Millionaires' Most Popular Degrees

A new survey reveals that engineering degrees produce the most millionaires, followed by MBA, economics and law degrees. The review, conducted by wealth management magazine SPEAR’s and consultancy company WealthInsight, assesses some 70,000 millionaires worldwide (individuals with over U.S. $1 million in assets–excluding primary residences), to reveal their most popular degrees and top-attended universities.
However, the results are slightly misleading: Many of those engineering majors made their millions in entrepreneurship, points out WealthInsight’s Oliver Williams in a press release. “…Interestingly, few of these degrees turn out to be outright vocational; Most engineering graduates, for example, are not engineers but entrepreneurs,” he says. “The same goes for most law and politics graduates, who owe their fortunes not to practicing their professions but climbing the ranks of the financial services sector.”
In other words, many JDs that make it to the top used their degrees to springboard into other professions. Law school skills such as critical thinking certainly come in handy for the most lucrative career: entrepreneurship. Josh Spero, editor of SPEAR’s magazine, says: “Entrepreneurs, who ultimately end up being the wealthiest in the world, are innovators, and the top subjects are those which encourage new and smart thinking, whether technical or financial. But it’s also no surprise to find that the brightest people, who go to the best universities, often leave their degrees behind and go into high finance to seek their fortune.”

What the world's wealthy studied (Image: WealthInsight)

What the world’s wealthy studied (Image: WealthInsight)

Predictably, quant degrees dominate the list. “You would expect to see a high number of scientific or financial degrees in the top 10, like engineering, commerce and accounting. Numerical degrees are a notable advantage when it comes to amassing a personal fortune,” Williams points out.
The survey results also dispel the myth that college dropouts, such as Steve Jobs and Mark Zuckerberg, regularly make it to millionaire status. Roughly 1% of millionaires in the survey did not obtain a degree, meaning the other 99% clearly depended–at least in part–on a diploma.
Not surprisingly, Harvard University and Stanford University top the table for millionaires’ most-attended universities. University of California, Columbia University and University of Oxford round out the top five.
The U.S. claims nearly half of the millionaires’ 500 most-attended universities with 216 institutions on the list. The UK comes in a distant second with 42, followed by Canada and France with 27 universities, each.
Where the world's wealthy go to school

Where the world’s wealthy went to school (Image: WealthInsight)

SPEAR’s editor Josh Sepro points out in a press release that top schools equip their millionaires with more than academics: “The universities which dominate are exactly the ones you’d expect, not just because of the quality of the education but because of the self-confidence they instill in their students. They also have strong alumni networks which give their students a leg up when they move into the world of work.”
For the full top 100 list of global universities visit SPEAR’s story.
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