Country stars have many talents: They can sing, write songs and play a slew of instruments. But some artists have talents beyond the recording studio and the stage. Did you know that many of your favorite country stars have college degrees?
Whether they went to school to hone their musical craft or pursue another passion, these artists know how to hit the books (…or how to get the party started in a frat house). Either way, take a look these 20 artists who pursued degrees before and even during or after their rise as successful country stars.
When Carrie Underwood left college to compete on “American Idol”, she was just three credits shy of a degree. After winning “Idol”, Underwood graduated from Northeastern State University (Okla.) in 2006 with a bachelor’s in mass communications and a concentration in journalism. She even received school credit for competing on “Idol” and it counted as an internship.
Reba McEntire launched her career as a country artist while still a student at Southeastern Oklahoma University, majoring in education and minoring in music. She finished college on an accelerated three-and-a-half year program so she could pursue her musical career full time.
Sam Hunt discovered his passion for music while he was a college student – and also a college football quarterback. Hunt attended University of Alabama at Birmingham and then transferred to Middle Tennessee State University. He majored in philosophy.
Kris Kristofferson is a man of many talents. He earned a Rhodes Scholarship to study at Oxford University (U.K.), all while competing on the school’s boxing team and writing songs. He graduated with a master’s degree in literature in 1960.
Before Donna Fargo burst on the country music scene in the ’70s, she was a teacher and head of the English department at a California high school. Fargo received a degree in education from the University of Southern California.
Before attending college, Luke Bryan had every intention of packing his bags and pursuing a music career in Nashville, Tenn. But when his brother was killed in a car crash, Bryan decided to stay closer to home and attend Georgia Southern University. He graduated with a bachelor’s degree in business administration in 1999. Byran married his college sweetheart and eventually moved to the Music City to pursue his music career.
Trisha Yearwood attended Young Harris College (Ga.) and the University of Georgia before she finally settled on attending Belmont University in Nashville. As a Belmont student, Yearwood interned for MTM Records, where she eventually worked full-time after graduating from Belmont’s prestigious music business program.
Florida Georgia Line
Florida Georgia Line’s Tyler Hubbard and Brian Kelley met as students at Belmont University in Nashville. Kelley had transferred to Belmont from Florida State University and was a member of the baseball team. Hubbard studied at the school’s reputable music business program. The duo paired up while they were students and released their first EP together in 2010.
Despite playing gigs as a teenager, Eric Church put his musical aspirations on hold until after he graduated college. Church received a business degree from Appalachian State University (N.C.).
After rising to stardom as an “American Idol” winner, Scotty McCreery decided to attend college. In between songwriting, touring and recording, McCreery makes time to study at North Carolina State University as a communications major.
Before he seriously pursued his music career, Garth Brooks focused most of his attention on athletics. Brooks attended Oklahoma State University on a scholarship for javelin.
Brad Paisley attended West Liberty University (W. Va.) for two years before he was awarded a fully-paid scholarship to Belmont University from ASCAP for his songwriting talent. Paisley majored in music business and interned at ASCAP, Atlantic Records and the Fitzgerald-Hartley management firm.
Chase Rice had always dreamed of being a professional athlete. Rice was a linebacker on the University of North Carolina football team.
While he was studying advertising at East Tennessee State University, Chesney recorded his first self-released demo album. He played local gigs and sold his albums at his shows. After graduating in ’90, Chesney headed to Nashville to chase his musical dreams.
Kelsea Ballerini dropped out of Nashville’s Lipscomb University so she could focus on her music career. As a student, Ballerini spent most of her free time performing and writing songs.
Sheryl Crow honed her musical talents at the University of Missouri, where she earned a degree in music composition, performance and education.
Kix Brooks attended Louisiana Tech University as a theater arts major. Halfway through his time as a student, Brooks took a hiatus to work on an oil pipeline in Alaska. He then returned to Tech to finish his degree.
Thomas Rhett is no stranger to playing for large crowds. As a student at Lipscomb University in Nashville, Rhett performed at frat parties and the Tau Phi cowboy show.
Next: 10 Types of Texas Country Music Fans