Your Cheat Sheet to the Most Famous Harvard Students of All-Time

Harvard University seems to pump out an extraordinary number of accomplished individuals. So, we decided to put together a comprehensive list of the most famous Harvard students of all-time.


1. John Adams

An American politician, John Adams (October 30, 1735-July 4, 1826) was the country’s second President (1797-1801), and first Vice President (1789-1797) for two terms. Adams was one of the original Founding Fathers, and played a lead role in the early stages of the American Revolution. He is famous for his part in persuading the Continental Congress to adopt the Declaration of Independence, negotiating a peace treaty with Great Britain, and obtaining important loans from Amsterdam. In addition, he was responsible for signing the Alien and Sedition acts, and resolving the Quasi-War crisis with France in 1798. Adams eventually became the father of John Quincy Adams, the sixth president of the United States.

2. John Quincy Adams

John Quincy Adams (July 11, 1767-February 23, 1848) was the sixth U.S. President (1825-1829). As an American diplomat, he served in both the Senate and House of Representatives, was involved in international negotiations, and helped formulate the Monroe Doctrine in his role as Secretary of State. He was also known as a member of the Federalist, Democratic-Republican, National Republican, Anti-Masonic, and Whig parties. After leaving presidential office, he was elected to be a U.S. Massachusetts Representative, and held that position for the last 17 years of his life.

3. Rutherford B. Hayes

An American politician, lawyer, and military leader, Rutherford Birchard Hayes (October 4, 1822-January 17, 1893) served as the 19th President of the United States (1877-1881). Hayes had a highly disputed election, decided by a congressional commission, and won by one electoral vote. His notable acts of legislation include the Compromise of 1877, Desert Land Act (1877), Bland-Allison Act (1878), and Timber and Stone Act (1878). From the end of his presidency until his death on January 17, 1893, he held a position on Ohio State University’s Board of Trustees.

4. Theodore Roosevelt

Theodore “Teddy” Roosevelt (October 27, 1858-January 6, 1919), the 26th President of the United States (1901-1909), was a leader of the Republican Party, and founder of the Progressive (“Bull Moose”) Party of 1912. He also served as the country’s 25th Vice President (March 4, 1901-September 14, 1901), 33rd Governor of New York (January 1, 1899-December 31, 1900), Assistant Secretary of the Navy (1897-1898), Minority Leader of the New York State Assembly (1883), Member of the New York State Assembly (1882-1884), President of the Board of New York City Police Commissioners (1895-1897), and Colonel of the United States Army (1898). This President was the force behind the completion of the Panama Canal, sending out the Great White Fleet to demonstrate American power, and negotiating an end to the Russo-Japanese War. Theodore Roosevelt was a distant fifth cousin to Franklin Delano Roosevelt, America’s 32nd President. Franklin’s wife, Eleanor was also his niece.

5. Franklin Delano Roosevelt

Franklin Delano Roosevelt (January 30, 1882-April 12, 1945), often referred to as FDR, was the only American president elected to more than two terms, serving in office from 1933-1945. He was also the 44th Governor of New York (January 1, 1929-December 31, 1932), Assistant Secretary of the Navy (1913-1920), and New York State Senator (January 1, 1911-March 17, 1913). Leading the country during worldwide economic crisis, FDR was involved with the creation of new jobs for the unemployed, and direct assistance to individuals. During World War II, he provided assistance to countries fighting against Nazi Germany, mostly Great Britain.

6. John F. Kennedy

John Fitzgerald “Jack” Kennedy (May 29, 1917-November 22, 1963), often referred to as JFK, served as the 35th President of the United States until his assassination. A former Lieutenant in the United States Navy (1941-1945), he was also a United States Senator from Massachusetts (January 3, 1953-December 22, 1960), and a member of the U.S. House of Representatives from Massachusetts’s 11th district (January 3, 1947-January 3, 1953). The reign of his presidency took place during the Bay of Pigs Invasion, Cuban Missile Crisis, building of the Berlin Wall, Space Race, African American Civil Rights Movement, and early stages of the Vietnam War. The Kennedy family, having produced a president, three senators, and multiple other representatives on the federal and state level, is one of the most established political families in America.

