Jeff Bezos, the founder and CEO of Amazon, is one of the most influential technology entrepreneurs of our time. His disruptive innovations in e-commerce and cloud computing have shaped the landscape of online retail and web services. But before rising to global business prominence, Bezos was just a student trying to chart his path in the world. So where did the visionary billionaire go to college?
Bezos attended Princeton University, the renowned Ivy League research university located in Princeton, New Jersey. He graduated summa cum laude in 1986 with a Bachelor of Science degree in computer science and electrical engineering.
His time at Princeton proved formative, equipping him with the technical skills and vision to eventually launch Amazon in 1994. But even as a student, Bezos displayed his entrepreneurial drive, creativity and ambition.
Quick Facts About Jeff Bezos’ Education
- Graduated as valedictorian from Miami Palmetto Senior High School
- Scored 1590 out of 1600 on SAT
- Majored in computer science and electrical engineering at Princeton
- Graduated summa cum laude from Princeton in 1986
- Elected to Phi Beta Kappa and Tau Beta Pi honor societies
- Served as President of Princeton’s Students for the Exploration and Development of Space
- Early on showed interest in space travel and extraterrestrial life
Who is Jeff Bezos?
Born on January 12, 1964 in Albuquerque, New Mexico, Jeff Bezos displayed technological interests and talents from an early age. His mother, Jacklyn Bezos, was a teenager when she gave birth to Jeff. His biological father abandoned the family shortly after his birth. When Jeff was 4, his mother remarried Miguel Bezos, a Cuban immigrant, who adopted Jeff and gave him his surname.
The family later moved to Houston, Texas where Jeff attended River Oaks Elementary School. Right from elementary school, Jeff showed an affinity for science and mathematics. He turned his parents’ garage into a laboratory for his science experiments. In high school, he launched an educational summer camp for fourth, fifth and sixth graders called the DREAM Institute. He graduated as high school valedictorian and National Merit Scholar.
Despite acceptance to renowned universities like MIT, Jeff chose to pursue his undergraduate studies at Princeton University.
Where Did Jeff Bezos Go To College?
In 1982, Bezos began his undergraduate education at Princeton University. He pursued a Bachelor of Science degree in computer science and electrical engineering.
Princeton proved to be a fertile ground for Bezos’ brilliance. As part of the graduating class of 1986, Bezos accessed the university’s cutting-edge computing infrastructure. He studied under renowned computer science professors like Jennifer Widom. Outside class, he pursued his interest in space through the Students for the Exploration and Development of Space organization.
Bezos quickly stood out for his intelligence and curiosity. According to his classmates and professors, he was always asking smart questions that went to the fundamentals of any technical problem. In college, he laid the foundations of his future business and technology acumen.
Princeton’s rigorous computer science program equipped Bezos with the technical skills he later leveraged to great effect at Amazon. The electrical engineering coursework gave him a robust understanding of electronics and system design.
Outside academics, his activities with the space development organization allowed him to cultivate his long-held passion for space exploration. This passion later fueled his aerospace company Blue Origin.
Bezos graduated magna cum laude from Princeton in 1986, earning a 4.2 GPA. For his outstanding academic performance, he was elected to the honor societies Phi Beta Kappa and Tau Beta Pi. He was also awarded the highest honor given to Princeton’s top graduating seniors – a Pyne Prize.
So Princeton proved foundational to Bezos’ education and early career achievements. The knowledge and skills he gained served him well in his future endeavors as an entrepreneur and business trailblazer.
Bezos’ Early Career After Princeton
After graduating from Princeton in 1986, Bezos first worked at telecommunications startups like Fitel and Bankers Trust. In 1990, he became the youngest ever senior vice president at hedge fund D.E. Shaw & Co.
While at Shaw, Bezos had the idea to sell books over the fledgling Internet. He quit his well-paid finance job in 1994, moved to Seattle and founded Amazon as an online bookstore. The company rapidly expanded into other product categories, becoming the world’s largest online retailer.
In the 1990s and early 2000s, Bezos pioneered innovations like Amazon Prime, 1-Click ordering and customer reviews. He led Amazon to become a Fortune 500 powerhouse and himself became one of the world’s richest men.
So while Princeton prepared Bezos with the technical expertise and problem-solving skills, his bold vision and business ingenuity made Amazon what it is today. But Bezos credits his academic background for giving him the tools needed to envision and launch his disruptive startups.
Jeff Bezos’ High School Education
Before entering Princeton, Bezos attended Miami Palmetto Senior High School in Miami, Florida. There too he excelled academically, serving as a National Merit Scholar and valedictorian. At the graduation ceremony, he gave a 10 minute speech on humanity’s need to preserve, protect and extend our intelligence beyond planet Earth.
Jeff Bezos’ Graduate Studies
While Jeff Bezos does not have a postgraduate degree, he expressed interest in pursuing graduate studies at Princeton. In 2016, he funded the Bezos Center for Neural Circuit Dynamics at Princeton Neuroscience Institute – a cross-disciplinary neuroscience research program.
Notable Princeton Alumni
Princeton has produced a long line of distinguished alumni across fields like politics, academia, business and arts. Notable graduates include former President Woodrow Wilson, Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor, actors Jimmy Stewart and Brooke Shields, Amazon founder Jeff Bezos, and Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg.
Jeff Bezos’ Philanthropic Initiatives
While Bezos has faced criticism for not donating more of his wealth, he has recently stepped up his charitable giving. In 2020, he committed $10 billion to launch the Bezos Earth Fund to combat climate change. His other philanthropic initiatives include the Day 1 Families Fund for homeless support and early education.
Follow Jeff Bezos on Social Media
- Twitter: @JeffBezos
- Instagram: @JeffBezos
- LinkedIn: Jeff Bezos
Where did Jeff Bezos get his start?
Jeff Bezos got his start in business by founding Amazon as an online bookstore in 1994. He first came up with the idea to sell books on the Internet while working as an investment banker at D.E. Shaw in New York.
How much is Jeff Bezos worth?
As of 2023, Jeff Bezos has a net worth of around $134 billion, making him the third richest person in the world according to Bloomberg’s Billionaires Index. His wealth comes mainly from his 16% stake in Amazon.
What major did Jeff Bezos study in college?
At Princeton University, Jeff Bezos majored in computer science and electrical engineering, graduating summa cum laude in 1986.
Did Jeff Bezos invent the Kindle?
Yes, Jeff Bezos led and oversaw the development of Amazon’s popular e-reader, the Kindle, which was first released in 2007. The Kindle helped spur e-book sales and popularised e-readers.
How did Princeton University prepare Jeff Bezos?
Princeton gave Bezos the computing knowledge and tech skills he later used to build Amazon and its robust infrastructure. Studying under leading CS professors and accessing cutting-edge research technology proved formative.