From education to employment

Which Universities Produce the Most Successful People?

Fredrik Högemark, CIO and founder of EMG – Educations Media Group.

It’s fair to say that for a lot of people, their first opportunity to directly influence the direction in which their lives are going is when they’re deciding what to do after they finish school. Everyone wants to succeed in life, but success can mean different things for different people.

For many, starting an apprenticeship or going straight into work is the best option if they plan on a vocational career. For people who are looking to enter into more academic employment (or who simply don’t yet know what they want to do with their lives), the better choice might be university.

Should you elect to go down this route, your next step will entail deciding on the university at which you will study. Are the universities you’re looking at right for you? How good are their reputations? Which ones will best teach you the skills you need to succeed in your ambitions?

One way you could figure out the world’s best universities is by looking at the institutions with the most financially successful graduates. A study was recently carried out by looking at just this.

They delved into the data of the 100 wealthiest billionaire university graduates (according to the Forbes 2018 Billionaires list), along with the universities from which these individuals graduated.  The results were fascinating and illuminating.

Top Ten Universities



Total Net Worth of Graduates

Number of Graduates

Average Net Worth Per University

Harvard University





Massachusetts Institute of Technology





Princeton University





Columbia University





Stanford University





Ecole Polytechnique





Shenzhen University





University of Pennsylvania





University of California, Berkeley





Wuhan University





Listed above are the Top Ten universities based on the total net worth of their billionaire graduates. First place goes to Harvard university with a total net worth of $217bn (a somewhat unsurprising result considering its stellar reputation). However, the average net worth of its billionaire alumni isn’t as high when compared to others, finding itself in 7th place with $27.2bn.

In general, the higher-ranking universities have higher averages, but there are a few noticeable exceptions. As well as Harvard’s aforementioned low average, the University of Pennsylvania also ranks lower down in this regard, coming 10th despite having a higher total net worth than the University of California and Wuhan University.

All the universities in the Top Ten list have more than one billionaire graduate to their name, with the top five all having a minimum of three. Harvard stands out once again with a total of 8 billionaire alumni.

The absence of any UK universities is glaringly obvious. World famous institutions like the University of Oxford and the University of Cambridge are both present in the Top 100 but didn’t manage to make it into the Top Ten.

In fact, the range of nations that the universities are based in across the Top Ten as a whole are fairly limited: one is French, two are Chinese and seven are American.

Top 100 Graduates

Let’s pick out a few interesting results from the Top 100 billionaire graduates list in the data visualisation.

The university with the highest average net worth is Princeton University. From the Top 100 list, we can see that this average is caused by the wealth of Jeff Bezos, the owner of Amazon and the richest billionaire on Forbes’ 2018 billionaire list. His net worth, totalling at a massive £82.8bn ($112bn), singlehandedly drags Princeton up to the top in terms of average net worth.

The nation with the highest number of universities and billionaire graduates in the list is undoubtedly the US, with 2nd and 3rd place going to China and Russia respectively.

The piece is dotted with billionaires that have been to more than one university – this includes individuals such as Warren Buffet who went to both the University of Nebraska Lincoln and the University of Columbia, and Michael Bloomberg who went to both John Hopkins University as well as Harvard. However, there are far more billionaires that only graduated from one university.

Around two thirds of the graduates on the list are self-made individuals when it comes to the source of their wealth, indicating that you don’t need to be born into money to find success (of course there’s no denying that it can certainly help). Bezos himself, the highest earning individual on the list, was self-made.

Fredrik Högemark, CIO and founder of EMG – Educations Media Group. 

About Educations Media Group (EMG): Today, EMG is the market leader of education marketing and operates the world’s largest search engines for education and training.

With the vision of helping everyone in the world find the right education, they partner with over 4,000 education providers and help over two million students in their search for education each month.

For more detailed information on the universities and their graduates (for instance, the kinds of education each graduate received while at their respective universities) click here.

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