Many CEOs and founders did not graduate from college. A recent survey of the Fortune 500 identified 35 CEOs who did not graduate. Here are a few notables from the world of business, past and present that did not have college degrees when they were building their businesses (some went back later or received honorary degrees). Indeed, quite a few dropped out of high school, or even elementary school.
HIGHLY SUCCESSFUL DROPOUTS

  • Aaron Levie, founder ofnet. Dropped out of the University of California.
  • Aaron Levine, founder of Club Monaco (fashion). Dropped out of Virginia Tech.
  • Adam Passey, CEO of IGN (entertainment). No degree.
  • Al Schneider, founder of Schneider National freight. Finished eighth-grade.
  • Alan Gerry, billionaire (cable television). Dropped out of high school.
  • Alan Jones, CEO Check Into Cash and Credit Bureau Services. Dropped out of Tennessee State.
  • Albert Lasker, CEO of Lord & Thomas (advertising). High school graduate.
  • Albert Ueltschi, billionaire, CEO of FlightSafety (training). Dropped out of the University of Kentucky.
  • Alfred Taubman, CEO of TCO (shopping malls). Dropped out of the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor.
  • Amancio Ortega Gaona, billionaire, CEO Inditex Group/Zara (fashion). Did not attend college.
  • Amon G. Carter (oil, newspapers). Finished only seventh grade.
  • Andrew Carnegie, industrialist. Left school at 13 to work in a factory.
  • Andrew Perlman, founder of GreatPoint and Cignal Global Communications. Dropped out of Washington University.
  • Andy Wachowski, writer/director/producer (film). Dropped out of Emerson College.
  • Angelo Sotira, CEO of DMusic and deviantART. Never enrolled in college.
  • Arash Ferdowsi, cofounder,com. Dropped out of MIT.
  • Ashley Qualls, CEO ofcom. Dropped out of high school at 15.
  • Aviv Hadar, CEO of Think Brilliant. College dropout.
  • Azim Premji, billionaire, chairman of Wipro. Dropped out of Stanford.
  • Barry Diller, billionaire, CEO of IAC,com, Ticketmaster, CitySearch, Evite, LendingTree. Dropped out of UCLA.
  • Ben Kaufman, CEO of Kluster (tech). Dropped out of college.
  • Benedikt Taschen, CEO of Taschen (publishing). Did not attend university.
  • Betty Mattas James, CEO, James Industry (toys). Dropped out of Penn State.
  • Bill Gates, CEO of Microsoft. Dropped out of Harvard.
  • Bram Cohen, developer of BitTorrent. Left SUNY Buffalo after one year.
  • Brandon Sargent, co-founder of EcoScraps. Dropped out of Brigham Young.
  • Carl Lindner, billionaire, CEO of Chiquita Brands. Dropped out of high school at 14.
  • Charles Culpeper, CEO of Coca Cola. High school drop out.
  • Charles Forman, founder of iminlikewithyou (web). Did not attend college.
  • Chris Morrison, co-founder PLP Digital Systems (software). Dropped out of high school.
  • Christine Comaford-Lynch, CEO of Artemis (venture capital). Dropped out of U.C. San Diego.
  • Coco Chanel (fashion). Left orphanage to become a singer. No college.
  • Craig Martineau, co-founder of EcoScraps. Dropped out of Brigham Young.
  • Craig McCaw, billionaire, CEO of McCaw Cellular (phones). Dropped out of college.
  • Dale Stephens, founder oforg. Dropped out of Hendrix College.
  • Dan Lok, CEO of Quick Turn (marketing). College dropout.
  • Dan Panoz, founder of Panoz Auto Development (design) Dropped out of Embry-Riddle.
  • Dan Ushman, co-founder of SingleHop (web hosting). Dropped out of college to found MidPhase.
  • Daniel Ek, cofounder of Spotify. Dropped out of Royal Institute of Technology, Sweden.
  • Daniel Snyder, billionaire, CEO of Snyder Communications and Red Zone Capital, owner of Washington Redskins. Dropped out of University of Maryland.
  • Darwin Deason, billionaire, CEO of ACS (business service outsourcing). Graduated from high school.
  • Dave Thomas, billionaire, founder of Wendy’s (fast food). Left high school at 15.
  • David Geffen, billionaire, founder of Geffen Records/DreamWorks. Dropped out of the University of Texas.
  • David Green, billionaire, CEO of Hobby Lobby. Did not go to college.
