Famous people with a psychology degree

A psychology degree doesn’t have to lead to a career as a psychologist. In fact, it can lead to fame, stardom or infamy. Or at least, it preceded one or more of these things for the following people…

Hugh Hefner

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Doing OK for himself, it seems. © Glenn Francis, www.PacificProDigital.com

Hugh Hefner is not just tits. He is not just ass. Yes, he is these things, but the Playboy founder also graduated from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign with a B.A. in psychology. He also studied for qualifications in creative writing and women and gender studies. These seem pretty relevant, I wonder how the psychology came into play?

Natalie Portman

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Wow. Photo: makoto2007

Natalie Portman enrolled at Harvard to study psychology after her career had taken off. She was involved in the Star Wars prequels at the time (1999), and graduated in 2003. “I don’t care if [college] ruins my career,” she told the New York Times, “I’d rather be smart than a movie star.” Well since a Golden Globe for best supporting actress came the year after that, it looks like she managed to have her cake and eat it too. She’s also credited in a research paper, “Frontal Lobe Activation during Object Permanence: Data from Near-Infrared Spectroscopy,” under Natalie Hershlag (it’s Hebrew).

Gloria Estafan


Admit it, you love ’80s music!

With seven Grammy awards and over 90 million albums sold worldwide, Havana-born Gloria María Milagrosa Fajardo García de Estefan is certainly a talented and popular lady. But she’s also smart, graduating in 1979 with a B.A. in Psychology, with a minor in French, from the University of Miami. So unlike Miss Portman, Mrs Estefan completed her degree before hitting the limelight.

Jon Stewart

Best known for The Daily Show, American satirist, author, actor and comedian Jon Stewart majored in psychology at the College of William & Mary in Virginia. You can see a bit of the critical thinker in him in the video above, too.

Ted Bundy

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Killer Bundy’s 1975 Utah mug shot

When serial killers are shown in film and TV, they are sometimes portrayed as cool, self-aware characters with a hidden secret, maybe a little eccentric but generally fit in OK. In reality, this isn’t always the case, although Ted Bundy comes close to that model, fitting into what the FBI define as an ‘organised’ serial killer. Bundy attended Seattle’s University of Washington. Reportedly well liked by his professors, he graduated with a degree in psychology in 1972.