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The 5 Most Most Common Ph.Ds Held by American Billionaires: Report

Here's what some of the most wealthy Americans studied before they became successful.

BOSTON, MA - MARCH 5: Extra's dressed up as Yale graduates outside the Harvard Club.  "The Tender Bar" (directed by George Clooney) was filming Friday morning in the Back Bay at the Harvard Club of Boston. (Photo by David L. Ryan/The Boston Globe via Getty Images) Boston Globe via Getty Images

The story of the young entrepreneur who dropped out of college to earned millions is a well-worn myth in the tech world. It’s so ubiquitous that sometimes it’s easy to forget that education is actually a very important factor in determining how much wealth a person can accrue over a lifetime. 

Forbes has been tracking habits of the richest people in the world, uncovering the factors that lead high earners to the upper-most reaches of the tax bracket. Education, it turns out, matters. The publication has compiled a list of the most common Ph.Ds held by American billionaires on its real-time ranking system. While formal education isn’t the sole determinant of anyone’s earning potential, some of the country’s wealthiest show that an investment in post-graduate education—especially in the sciences—can pay lifelong dividends. Here is a list of the top five Ph.Ds held by American billionaires, according to the report.

1. Engineering

Engineering is an interdisciplinary study that uses math, science as well as business acumen to solve problems, according to U.S. News & World Report. Eric Schmidt, the CEO of Google studied electrical engineering and computer science for his doctorate in 1982, Forbes reported.

2. Computer Science

Computer science is the study of how to develop computer systems that more adequately meet the needs of people, according to the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Billionaire Charles Simonyi, an early Microsoft employee who helped create Word and Excel programs, has a Ph.D. in computer science.

2. Biology (Tie)

Biology is the study of functions and characteristics of living things; studies in the field often prepare people for careers in health or environmental disciplines, according to U.S. News & World Report. Patrick Hanrahan, cofounder of software firm Tableau, has a doctorate in the field.  

4. Chemistry

If you want to understand the world of atoms, molecules, solids, and processes that govern how compounds change states, a Ph.D. is the discipline for you, according to MIT. Frank Laukien, CEO of scientific instruments maker Bruker Corp., has a chemical physics doctorate. 

5. Physics

Physics is the study of the laws that govern the motion of matter, making it one of the fundamental disciplines of all sciences, according to Yale. Fisk Johnson III obtained a Ph.D. in physics before becoming chairman and CEO of SC Johnson, a company that manufactures household cleaning products.

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