  • David Karp, founder of Tumblr. Dropped out of Bronx Science high school.
  • David Neeleman, founder of JetBlue (airline). Dropped out of the University of Utah.
  • David Oreck, CEO of Oreck (vacuum cleaners). Did not go tocollege.
  • David Sarnoff, producer (radio and TV) Dropped out of high school.
  • DeWitt Wallace, CEO of Reader’s Digest. Dropped out of Macalester College and U.C. Berkeley.
  • Dean Kamen, inventor of the Segway. Dropped out of Worcester Polytechnic.
  • Dean White, billionaire (hotels). Dropped out of the University of Nebraska.
  • Debbi Fields, founder of Mrs. Fields Cookies. Did not graduate college.
  • Dennis Albaugh, chairman of Albaugh (pesticides), founder of FIRST robotics competition. Has only AA degree from Des Moines Area Community College.
  • Diane Hendricks, billionaire, CEO of ABC Supply (contractor supplies). Did not attend college.
  • Don Newhouse, billionaire, publisher. Dropped out of Syracuse University.
  • Donna Karan (fashion). Dropped out of Parsons School of Design.
  • Dov Charney, CEO American Apparel. Did not attend college.
  • Drew Sementa, CEO of Premier Payment Systems. Left the University of Central Florida.
  • Dustin Moskovitz, billionaire, co-founder of Facebook. Dropped out of Harvard.
  • Eden Full, CEO of Roseicollis Technologies. Dropped out of Princeton.
  • Edgar Bronfman Jr., billionaire, CEO of Seagram (liquor). Did not go to college.
  • Edmond Safra, billionaire (banking). High school dropout.
  • Felix Dennis, CEO of Alpha Media Group/Maxim (magazines). Left school at 15.
  • Forrest Lucas, CEO of Lucas Oil Products. Left school at 15.
  • François Pinault, billionaire owner of Gucci, Puma, Christie’s auction house. Dropped out of high school.
  • Frederick “Freddy” Laker, billionaire (airlines). Dropped out of high school.
  • George Eastman, founder of Kodak. Dropped out of high school.
  • George Naddaff, founder of Boston Market (food). Never attended college.
  • George Romney, CEO of GM (automobiles), father of Mitt Romney. Was at the University of Utah for one year.
  • Greg Stemm, co-founder of Odyssey (shipwrecks). Dropped out of New College of Florida.
  • Gurbaksh Chahal, founder of Click Again and BlueLithium (advertising). Left school at 16.
  • Wayne Huizenga, billionaire, CEO of WMX (scavenger), Blockbuster (video), owner of Miami Dolphins. Dropped out of Calvin College.
  • Haim Saban, billionaire, producer of Power Rangers/Univision. Did not attend college.
  • Haroldson Lafayette Hunt, billionaire (oil). Finished fifth grade.
  • Harry Macklowe, billionaire (real estate) Dropped out of college.
  • Hyman Golden, cofounder of Snapple (beverages). High school dropout.
  • Ingvar Kamprad, billionaire, CEO of IKEA (furniture). Did not attend college.
  • Paul Getty, billionaire (oil). Dropped out of USC.
  • Jack Crawford Taylor, billionaire, CEO of Enterprise (car rentals). Dropped out of Washington University.
  • Jack Dorsey, CEO of Twitter, Square. Dropped out of NYU.
  • Jack Kent Cooke, billionaire (media), owner of Washington Redskins. High school dropout.
  • Jake Nickell, CEO ofcom. Did not graduate from college.
  • James Leprino, billionaire, Leprino Foods. Finished only high school.
  • Jared Kim, founder of WeGame. Dropped out of U.C. Berkeley.
  • Jay Van Andel, billionaire, CEO of Amway. High school graduate.
  • Jeffrey Kalmikoff, CCO ofcom. Did not graduated college.
  • Jeno Paulucci, CEO of Chun King/Jeno’s (food). Left school at 16.
  • Jim Danielson, CEO of Makt Systems. Dropped out of Purdue University.
  • Jim Newton, founder of TechShop/MythBusters. Dropped out of college.
  • Joe Cirulli, CEO of GHFC (fitness). Dropped out of Corning Community College.
  • John Carmack, CEO of Armadillo Aerospace, Id Software. Left University of Missouri without degree.
  • John Catsimatidis, billionaire, CEO of Red Apple Group and Gristedes (food). Dropped out of NYU.
  • John Collison, co-founder of Stripe. Dropped out of Harvard.
