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Academy Awards nominations 2024: Where did the Oscar nominees go to university?

The film professionals nominated for Academy Awards for movies they have directed, produced, acted in, written and edited are a mixed bunch: these are the universities in the running to win the alumni Oscars

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March 5 2024
Oscars statuettes for Academy Awards


This year marks the 96th edition of the Academy Awards, better known as the Oscars, and we’ve taken a look at where the 2024 nominees went to university to prep themselves for careers in the film industry.

Although some of the talent did not attend university, choosing instead to dive straight into work, there are 82 universities, theatre schools and specialist schools from all over the world on this year’s list.

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Unsurprisingly, universities and colleges in North America and the UK are well represented, but universities in Japan, France, Germany, Poland and Chile also feature.

It is also important to note that universities and theatre schools were still included in this list even if the nominee dropped out part way through their course or transferred to another university during their degree programme – and some of the nominees’ education information was not available online at the time of publication.

New York University

New York University has produced the highest number of nominees this year, with an incredible seven in total. It’s important to note that five of these nominees attended the university’s prestigious Tisch School of the Arts, which is a well-known institution for producing successful artists, film-makers and creatives.

Two cast members of comedy-drama American Fiction are NYU alumni (Jeffrey Wright and Sterling K. Brown), while other categories featuring NYU alumni include Original Screenplay Writing (Samy Burch for May December) and Music (Mark Ronson for the catchy “I’m Just Ken” from Barbie).

Alumnus Film Nomination
Jeffrey Wright American Fiction Actor in a leading role
Sterling K. Brown American Fiction Actor in a supporting role
Pablo Berger Robot Dreams Animated feature film
Christine Turner The Barber of Little Rock Documentary short film
Mark Ronson  I’m Just Ken Music (original song)
Robbie Brenner Barbie Best Picture
Samy Burch  May December Writing (original screenplay)

Yale University

With six nominated alumni this year, Yale is regularly at or near the top of the list for producing Oscar nominations. Three of the nominees studied for master’s degrees at the Yale School of Drama.

Jodie Foster, nominated for her role in Nyad, completed a bachelor’s degree in literature from the Ivy League institution while still working as an actress. In 1993, she revisited Yale to deliver the commencement address and was awarded an honorary Doctor of Fine Arts degree in 1997. In 2018, she received the Yale Undergraduate Lifetime Achievement Award.

The Holdovers star Paul Giamatti earned a bachelor’s degree in English and went on to study a Master of Fine Arts degree from the Yale School of Drama.

Alumnus Film Nomination
Paul Giamatti The Holdovers Actor in a leading role
Jodie Foster Nyad Actress in a supporting role
Da’Vine Joy Randolph The Holdovers Actress in a supporting role
Sheila Nevins The ABCs of Book Banning Documentary short film
David Hemingson The Holdovers Writing (original screenplay)
Josh Singer Maestro Writing (original screenplay)

University of Southern California

With six nominated alumni, the University of Southern California is represented in sound, music, documentary and acting categories.

America Ferrera, nominated for her part in Barbie, attended the University of Southern California on a presidential scholarship, where she studied theatre and international relations. She left to concentrate on acting and returned to finish her bachelor’s degree in May 2013.

Composer Ludwig Göransson graduated from the Stockholm Royal College of Music and relocated to Los Angeles to join the University of Southern California Scoring for Motion Picture and Television programme in 2007. During his time at the university, he met Ryan Coogler, and they collaborated on the score for the acclaimed short film Fig in 2011. They went on to work on other projects together, such as Fruitvale Station, Creed and Black Panther. Göransson is nominated this year for his original score for Oppenheimer.

Alumnus Film Nomination
America Ferrera Barbie Actress in a supporting role
S. Leo Chiang Island in Between Documentary short film
Sean Wang Nǎi Nai & Wài Pó Documentary short film
Ben Proudfoot The Last Repair Shop Documentary short film
Ludwig Göransson Oppenheimer Music (original score)
Erik Aadahl The Creator Sound

Harvard University

Harvard University is represented by four nominees this year.

Cinematographer Edward Lachman, nominated for his work on El Conde, attended Harvard University and graduated with a BA before moving to France to study at at the University of Tours. He later earned a BFA in painting at Ohio University.

Producer David Heyman studied art history at Harvard University, where he was also a member of the fencing team. He is best known for being the primary producer for the Harry Potter film series and is now nominated for his work as producer on Barbie.

