List of Notable Harvard Alumni


Samarpita Goswami
Updated on Feb 21, 2022 11:06 AM IST

Many renowned personalities have left their footprints on the soil of Harvard University. Did you know the founder of Meta, Mark Zuckerberg was a student of Harvard? There is a long list of famous personalities who have enjoyed the advantages of Harvard. Let us have a look at the top 15 notable alumni of Harvard.

List of Notable Harvard Alumni

Harvard University flaunts a glorious list of alumni who have made the world proud with their diverse contributions to society as well as to their respective fields. This elite institution is famous for its students, teachers, along with its huge list of notable alumni. If one has to write a book, the index will be endless but here in this article, we have devoted our listing to a few honorablealumni of Harvard. An alumnus of Harvard has to acquire a degree either from any school at Harvard University or from Radcliffe College.

Harvard University, located in Cambridge, Massachusetts, is around four centuries old. From its inception, it has strived to provide education and learning of excellent quality and tried to make education accessible to all. Harvard houses a host of academic scholars, researchers, educators, and Nobel prize winners. This excellent faculty attracts hosts of students from all over the world every year.

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Advantages of Being a Harvard Alumnus

The advantages of being an alumnus of Harvard are:

  • A degree from a renowned institute such as Harvard helps in employment opportunities.

  • .It helps the alumnus see the world through a wider lens.

  • It contributes to establishing a vast network of people and alumni who can contribute to future advancement.

  • The premier facilities help in the holistic development of its students and later they shine in their professional field.

Harvard offers diverse courses from all the streams including science, commerce, arts and humanities, law, and liberal arts. It has become the destination of famous and notable students who have achieved various accolades in the education sector and their field of expertise. In recent times, they are working towards better accessibility of the physical as well as digital education and now we can see a rise in online courses where students can study at Harvard without physically attending classes.

Also Read:List of Notable Oxford Alumni (Oxonians)

Top 15 Harvard University Alumni

Let us now discuss some of the notable alumni of the prestigious Harvard University out of the 400,000+ alumni who have passed throughout the history of Harvard:

John F. Kennedy

John F. Kennedy, the 35th president of the USA, is one of the foremost alumniof Harvard University. He acquired his Bachelor of Arts degree with a special focus on international affairs. He started his political career in 1947 when he was elected to the House of Representatives. His work massively extended to public welfare, education, and labour policies. In 1953, he got a seat in the Senate. In 1961, he became one of the youngest presidents in America and world history. Kennedybelieved that one should make his or her contributions to the countrys development. The cold war was the background scenario of international affairs during his presidentship. Unfortunately, he was assassinated on November 22nd, 1963.

Mark Zuckerberg

Mark Zuckerberg, the revolutionary in the field of social media, began his humble beginnings studying psychology and computer science at Harvard University. A programmer from the start, he made significant contributions during his college days by creating a program called CourseMatch during his college years. He later launched Facebook along with his four roommates from college. It turned out to be one of the most used social networking sites in the world. He is a businessman, an internet prodigy, and a social worker. At the end of 2021, he changed the name of his parent company to Meta. His philanthropic activities have gained worldwide recognition apart from his being the founder of Facebook.

Natalie Portman

Natalie Portman, the popular face behind movies likeBlack Swan, Thor, Leon, Star Wars, etc has graduated from Harvard University in 2003 where she studied Psychology. She has been acting in blockbuster movies since her teenage days. The action drama Leon: The Professional was the first movie in which she starred as a child protegee of a hitman. When she was in high school, she made her debut in the Broadway theatres acting in The Diary of a Young Girl. She is the winner of the Golden Globe Awards for Best Supporting Actress(2004) in Closer and won Academy Awards for her outstanding performance in Black Swan(2010). Her film Thor: Love and Thunder islined up for the 2022 release.

