22 Billionaires Who Didn’t Go to College

Billionaires Who Didn’t Go to College: Around one-third of the world’s billionaires didn’t go to college. Some of them even started college but left before completing.

Many people know stories about rich business people like Bill Gates and Mark Zuckerberg who made billions without finishing college. People often use these stories to argue that going to college isn’t that important. But not every billionaire has a story like these tech guys. In reality, most millionaires today have at least one college degree, and some even have more than one. To be specific, about one-third of the around 2,700 billionaires in the world didn’t go to college.

But within this group of self-made millionaires, various success stories show you can do well without a college degree. Today, we’ll be exploring the stories of these exceptional individuals.

These are 22 billionaires who didn’t go to college:

  • Ted Turner
  •  Russell Simmons
  •  Bill Gates
  •  Richard Branson
  •  Michael Dell
  •  Ralph Lauren
  •  Jay-Z
  •  Amancio Ortega
  •  François Pinault
  •  Mark Zuckerberg
  •  Giorgio Armani
  •  Kanye West
  •  Kim Kardashian
  •  Jan Koum
  •  Jack Dorsey
  •  Rihanna
  •  Roman Abramovich
  •  Larry Ellison
  •  David Geffen
  •  LeBron James
  •  Steve Jobs
  •  Henrique Dubugras

Ted Turner

Billionaires Who Didn’t Go to College

Ted Turner, a key figure in the broadcasting industry, is famous for creating TV networks like CNN, Cartoon Network, and Turner Network Television (TNT). In his youth, Turner planned to join the U.S. Naval Academy but opted for Brown University instead.

He left Brown before graduating due to an incident with a female in his dorm room. Despite this setback, Turner worked diligently at his father’s advertising company, eventually taking it over and transforming it into a highly successful venture.

Ted Turner’s estimated net worth is $2.3 billion.

Russell Simmons

Billionaires Who Didn’t Go to College

Russell Simmons, a skilled music producer and co-founder of Def Jam Recordings, is well-known among hip-hop fans who enjoy classic rap. He played a significant role in boosting the careers of renowned musicians like Run-DMC, LL Cool J, and The Beastie Boys.

While majoring in sociology at the City College of New York, Simmons didn’t complete college. Instead, he focused on his music career, helping artists secure record deals. Beyond music, he has successful ventures in financial services and several apparel lines.

Russell Simmons’ estimated net worth is $340 million.

Bill Gates

Billionaires Who Didn’t Go to College

Bill Gates, the co-founder of Microsoft, is often mentioned as one of the richest people globally, with around $110 billion in estimated wealth. After stepping down as the company’s CEO in 2000, Bill Gates has focused a lot on giving back through the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. By 2022, the foundation had given $65.6 billion to support various charities. [Billionaires Who Didn’t Go to College]

Even though Bill Gates started at Harvard College in 1973, he only stayed for two years. He left to start Microsoft with his Harvard buddy, Steve Ballmer, who lived nearby in their sophomore dorm. In a 1994 interview, Bill Gates talked about leaving college, saying, “If things didn’t work out with Microsoft, I could always go back to school.”

Also read: Did Bill Gates Ever Go to College or Finish High School?

Richard Branson

Billionaires Who Didn’t Go to College

Richard Branson is the founder of the Virgin Group, a conglomerate with over 400 businesses. Some well-known examples include Virgin Mobile, Virgin Galactic, and Virgin Atlantic. Aside from his business success, Branson is famous for his unique personality, often capturing public attention with his outspoken nature.

Also read: Did Steve Jobs Ever Go to College or High School?

In high school, Branson wasn’t considered an outstanding student. He believed that traditional schooling could limit creativity, and he often criticized the formal education system. When he dropped out, a teacher predicted that he would either become a millionaire or end up in prison. The prediction wasn’t entirely accurate—Richard Branson didn’t become a multimillionaire; he became a billionaire with a net worth of $4.2 billion.

Michael Dell

Billionaires Who Didn’t Go to College

Michael Dell, the founder and CEO of Dell Technologies, is one of the wealthiest people globally, with an estimated net worth of $53.2 billion. He kickstarted his business at the age of 19 with around $1000 in his college dorm room and turned it into the tech giant it is today. [Billionaires Who Didn’t Go to College]

Although Dell attended Texas University, he quickly lost interest in the educational process. “I wanted out almost as soon as I got to college,” he mentioned in his 2019 University of Texas commencement speech. With a business already launched and expanding rapidly, college seemed like a distraction at the time.

Ralph Lauren

Billionaires Who Didn’t Go to College

Ralph Lauren, the creator of the widely recognized Ralph Lauren Corporation, a fashion brand spanning home furnishings, apparel, and accessories, is one of the most iconic names in the industry. Many consider the Ralph Lauren Corporation among the most successful fashion companies globally and in the United States. Lauren, with a net worth of $6.7 billion, holds the position of executive chairman at Ralph Lauren Corporation.

Although Ralph Lauren spent two years studying business in college, he left to join the army. Regarding not attending a formal design school, Lauren mentioned, “I never went to fashion school, but I had a passion for something that I felt inside of me that I was able to express through clothes.”


