The College Majors of U.S. Billionaires

Jim McKelvey, cofounder of Square and undergraduate economics major

Each year, Forbes magazine compiles a list of the 400 richest people in the United States. A recent article in Forbes reports on the college majors of these billionaires. Forbes was able to find that information for 357 of the 400. Perhaps unsurprisingly, 65 chose business, making it the most popular undergraduate major.  

Economics was the second most popular major, with 58 having chosen it, followed closely by engineering with 55. There is a substantial drop to the next most popular major—politics and government—with 22 of the 400 billionaires having chosen it. Given that we often associate billion dollar fortunes with the founders of tech companies, it may be surprising that only 17 of the 400 majored in computer science. Included among them, though, is Jeff Bezos, who majored in computer science and engineering at Princeton and who holds first place on the Forbes list of the wealthiest Americans. 

The article quotes Jim McKelvey, cofounder of credit card processor Square, as observing about economics: “There are a few basic concepts in economics that help in business. Micro and especially game theory are helpful to predict customer behavior. And macro has been super helpful ever since I joined the board of the Federal Reserve.” McKelvey currently serves as deputy chair of the board of directors of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis.

Source: Matt Durot, “Want to Be a Billionaire? These Are the Most Popular Majors of the Richest Americans,” forbes.com, October 8, 2021. LINK

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