Which Universities Create the Most Female Self-Made Billionaires? | Top Universities

Which Universities Create the Most Female Self-Made Billionaires?

By Niamh O

Updated December 3, 2020 Updated December 3, 2020

Becoming a millionaire is quite the accomplishment, so you can imagine the blood, sweat, and tears it takes to become a self-made billionaire.

Female self-made billionaires are particularly rare, as can be seen by looking at Hurun’s annual Richest Self-Made Women in the World list. This year, Hansoh Pharma’s Zhong Huijuan, 59, became the world's most successful self-made woman with a net worth of US$15.1bn.

Of the world's top 20 richest women, only three are self-made with the other 17 benefiting from inherited wealth. For example, Alice Walton, 70, is the richest woman in the world with a personal fortune of US$59bn and she’s the eldest daughter of Walmart founder Sam Walton.

There’s a notable gender gap when it comes to the richest people on the planet as well, with only three of the top 20 richest men benefiting from inherited wealth.

This year, Hurun found 100 self-made women billionaires, and 61 percent of them originate from China.

Wondering which universities might be best-placed to propel you into a billionaire lifestyle? The below table looks at which institutions are the alma mater for the world’s richest self-made female billionaires. As you can see only a handful of universities can claim to have educated more than one of the female billionaires on Hurun’s list.

                          Universities that have educated the most female billionaires


Number of female billionaires

Zhejiang University


Tsinghua University


University of Science and Technology of China


University of Pennsylvania


University of Nevada - Las Vegas


Sun Yat-sen University


South China University of Technology


Peking University


Oklahoma State University


Harvard Business School


Fudan University


China Europe International Business School (CEIBS)


 Zhejiang University and Tsinghua University have produced the most self-made female billionaires (three respectively):

  • Zhejiang University: Chen Xioaying, Chen Ailian, Wu Yan
  • Tsinghua University: Chen Ailian, Zhang Xiaojuan, Wang Laichun

Both universities have business schools for students wanting to hone their business knowledge:

10 institutions have produced two self-made female billionaires, while a further 66 universities have educated one self-made billionaire each.

However, there are also 32 self-made female billionaires today who didn’t attend university – so you don’t need to pin all your hopes for success on being accepted into a particular institution!

Examples include Giuliana Benetton - who co-founded the clothing company Benetton Group with her siblings - and Diane Hendricks, co-founder of American building supply company ABC Supply.

As is to be expected from a list dominated by Chinese billionaires, Chinese-based universities make up almost a third of the institutions on the list this year. The US and the UK are second and third.

British Universities That Produced Self-Made Female Billionaires

WUR Rank




University of Cambridge

Zhang Xin


The University of Sheffield

Denise Coates


Cardiff University

Mary Perkins


The University of Exeter

JK Rowling


University of Sussex

Zhang Xin

As well as educating four of the UK’s wealthiest females, the UK also welcomed Chinese national and real estate mogul Zhang Xin as an international student. Zhang Xin undertook her master’s degree at Cambridge and her undergraduate degree at the University of Sussex.

Britain’s wealthiest female self-made millionaire, Denise Coates, attended the University of Sheffield. Since graduating, the founder of Bet365 has built up a net worth of £7.3billion. In fact, Denise is the 11th richest woman on the planet!

JK Rowling, author of the Harry Potter series, attended the University of Exeter for her undergraduate degree.

This article was originally published in December 2020 .

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Written by

Niamh is Deputy Head of Content at QS (TopMBA.com; topuniversities.com), creating and editing content for an international student audience. Having gained her journalism qualification at the Press Association, London and since written for different international publications, she's now enjoying telling the stories of students, alumni, faculty, entrepreneurs and organizations from across the globe.  

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