For new college students, choosing a major can feel like a decision that shapes one’s life trajectory. But a degree in computer science is no guarantee that you’ll create the next billion-dollar startup, and a philosophy degree won’t necessarily keep you from starting a business.
The best and brightest CEOs in tech come from a wide-range of educational backgrounds.
Some of their chosen majors link up perfectly with what they ended up accomplishing, while others made decisions that might not immediately make sense to an outside observer.
But whether you major in International Studies like Bumble’s Whitney Wolfe, or Metallurgical Engineering like Google’s Sundar Pichai, there are plenty of ways to make it big in tech.
Take a look:
Reed Hastings — Netflix CEO
Alma Maters: Bowdoin University (B.A.), Stanford University (M.S.)
Majors: Mathematics (B.A.), Computer Science (M.S.)
Hastings deferred his college acceptance for one year to continue his summer job: selling vacuums door-to-door. While at Bowdoin, Hastings ran the Outing Club which organized climbing and canoeing trips.
Jack Ma — Alibaba CEO
Alma Maters: Hangzhou Normal University (B.A.), Cheung Kong Graduate School of Business
Majors: English (B.A.), M.B.A.
Ma didn’t get into college on his first attempt. Or his second. Or even his third. In all, Jack Ma applied to college four separate times before he was accepted and got an English degree. Now, he is worth almost $30 billion.
Susan Wojcicki — YouTube CEO
Alma Maters: Harvard University (B.A.), U.C. Santa Cruz (M.S.), UCLA Anderson School of Business
Majors: History (B.A.) and Literature (B.A.), Economics (M.S.), M.B.A.
Wojcicki comes from a family of academics, and fully expected to become one herself. Her plan was originally to get a Ph.D. in economics, but she changed course after finding she was passionate about technology. She would eventually go on to become the 16th employee hired by Google, and has been on a steady rise ever since.