Famous People Who Went To Columbia University

Okay, this is a VERY long list. And it’s filled with important people, like politicians, academics and nobel prize winners. But we’ve narrowed it down to those we think you’d appreciate most. And we’ve included people who attended both the Morningside Heights and Washington Heights campuses. Here is a VERY partial list of famous people who went to Columbia University!

James Franco

The amazing James Franco moved to New York to attend three schools at once! Those would include Columbia University, NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts and Brooklyn College! He received his MFA from Columbia in 2010.

James Franco

Angela George [CC BY-SA 3.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)

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Chelsea Clinton

Chelsea Clinton graduated from the Mailman School of Public Health in 2010, and began teaching grad school classes there in 2012.

Chelsea Clinton

Ali Shaker/VOA [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Casey Affleck

Casey Affleck transferred from George Washington University to Columbia which he attended for two years. Bombarded with movie opportunities, he did not graduate.

Casey Affleck

photo by Bex Walton

Barack Obama

Obama transferred from Occidental to Columbia in the fall of 1981. There was no campus housing available at the time, so Barack lived off campus. Allegedly, he spent his first night sleeping in an alley near the corner of 109th and Amsterdam, and eventually moved into an apartment at 142 West 109th Street.

Pete Souza / Public domain

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Art Garfunkel

Art Garfunkel first enrolled at Columbia in 1960 as an architecture student. He dropped out after a year but then reenrolled, and graduated in 1965 with a major in art history. He was a member of Columbia’s acappella group, the Kingsmen, and performed at the West End and other campus venues.

Art Garfunkel

photo by Rob Bogaerts / Anefo [CC0], via Wikimedia Commons

Joseph Gordon-Levitt

Joseph Gordon-Levitt attended Columbia’s school of general studies from 2001 to 2004. He studied history, literature, and French, but he dropped out when he realized there were big bucks to be made in the movie business.

Joseph Gordon-Levitt

Christopher William Adach from London, UK [CC BY-SA 2.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

Jake Gyllenhaal

Jake Gyllenhaal is another actor who dropped out of Columbia, but rumor has it he may try to complete his studies. Gyllenhaal sometimes hosts early screenings of his films at Columbia.

Jake Gyllenhaal

Photo by Georges Biard [CC BY-SA 3.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)]

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Lauryn Hill

Lauryn Hill went to Columbia for about a year, but left as her album entitled The Score was blowing up big time. 

Lauryn Hill

The Come Up Show from Canada [CC BY 2.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

Amanda Peet

The famous actress from movies such as “The Whole Nine Yards”  attended Columbia University with a degree in American History and graduated in 1994.

Amanda Peet

Mingle Media TV [CC BY-SA 2.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

Julia Stiles

Julia Stiles majored in English Literature at Columbia University. She received a John Jay award in 2010, which is designated for alumni for their professional achievements.

Julia Stiles

David Shankbone [GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html), CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/)

Alicia Keys

The famous singer got into Columbia on a full scholarship, but left after about a month to dedicate herself to her music career.

Alicia Keys

Lukas from Munich, Germany [CC BY 2.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

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