7. George W. Bush

George Walker Bush (born July 6, 1946) was the 43rd President of the United States (2001-2009), 46th Governor of Texas (January 17, 1995-December 21, 2005), and served as a First Lieutenant in the Texas Air National Guard and Alabama Air National Guard (1968-1974). This president was responsible for announcing a global war on terrorism, ordering an invasion of Afghanistan and Iraq, and promoting policies on the economy, health care, education, and social security reform. In addition, he signed into law broad tax cuts, the No Child Left Behind Act, the Partial-Birth Abortion Ban Act, and Medicare prescription drug benefits for seniors. Bush is the eldest son of the 41st U.S. President, George H.W. Bush.

8. Barack Obama

Barack Hussein Obama II (born August 4, 1961), the 44th and current President of the United States (assumed January 20, 2009), is the first African American to ever hold the office. Obama was previously a United States Senator from Illinois (January 3, 2005-November 16, 2008), and Member of the Illinois Senate from the 13th district (January 8, 1997-November 4, 2004). His acts of legislation signed into law are known as the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (February, 2009), and the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (March, 2010). On October 8, 2009 he was awarded the year’s Nobel Peace Prize, “for his extraordinary efforts to strengthen international diplomacy and cooperation between peoples.”


1. Bill Gates – Microsoft

William Henry “Bill” Gates III (born October 28, 1955), an American business magnate and philanthropist, was the Co-founder (1975), Chairman (1975-2000), President (1977-1982), and CEO (1992-1998) of Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT), one of the most recognized brands in the computer industry. His investments include Cascade Investment LLC (private investment and holding company), bgC3 (think-tank company), and Corbis (digital image licensing and rights services company). Gates is the author of two books: The Road Ahead (1995), and Business @ the Speed of Thought (1999). He is consistently ranked among the world’s wealthiest people.

2. Lloyd Blankfein – Goldman Sachs

Since May 31, 2006, Lloyd Craig Blankfein (born September 20, 1954) has been the CEO and Chairman of The Goldman Sachs Group (NYSE:GS), a global investment banking and securities firm dealing with investment banking, securities services, investment management, and other financial services. His previous history with the firm was as President and Chief Operating Officer (2004-2006), and Vice Chairman with management responsibility (2002-2004). Blankfein is affiliated with the Dean’s Advisory Board at Harvard Law School, Harvard University Committee on University Resources, Advisory Board of the Tsinghua University School of Economics and Management, Weill Medical College of Cornell University, and Partnership for New York City.

3. Mark Zuckerberg – Facebook

Mark Elliot Zuckerberg (born May 14, 1984) is an entrepreneur best known for founding the popular social networking site Facebook (NASDAQ:FB) while attending Harvard. He is currently one of the youngest billionaires in the world with personal wealth of $4 billion in 2010.

4. Sumner Redstone – National Amusements

Since 1967, Sumner Murray Redstone (born Sumner Murray Redstone; May 27, 1923) has been CEO of National Amusements, a privately owned media and entertainment company. Through National Amusements, Redstone and his family maintain majority ownership of CBS Corporation (NYSE:CBS), Viacom (NYSE:VIA) –which owns MTV Networks, BET, and Paramount Pictures — and DreamWorks (NASDAQ:DWA), as well as equal partnership of In 2007, Forbes magazine ranked him as #86 on its list of the world’s 100 richest people. His current net worth is estimated to be 2.4 million dollars.

5. Bill O’Reilly

William James “Bill” O’Reilly, Jr. (born September 10, 1949) currently hosts The O’Reilly Factor, a political commentary program on the News Corp (NASDAQ:NWS) owned Fox News Channel, which is the most watched cable TV news program in America. His entire career was involved with both broadcasting and print, as an American television host, author, syndicated columnist, and political commentator. O’Reilly has worked at various television stations in news reporting and anchoring positions, and authored eight books. He is considered by many to be a conservative commentator, and characterizes himself as a “traditionalist.”

6. James McNerney – Boeing

Since 2005, Walter James “Jim” McNerney, Jr., (born August 22, 1949) has been the CEO of Boeing Co. (NYSE:BA), a major aerospace and defense corporation. He has also held various positions with other major corporations, including Procter & Gamble (NYSE:PG) (1975-1978), McKinsey & Co., Inc. (1978-1982), General Electric (NYSE:GE) (1982-2000), and 3M (NYSE:MMM) (2000-2005). In 2004, McNerney was named Chief Executive Officer of the Year by Industry Week, and one of the best managers of 2003 by BusinessWeek. Boeing is the largest global aircraft manufacturer in terms of revenues, orders, and deliveries.

