Oscar Night Nominees Included Many College Dropouts

Last Updated Mar 8, 2010 11:54 AM EST

Do you need a college degree to do well in Hollywood?
Apparently not. At least that's what I concluded when I looked at the educational background of the top 2010 Academy Award nominees, who born in either the United States or Canada.

Only two of the five directors in last night's best director category graduated from college. None of the nominees in the best actor in a leading role category graduated from a four-year college.

As for the silly belief that you need an Ivy League degree to reach the pinnacle of success in any career, just take a look at where the nominees attended college -- if they did -- and make your own conclusion:

Best Director


Kathryn Bigelow, who won the best director Oscar, graduated from San Francisco Art institute. She obtained a master's degree in a graduate film program at Columbia University.

Lee Louis Daniels attended Lindenwood University in St. Charles, (MO), but did not graduate.

Jason Reitman majored in English/creative writing at the University of Southern California.

James Cameron studied physics and English at two-year Fullerton College and then California State University, Fullerton, where he dropped out. He later received an honorary doctorate of fine arts from Cal State Fullerton.

Quentin Tarantino dropped out of Narbonne High School in Los Angeles.

Best Actor in a Leading Role


Jeff Bridges, who was the best actor winner, graduated from Palisades Charter High School (CA).

George Clooney attended Northern Kentucky University and briefly University of Cincinnati (OH), but graduated from neither.

Morgan Freeman turned down a partial drama scholarship from Jackson State University (MS) and worked as a mechanic in the Air Force.

Jeremy Renner, attended Modesto Junior College (CA), where he studied computer science, criminology and drama.

Best Actor in a Supporting Role

Matt Damon attended Harvard University (MA), but did not graduate.

Woody Harrelson graduated from Hanover College (IN) with a bachelor's degree in theater arts and English.

Christopher Plummer did not attend college.

Stanley Tucci graduated with a bachelor of fine arts degree from SUNY Purchase (NY).

Best Actress in a Leading Role

Sandra Bullock, who won the Oscar, graduated from Eastern Carolina University (NC).

Gabourey Sidibe attended Borough of Manhattan Community College (NY), City College of New York and Mercy College (NY).

Meryl Streep graduated from Vassar College (NY) and received a Master of Fine Art from Yale University (CT).

Best Actress in a Supporting Role

Mo'Nique, who won the best supporting actress Oscar, attended Morgan State University (MD).


Vera Farmiga graduated from Syracuse University's School of Visual and Performing Arts (NY).


Maggie Gyllenhaal graduated from Columbia University (NY) where she studied literature and Eastern religions.

Anna Kendrick graduated from Deering High School in Portland, Maine

Lynn O'Shaughnessy is the author of The College Solution, an Amazon bestseller, and she also writes about college at TheCollegeSolutionBlog. Follow her on Twitter.

Oscar image by Dave_B_. CC 2.0.