  • John Hewitt, CEO of Jackson Hewitt (tax preparation). College dropout.
  • John Johannesson, founder of Bauger Group (fashion). Did not get 4-year degree.
  • John Mackey, CEO of Whole Foods. Dropped out of the University of Texas multipe times.
  • John Paul DeJoria, CEO of Paul Mitchell Systems (hair products). Did not go to college.
  • John Pestana, co-founder ofcom/Omniture. Dropped out of Brigham Young.
  • Johnny Earle, CEO of Johnny Cupcakes. Did not graduate college.
  • Jon Lech Johansen, CEO of DoubleTwist. Dropped out of high school at 15.
  • Josh James, co-founder of Omniture. Dropped out of Brigham Young.
  • Joyce C. Hall, founder of Hallmark (greeting cards). Did not attend college.
  • Justin Frankel, developer of WinAmp, Gnutella. Dropped out of the University of Utah.
  • Kemmons Wilson, founder of Holiday Inn. Dropped out of high school.
  • Kenny Johnson, founder, Dial-A-Waiter (restaurant delivery service). Dropped out of Wichita State University.
  • Kevin Paul, CEO of KPaul (tech). Did not go to college.
  • Kevin Rose, CEO ofcom (media). Dropped out of the University of Las Vegas.
  • Kip Tindell, CEO of Container Store. Dropped out of the University of Texas.
  • Kirk Kerkorian, billionaire, CEO of TWA, MGM, Mirage, Mandalay Bay Resorts. Dropped out of eighth grade.
  • Kjell Inge Rokke, Norwegian billionaire. Did not attend high school.
  • Larry Ellison, billionaire, CEO of Oracle (software). Dropped out of the University of Chicago.
  • Larry Wachowski, writer/director/producer (film). Dropped out of Bard College
  • Leandro Rizzuto, billionaire, founder of Conair. Dropped out of college to invent hair dryer.
  • Leonardo Del Vecchio, CEO of Luxottica (glasses). Did not go to college.
  • Li Ka-Shing, billionaire (plastics, real estate). Left school at 12 to support family.
  • Lillian Hochberg, CEO of Lillian Vernon (catalog sales). Did not go to college.
  • Louis Renault, founder of Renault (automobiles). Failed college entrance exams.
  • Marc Rich, billionaire, founder of Philbro and Marc Rich & Co. (commodities). Dropped out of NYU.
  • Marcus Loew, CEO of Loews movie theaters and MGM. Dropped out of grade school.
  • Mark Ecko, founder Mark Ecko Enterprises (clothing). Dropped out of Rutgers University.
  • Mark Zuckerberg, billionaire, CEO of Facebook. Dropped out of Harvard.
  • Markus Frind, founder of Plenty of Fish (dating). Graduated from two-year program.
  • Mart Green, CEO of Mardel (retail), EthnoGraphic Media, Every Tribe Entertainment. Dropped out of college.
  • Martha Matilda Harper, founder of Harper Hair Salons. Never went to college.
  • Maverick Carter, CEO of LRMR (marketing).Dropped out of Western Michigan University.
  • Michael Dell, CEO of Dell. Did not finish at University of Texas, Austin.
  • Michael Rubin, CEO of Global Sports. Dropped out of Villanova University.
  • Micky Jagtiani, billionaire, CEO of Landmark International. Failed accounting school.
  • Mike Lazaridis, billionaire, founder of Research in Motion. Did not finish Stanford.
  • Mukesh “Micky” Jagtiani, billionaire, chairman of Landmark International (shopping malls). Flunked out of London accounting school.
  • Paris Hilton (TV, fashion). Expelled from Canterbury Boarding School. Never attended college.
  • Patrick Collison, co-founder of Stripe. Dropped out of MIT.
  • Patrizio Bertelli, billionaire, co-founder with his wife of Prada (fashion). Dropped out of engineering school.
  • Paul Allen, Microsoft and Vulcan. Dropped out of Washington State College
  • Pete Cashmore, founder ofcom. Did not finish college.
  • Peter La Haye, CEO of La Haye Laboratories/Neoptx. High school drop out.
  • Philip Green, billionaire, CEO of Topshop. Dropped out of high school.
  • Phillip Ruffin, billionaire, CEO of Treasure Island (casinos). Dropped out of Wichita State University.
  • Ralph Braun, CEO of BraunAbility (scooters and wheelchair lifts). Dropped out of Indiana State.
  • Ralph Lauren, billionaire, founder of Polo (fashion). Dropped out of Baruch College to start Polo.