Billionaires Who Didn’t Go to College

Jay-Z, one of the most successful rappers and businessmen ever, isn’t just known for his 24 Grammy Awards in music but also for his thriving business ventures. One standout is Roc Nation, a widely recognized and successful entertainment company that represents major figures in music, sports, and fashion. Jay-Z has also delved into various other industries, including luxury drinks, real estate, and streaming services. [Billionaires Who Didn’t Go to College]

Jay-Z, the first-ever hip-hop billionaire, boasts a net worth of $1.3 billion. Surprisingly, he never studied business or related subjects during his academic journey. In fact, Jay-Z didn’t finish high school; he opted to fully focus on his music career instead.

Amancio Ortega

Billionaires Who Didn’t Go to College

Amancio Ortega, often considered one of Europe and the world’s wealthiest individuals with a net worth of $59.9 billion, is the founder of the Spanish fashion conglomerate Inditex. This conglomerate owns popular labels like Massimo Dutti, Bershka, and Zara.

Ortega faced early challenges in his childhood due to his family’s financial situation. At the age of 13, he left school and began working in a nearby clothing store. This experience provided him with valuable insights into the apparel industry. Remaining in the business, Ortega went on to establish Zara, which has become one of the world’s most successful fast fashion brands.

Even though Amancio Ortega didn’t go to college, he still believes in education. He often gives money to colleges and programs that provide scholarships.

François Pinault

Billionaires Who Didn’t Go to College

François Pinault started Kering, a company that owns fancy brands like Gucci and Balenciaga. He’s also the honorary chairman. Right now, Pinault and his family have a net worth of $37.3 billion.

Pinault finished high school in Rennes at 16, but he left because of bullying. Ironically, his “peasant accent” from growing up in rural France was what led to the bullying. [Billionaires Who Didn’t Go to College]

In 1963, Pinault started his first business, selling lumber. Over time, it grew into one of the most successful luxury companies globally: Kering.

Also read: Did Lebron James Ever Go to College or Finish High School

Mark Zuckerberg

Billionaires Who Didn’t Go to College

Mark Zuckerberg created Facebook, the biggest social network with over 2.9 billion monthly users. He’s worth $61.5 billion, making him one of the richest guys globally.

Zuckerberg went to Harvard College. Funny enough, Harvard students were the first to use Facebook to connect. But he didn’t stay long; he left in his second year to focus on Facebook.

Giorgio Armani

Billionaires Who Didn’t Go to College

Italian fashion icon Giorgio Armani established the Armani brand, known for everything from clothes to cosmetics. Armani is one of the most well-known names in the fashion world, making its founder, Giorgio Armani, a billionaire with a net worth of $6.7 billion.

Interestingly, Armani didn’t start out wanting to be a fashion designer. He spent two years studying medicine at the University of Bologna but left when he realized a medical career wasn’t his calling. Among other things, he couldn’t stand the sight of blood—definitely not ideal for a doctor.

After that, Armani began working as a window dresser for a retail store. It was during this time that his passion for fashion design ignited. Fueled by this newfound passion, Armani went on to pursue his dream of becoming a designer and eventually founded one of the most successful fashion companies in the world.

Kanye West

Billionaires Who Didn’t Go to College

Kanye West, one of the most beloved musicians, has a net worth of $2 billion, primarily from his luxury sneaker brand Yeezy, which played a significant role in popularizing “sneaker culture.” Despite his successful music career, Yeezy has been a major contributor to his wealth. [Billionaires Who Didn’t Go to College]

West initially attempted to major in both English and art in college but left at the age of 20. His decision to drop out initially upset his mother, an English professor. However, she later recognized that not all career paths require a college education, stating, “It was drilled into my head that a college education is the key to a happy life, but some career aspirations don’t require a college education.”

Kim Kardashian

Billionaires Who Didn’t Go to College

Kim Kardashian, an American businesswoman, socialite, model, and reality TV personality, gained fame through her appearance on the reality television show Keeping Up with the Kardashians, which chronicles her large family’s life.

Utilizing her recognition from reality TV, Kardashian has successfully ventured into business. Her notable business ventures include KKW Beauty, a beauty brand, and SKIMS, a shapewear company. Despite criticism suggesting they are “famous for nothing,” the Kardashian family has proven adept at creating a strong brand. Kim Kardashian stands out as the wealthiest among the Kardashian relatives, boasting a net worth of $1.8 billion.

Kim Kardashian attended Pierce College in Los Angeles, but she left without completing her degree to focus on other pursuits. Despite this, Kardashian values education. She recently passed the “baby bar,” a test for first-year law students in California, and is currently engaged in a legal apprenticeship.

Jan Koum

Billionaires Who Didn’t Go to College

Jan Koum, an American-Ukrainian businessman, gained fame for creating WhatsApp, a messaging service later acquired by Facebook for $22 billion. Koum moved from Ukraine to California with his mother after the Soviet Union’s dissolution. Developing a passion for programming, he joined a prominent hacker organization in the U.S. Koum became a billionaire in 2009 with the introduction of WhatsApp, currently having a net worth of $9.1 billion. [Billionaires Who Didn’t Go to College]

Leaving San Jose State University early to focus on his engineering career at Yahoo, Koum did not complete his education. When asked about his decision to leave the institution, he mentioned feeling a bit bored at the university and seizing an opportunity.

