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University of Wisconsin produced the most current Fortune 500 CEOs—here's how 29 other schools stack up

University of Michigan Cheerleaders from the 60's and 70's perform classic cheers for the student section during a football game one Saturday afternoon at Michigan Stadium in Ann Arbor, Michigan. According to Kittleman & Associates, eight current Fortune 500 CEOs attended the University of Michigan for undergrad.
Steven King/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Americans are investing more in college than ever before. According to the Federal Reserve, Americans collectively owe roughly $1.5 trillion in student loans, and millennials are on track to be the most educated generation to date.

Students hope that a college education will give them the skills they need to excel. Executive search firm Kittleman & Associates analyzed the resumes of every CEO of a Fortune 500 company to determine which colleges produce the most industry leaders.

The data reflects the private college or public university system that each Fortune 500 CEO attended for their undergraduate degree. Kittleman's research, which was conducted in August 2018, provides a snapshot of the schools producing a robust number of industry leaders. The list does not account for subsequent executive departures.

CNBC Make It gathered information about each institution from U.S. News & World Report. Information about public university systems is from the flagship schools of each.

"We know that many universities are providing an exceptional education, but are there institutions that have a track record of developing strong leaders? Looking at this data, it's clear that there are some universities that have the right 'secret sauce' in helping mold successful executives," Cory King, President and CEO of Kittleman & Associates, tells CNBC Make It.

Here are the 30 schools that graduated the most current CEOs of Fortune 500 companies:

Students at Union College
Jamie Schwaberow/NCAA Photos via Getty Images

Union College

Number of Fortune 500 CEOs: 3

School type: Private

Total enrollment: 2,267

Tuition and fees (2018-2019): $55,290

University of Alabama

Number of Fortune 500 CEOs: 3

School type: Public

Total enrollment: > 38,563

In-state tuition and fees (2018-2019): $10,780

Out-of-state tuition and fees (2018-2019): $29,230

University of Nebraska

Number of Fortune 500 CEOs: 3

School type: Public

Total enrollment: > 26,079

In-state tuition and fees (2018-2019): $9,242

Out-of-state tuition and fees (2018-2019): $25,038

Boston College

Number of Fortune 500 CEOs: 4

School type: Private

Total enrollment: 13,996

Tuition and fees (2018-2019): $55,464

Dartmouth College

Number of Fortune 500 CEOs: 4

School type: Private

Total enrollment: 6,509

Tuition and fees (2018-2019): $55,035

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Iowa State University

Number of Fortune 500 CEOs: 4

School type: Public

Total enrollment: 35,993

In-state tuition and fees (2018-2019): $9,002

Out-of-state tuition and fees (2018-2019): $23,392

New York University

Number of Fortune 500 CEOs: 4

School type: Private

Total enrollment: 51,123

Tuition and fees (2018-2019): $51,828

University of Miami

Number of Fortune 500 CEOs: 4

School type: Private

Total enrollment: 17,003

Tuition and fees (2018-2019): $50,226

United States Military Academy

Number of Fortune 500 CEOs: 4

School type: Public

Total enrollment: 4,491

Tuition and fees (2018-2019): N/A

University of North Carolina

Number of Fortune 500 CEOs: 4

School type: Public

Total enrollment: > 29,911

In-state tuition and fees (2018-2019): $8,986

Out-of-state tuition and fees (2018-2019): $35,169

University of Notre Dame
Alfredo Sosa/The Christian Science Monitor | Getty Images

