What College Did Meghan Markle Attend?

Meghan Markle is a new kind of royal. Not only is she a biracial, divorced American, but the Duchess of Sussex was an outspoken career woman before she wed Prince Harry at age 36. And unlike most royal women of earlier generations, including Queen Elizabeth II and Princess Diana, this avowed feminist is college-educated.

Meghan Markle attended Northwestern University

Meghan Markle

Meghan Markle | Getty Images/Pool

The future Duchess grew up in Los Angeles and attended Immaculate Heart High School, where she graduated in 1999. In high school, she’d performed in plays, so perhaps it was no surprise that she headed off to a college known for its top-notch drama department.

Markle enrolled in Northwestern University in Evanston, Illinois, just north of Chicago. She earned a double major in theater and international studies and graduated in 2003. Former professors remember her as a passionate, engaged student. Harvey Young had Markle as a student in a seminar focusing on African-American playwrights.

“Being a biracial actress, Meghan had a sophisticated view and understanding of what it means to be perceived and treated differently,” Young told Northwestern Now. “She was quite aware of how people respond to race and was very clear about the need to think about the experiences of people who are not only biracial but also people of color.”

What was Meghan like during college?

The not-yet-famous Markle led a pretty typical college student life during her time at Northwestern, by all accounts. During a visit to campus in 2014, she recalled schlepping around campus. She also mentioned how visits to the 24-hour Burger King caused her to gain weight during her freshman year.

In her first year on campus she joined the Kappa Kappa Gamma sorority, where she later served as chair of recruitment and participated in Northwestern’s annual Dance Marathon for charity. Markle – who initially planned to major in English — also scored an impressive internship at the U.S. embassy in Buenos Aires.

In her classes, Markle was eager to explore issues of race. “I took an African-American studies class at Northwestern where we explored colorism,” she told Allure in 2017. “It was the first time I could put a name to feeling too light in the black community, too mixed in the white community.” She also took a class on the work of Toni Morrison, which helped her develop a love of the Nobel-prize-winning author.

The challenges she faced in college

Markle’s time at university wasn’t completely smooth sailing. She’s written about confronting the “closed-mindedness” of some of her fellow students.

In a 2015 essay for Elle, she recalled “a dorm mate I met my first week at university who asked if my parents were still together. ‘You said your mom is black and your dad is white, right?’ she said. I smiled meekly, waiting for what could possibly come out of her pursed lips next. ‘And they’re divorced?’ I nodded. ‘Oh, well that makes sense.’ To this day, I still don’t fully understand what she meant by that, but I understood the implication.”

How college prepared Meghan for royal life

Queen Elizabeth II, Meghan, Duchess of Sussex, Prince Harry, Duke of Sussex

Queen Elizabeth II, Meghan, Duchess of Sussex, Prince Harry, Duke of Sussex | Chris Jackson/Getty Images

When she was in college, Markle couldn’t have known that she’d one day become a duchess. But her education set her up to succeed in her royal duties. Studying theater undoubtedly prepared her for playing the role of a royal. Her second major in international relations means she’s informed about global issues. And her sorority is known for its philanthropic efforts, which fits right in with the causes she’ll support as the Duchess of Sussex.

“The point about Meghan is she’s smart, she’s glamorous, she’s everything that a modern American woman aspires towards and she’s brought those values of equality, intelligence and self-confidence to the royal family,” biographer Andrew Morton told People, “In a way she’s made all of them up their game.”

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