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How Many Forbes Billionaires Have MBAs?

Is an MBA an inroad into the three-comma club? We took a deep-dive into Forbes’ World's Billionaires list to find out

Do you dream of rubbing shoulders with the likes of Jeff Bezos and Bill Gates at the very top of the world’s rich lists?

With the huge salary increases that an MBA can provide, and more and more business school alums starting their own businesses, it’s understandable that many aspiring MBAs cherish this ambition.

But how many of the world’s richest businesspeople actually have MBA degrees? BusinessBecause took a deep-dive into the data to find out.

Of the top 100 people listed by Forbes as the world’s richest, a grand total of 16 have MBAs, though there are more business school alumni included in the list who pursued other degrees—for instance Warren Buffett, the third richest man in the world, who holds a Bachelor’s degree in Business Administration from the University of Nebraska.


The highest-ranking MBA is Michael Bloomberg at number 11: the founder, CEO, and owner of tech giant Bloomberg LP.

Bloomberg earned his MBA from Harvard Business School, like most of the other MBAs in the top 100. Indeed, according to an analysis by Betway Insider, Harvard is the most popular University among Forbes billionaires.

The next most-popular business school among rich list MBAs is Stanford Graduate School of Business, with four of the MBAs in the top 100 hailing from there.

That said, two of these Stanford attendees are dropouts: Mukesh Ambani at 16th place, a petrochemicals billionaire, and Steve Ballmer at 22nd. Ballmer was persuaded to abandon his MBA by Bill Gates—number two on the Forbes list—in order to join him at Microsoft as a business manager.


Five of the top 100-listed MBAs earned their degrees from universities in Europe. Serge Dassault ranks the most highly—the head of the Dassault Group has an Executive MBA from HEC Paris to his name, as well as two engineering qualifications.

The UK makes a strong showing among the remaining European MBAs, with two belonging to James Ratcliffe and Thomas Kwok, at 75th and 78th place respectively, both graduates of London Business School. Ratcliffe earned his fortune as the CEO of Ineos chemicals; Kwok is joint chairman and managing director of Sun Hung Kai Properties, the largest property developer in Hong Kong, working alongside his brother Raymond.

The third was awarded by Newcastle Business School at Northumbria University to Russian steel magnate Alexey Mordashov, who sits at 60th place in the list.

In a year when the number of women in the Forbes list of the world’s billionaires is reportedly at an all-time high, there are in fact three women MBAs in the top 100. The highest-ranking among them is Susanne Klatten, an IMD Business School MBA who is an investor as well as a pharmaceuticals heiress.

Perhaps surprisingly, none of the MBAs in the top 100 on Forbes’ list was awarded by a Chinese university.


However, the top 100 does host business school alumni from Asian schools—for example Jack Ma, co-founder and executive chairman of the Alibaba Group, listed 21st overall by Forbes. Ma attended the CEO program at Cheung Kong Graduate School of Business (CKGSB) in Beijing.

MBAs were more likely to be held by billionaires from the US than by any other nationality; interestingly, the average age among MBA-holding billionaires was 65—compared to an average of 69 across the whole of the top 100.

While this could indicate that an MBA might help you make the list at a younger age, the sample size is perhaps too small and there are too many competing factors involved to make definitive statements. According to Betway Insider, the average age that billionaires’ first million was earned across the whole of the list was 37, while the average age at which the millions became billions was 51.

See the list of all the MBAs in Forbes’ The World’s Billionaires list below:

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