Alumnus Film Nomination
Edward Lachman EL Conde Cinematography
Dan Wilson It Never Went Away Music (original song)
David Heyman Barbie Best Picture
Josh Singer Maestro Writing (original screenplay)

The Juilliard School

The Juilliard School, commonly shortened to Juilliard, is a private conservatory for the performing arts located in New York City and this year has produced four nominees.

Danielle Brooks, nominated for her role in the musical The Color Purple, attended South Carolina Governor’s School for the Arts & Humanities before studying drama at Juilliard. She graduated in 2011 and has since had a varied career on both stage and screen. She made her Broadway debut in the musical of The Color Purple, for which she was nominated for a Tony Award and won a Grammy award.  

Another Juilliard alum is singer-songwriter and composer Jon Batiste. He studied jazz at the Juilliard School, obtaining a bachelor of music in 2008 and a master of music in 2011. During his time at Juilliard, he also released his second album, Live in New York: At the Rubin Museum of Art.

Alumnus Film Nomination
Danielle Brooks The Color Purple Actress in a supporting role
Kris Bowers The Last Repair Shop Documentary short film
Laura Karpman American Fiction Music (original score)
Jon Batiste It Never Went Away Music (original song)

California State University

California State University (Cal State or CSU) is the largest public university system in the United States, comprising 23 campuses and seven off-campus centres across California. Four nominees at this year’s Academy Awards attended California State University. 

Cinematographer Matthew Libatique, nominated for his work on Maestro, studied sociology and communications at California State University, Fullerton, and later obtained an MFA in cinematography from AFI Conservatory.

Diane Warren, nominated for Music (original song) for her work on The Fire Inside, attended Los Angeles Pierce College and graduated from California State University, Northridge in 1978.

Steven Spielberg, who has already won three Academy Awards, holds a bachelor of arts in film and electronic media from California State University, Long Beach

Alumnus Film Nomination
Matthew Libatique Maestro Cinematography
Michelle Mizner 20 Days in Mariupol Documentary feature film
Diane Warren The Fire Inside Music (original song)
Steven Spielberg Maestro Best Picture

Where did the rest of the nominees go to university?

University Number of Nominees
New York University 7
Yale University 6
University of Southern California 6
Harvard University 4
The Juilliard School 4
California State University 4
Columbia University 3
Barnard College 2
Brigham Young University 2
Dartmouth College 2
Georgetown University 2
Temple University 2
University of Wisconsin 2
Royal College of Art 3
University of California, Los Angeles 2
Beaux-Arts de Paris 1
William & Mary 1
Nottingham Trent University 1
University of South Florida 1
Academy of Art University 1
AFI Conservatory 1
American University 1
Amherst College 1
Anglia Ruskin University (ARU) 1
Asagaya College of Art and Design 1
Bentley University 1
Bezalel Academy of Arts and Design 1
Bournemouth University 1
Bradfield College 1
Brown University 1
California Institute of the Arts 1
Royal Central School of Speech and Drama 1
College of Arts and Science 1
Compton City College 1
Cornell University 1
DePauw University 1
Dún Laoghaire Institute of Art, Design and Technology 1
Ecole des Arts et du Cinéma 1
Ernst Busch Academy of Dramatic Arts 1
Full Sail University 1
Gakushuin University 1
HEC Paris 1
Howard University 1
Ithaca College 1
Keio University 1
King’s College London 1
La Fémis 1
Leon Schiller National Higher School of Film, Television and Theatre 1
London College of Fashion 1
London Film School 1
Los Angeles Pierce College 1
Mississippi State University 1
National Film and Television School 1
Northern Film School 1
Ohio University 1
Parsons School of Design 1
Pontifical Catholic University of Chile 1
Queen’s University 1
R. H. King Academy 1
Rice University 1
Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology Australian Film, Television and Radio School 1
San Diego State University 1
San Francisco State University 1
School of Visual Arts 1
Stanford University 1
Stockholm Royal College of Music 1
Texas Christian University 1
Thomas Rotherham College 1
University College Cork 1
University of Cambridge 1
University of Colorado 1
University of Montana 1
University of Sussex 1
University of Texas at Austin 1
University of Toronto 1
University of Tours 1
University of Virginia 1
University of Westminster 1
Vassar College 1
Villanova University 1
Wimbledon College of Art 1

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