STEM degrees have grown significantly in popularity.

According to College Counselor Services, these degrees have exploded in popularity over the past decade, especially as digital technology and computers have become a part of our everyday lives. The outlet reports that biology & biomedical sciences are the most sought-after STEM degrees, followed by degrees in mathematics & statistics, and computer science & technology rounds out the top three.

What’s more, the National Science Foundation confirms that Black students — especially Black women — are seeing the value of these degrees, and are flocking to them in record numbers.

“Women in the STEM workforce increased from 32% in 2010 to 34% in 2019, nearly all of which was related to an increase in the proportion of women with a bachelor’s degree or higher in STEM, from 42% (5 million workers) in 2010 to 44% (7 million workers) in 2019,” the government agency said in its most recent report. “The proportion of women in the STW in 2010 and 2019 was 26% (5 million workers).”

And while, certainly, there is still a long way to go for true equity in the field, the National Science Foundation suggests that this is quickly becoming a viable career choice for underrepresented groups.

But before they were even known as “STEM degrees,” these four celebrities were getting them from a variety of different schools. Let’s take a look at which ones have surprising degrees in science, technology, engineering, and/or math.

Tiger Woods

STEM degrees
Photo Credit: Andy Buchanan

Before he became known as a professional golfer and one of the richest Black athletes in the world, Tiger Woods was known as a Stanford University student gunning for his STEM-related degree. From 1994 until 1996, the NCAA reports that Woods attended the prestigious California college to pursue an economics degree, but left after two years when he turned pro.


STEM degree
Scott Dudelson

Can’t nobody hold him down! Before he became a Hip-Hop mogul with a nearly billion-dollar net worth, he was studying economics at the esteemed HBCU, Howard University. And though he eventually dropped out to pursue his dreams of rap stardom, Billboard reported that in 2014, he returned to the esteemed HBCU to receive his honorary Ph.D. and to deliver the commencement speech.

Lionel Richie

Photo Credit: Erika Goldring

His legendary $200 million fortune notwithstanding, Lionel Richie is a “Brick House” when it comes to education, too. He received a STEM-related degree from the HBCU, Tuskegee University, where he graduated with a degree in economics.

Kevin Liles

Photo Credit: Ben Gabbe

Although he’s best known for his work in the music industry, 300 Entertainment founder Kevin Liles was on a path to becoming an engineer.

According to the Baltimore Sun, “Liles attended Morgan State University on a NASA electrical engineering scholarship before leaving a few credits shy of earning his degree to pursue music full time.”