturer, and abolitionist. In 1817, he attended Harvard University as an undergraduate. Due to his literary services, his contemporaries titled him the Sage of Concord.
30. amy brenneman
amy brenneman is an artist and film and television producer. She is best known for her work in films such as Daylight, Heat and Fear. Brenneman majored in religion at Harvard University in 1987 before joining Hollywood.
29. charles thomas munger
charles munger is also a billionaire investor, architect, former real estate attorney, and former vice president of berkshire hathaway (nyse: brk-a). Munger also chaired two of the most reputable financial institutions, Wesco Financial Corporation and The Daily Journal Corporation (NASDAQ: DJCO).
It’s interesting to share your harvard admissions story. The Harvard Law School administration initially rejected Munger’s application because he was still an undergraduate. a family friend and former school dean convinced the school administration to accept her as his student. Munger took it as a challenge and showed distinction among his schoolmates in 1948.
28. robert lee frost
robert frost was an american poet known for his philosophical themes and depth. He was nominated for the Nobel Prize thirty-one times and won the Pulitzer Prize four times in his lifetime. He also won Vermont’s Poet Laureate Award for Title in 1961.
27. james rupert jacob murdoch
James Murdoch is an award-winning businessman who remained associated with well-known media organizations such as 21st Century Fox Corporation (NASDAQ: FOXA) and News Corporation (NASDAQ: NWSA), Sky Plc. and news dotcom.
murdoch was interested in history and film during his days at harvard. but before finishing his degree, he founded an independent hip hop company in 1995 and left it. the company (independent hip hop) was acquired by the news corporation (nasdaq: nwsa) after three years.
26. neil degrasse tyson
neil degrasse tyson is a noted planetary scientist, astrophysicist, researcher, television host, science communicator, and author with tons of awards and honors to his name. Some of the awards he won are the NASA Distinguished Public Service Medal, the Medal of Excellence, Columbia University, NY, the Klopsteg Memorial Award, and the Stephen Hawking Medal for Science Communication, Starmus, among others.
he earned his bachelor’s degree in physics from harvard in 1980.
25. tommy lee jones
another hollywood celebrity, tommy lee jones studied at harvard on a scholarship. His roommate at the time was the future Vice President of America, Al Gore. Jones is best known for his award-winning role as U.S. Marshal Samuel Gerard in the film, The Fugitive.
Jones is ranked 25th on our list of the most famous Harvard students of all time.
24. natalie portman
star wars actress natalie portman has a bachelor’s degree in psychology from harvard (1999-2003). she is the winner of two golden globe awards and an academy award for her excellent performance in different hollywood movies. Natalie is especially applauded for her work in movies like Closer, Black Swan, Annihilation, Jackie and many more.
23. john e. mac
john mack was a famous author, psychiatrist, and harvard faculty member. In 1955, he received his doctorate in psychiatry from Harvard Medical School. Mack won the Pulitzer Prize in 1977 for his book A Prince of Our Disorder at T.E. lorenzo.
22. Stanley Kunitz (1905 – 2006)
stanley kunitz was a poet laureate, translator, and editor. He earned his degree from Harvard in 1927. Some notable works by Stanley Kunitz include The Seamless Coat, The Wild Braid: A Poet Reflects on a Century in the Garden, The Trial Tree, and many more.
21. John F. Kennedy (1917 – 1963)
john fitzgerald kennedy, also known as jfk, was a journalist, politician, author, and the 35th president of the united states who attended harvard in 1940. he was a young president and very popular in the media. He received the Pulitzer Prize for his book Profiles of Courage in which jfk praised some US senators for their courage and bravery in defying popular opinion and doing what they saw as right and ethical.
20. roberto coles
Robert Coles is a Harvard University professor, child psychiatrist, and author. As a resident, he spent much of his time at Harvard University and other college-affiliated institutions. In 1973, Coles received the Pulitzer Prize for his nonfiction. Coles is ranked 20th on our list of the most famous Harvard students of all time.
19. joseph e. murray
A famous plastic surgeon and winner of the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine in 1990, Murray received his degree from Harvard in 1943. He performed the first kidney transplant on twin brothers in 1954. He won the Nobel Prize for his brilliant discoveries related to the “transplantation of organs and cells in the treatment of human diseases”.
18. henry kissinger
diplomat, politician, and geopolitical expert, henry kissinger earned his doctorate in government from harvard. He also served as a member of the university’s faculty from 1951 to 1971. Kissinger played an active role in helping to end hostilities in the Vietnam War. For these services he was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1973.
17. to the gore
albert arnold gore is the 45th vice president of the united states. by profession, he is an environmentalist, author and politician. Al Gore attended Harvard University in 1965. Gore was greatly influenced by global warming theorist and oceanographer Roger Revelle during his days at Harvard. Later in his life, he worked diligently as an environmentalist, earning him the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize.
