1. Larry Page, Co-founder and CEO, Google
Degree: B.S. in Engineering from the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor; M.S. in Computer Science from Stanford University.
Page, who was born in East Lansing, Michigan, co-founded Google, the world’s most popular search engine, as a research project while in school at Stanford. “Google” refers to the mathematical term “googol” – which is the number one followed by 100 zeros. After forming Google parent company Alphabet in October 2015 as part of a corporate restructuring, Page is now the CEO of Alphabet, while Sundar Pichai is the CEO of Google.
2. Mark Parker, President and CEO, Nike
Degree: B.S. in Political Science from Penn State University.
A native of Poughkeepsie, New York, Parker also ran track at Penn State. He started his career at Nike as a shoe designer. Subsequent roles at the company included Vice President of Consumer Product Marketing, Vice President of Global Footwear and Co-President of the Nike brand.
3. Warren Buffet, Chairman and CEO, Berkshire, Hathaway
Degree: B.S. in Business Administration from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln; MBA in Economics from Columbia Business School.
Investing is a family trait Buffet inherited from his father, a stockbroker and U.S. congressman, in his hometown of Omaha, Nebraska. At the age of 11, Buffet made his first investment, and by the age of 13 he was selling horse racing tip sheets and operating a paper delivery service.
4. Tim Cook, CEO, Apple
Degree: B.S. in Industrial Engineering from Auburn University; MBA from Duke University.
Born in Mobile, Alabama, Cook’s prior stints include North American fulfillment Director at IBM
and COO at Intelligent Electronics. He was also Vice-President of Corporate Materials at the Compaq Computer Corporation.
5. Satya Nadella, CEO, Microsoft
Degree: B.S. in Electrical Engineering from the Manipal Institute of Technology; M.S. degree in Computer Science at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee; MBA from the University of Chicago Booth School of Business.
Nadella, who hails from Hyderabad, India, has held many positions at Microsoft, including Executive Vice-President of Cloud and Enterprise, and Senior Vice-President of Research and Development for the Online Services Division. He also worked at Sun Microsystems as a member of the technology staff.
6. Jeremy Stoppelman, Co-Founder and CEO, Yelp
Degree: B.S. in Computer Engineering from the University of Illinois.
This Arlington, Virginia native originally attended college to become a video game developer. He later became Vice President of Engineering at PayPal before co-founding Yelp. Stoppelman is known for his management style: instead of an office, he sits at a desk among his employees.
7. Howard Shultz, Executive Chairman, Starbucks
Degree: B.A. in Communications at Northern Michigan University.
Shultz, who hails from Brooklyn, New York, attended college on a football scholarship. His first job at Starbucks was as Director of Retail Operations and Marketing. Three years later, he left the company and started his own coffee bar chain, II Gionale, and two years after that, he purchased Starbucks and merged it with II Gionale. He was previously the CEO of Starbucks but resigned in April 2017 and became Executive Chairman. Kevin Johnson took over as CEO.
8. Bob Iger, Chairman and CEO, The Walt Disney Company
Degree: B.S. in Television & Radio from Ithaca College (magna cum laude).
A native New Yorker, Iger was formerly chairman of Disney’s ABC Group, and President of Walt Disney International. In 2014, He was named CEO of the Year by Chief Executive Magazine and under his leadership, Disney acquired Pixar, Marvel and Lucasfilm.
9. Doug McMillon, President and CEO, Wal-Mart Stores
Degree: B.S. in Business Administration from the University of Arkansas; MBA in Finance from the University of Tulsa.
McMillon, a native of Jonesboro, Arkansas, began his career at Walmart as a summer associate at the company’s distribution center. He was also an assistant manager and a buyer trainee. Before he took the reins at Walmart Stores, McMillon was President and CEO of Sam’s Club, and also President and then CEO of Walmart International.
10. Meg Whitman, Chairman, President, and CEO, Hewlett Packard (HP)
Degree: B.S. in Economics from Princeton University; MBA from Harvard Business School.
This Long Island, New York native graduated from high school in just three years. Formerly, Whitman was Brand Manager at Proctor & Gamble, and also worked at Bain & Company, Disney, Hasbro, and FTD, before serving as CEO of eBay for 10 years.
11. John S. Watson, Chairman of the Board and Chief Executive Officer, Chevron
Degree: B.A. in Agricultural Economics from the University of California, Davis; MBA from the University of Chicago Booth School of Business.
Watson, a native Californian, was initially hired as a financial analyst for Chevron. Some of his other roles at the company include Vice Chairman of the Board, Executive Vice President for Strategy and Development, and President of Chevron International Exploration and Production.
12. Jeff Bezos, Founder and CEO, Amazon
Degree: B.S. in Computer Science and Electrical Engineering at Princeton University (summa cum laude).
Born in Albuquerque, New Mexico, Bezos and his family moved to Miami when he was a teenager. While in high school, Bezos launched his first business, the Dream Institute, which was an educational summer camp for fourth through sixth graders. Bezos also purchased The Washington Post in 2013.
The Bottom Line
America’s top CEOs have degrees in a variety of majors. Each leader has a strong academic background that helped them develop discipline, inventiveness and analytical skills. Those who pursued an MBA increased their business acumen while honing their management and leadership skills.