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The basics
THE USA: Career Prospects

Notable alumni who studied at US universities

Who studied at university in the US before finding success in their careers? We investigate.

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We explore some of the most notable alumni who studied abroad in the U.S. including presidents, filmmakers, and leading business owners. Hopefully this will get you feeling inspired to research universities in the U.S. and find out more about the route’s that others have taken before you. With this article, you will find out what these successful people studied at university, how many qualifications they gained and where their degrees have led them. They were all once international students too.


Now, although you might not be destined to rule a country, you can still gain unique insights into the educational backgrounds of these high-flying individuals, helping you to carve out your own steps and fuel your ambition.


Harvard University

Juan Manuel Santos (Colombia)

The former president of Colombia (2010-2018), Juan Manuel Santos moved to the states for his BA in economics and business at the University of Kansas in 1973. He then travelled to the UK to study economics, economic development, and public administration at the London School of Economics. He chose to continue his studies at Harvard University as a Fulbright Scholarship fellow where he studied a master’s in public administration before returning to Colombia to work as editor for the newspaper, El Tiempo.


Columbia University

Mohammad Ashraf Ghani (Afghanistan)

The current president of Afghanistan, Ashraf Ghani began his academic journey with a bachelor’s degree in anthropology at the American University of Beirut. He was also a recipient of the Fulbright scholarship, enabling him to study a master’s at Columbia University in New York. Following this, he chose to remain at Columbia to pursue a PhD. Ghani then taught at institutions in the U.S. before moving back to Afghanistan to work as finance minister and chancellor of Kabul University.    


University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

Ang Lee (Taiwan)

A Taiwanese filmmaker, producer and screenwriter known for his work on films such as Brokeback Mountain, Sense and Sensibility and Life of Pi. Before working on globally successful productions, Ang studied a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Theatre at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign followed by a masters in film production at New York University. He is also the first person of Asian heritage to win an Oscar, Golden Globe and BAFTA for Best Director.


Kentucky State University

Yingluck Shinawatra (Thailand)

Thailand’s first female prime minister, also known as Pou, Yingluck was appointed after the 2011 election. She gained her bachelor’s degree from Chiang Mai University before going to the USA to study a master’s degree in public administration at Kentucky State University.


Tufts University

Shashi Tharoor (India)

Indian politician, diplomat, and writer, Shashi Tharoor studied a BA in history at the University of Delhi where he was also president of the Student Union. He then went to the USA to study international relations at Tufts University in Massachusetts. Shashi continued to build upon his knowledge with a PhD in international relations and affairs which he was awarded at the age of just 22, the youngest person to receive a doctorate at the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy.


Northwestern University

Roshni Nadar (India)

An Indian businesswoman, Roshni Nadar runs a company called HCL technologies, and is the first woman to lead a listed IT company in India. In 2019, she ranked 4th in the Forbes’ list of the World’s 100 Most Powerful Women. She studied her undergraduate degree in communication with a focus on film, television, and radio at Northwestern University before obtaining a Master of Business Administration (MBA) from the Kellogg School of Management.


Georgetown University

King Felipe (Spain)

The current King of Spain was crowned in 2014 following the abdication of his father Juan Carlos l. Felipe studied law in 1993 at the Autonomous University of Madrid while also exploring his interests in economics. He then graduated with a master of science in foreign service in 1995 from Georgetown University in Washington D.C.


As you can see, universities in the USA attract ambitious individuals who go on to achieve great and interesting things. From prestigious institutions to inspiring lecturers, the USA is a popular choice for international students looking to boost their skills and gradate with positive employment prospects.


You could be next! Use our course matcher tool to find the right degree and university for you.


Study in the USA


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