Natalie Portman has always been extremely committed to her education and even skipped the premiere of Star Wars: The Phantom Menace to study for her exams. Did she ever end up getting one of the most advanced academic degrees out there – a PhD?
Natalie Portman doesn’t have a PhD. She graduated from Harvard University with a bachelor’s degree in psychology but never pursued a higher degree.
Keep reading if you want to know more about Portman’s educational background, and learn the names of several celebrities who have a PhD.
Natalie Portman’s Time at Harvard
Natalie Portman was only 12 when she secured the role in Léon: The Professional and this movie opened many doors for her. She was later cast as Padmé Amidala in the Star Wars prequel trilogy but didn’t let that stop her from pursuing higher education.
Portman reportedly skipped the world premiere of Star Wars: The Phantom Menace so she could study for her finals and it paid off big time. She was accepted into Harvard University, where she received a bachelor’s degree in psychology.
The Oscar-winning star only accepted a handful of projects during the early 2000s because she wanted to focus on her studies. Her decision took many people by surprise, but it was crucial for her to have a “normal” college experience after years of being in the spotlight.
Portman reflected on her Harvard experience in a moving commencement speech from 2015 and admitted that she struggled and feared that people will judge her for being famous.
“Today I feel much like I did when I came to Harvard Yard as a freshman in 1999. I felt like there had been some mistake, that I wasn’t smart enough to be in this company, and that every time I opened my mouth I would have to prove that I wasn’t just a dumb actress.”
Portman dealt with insecurities and depression but managed to find her footing, make new friends, and enjoy her time at college. She graduated from Harvard in 2003 and later took graduate courses at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem.
Many people attending this Ivy League university went on to do big things, and Portman had a chance to brush shoulders with a few of them. During an appearance on Stephen Colbert’s show, Portman recalled being “friendly” with Jared Kushner and said that she was a senior when Mark Zuckerberg started attending Harvard.
Celebrities with a PhD
PhD is the most advanced academic degree out there, and not many Hollywood stars can say that they have it – but they do exist.
Mayim Bialik, who became a household name thanks to the role of neurobiologist Amy Farrah Fowler on The Big Bang Theory, is equally brainy in real life. She attended UCLA and got a PhD in neuroscience.
Brian May is another beloved celebrity with a PhD, but his work with Queen stopped him from completing it in a reasonable time. He started working towards his doctorate in astrophysics at Imperial College London in 1971 and finally completed the work in 2007.
Frontmen of several iconic punk bands also have PhDs. Milo Aukerman (The Descendents) studied biology at the UC San Diego, Greg Graffin (Bad Religion) got his PhD in zoology from Cornell, while Dexter Holland (The Offspring) attained a PhD in molecular biology from the University of Southern California.
It’s important to note that PhD (short for a Doctor of Philosophy) isn’t the only doctorate degree out there. Several celebrities excelled in other academic fields, such as medicine (Ken Jeong and Michael Crichton) and education (Shaquille O’Neal).
Some Hollywood stars tried to get a PhD but failed to complete their thesis. That’s the case with the X-Files actor David Duchovny, who previously earned his Master’s degree in English literature from Yale. James Franco also studied towards a PhD in English at Yale, but his thesis is yet to see the light of day.