Climbing toward the top of the ladder through sports, entertainment, or the world of fashion, opens doors.

One of those doors is education, specifically earning honorary doctorates from an accredited institution or university. The feat highlights the contributions of people who are breaking barriers and inspiring others.

This year, entertainers Stevie Wonder, Ludacris, and Angela Bassett, are just a few names who have forged a path beyond their respective industries and can collectively toast to earning their doctorate titles.


Stevie Wonder


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Just two miles from Motown’s Hitsville, U.S.A., where Stevie Wonder recorded some of his greatest hits, the singer received an honorary degree from the WSU Board of Governors at Wayne State University.

Upon accepting the degree, Wonder expressed his love for previous institutions he attended as a child, and discussed organizations that hold sentimental value to him.

As one of the best-selling artists of all time — Wonder humbly reminds the audience that the achievement is not for him alone but for the people of Detroit.

“This really doesn’t just belong to me,” said Wonder, according to The Detroit Free Press. “It belongs to Motown, [where] so many people allowed me to discover and learn music and express my feelings. But most of all, it belongs to you, Detroit, because you allowed me, by embracing me, to really have the opportunity of discovery.”

Angela Bassett


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Angela Bassett is no stranger to the world of academia. She is an alumna of Yale University, receiving her B.A. degree in African American studies in 1980.

Three years later, Bassett began her career in acting. Her pivot led to an iconic career and numerous accolades including a Golden Globe for her portrayal of Tina Turner, and seven Primetime Emmy and NAACP Image Awards.

To no surprise, Bassett is still going, previously starring in “American Horror Story.” She will also soon resume her role in the second installment of the highly anticipated “Black Panther.” Bassett’s impact should not be questioned and this was affirmed as she earned an honorary doctorate from Old Dominion University (ODU) in Virginia.

“Hey Everybody you good? I’m so happy and humbled to receive an honorary doctorate from @olddominionu today! Education is truly the KEY! #stillmakingmymommaproud,” Bassett wrote on Instagram.

Naomi Campbell


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Taking off in her mid-teenage years, Naomi Campbell soon became a household name and set a new precedence in the fashion industry.

Her involvement as a fashion model broke barriers. In fact, she was the first Black model to be featured on the cover of British Vogue in 1988, and she was the first Black model on the cover of TIME.

What’s more, she was part of an elite group of models who inspired the term “supermodel.” Four decades later, Campbell is still one of the most sought-after models. Her contributions to the world of fashion validate why Campbell received an honorary Ph.D. from the University of the Creative Arts in London. 

Dwyane Wade


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NBA superstar Dwyane Wade received a warm welcome, returning to his alma matter two decades later.

Wade had previously led the Marquette Golden Eagles to the Final Four. He was one of the most decorated athletes at Marquette University and caught the attention of the NBA. He would later win three championship rings and become a 13-time NBA All-Star, among other accolades. Rightfully so, Wade’s accomplishments granted him an honorary doctor of humane letters degree at Marquette University.

“We. Are. Marquette. 23 years ago Marquette chose me,” Wade wrote on Instagram.

Jermaine Dupri


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Jermaine Dupri will always be in the conversation as one of the greats in the music industry. So, it was only right that his influence in the industry caught the attention of The Art Institute of Atlanta. So, he received an honorary doctor of fine arts degree.

“It gives us great pleasure to nominate Jermaine Dupri for an honorary degree from The Art Institute of Atlanta as his impressive achievements serve as an example of our aspirations for our students,” said Elden Monday, Interim Campus President of The Art Institute of Atlanta, according to a press release. “Jermaine is a visionary who has contributed significantly to the Atlanta community through his work in the global entertainment market. As long-time fans of Jermaine and his music, his accomplishments and contributions to the music industry directly align with the mission of our institution as we strive to nourish and develop creative warriors to become productive contributors to society.”


Chris “Ludacris” Bridges received an honorary degree of science in music management from the very institution he once attended.

Before Ludacris became a Grammy award-winning artist, he was a student at Georgia State University. Ludacris cut his time at the university short because he signed a deal with Def Jam Records. Ludacris shared with a sea of Georgia State University students that it was not his music that helped him remain relevant throughout decades but rather the skills he acquired at the university.

“I do thank the time on this campus for sharpening my skills. It gave me confidence that my path was just preordained and that I was exactly where I was supposed to be doing exactly what I was supposed to be doing,” Ludacris said during the 2022 Georgia State University commencement ceremony.

He continued: “I went here and studied music management and the business of music. I’m gonna be honest with you guys. Humbly speaking, is the reason why I feel like after 22 years, I am still relevant in the music business till this day. Thank you, GSU because I don’t know if you guys have heard this before, but anybody who wants to go on to do something in music business, or just music in general, it is 10 percent about the music and 90 percent about the business. Trust me when I tell you that. So though I left school, I was never gone, because this institution had become a part of me.”

Tiwa Savage


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Afrobeats singer Tiwa Savage jumped into the music scene at 16-years-old and has since released 23 singles and 10 music videos. Savage was the first African woman to sell out at the Indigo-02 and the first African woman to win the Best African Act at the 2018 MTV Europe Music Awards. Savage’s achievements were recognized by the University of Kent in Canterbury, England. She received an honorary doctorate in music and became one of ten to receive the honor.

“Some call me queen, but it’s Dr. Savage from now on,” Savage said during a speech presented to the 2022 Class of the University of Kent in Canterbury.

Russell Wilson


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NFL star Russell Wilson believes legacy is created in the everyday. He lives by this principle in part due to his late father.

Wilson received an honorary degree of doctor of humane letters from Dartmouth College — the same institution his father and three of his uncles attended — for his contributions on and off the field.

“For your poise, leadership and sportsmanship, both on and off the field, for your commitment to improving the lives of others and for your belief in the power of positivity and helping people reach their full potential, Dartmouth is proud to award you the honorary degree of doctor of humane letters,” Dartmouth President Philip J. Hanlon said, according to