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Here’s where the CEOs of the top 10 Fortune 500 companies went to school

Warren Buffett
Daniel Acker/Bloomberg via Getty Images
Warren Buffett

Today, a select number of high-profile business leaders argue that college is not the key to professional prosperity often arguing that "college is not for everyone."

While sky-high college costs make this theory attractive, it's not entirely true. Going to college greatly increases your lifetime earning potential and is one of the biggest predictors of business success — just look at the CEOs of Fortune 500 companies.

Companies run by business executives with undergraduate and graduate degrees dominate Fortune's annual list. Every CEO of one of the top 10 Fortune 500 companies went to college, and seven also earned a graduate degree.

Of course, there are famous examples of successful college dropouts like Mark Zuckerberg and Bill Gates, but these tech titans are the exceptions to the rule — most successful CEOs spend some serious time studying.

Here's where the most powerful industry leaders hit the books and what they studied:

Mary Barra, CEO, General Motors
Mary Catherine Wellons | CNBC
Mary Barra, CEO, General Motors

10. Mary Barra, General Motors

Revenue, last fiscal year: $157.3 billion
Undergraduate: BA in electrical engineering, Kettering University
Graduate: MBA, Stanford University

Randall Stephenson
Katie Kramer | CNBC
Randall Stephenson

9. Randall Stephenson, AT&T

Revenue, last fiscal year: $160.5 billion
Undergraduate: BA in accounting, University of Central Oklahoma
Graduate: MA in accounting, University of Oklahoma

Jeff Bezos
Michael S. Williamson | The Washington Post | Getty Images
Jeff Bezos

8. Jeff Bezos, Amazon

Revenue, last fiscal year: $177.9 billion
Undergraduate: BA in electrical engineering and computer science, Princeton University
Graduate: n/a

Larry Merlo
Cameron Costa | CNBC
Larry Merlo

7. Larry Merlo, CVS Health

Revenue, last fiscal year: $184.8 billion
Undergraduate: BA in pharmacy, University of Pittsburgh School of Pharmacy
Graduate: n/a

John Hammergren, president and chief executive officer of McKesson Corp., testifies during a House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee hearing in Washington, D.C., U.S., on Tuesday, May 8, 2018.
Aaron P. Bernstein/Bloomberg via Getty Images
John Hammergren, president and chief executive officer of McKesson Corp., testifies during a House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee hearing in Washington, D.C., U.S., on Tuesday, May 8, 2018.

6. John Hammergren, McKesson

Revenue, last fiscal year: $198.5 billion
Undergraduate: BA in business administration, University of Minnesota
Graduate: MBA, Xavier University

5. David Wichmann, UnitedHealth Group

Revenue, last fiscal year: $201.2 billion
Undergraduate: BA in accounting, Illinois State University
Graduate: n/a

Tim Cook, chief executive officer of Apple Inc.
David Paul Morris | Bloomberg | Getty Images
Tim Cook, chief executive officer of Apple Inc.

4. Tim Cook, Apple

Revenue, last fiscal year: $229.2 billion
Undergraduate: BA in industrial engineering, Auburn University
Graduate: MBA, Duke University

Warren Buffett
David A. Grogan | CNBC
Warren Buffett

3. Warren Buffett, Berkshire Hathaway

Revenue, last fiscal year: $242.1 billion
Undergraduate: BA in business administration, University of Nebraska
Graduate: MA in economics, Columbia University

Darren Woods, Chairman and CEO, Exxon Mobil.
Katie Kramer | CNBC
Darren Woods, Chairman and CEO, Exxon Mobil.

2. Darren Woods, Exxon Mobil

Revenue, last fiscal year: $244.4 billion
Undergraduate: BA in electrical engineering, Texas A&M University
Graduate: MBA, Northwestern University

Doug McMillon, President and CEO of Wal-Mart Stores, Inc., in an interview on October 14, 2015.
David Orrell | CNBC 
Doug McMillon, President and CEO of Wal-Mart Stores, Inc., in an interview on October 14, 2015.

1. Doug McMillon, Walmart

Revenue, last fiscal year: $500.3 billion
Undergraduate: BA in business administration, University of Arkansas
Graduate: MBA, University of Tulsa

As in other years, companies run by business majors dominated the 2018 Fortune 500 list. Executives like Walmart CEO Doug McMillon, Berkshire Hathaway CEO Warren Buffett and McKesson CEO John Hammergren all studied business administration at large public universities. Seven of the 10 CEOs also earned their MBAs.

Overall, a majority of these top-tier business executives attended big state schools for undergrad. Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos and General Motors CEO Mary Barra were the only two leaders to earn their bachelor's degree from a private institution, though overall, graduates from selective schools out-earn those who attended less selective institutions.

The CEOs of these top 10 companies who did not study business all earned degrees in a STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) field. Three CEOs — Exxon Mobile's Darren Woods, Amazon's Jeff Bezos and GM's Mary Barra — studied electrical engineering.

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