By Brian Burnsed

The leaders of America's largest companies come from Ivy League and large public colleges

Ivy League schools produce a disproportionate amount of corporate leaders, according to a U.S. News study of the educational backgrounds of 2010's Fortune 500 CEOs (the magazine's annual ranking of American corporations based on gross revenue).

Harvard University , Columbia University , and the University of Pennsylvania topped the list -- the three schools cumulatively awarded 99 degrees to the executives. Large state institutions like the University of Wisconsin -- Madison , the University of Michigan -- Ann Arbor , and Ohio State University ranked highly as well, as each awarded at least 10 degrees to CEOs on Fortune's list. Wisconsin stood out among its state school peers, granting 17 degrees to the CEOs, which put the school fourth overall, despite having an average U.S. News rank of 33 for the school's undergraduate, business, and law programs. In the Fortune analysis, Wisconsin finished ahead of highly ranked schools like Stanford University , Dartmouth College , and Northwestern University .

Last November, U.S. News took a look at the backgrounds of the CEOs of the top 100 companies on Fortune's list. The new analysis of the larger pool weeded out some of the lower ranked schools like Auburn University (five degrees) and Southern Methodist University (seven degrees), which ranked highly in the Fortune 100 study.

Of the 500 CEOs in question, 174 have MBAs and 59 have law degrees. Nearly 200 of the CEOs have no graduate-level degree. Nineteen of the 500 CEOs attained no college degree, and many were college dropouts turned visionaries in the technology sector, like Oracle Corp.'s top executive and now billionaire Lawrence J. Ellison. A few retail executives also worked their way to the corner office by way of humble beginnings on the sales floor, like James A. Skinner of McDonald's, who started as a restaurant manager, and Brian J. Dunn of Best Buy Co., who was once a store associate.

Below is a table highlighting the 16 schools that awarded at least nine degrees to Fortune 500 CEOs. The table is sorted by total number of degrees awarded per institution:


Institution Total degrees Undergraduate degrees MBAs Other graduate degrees
Sources: Company websites, Fortune, Bloomberg BusinessWeek
Harvard University58113314
Columbia University21399
University of Pennsylvania20695
University of Wisconsin - Madison171133<
Dartmouth College161240
Stanford University16763
University of Michigan - Ann Arbor14572
University of Notre Dame11902
University of Texas - Austin11830
Cornell University10730151813
Northwestern University10262
Ohio State University10523
University of California - Los Angeles10433
University of Virginia10442251310
Indiana University - Bloomington9351
Princeton University9900


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Where the Fortune 500 CEOs Went to Undergraduate & Graduate College