Margaret Atwood

A glorious star of Canadian literature, Margaret Atwood has contributed to the literary heritage of 18 works of poetry, 18 novels, and other works of nonfiction. Determined to be a writer, she studied Literature at Radcliffe College under Harvard University. She applied for a doctoral degree but discontinued it after two years. Her first poetry work, Double Persephone came out in 1961. She has written praiseworthy works like The Edible Woman, The Handmaids Tale, Alias Grace, The Blind Assassin, and others. Her book The Testament won the Booker Prize in 2019. Besides being a writer, she is an essayist, environmentalist, teacher, and literary critic. She has won several awards and prizes for her writings. Among them are, two Booker Prizes, the Franz Kafka Prize, the Arthur C. Clarke Award, etc.

Jillian Dempsey

A young ice - hockey player, Jillian Dempsey stepped in her 30s this year. She achieved her major in the study of classics. She played for her University team named Harvard Crimsons Ice- Hockey team from 2009 to 2013 where she was made the captain later. In 129 games of the National Collegiate Athletic Association(NCAA), she scored 148 points. This helped her to be one of the top 10 scorers in the history of Harvard. Dempsey represented the national ice hockey team of the United States at the IIHF World Womens U18 Championship in 2009. She has won the Clarkson Cup and the Isabel cup. She is the current captain of Boston Pride in the Premier Hockey Federation. She is the record holder for the games played, goals, assists, and points in PHF.

Conan O Brien

Conan O' Brien studied History and literature at Harvard University. While at Harvard, he was the president of a humorous publication called The Harvard Lampoon. He also wrote for Not Necessarily the News. Now he is a renowned American television personality - juggling multiple roles of writer, host, podcaster, comedian, and producer. He was a writer for Saturday Night Live and The Simpsons. He has earned a name for his late-night talk shows such as Late Night with Conanare'Brien and The Tonight Show with Conan OBrien which he hosted for more than 25 years. He also hosted the Emmy Awards. His humour has been the hallmark of his hosting capabilities. His new show on HBO Max is expected to be hosted this year.

Tommy Lee Jones

The famous American actor and director studied a bachelor of arts from Harvard University. His specialization was in literature. He was a member of Harvard's football team. He played in the game of 1968. He made his debut in Broadway theatre with his performance in Patriot for Mein 1969. He coincidentally played the role of a Harvard student in the film Love Storyin 1970. He was a cast member of a few more plays namely: Four on a Gardenand Ulysses in NightTown. Jones was awarded Best Actor in Emmy Awards in 1984. His amazing acting has brought him four nominations in Academy Awards and earned him an award for best supporting actor in the film The fugitive.

Michael Bloomberg

Micheal Bloomberg, the American businessman turned politician was the mayor of New York City. He studied Masterof Business Administration (MBA) at Harvard business school. Bloomberg is also a social worker and writer. He worked at a security brokerage firm and then started his entrepreneurial activities in 1981. His firm deals with software and media. Bloomberg Terminal is a software famous under his name. In 2020 he was named as the 20th richest person in the world by Forbes magazine. He was the 108th mayor of New York City. Bloombergs policies focused on social welfare and moderation of fiscal policies. He contributed to building schools and restructured the infrastructure. He raised the property tax during his mayorship thereby increasing the deficit income of the city.

Neil deGrasse Tyson

Neil deGrasse is a famous name in the field of astrophysics. He did his B.A. in Physics from Harvard University. He is a scientist, author, and science communicator. He worked as a staff scientist in Hayden Planetarium. He then became its director in 1996. In Natural History magazine, he used to write essays monthly in the universe column. He does his research on cosmology, stellar evolution, and formation. Tyson was a part of a government mission on the future of the U.S. aerospace industry. He has several famous books on astrophysics in his name. He has received more than a dozen honorary doctorates from various universities across the world. Public Welfare Medal was awarded to him by the US National Academy of Sciences.

Matt Damon

Matt Damon is known for being a famous actor, producer, and playwright. His acting career started with his appearance in high school theatre productions. He took English classes at Harvard but he dropped out before completing his degree to take up a role in the movie Geronimo. His acting came to the forefront when he starred in Good Will Huntingin 1997. He won Academy and Golden Globe Awards for the best screenplay in the movie. Damons other movies include Saving Private Ryan, The Talented Mr Ripley, Dogma, Syriana, The Departedand Ford V Ferrari.He has excelled in his field of talent and received numerous awards which include Academy Awards, Golden Globe Awards, BAFTA nominations, Primetime Emmy awards nominations.