University of Notre Dame

Number of Fortune 500 CEOs: 4

School type: Private

Total enrollment: 12,467

Tuition and fees (2018-2019): $53,391

University of Utah

Number of Fortune 500 CEOs: 4

School type: Public

Total enrollment: > 32,760

In-state tuition and fees (2018-2019): $9,222

Out-of-state tuition and fees (2018-2019): $29,215

State University of New York, SUNY

Number of Fortune 500 CEOs: 5

School type: Public

Total enrollment: > 9,516

In-state tuition and fees (2018-2019): $8,210

Out-of-state tuition and fees (2018-2019): $17,990

Lehigh University

Number of Fortune 500 CEOs: 5

School type: Private

Total enrollment: 7,017

Tuition and fees (2018-2019): $52,930

Michigan State University

Number of Fortune 500 CEOs: 5

School type: Public

Total enrollment: 50,019

In-state tuition and fees (2018-2019): $14,460

Out-of-state tuition and fees (2018-2019): $39,750

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Princeton University

Number of Fortune 500 CEOs: 5

School type: Private

Total enrollment: 8,273

Tuition and fees (2018-2019): $47,140

University of Texas

Number of Fortune 500 CEOs: 5

School type: Public

Total enrollment: > 51,525

In-state tuition and fees (2018-2019): $10,606

Out-of-state tuition and fees (2018-2019): $37,480

Bucknell University

Number of Fortune 500 CEOs: 5

School type: Private

Total enrollment: 3,678

Tuition and fees (2018-2019): $56,092

University of Illinois

Number of Fortune 500 CEOs: 5

School type: Public

Total enrollment: > 48,216

In-state tuition and fees (2018-2019): $15,998

Out-of-state tuition and fees (2018-2019): $32,568

Yale University

Number of Fortune 500 CEOs: 5

School type: Private

Total enrollment: 12,974

Tuition and fees (2018-2019): $53,430

Purdue University
Michael Hickey/Getty Images

Purdue University

Number of Fortune 500 CEOs: 6

School type: Public

Total enrollment: > 41,573

In-state tuition and fees (2018-2019): $10,002

Out-of-state tuition and fees (2018-2019): $28,804

University of California

Number of Fortune 500 CEOs: 6

School type: Public

Total enrollment: > 41,910

In-state tuition and fees (2018-2019): $14,240

Out-of-state tuition and fees (2018-2019): $43,232

University of Pennsylvania

Number of Fortune 500 CEOs: 6

School type: Private

Total enrollment: 21,907

Tuition and fees (2018-2019): $55,584

Texas A&M University

Number of Fortune 500 CEOs: 6

School type: Public

Total enrollment: > 67,580

In-state tuition and fees (2018-2019): $10,968

Out-of-state tuition and fees (2018-2019): $36,636

Stanford University

Number of Fortune 500 CEOs: 7

School type: Private

Total enrollment: 17,178

Tuition and fees (2018-2019): $51,354

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University of Michigan

Number of Fortune 500 CEOs: 8

School type: Public

Total enrollment: > 46,002

In-state tuition and fees (2018-2019): $15,262

Out-of-state tuition and fees (2018-2019): $49,350

Cornell University

Number of Fortune 500 CEOs: 10

School type: Private

Total enrollment: 23,016

Tuition and fees (2018-2019): $55,188

Harvard University

Number of Fortune 500 CEOs: 12

School type: Private

Total enrollment: 20,604

Tuition and fees (2018-2019): $50,420

University of Wisconsin

Number of Fortune 500 CEOs: 14

School type: Public

Total enrollment: > 43,820

In-state tuition and fees (2018-2019): $10,555

Out-of-state tuition and fees (2018-2019): $36,805

University of Wisconsin mascot, Bucky Badger
Michael Hickey/Getty Images

According to Kittleman, the University of Wisconsin is the top CEO-producer, with 14 alumni who are current Fortune 500 CEOs. The split between public and private universities is roughly even, and 12.4 percent of CEOs attended Big Ten schools. Large schools, like those in the Big Ten Conference, are at a statistical advantage when it comes to this ranking, simply because of the sheer size of their alumni base.

Researchers from the Strada Institute for the Future of Work and labor market analytics firm Emsi recently analyzed over 36 million resumes and found that liberal arts graduates have significant advantages in the labor market of tomorrow. Specifically, they found that the skills traditionally associated with liberal arts programs — such as critical thinking, communication and creativity — are among the most in-demand by employers, and that graduates of liberal arts institutions show the fastest wage growth in their 30s and 40s.

"We were most intrigued by the smaller institutions," says King, "like Union College, Bucknell University and Lehigh University, perhaps evidence that a foundation in liberal arts and research is important to developing strong leaders."

Additionally, prestigious Ivy League schools like Harvard and flagship state schools like the University of Michigan are difficult to get into and have high standards for the students who are admitted, which means that they may be educating students who were already destined for greatness.

"There is no single factor that makes someone a great executive," says King. "It's a combination of education and experience of course, but it's also measured by traits such as humility, integrity, emotional intelligence, empathy, judgement, to name a few. Understanding which institutions are building both the industry expertise as well as these leadership traits is helpful to us in identifying and understanding the motivations of great leaders."

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University of Michigan Cheerleaders from the 60's and 70's perform classic cheers for the student section during a football game one Saturday afternoon at Michigan Stadium in Ann Arbor, Michigan. According to Kittleman & Associates, eight current Fortune 500 CEOs attended the University of Michigan for undergrad.
Steven King/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images
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