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Where Top Fortune 500 CEOs Attended College

Josh Moody

For many captains of industry, a college education is the first rung on the ladder to the top.

A look at the education of each CEO in the top 100 of the Fortune 500 companies this year shows a variety of backgrounds. From their days as college students to their ascent to the top of corporate leadership and management, these executives have traveled various paths to reach the same corporate heights. Their resumes include recognizable athletic powerhouses and small liberal arts schools alike.

These alma maters are a mix of public and private, with Ivy League and international schools also appearing on the list. Of the CEOs at the top 10 companies on the Fortune 500 list, eight were educated at public colleges, one at an Ivy League school and one internationally.

[See: Bachelor's Degree Jobs That Can Pay More Than $100K.]

C. Douglas McMillon, president and CEO of Walmart Inc., the top-ranked company on the Fortune 500 list, is a graduate of the University of Arkansas, where he earned a bachelor of science in business administration. McMillon began working at Walmart in 1984 to pay for college, unloading trucks at a distribution center as a high school student before eventually ascending to the top of the corporate ladder in 2014.

Among the most famous CEOs perched atop the top 10 are Warren Buffett of Berkshire Hathaway Inc. and Jeff Bezos of Amazon.com Inc. Buffett graduated from the University of Nebraska--Lincoln, and Bezos earned his degree at Princeton University in New Jersey.

Bezos is the only Ivy League graduate leading the top 10 companies, but one of 12 represented in Fortune's top 100. Among Ivy League schools, Dartmouth College in New Hampshire has produced the most CEOs on this list, with three graduates leading top 100 companies.

Steven H. Collis of AmerisourceBergen is the only international college alumnus to currently command a top 10 corporation. A graduate of the University of the Witwatersrand in South Africa, Collis is one of 15 CEOs heading a top 100 company who earned an undergraduate degree outside of the U.S.

[Read: How Studying Business, Engineering in College Can Lead to Jobs.]

While no individual school can lay claim to launching the careers of these CEOs, Texas A&M University--College Station has produced four of the CEOs in charge of the top 100 companies on the Fortune 500 list, which is the most of any college. Graduates of Texas A&M lead Exxon Mobil, the No. 3 company in the Top 500, as well as Cigna, Phillips 66 and Humana, all in or near the top 50 on the list.

This breakdown looks at undergraduate education only, though many CEOs did go on to earn advanced degrees. The table below -- which shows common alma maters of CEOs of the top 100 companies as designated by Fortune based on revenue -- does not include those who dropped out of college, such as Mark Zuckerberg of Facebook, who attended Harvard University in Massachusetts but did not graduate.

Sources: College websites, company websites, Bloomberg, Boston Business Journal, Britannica, Forbes, Fortune magazine, Horatio Alger Association, LinkedIn

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