CEO and Education

With the current university graduation rate hovering at 63%, many students may be wondering if a college degree is the key to lasting financial success. After all, did the top CEOs in the country obtain their positions through their degrees, or through perseverance or even luck?

Let’s take a look at the top ten CEOs in the United States. How high did their educations go?

1.  Warren Buffet, CEO of Berkshire Hathaway, has a net worth of $45 billion and commands a minimal annual salary of $100,000. He received his Bachelor of Science in Business Administration from the University of Nebraska and his Master’s degree in Economics from Columbia Business College.

2. Steve Ballmer, the CEO of Microsoft, has a net worth of $13.1 billion. His annual salary is $1,267,670. He graduated magna cum laudefrom Harvard University with a Bachelor’s degree in Mathematics and Economics, and later dropped out of Stanford University Graduate School of Business to join Microsoft.

3. With an estimated worth of $12.6 billion, Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos only commands an annual salary of $81,840. He graduated summa cum laude from Princeton with a Bachelor of Science degree in both Computer Science and Electrical Engineering.

4. If you’ve ever Googled someone, you might want to thank Google CEO Eric Schmidt for it. His personal worth is valued at $5.45 billion and his annual salary is in the form of an honorarium at one dollar. He graduated from Princeton with his Bachelor of Science in Electrical Engineering then earned his Masters and his Doctorate in Electrical Engineering from the University of California at Berkeley. Schmidt has the distinction of being the only CEO in the top ten with a PhD.

5. Charles Schwab, the CEO of Charles Schwab brokerage and banking firm, has a net worth of $47 billion with an annual salary is $500,000. He received his Bachelor’s degree in Economics from Stanford University and later earned his MBA from there as well.

6. CEO of his eponymous firm, Donald Trump has a net worth of $2 billion with an annual salary is around $50,000,000. His alma mater is the University of Pennsylvania, where he earned his Bachelor of Science in Economics, after transferring from Fordham University his second year.

7. The last of the top ten CEOs to have a college degree is Howard Schultz, the CEO of Starbucks. Schultz has a net worth of $1.1 billion and commands an annual baseline salary of $10,000. He received his Bachelor of Arts in Communication from Northern Michigan University.

But not all of the top ten CEOs have a college degree. In fact, there are three notable college dropouts rounding out the top ten. They include:

8. Michael Dell, who was a Pre-med student at the University of Texas before he dropped out to follow his hunch that there were greater profits to be made in selling computers directly to the public. His net worth is $14 billion, and his annual salary is $950,000.

9. Mark Zuckerberg, subject of the recent film The Social Network and CEO of Facebook, has a net worth of $6.9 billion. His annual salary is an honorarium of one dollar. He dropped out of Harvard in 2004 when Facebook took off.

10. Steve Jobs, CEO of Apple, Inc. has a net worth of $6.1 billion, and his salary is an honorarium of one dollar. He attended one semester at Reed College in Portland, Oregon, and later audited courses even after dropping out.

So of the top ten CEOs, the majority have at least a Bachelor’s degree, although a notable few never even obtained that. A few have a Master’s degree, and only one has his PhD. An education may not be a prerequisite to becoming a billionaire CEO, but it seems that having an innovative mindset and a way of bringing the people what they want plays a powerful role in each one’s success.