Jack Dorsey


Jack Dorsey, an American businessman and philanthropist, is best known for co-founding Twitter and currently serves as the CEO of the financial services startup Block, with an estimated net worth of $5.6 billion.

Dorsey’s journey on our list of college dropouts is unique as he dropped out twice. Initially leaving Missouri University of Science and Technology to transfer to New York University, he later left NYU after two years. When asked about his decision to leave college, Dorsey mentioned that he felt he was learning more at a faster pace outside of school than within its confines.



Rihanna, the Barbadian singer, songwriter, businesswoman, and model, has achieved numerous awards, including nine Grammy Awards, and stands among the top-selling artists of the twenty-first century. With a net worth of $1.4 billion, she is one of the wealthiest female musicians globally. While her music career contributes significantly to her income, Rihanna has also succeeded as the founder of the lingerie brand Savage x Fenty and the beauty company Fenty Beauty.

Rihanna left high school in Barbados without completing her studies to pursue her music career in the United States. Interestingly, she auditioned for Jay-Z, another billionaire without a degree, which became her breakthrough moment in the industry.

Roman Abramovich

Billionaires Who Didn’t Go to College

Although Rihanna has mentioned that school was challenging, she still values the importance of education. She actively supports initiatives that aim to improve access to education in developing countries. [Billionaires Who Didn’t Go to College]

Roman Abramovich is known as one of the richest people in Russia and the world. He built his wealth during the chaotic 1990s in Russia through investments in the oil industry. Abramovich gained further recognition as the owner of the Chelsea Football Club, a prominent football team in Europe and America.

After acquiring Chelsea FC in 2003, Abramovich made substantial investments, transforming the team into one of the most successful globally and in the UK. In 2022, he sold Chelsea FC for $5.2 billion due to global pressure and concerns about his ties to the Russian government. Currently, Abramovich’s estimated net worth is $8.6 billion.

Abramovich didn’t finish school; instead, he focused on finding ways to make money in the changing Russia. Surprisingly, one of his first successful ventures was selling rubber ducks from his Moscow apartment. It’s hard to imagine one of Russia’s richest businessmen starting with such a humble product.

Larry Ellison

Billionaires Who Didn’t Go to College

Larry Ellison, one of America’s wealthiest individuals with a net worth of $106.7 billion, started Oracle, a major enterprise software company. He was also its CEO for a while and invested significantly in other tech firms. Ellison dropped out of both the University of Chicago and the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign before finding success in software development. In a commencement speech at the University of Southern California, he highlighted the importance of exploring new opportunities and staying true to one’s passions. [Billionaires Who Didn’t Go to College]

David Geffen

Billionaires Who Didn’t Go to College

David Geffen, a prominent figure in Hollywood known for founding DreamWorks and Geffen Records, holds an estimated net worth of $10.1 billion. Despite having the UCLA David Geffen School of Medicine named after him, Geffen did not finish college. He attended three different colleges before eventually dropping out, despite his efforts.

When David Geffen initially pursued a career as a talent agent, a college degree was a requirement for the job. However, he faced the challenge of not having one. Despite this obstacle, he cleverly secured the position by pretending to hold a University of California degree. It’s important to note that this story isn’t encouraging deception in job-seeking. Instead, it highlights how someone’s qualifications for a job may occasionally be influenced by factors beyond their formal education.

LeBron James

Billionaires Who Didn’t Go to College

LeBron James is a famous American basketball player, known as one of the greatest in the world. Comparisons with legends like Magic Johnson and Michael Jordan are common. Currently playing for the Los Angeles Lakers, LeBron James is valued at $1 billion.

Even though he’s one of the most accomplished athletes globally, LeBron James doesn’t have a college degree. Instead of going to college, he entered the NBA after being picked by the Cleveland Cavaliers. It was a bold move that paid off, as he is now one of the highest-paid athletes globally.

Steve Jobs

Billionaires Who Didn’t Go to College

Steve Jobs is widely recognized as a highly successful dropout. He played a key role in advancing modern technology and co-founded Apple. Jobs, also the CEO of Pixar, sold the company to Disney for a whopping $7.4 billion. [Billionaires Who Didn’t Go to College]

At the time of his death in 2011, Jobs’s estimated net worth was $7 billion. Although he enrolled at Reed College, Jobs left after just six months. In a famous speech at Stanford, he talked about his decision to drop out, saying,”I didn’t know what I wanted to do with my life, and I didn’t see how college would help me figure it out.”

Henrique Dubugras

Billionaires Who Didn’t Go to College

Henrique Dubugras is one of the youngest billionaires among college dropouts, graduating at just 26. He co-founded Brex, a fintech startup valued at around $12.3 billion, making it a favorite in Silicon Valley. Dubugras’s personal net worth is $1.5 billion.

Initially studying coding at Stanford University, Dubugras left after eight months when he secured funding for one of his business ventures. The rest, as they say, is history.

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