Ratan Tata

Ratan Tata, the big shot in the Indian business scenario completed the Advanced Management Programme from the Harvard Business School. His Tata group of industries has participated in several philanthropic works in India as well as abroad. He started working in his company in 1961. He played a major role in transforming the India-centric business into a global one by acquiring other companies such as Tetley, Jaguar Land Rover, and Corus. The revenues grew 40 times and profits grew 50 times under his stewardship. He developed low price Nano Car which made it easy for the middle class to fulfil their dream of buying a car. His works earned him Padma Bhushan and Padma Vibhushan. In October 2021, he bought Air India back from the Government of India.

William Edward Burghardt Du Bois

Originally from Ghana, he is the first Afro-American to attain a doctorate from Harvard University. He is a historian, socialist, sociologist, and his works relate to the fields of economics, sociology, and history. He was the first American-African to get a doctorate. After his doctorate, he started teaching history, sociology, and economics at the University of Atlanta.He was the main opponent in the Atlanta Compromise, which required submission of Blacks to work and meant subjugation to white rule.DuBois hard-handed fought against racism prevalent in American society. Bois was the leader of a movement called the Niagara Movement which sought equal rights for the blacks. He fought against racism and the lynching of the blacks. He championed Pan- Africanism which called for solidarity from all the Africans from all over the world.

Roger Adams

An organic chemist by profession Roger Adams did his study in organic chemistry from Harvard University as his major subject and mining as his minor subject. He was the head of the department of chemistry at the University of Illinois. He is famous for his development of Adams catalyst. His achievement lies in isolating and identifying Cannabidiol. He contributed to the understanding of the composition of plant alkaloids and complex vegetable oils. His research has led to significant developments in the cottonseed industry. Adams also worked on various other scientific projects which include synthesis of chloralkyl esters which are formed as a combination of aldehydes and acyl chlorides, synthesis of polyhydrooxyanthraquinones, determination of leprosy drugs structure, etc. Adamsbecame the head of Organic Chemical Manufacturers.

Sophia Akuffo

The ex-Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Ghana did her master's degree in law from the University of Harvard. She had been a member of the Governing Committee of the Commonwealth Judicial Education Institute. She also served as the chairperson ofthe Alternative Dispute Resolution Task Force. She was elected the judge of the African Court on Human and Peoples Rights in 2006. Then after serving as judge of the supreme court for several years she was appointed as the chief justice of Ghana. he wrote a book named The Application of Information & Communication Technology in Judicial Process- The Ghanaian Experience. Akuffo is now the chairperson of Covid-19 National Trust Fund.

Barbara Bestor

An architect by profession Barbara Bestor excelled at Harvard while she studied for a master's in architecture. During her early career, she worked on the renovation of many houses in the Los Angeles area. She designed Actor Gangs Theatre in Hollywood. She founded her own company Bestor Architecture in 1992 which did some major work in planning and designing the headquarters of Beats electronics, Intelligentsia Tea and Coffee, etc. She has been the designer of many mansions and stores. Bestor also taught at her alma mater at Harvard School of Design and later joined the University of California. She received National AIA Honor Award for Interior Architecture.

Also Read:Famous Ivy League Alumni

Other Notable Harvard Alumni

In this long list of Harvard alumni some other names which require mention are:


Harvard Alumnus



Current Profession


Howard H. Aiken



Computer scientist


Adam Aron



CEO of AMC Theatre


Tatyana Ali


African American Studies and Government

Singer and Actress


Nestor Carbonelle





Walter Kohn


Theoretical physics



Emily Cross



Fencing sportsperson.


Eric Maskin





Gregory White Smith





Tahmima Amam





Robert Benchley


English and Government


We have jotted and reviewed a few stars in the galaxy of alumni of Harvard. The list will be unending as every year a fresh batch of graduates and doctoral students have been etching their footsteps, making major contributions to the world.

Also Read:List of Notable Cambridge Alumni

Want to graduate from Harvard and enjoy the benefits of Harvard alumnus status? To apply to Harvard today and get quick tips on how to get into leading universities abroad connect with our experts.Know More!

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