16. t. yes eliot
thomas stearns eliot is a well-known literary figure of the 20th century. his modernist poetry is included in academic books. He studied at Harvard between 1909 and 1914. Eliot received several awards and honors for his writings, including the Order of Merit (1948), the Presidential Medal of Freedom (1948), the Officier de la Légion d’honneur (1951) and more. Elliot is ranked 16th on our list of the most famous Harvard students of all time.
15. zuckerberg brand
the popular social networking platform facebook (nasdaq: fb) was the brainchild of zuckerberg. he co-created the website while studying at harvard for team interactions. Today, Facebook has 2.85 billion users. There are many other founders of social media platforms, but they could not receive as much popularity as Zuckerberg did. the world considered him the youngest self-made billionaire in 2007.
ironically, zuckerberg never got to finish his studies at harvard.
14. barack obama
well, obama needs no introduction. he is the forty-fourth president of the country. he went to harvard in 1988 and became the first black chairman of the harvard law review. For his services, Obama received the Nobel Peace Prize in 2009.
13. damien chazelle
winner of an academy award for the famous film, la la land, chazelle studied at harvard. he is one of the most popular directors and screenwriters of his time. his dream project, la la land, was nominated for 14 awards and won 6 of them. Chazelle’s other wonders include movies like Whiplash, First Man among others. Chazelle is ranked 13th on our list of the most famous Harvard students of all time.
12. william mcpherson allen
willian mcpherson allen was the head of the world famous aviation company, the boeing company (nyse: ba). A Harvard graduate, Allen had extensive experience in the aviation industry. This experience proved highly beneficial to Boeing, as in 1952 he made the popular “bet on the company” plan and authorized the production of the 367-80 by the Boeing Company (NYSE: BA). He also launched other famous planes like Boeing 707, Boeing 727, Boeing 737 and Boeing 747.
11. J. paul austin
Former President, Chairman and CEO of The Coca-Cola Company (NYSE: KO), John Paul Austin was the driving force behind the success of the world-famous beverage. in 1940, he went to harvard to complete his law degree and joined the coca-cola company (nyse: ko) in 1950. during his tenure, austin expanded the company’s exports into territories it didn’t even have good relations with America. Austin is ranked 11th on our list of the most famous Harvard students of all time.
10. matt damon
Academy award winner, producer, and actor, Matt Damon is also a Harvardian. Ranked as the “most profitable star,” Damon’s films have almost never failed at the box office. This goodwill hunting star went to Harvard but left his incomplete title to complete his film Geronimo: An American Legend.
9. margaret atwood
margaret atwood is a novelist, poet, critic, inventor, teacher, and essayist. She graduated from Harvard in 1962. She has produced 18 poetry books, 18 novels, 11 nonfiction books, 9 short story collections, and two graphic novels since her college days. atwood is ranked seventh on our list of the most famous harvard students of all time.
atwood has won several awards and accolades, including the arthur c. clarke award, princess of asturias awards and two booker awards. many of her masterpieces have been adapted for television, theater and film.
8. harold stanley marcus
harold s. Marcus was the President and CEO of the famous luxury retail department store, Neiman Marcus in Texas. After earning his MBA degree in 1926, he began working as a floor attendant at his department store.
Marcus is of great importance in the history of American retail and marketing. he wrote many notable books on retailing. He also served as a columnist for the Dallas Morning News.
7. Theodore Roosevelt
the 26th president of america, theodore roosevelt, was also a harvard alumnus. Before assuming the presidency in September 1901, he assumed the vice presidency of the country for a brief period (from March to September 1901). he also served as an active colonel in the country’s army in 1898.
theodore was the driving force behind the completion of the panama canal. He graduated from Harvard in 1880 and served as editor of Harvard magazine. As a student, Roosevelt also showed a keen interest in boxing and rowing. He became a runner-up boxer in a boxing finish held at Harvard. Roosevelt is seventh on our list of the most famous Harvard students of all time.
6. bill gates
although bill gates dropped out of harvard university, he earned an international reputation for his advances in the field of technology. Gates, a software developer, author, and business tycoon, is very famous for his aggressive business approaches and strategies that made him one of the richest people in the world. gates is ranked sixth on our list of the most famous harvard students of all time.
Today, Harvard graduates go on to create companies like Berkshire Hathaway (NYSE: BRK-A), Microsoft Corporation (NASDAQ: MSFT), Facebook, Inc. common stocks (nasdaq: fb), the boeing company (nyse: ba), the coca cola company (nyse: ko), and the daily journal corporation (nasdaq: djco) and leading the world into new technology, just as gates did decades ago .
co-founder of microsoft corporation (nasdaq: msft), bill gates is considered the pioneer of the computer revolution in the 1970s.
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Disclosure: No holdings in Berkshire Hathaway (NYSE: BRK-A), Microsoft Corporation (NASDAQ: MSFT), Facebook, Inc. common stock (nasdaq: fb), 21st century fox corporation (nasdaq: foxa), news corporation (nasdaq: nwsa), boeing company (nyse: ba), coca cola company (nyse: ko), and daily journal corporation (nasdaq: nwsa ) djco). 33 Most Famous Harvard Students Of All TimeOriginally published on insider monkey.