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Where America's Top CEOs Went to School

Delece Smith-Barrow

Brian Krzanich is either having a really good month or a really bad month, depending on how career success is defined.

After joining the technology giant, Intel, more than two decades ago, he finally became chief executive officer on May 16. His promotion came days after the company's drop on the newest Fortune 500 list -- from 51 to 54 -- was announced. The annual list by Fortune magazine ranks U.S. companies based on their gross revenue.

It's not uncommon for the rankings of Fortune 500 companies to fluctuate year to year. What's more predictable is that their CEOs will have an eclectic academic career.

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Krzanich, who obtained a bachelor's degree in chemical engineering, is one of at least 61 top CEOs who did not get an MBA, according to a U.S. News analysis. Those who did mostly preferred Ivy League schools: Seven graduated from Harvard University, four graduated from the University of Pennsylvania, two got diplomas from Cornell University and one received the b-school degree from Columbia University.

U.S. News looked at the educational background of the CEOs from the top 100 companies on the Fortune 500 list. School data for three CEOs could not be confirmed.

Princeton University does not have a business school, but is the undergraduate alma mater for at least three CEOs on the list. Harvard had more than twice as many undergrad alums, making it the leading institution for awarding undergraduate degrees to Fortune 100 CEOs.

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Of the 100 CEOs, seven graduated from law school. About a dozen received degrees overseas from Australia, France, Switzerland and other countries.

A few business executives came short of getting degrees from some of the most competitive schools in the U.S.

Lawrence Ellison dropped out of the University of Chicago and went on to become CEO of Oracle, a hardware and software engineering company. Michael Dell is CEO of the company that carries his name, which is famous for making computers, but dropped out of the University of Texas --Austin.

And Steven Ballmer, CEO of Microsoft, made it through undergrad at Harvard but didn't complete business school at Stanford University, which ties with Harvard for No. 1 in the U.S. News business school rankings.

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This year's Fortune list only included eight women CEOs from some of the most prominent businesses in the U.S. Less than half of them received an MBA.

A table highlighting schools that awarded at least three degrees to the Fortune 100 CEOs is below. The rank of their undergraduate program, graduate business school and law school are also included. The table is sorted by total number of degrees awarded per institution.

School name (state) Total degrees Undergraduate degrees Graduate degrees U.S. News undergraduate rank U.S. News business school rank U.S. News law school rank
Harvard University (MA) 21 7 14 1 1 2
Cornell University (NY) 7 3 4 15 16 13
University of Pennsylvania 6 1 5 8 3 7
Massachusetts Institute of Technology 4 1 3 6 4 N/A*
Northwestern University (IL) 4 1 3 12 4 12
Stanford University (CA) 4 2 2 6 1 2
Yale University (CT) 4 3 1 3 13 1
Columbia University (NY) 3 0 3 4 8 4
Princeton University (NJ) 3 3 0 1 N/A N/A
Southern Methodist University (TX) 3 0 3 58 52 48
University of Kansas 3 2 1 106 RNP** 86
University of Notre Dame (IN) 3 2 1 17 27 23
University of Utah 3 1 2 125 61 41

Sources: Company websites, Fortune Magazine, Bloomberg BusinessWeek, Forbes, Wall Street Journal, Fox News, The White House, Arkansas Business Journal, Motley Fool, New York Times, Market Watch, Chicago Tribune, Reuters, San Jose Mercury News, Washington Business Journal, ABC News, college and university websites.

*N/A indicates no program offered.

**RNP denotes a school with a numerical rank that U.S. News calculated but has not published.

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