  • Ray Kroc, billionaire, founder of McDonald’s. High school dropout.
  • Richard Branson, CEO of Virgin Group. No degree.
  • Richard DeVos, billionaire, CEO of Amway, owner of Orlando Magic basketball team. Did not go to college.
  • Richard Desmond, billionaire, British publisher. Dropped out of high school.
  • Richard Heckmann, billionaire, CEO of U.S. Filter/Heckmann Corp. Did not graduate from college.
  • Richard Schulze, billionaire, founding CEO of Best Buy. Did not attend college.
  • Rick Corman, CEO of R J Corman Railroad Group. Finished high school only.
  • Rob Kalin, founder of Esty (artisans). Flunked out of high school, pretended to be a student and attended classes at MIT.
  • Robert Bisson, founder of EarthWater Global. Did not graduate from college.
  • Robert Maxwell, billionaire (publishing). Dropped out of high school.
  • Robert Redford, actor, founder of Sundance. Kicked out of the University of Colorado.
  • Ron Popeil, founder of Ronco (inventions). Dropped out of college.
  • Ronald Burkle, billionaire, CEO of Yucaipa. Dropped out of Cal Poly.
  • Roy Cullen, billionaire (oil). Finished only 4th grade.
  • Rush Limbaugh, CEO (media). Dropped out of college after being required to take ballroom dancing.
  • Ryan Smith, CMO of Qualtrics. Did not finish degree at Brigham Young.
  • Sam Goi, billionaire, CEO of Tee Yih Jia (food). Dropped out of high school.
  • Samuel Jonas, COO of IDT (data). Dropped out of Rutgers.
  • Sean “puffy” Combs, entrepreneur (music, fashion). Dropped out of Howard University.
  • Sean Parker, billionaire, Napster, Facebook. Did not go to college.
  • Seth Priebatsch, founder ofcom and PostcardTech. Dropped out of Princeton.
  • Shawn Fanning, Napster developer. Dropped out of Northeastern University.
  • Sheldon Adelson, CEO, Las Vegas Sands Corp. (gambling)
  • Sidney Weinberg, managing partner of Goldman Sachs. Dropped out of seventh grade.
  • Simon Cowell, creator of American Idol, Britain’s Got Talent, X Factor. Left school at 16.
  • Stanley Ho, billionaire (casinos). Dropped out of University of Hong Kong.
  • Steve Jobs, billionaire, co-founder of Apple Computers/Pixar/Next. Dropped out of Reed College.
  • Steve Madden, founder (shoe designer). Dropped out of college.
  • Steve Wozniak, billionaire, co-founder of Apple. Dropped out of College.
  • Steven Spielberg, billionaire, CEO of DreamWorks (film). Dropped out of Cal State Long Beach.
  • Subhash Chandra, billionaire, CEO of Zee TV, Essel Propack (media). Dropped out of college.
  • Ted Murphy, CEO Izea/Think Creative (entertainment, social media marketing). Dropped out of Florida State University.
  • Ted Turner, billionaire, CEO of CNN/TBS, owner of Atlanta Braves. Kicked out of Brown University.
  • Theodore Waitt, billionaire, CEO of Gateway (computers). Dropped out of the University of Iowa.
  • Thomas Edison. Was taught at home, went to work at 12.
  • Thomas Haffa, billionaire (media). Dropped out of high school.
  • Tim Blixseth, billionaire, CEO of Yellowstone Club (real estate). Did not go to college.
  • Tim Leiweke, CEO of AEG (entertainment). Did not attend college.
  • Ty Warner, billionaire, founder of Ty, Inc. maker of Beanie Babies (stuffed animals). Dropped out of college.
  • Vidal Sassoon, CEO of Vidal Sassoon. Dropped out of high school.
  • Clement Stone, CEO (publishing/insurance). Dropped out of elementary school to sell newspapers.
  • Walt Disney. Dropped out of high school.
  • Walter Shorenstein, billionaire, CEO of Shorenstein Properties. Dropped out of the University of Pennsylvania.
  • Wiley Cerilli, founder of SinglePlatform. Dropped out of Syracuse University.
  • Wolfgang Puck, owner of 100 restaurants. Left school at 14.
  • Xavier Niel, billionaire, founder of Free Mobile/Kima Ventures. Did not graduate from college.
  • C. Wang, billionaire, CEO of Formosa Plastics. Never attended high school.

List Of Financially Successful College-Dropouts