7. Stanley Marcus – Neiman Marcus

Harold Stanley Marcus (April 20, 1905-January 22, 2002) served as CEO of Neiman Marcus (Dallas-based luxury specialty retail department store) from 1973-1994. He is remembered as an important historical figure, involved with the development of American retail merchandising and marketing. In addition, he wrote a 15-year weekly column for The Dallas Morning News, and authored several retailing-oriented books, including Minding the Store: A Memoir (1974), the sequel Quest for the Best (1979), and His & Hers: The Fantasy World of the Neiman Marcus Catalogue (1982). His community knew him as a civic leader, and avid fine arts patron.

Movie Stars

1. Matt Damon

Matthew Paige “Matt Damon” (born October 8, 1970) is one of the top thirty-five highest grossing actors of all time. His career was launched with the success of Good Will Hunting, winning multiple nominations for Best Actor, the Academy Award for Best Original Screenplay, and Golden Globe Award for Best Screenplay, co-written with friend Ben Affleck. Damon has received multiple award nominations for other film performances, and a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. In 2007, People magazine named him Sexiest Man Alive.

2. Tommy Lee Jones

Thomas ‘Tommy’ Lee Jones (born September 15, 1946), American actor and film director, has multiple film and television credits, and has played both fictional and real-life characters. He won awards for the following roles: Gary Mark Gilmore (The Executioner‘s Song), Pete Perkins (The Three Burials of Melquiades Estrada), Axeman (A Prairie Home Companion), and Ed Tom Bell (No Country for Old Men). Jones presented the nominating speech for Al Gore, the Democratic Party’s U.S. presidential nominee, at the 2000 Democratic National Convention. Gore was his college roommate.

3. Ashley Judd

Ashley Judd (born April 19, 1968), an American actress, is famous for her work in films, such as Double Jeopardy, High Crimes, Kiss the Girls, Ruby in Paradise, and Where the Heart Is. She is the daughter of country music singer Naomi Judd, and younger half-sister to Wynonna, also a country music singer. After dating baseball player Brady Anderson, singer Michael Bolton, and actor Matthew McConaughey, she became engaged and married to Scottish auto racer Dario Franchitti. Judd is active in humanitarian and political causes, and speaks and demonstrates at pro-choice events.

4. Jack Lemmon

John Uhler “Jack” Lemmon III (February 8, 1925-June 27, 2001) starred in over 60 films, and had a career as an actor, producer, director, and screenwriter. He worked with many famous leading actresses, among them Marilyn Monroe, Natalie Wood, Betty Grable, Janet Leigh, Shirley MacLaine, Romy Schneider, Doris Day, Kim Novak, Judy Holliday, Rita Hayworth, June Allyson, Virna Lisi, Ann Margret, and Sophia Loren. The recipient of numerous film and television awards, Lemmon became the recipient of the AFI Life Achievement Award in 1988. After his death from colon cancer and metastatic cancer, many people appeared on a Larry King Live show as a tribute.

5. John Lithgow

John Arthur Lithgow (born October 19, 1945) has worked within the media as an actor, musician, and author. His acting reputation is most famous for portraying Dr. Dick Solomon on NBC’s 3rd Rock from the Sun, Arthur Mitchell on Showtime’s Dexter, and Reverend Shaw Moore in Footloose. Lithgow appeared in several stage productions, both on and Off-Broadway. He has also recorded music, and written short stories and poetry, geared towards the entertainment of children.

6. Natalie Portman

Natalie Portman (born Natalie Hershlag; June 9, 1981) an Israeli American actress, achieved wide fame for her role as Padme Amidala in the Star Wars prequel trilogy. She has won awards for her work in Star Wars Episode II: Attack of the Clones, Closer, Black Swan, and V for Vendetta. Portman made a directorial debut in Eve, which opened at the 65th Venice International Film Festival’s shorts competition, held in 2008. She is scheduled to produce and star in the upcoming novel adaptation Pride and Prejudice and Zombies.


1. Ben Bernanke

Having assumed office on February 1, 2006, Ben Shalom Bernanke (born December 13, 1953) is the current Chairman of the United States Federal Reserve. He previously served on President George W. Bush’s Council of Economic Advisers, both as a Fed Governor (2002-2005) and Chairman (2005-2006). He received a fellowship from the Econometric Society (1997), and the Distinguished Leadership in Government Award from Columbia Business School (2008). In 2009, he was named the Time magazine person of the year.

