Celebrities Participating in Distance Learning


With their busy schedules, celebrities are participating in distance education programs to finish their degrees while maintaining a career (photo courtesy of photographerglen on flickr).

Contrary to popular belief, celebrities are still people; and nowadays, people need a more convenient and flexible method of pursuing a higher education. Enter distance education, in all its glory. Celebrities, like “the rest of us” struggle to find time to dedicate to a class full of formal lectures and lab requirements. Below is an outline of celebrities who either in the past, or currently, utilize distance education.

James Franco – Actor

Golden Globe Winner James Franco believes in life-long learning and education. Franco has been quoted many times regarding education and his enjoyment of it- so much so that after finishing his bachelor’s degree at the University of California, Los Angeles, he enrolled in a distance education Master’s program at Columbia. Currently, Franco volunteers for the Art of Elysium charity and has taught classes at New York University, the University of Southern California, and the University of California, Los Angeles.

Hilary Duff – Actress

Former Disney star, wife, and mom Hilary Duff was involved in numerous ventures throughout the early 2000s: movies, music, philanthropy. But sometime during all her commitments Duff made one in particular that is not often found on the covers of People or US Weekly: distance education student at Harvard University.  

Lisa Leslie – WNBA Professional Athlete, WWE Superstar

Lisa Leslie experienced great success while playing for the Los Angeles Sparks. Named WNBA MVP three times throughout her career, Leslie is no stranger to achievement. Fortunately for her, the drive to complete her personal goals led her right into the admissions office at the University of Phoenix. Upon completion of the program, Leslie earned her Master’s degree via UoP’s distance education option.

Shaquille O’Neal – Basketball Superstar

After withdrawing from Louisiana State University during his junior year to join the NBA, O’Neal made a promise to his mother to finish his degree, one day. Via the distance learning program at LSA, O’Neal completed his Bachelor’s in Business and continued on to finish his MBA online with the University of Phoenix.

Arnold Schwarzenegger – Actor, Politician

Arnold Schwarzenegger, before the internet boom, studied International Fitness Marketing via distance learning with the University of Wisconsin. He graduated in 1979 after completing all required correspondence coursework and eventually was appointed to President George H.W. Bush’s Council on Physical Fitness during the 1990s.

Lil’ Wayne – Rapper

Known for his unique style, sound, and attitude, musician Lil’Wayne is no stranger to achievements. In 1991 Wayne joined Cash Money Records as the youngest member of the label. In 2008 his album, Tha Carter III sold over 1 million copies in the first week; four years later he passed Elvis Presley on the Billboard Hot 100 chart as the male with the most entries (109 songs). Music achievements aside, Lil’ Wayne  still focuses on his education and he is currently studying online with the University of Houston and a goal of completing a degree in political science.

Ashley Benson is a distance education professional with five years of experience in the for-profit sector. She has worked coast-to-coast within the United States as an academic advisor, an adjunct teaching assistant and, most recently, a campus Registrar. Through formal education and industry experience, Ashley practices staying informed on the current events and changes within higher education and the students involved.

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