CNBC's list of young leaders likely to change the world in the next quarter century is an eclectic one, including both Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella and fashion entrepreneur Tory Burch.
For proof, look no further than their college degrees. These visionary leaders were most likely to major in liberal arts or social sciences, and close to 20 percent of them either dropped out of college or never earned a college degree.
True, the list includes plenty of business, economics, engineering and computer science majors. Together, they make up slightly more than half the list. But more than 30 of the CNBC NEXT List members earned degrees in fields like environmental studies, English literature and even mythology (Bre Pettis of MakerBot).
Not only that, NEXT listers were even more likely to major in liberal arts or social science fields than college students overall. Some 27 percent of the NEXT list members had degrees in those fields, compared with less than 20 percent for all students, according to Department of Education data.
It's quite possible to develop as a leader regardless of academic concentration, said Jeff Klein, executive director of the Wharton Leadership Program.
"The Wharton approach to leadership development highlights the importance of learning from experience—success and failure—for our students and executives. The combination of these `stretch experiences' supported by important relationships (trusted colleagues, coaches and mentors) and evidence-based knowledge are the pillars upon which anyone can develop the capacity to lead and make a positive difference in the world," he said.