2. Larry Summers

Lawrence Henry Summers (born November 30, 1954) is an American economist and the Director of the White House’s National Economic Council for President Barack Obama. Summers is the Charles W. Eliot University Professor at Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government. He is the 1993 recipient of the John Bates Clark Medal for his work in several fields of economics and was Secretary of the Treasury for the last year and a half of the Clinton Administration. Summers also served as the 27th President of Harvard University from 2001 to 2006.

3. Al Gore

Albert Arnold “Al” Gore, Jr. (born March 31, 1948) served as the 45th Vice President of the United States from 1993 to 2001 under President Bill Clinton. He is currently an author, businessperson, and American environmental activist who starred in the 2006 documentary An Inconvenient Truth, which won an Academy Award in 2007. Gore also wrote the book An Inconvenient Truth: The Planetary Emergency of Global Warming and What We Can Do About It, which won a Grammy Award for Best Spoken Word Album in February 2009. He and the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change were jointly awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 2007. He is a co-founder and chair of Current TV, a member of the Board of Directors of Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL), and a senior advisor to Google (NASDAQ:GOOG).

(Hat Tip: Mark Green)

4. Jennifer M. Granholm

On January 1, 2003, Jennifer Mulhern Granholm (born February 5, 1959) became the 47th Governor of Michigan (2003-2011), as well as the first female to hold the office. Previously, Granholm served as the 51st Michigan Attorney General (1999-2003), has been mentioned as a potential Supreme Court Justice (2009), and was a member of the transition team for Barack Obama’s presidency (2009). Granholm is a member of the Democratic Party. She is affiliated with the National Governors Association, Health and Human Services Committee, and Health Care Task Force of the National Governors Association.

4. Mike Crapo

Michael Dean “Mike” Crapo (born May 20, 1951) assumed office as Idaho’s United States Senator on January 3, 1999. He previously served Michigan as a member of the U.S. House of Representatives from its second district (1993-1999). Crapo received numerous awards for his efforts relating to Agriculture, Business and Economic Development, Energy, Education, Environment and Public Lands Management, Family, Fiscal Policy, Health Care, and Seniors. A member of the Republican Party, he serves on over 25 caucuses, covering a wide range of issues.

5. Mitt Romney

Willard Mitt Romney (born March 12, 1947) served as the 70th Governor of Massachusetts from 2003-2007. During his term, he was responsible for a series of spending cuts, increases in fees, and the signing of Massachusetts health care reform legislation. As a candidate for the Republican nomination, he was involved with the 2008 U.S. presidential election, but after winning several caucuses and primaries, ultimately lost to John McCain. Romney successfully handled the 2002 Winter Olympics, working with the Salt Lake Organizing Committee as its CEO and President.

6. Felipe Calderon

On December 1. 2006, Felipe de Jesus Calderon Hinojosa (born August 18, 1962) assumed office as the current President of Mexico. Throughout the course of his term, Calderon has worked to reform the state judicial system, strengthen the energy sector, increase jobs, and fight crime and drug cartels. His career has been involved with the National Action Party (PAN), serving in various positions. He was elected for one six-year term, without the possibility of re-election, ending in 2012. He was succeeded by Enrique Pena Neito.

7. John G. Roberts

John Glover Roberts, Jr. (born January 27, 1955) has been the 17th and current Chief Justice of the United States since he assumed office on September 29, 2005. He was originally nominated as an Associate Justice of the Supreme Court, but when Chief Justice Rehnquist died before his confirmation hearings, President George W. Bush renominated Roberts to fill the vacated seat. From 2003-2005, he served as a judge for the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit, appointed to the position by Bush. At 50, Roberts became the youngest member of the Supreme Court, and the third-youngest person to have ever become Chief Justice.

8. David Souter

Until his retirement, David Hackett Souter (born September 17, 1939) held the office of Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States, from October 3, 1990-June 29, 2009. He previously served as Deputy Attorney General of New Hampshire (1971-1976), Attorney General of New Hampshire (1976-1978), Associate Justice of the New Hampshire Superior Court (1978-1983), Associate Justice of the New Hampshire Supreme Court (1983-1990), and Circuit Judge of the United States Court of Appeals for the First Circuit (1990). A member on various hospital boards and civic committees, Souter was also a former honorary co-chair of the We the People National Advisory Committee. The Washington Post once reported him as one of Washington’s 10 Most Eligible Bachelors.

(Source: Wikipedia)

This is not a comprehensive list. Help us add people who deserve to be on the list. Just let us know in the comments below and we’ll credit you with the submission.