WHERE THE CEOs WENT TO COLLEGE A FORTUNE survey of the nation's top bosses shows that the Ivies and Big Ten schools rank high. But wait! Little Johnny or Janie may want to consider Washington & Lee.
By Susan Caminiti REPORTER ASSOCIATE Therese Eiben

(FORTUNE Magazine) – IF YOU WANT to become chief executive of a FORTUNE 500 company, where should you go to college? Judging by past performance, you'd better practice singing ''Boola Boola'' and tune up your Whiffenpoofs repertoire. Yale tops all schools in its share of alumni CEOs, with Princeton a strong second, followed by the 64 other colleges in the table at right. The big names near the top of the list are those you might expect. But when the schools' ability to graduate future CEOs is adjusted for class size (see the Power Factor column), a few lesser-known institutions outshine the giants. Relatively speaking, tiny Washington & Lee of Lexington, Virginia, has launched more alumni toward the corner office than mighty Harvard. Earlier this year we asked 1,891 present and former CEOs of FORTUNE 500 and Service 500 companies to tell us where they went to school and what they studied. (At 109 companies the original CEO was still in charge.) We also asked where they went for their graduate degrees. Nearly 1,500 top executives replied. The Ivy League racked up the most impressive numbers. A total of 156 CEOs graduated from these eight universities, which are considered some of the most prestigious in the nation. Among the 43 current CEOs who helped Yale earn the valedictory spot: Roberto Goizueta of Coca-Cola, Samuel Heyman of GAF, and John Akers of IBM. Princeton boasts 32 CEO alumni; Norman R. Augustine of Martin Marietta went there. Harvard is alma mater for 25, including Scott McNealy of Sun Microsystems and Colman Mockler Jr. of Gillette. The other schools of the Ivy League each turned out more than ten of today's CEOs, with the exception of the University of Pennsylvania (eight) and Brown (four). The dominance of the Ivy League is, if anything, increasing: Whereas 14% of the former CEOs surveyed hold Ivy League degrees, nearly 19% of the current CEOs do. The Big Ten schools of the Midwest also stand out. They graduated 88 current corner-office occupants. Northwestern leads the group with 19, followed by the University of Michigan with 13 and the University of Illinois with 11. FORTUNE devised the Power Factor to gauge which colleges have been most successful on a per capita basis at schooling future corporate chiefs. Taking the average size of the graduating class for each school during the 1950s -- the decade when most of today's company leaders earned their bachelor's degrees -- we calculated the percentage accounted for by CEOs. By this measure Yale and Princeton kept the No. 1 and No. 2 spots, but Washington & Lee, a private liberal-arts university, vaulted past all other contenders. Another surprise: Davidson College, a North Carolina liberal-arts school that ranks seventh by Power Factor, behind No. 4 Harvard, No. 5 Dartmouth, and No. 6 Northwestern. FORTUNE's survey turned up executives at both extremes of the educational spectrum. A. Robert Abboud of First City Bancorp of Texas, for example, holds three Harvard degrees (B.A., J.D., MBA), while Molex cofounder John H. Krehbiel Sr. attended 17 years of night school without earning a diploma. Perhaps the best-known dropout is former Apple Computer CEO Steven Jobs, who co-founded the company after saying goodbye to Reed College in Portland, Oregon, during his freshman year. But while everyone loves rags-to-riches stories in which the hero makes it to the top with only a meager education, an overwhelming 93% of today's chief executives are college graduates. The moral for students: If you want to occupy the corner office, don't show up without a college degree. In fact, college might not be enough. Today's chief executives, almost regardless of their industry, are an increasingly well-educated bunch. Technical businesses such as aerospace and chemicals have long attracted highly educated CEOs. But other industries are catching up. In forest products, for example, more than half the current CEOs have advanced degrees, compared with only 20% of their predecessors; in farm equipment the gap is even wider. One holdout is the textile industry, where an equal proportion of current and former CEOs -- one-fourth -- never finished college. For all the leadership skills they teach, military schools are not necessarily a shortcut to jobs at the top. Only nine former and seven current CEOs came from such institutions, and the U.S. Military Academy at West Point is the only one to turn out three CEOs or more. Among its graduates: Rand Araskog, chief executive of ITT. An alumnus of the U.S. Naval Academy is Texaco's top gun, James Kinnear. In one important respect, today's chief executives prepared for the corporate world differently from their predecessors: The number of CEOs with MBAs has nearly tripled. The emphasis has shifted even at the undergraduate level. Whereas most former CEOs of industrial companies majored in technical subjects such as mechanical engineering, current CEOs are more apt to have concentrated from the start on business and economics. Thanks largely to its business school, Harvard leaves all other graduate programs in the dust (see table above). More than half of today's CEOs have a graduate degree of some kind; no fewer than 93, or one out of every five, went to Harvard to get it. Columbia University placed a distant second, with 23 CEOs. Do such strong showings by Harvard and Yale mean that American business is likely to draw CEOs increasingly from a small handful of schools? Perhaps. But no institution is likely to influence the American business scene to the degree, say, that the University of Tokyo influences the government of Japan. The U.S. higher-education system infuses American business with variety and diverse ideas and is one of the nation's enduring competitive strengths. America's rivals know it; that's why they send so many of their sons and daughters to study in the U.S.

CHART: NOT AVAILABLE CREDIT: NO CREDIT CAPTION: FROM CAMPUS TO CORNER OFFICE: HOW THE SCHOOLS STACK UP Sixty-six colleges graduated three or more chief executives of major Ameri can companies. The Power Factor measures the relative likelihood of your having made CEO if you graduated from a given institution. The higher the Power Factor, the greater the chance of a graduate's getting to the top.

CHART: NOT AVAILABLE CREDIT: NO CREDIT CAPTION: Overwhelmingly, Harvard was the graduate school of choice for current CEOs. One out of every five with an advanced degree went to Harvard to get it. One out of every three with an MBA went there too.