To list all famous graduates of the great Harvard University may take dozens, if not hundreds of pages. Yet, within the word limit of this article, we are going to look at ten of the most famous alumni of this university that have contributed greatly to the prosperity and wellbeing of mankind. Among them, there are poets, writers, scientists, political leaders, and captains of industry that have left a bright trail through history. A trail that we all should follow with dignity and deep respect.

Famous Harvard Alumni

1. Mark Zuckerberg, founder, and CEO of Facebook

  • Period in Harvard: 2004-2007
  • Acquired degree: Honorary

Hundreds of pages have already been written about Mark Zuckerberg, founder, and CEO of the largest and most influential social network, Facebook.

And yet, here we should emphasize the fact that it was precisely while he was pursuing his degree at Harvard University that he came up with his revolutionary idea.

We’ve put him on the top of our list of Harvard University’s most famous alumni because his brainchild, Facebook, changed the way people communicate and socialize for good!


2. John F. Kennedy, 35th President of the United States

  • Period in Harvard: 1936-1940
  • Acquired degree: BA in Government

JFK is perhaps America’s most loved President and one of the most famous alumni at Harvard. His term in office was tragically cut short on November 22, 1963, when he was assassinated in his convertible limo in Dallas Texas. This brutal act of unprecedented violence stunned America as it was broadcast live on the national TV.

Just like his father before him, he spent four full years at Harvard and earned his Bachelor’s Degree in Government with a cum laude distinction. In his application essay, he wrote that Harvard could give him a better liberal education than any other university.


3. Natalie Portman, Oscar-winning actress

  • Period in Harvard: 1999-2003
  • Acquired degree: BA in Psychology

Oscar-winning actress Natalie Portman is probably best known for her stunning performance in Darren Aronofsky’s macabre psychological thriller Black Swan (2010) that brought her the highest distinction in the film world, an Oscar for Best Actress.

Portman hails from a conservative Jewish family and meticulously accomplished all of her courses at Harvard to earn her BA in Psychology in 2003. During this period, she was also starring in the Star Wars prequel trilogy.


4. Al Gore, US politician and environmentalist

  • Period in Harvard: 1965-1969
  • Acquired degree: BA in Government

The fourth famous Harvard alumnion our list is U.S. Politician and prominent environmentalist Al Gore. He served as the 45th Vice President of the United States from 1993 to 2001 during President Clinton’s term in office.

Gore has also authored several books on climate change, the most popular of which seems to be An Inconvenient Truth: The Planetary Emergency of Global Warming and What We Can Do About It (2006).


5. Bill O’Reilly, US TV host

  • Period in Harvard: 1995-1996
  • Acquired degree: MPA

Prominent American political analyst, journalist and author Bill O’Reilly was born on September 10, 1949. It is interesting to mention here that he attended John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University in 1995-1996, at the age of 46. This comes to show that nobody is too old to earn a degree from Harvard!


6. Tyra Banks, Businesswoman, former model

  • Period in Harvard: 2011-2012
  • Acquired degree: OPM Certificate

Former model and successful businesswoman Tyra Banks definitely has the wits to match her good looks. Although her stint at Harvard ended with an OPM Certificate rather than a full degree, the year she spent there definitely helped her develop her unique business strategy.

Over the years, critics have attacked her on several occasions that she should not call herself a Harvard graduate. Yet, her undisputed success in life has earned her a place on this list.


7. Michael Bloomberg, US business magnate

  • Period in Harvard: 1965-1966
  • Acquired degree: MBA

Michael Bloomberg is an American philanthropist, businessman, and author, whose net worth has been estimated at over 60 billion US dollars.

In this regard, it is questionable that the year he spent at Harvard in the mid-1960s to earn his MBA contributed significantly to his financial prosperity, or he had a lot of things to teach his tutors! In any case, he is one of the most famous Harvard University alumni of our time.


8. Matt Damon, Hollywood actor

  • Period in Harvard: 1992
  • Acquired degree: Did not earn a degree

Hollywood superstar Matt Damon is perhaps best known as Jason Bourne, the CIA agent that is the protagonist of the highly-successful film series by the same name. Yet, Damon’s most famous appearance is in the 1997 drama Good Will Hunting which earned him an Oscar nomination and an Oscar for best screenplay.


9. Bill Gates, founder of Microsoft

  • Period in Harvard: 1973-1975
  • Acquired degree: Did not earn a degree

Microsoft founder Bill Gates is perhaps one of the most iconic figures in the world of personal computers and communication technologies. It is interesting to mention here that the two years he spent at Harvard between 1973 and 1975 were enough to earn at least a Master’s Degree.

Yet, he left without earning a degree, stating that the time he spent in Harvard without a definite study plan was instrumental for the inception of his initial business concept that later evolved to become the tech giant Microsoft.


10. Robert F. Kennedy, 64th U.S. Attorney General

  • Period in Harvard: 1944-1948
  • Acquired degree: BA in Political Science

Robert F. Kennedy, 64th U.S. Attorney General, will forever be remembered as JFK’s favorite brother. And just like him, Robert’s promising political career was cut short by the ruthless hand of a brutal assassin – 24-year-old Palestinian Sirhan Sirhan.

At the end of this article, you may ask, and rightly so, why people who effectively dropped out of Harvard without taking a degree are still on this list. Well, I guess we should think of how the years at Harvard inspired these people to create their most successful business concepts. Just think of Mark Zuckerberg and his brilliant idea, Facebook!


I hope that this article on the famous Havard alumni was helpful. To know more information on studying abroad, check out the Available Programs for International Students.

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