Here's what the world's most influential tech CEOs studied in college

For new college students, choosing a major can feel like a decision that shapes one’s life trajectory. But a degree in computer science is no guarantee that you’ll create the next billion-dollar startup, and a philosophy degree won’t necessarily keep you from starting a business.

The best and brightest CEOs in tech come from a wide-range of educational backgrounds.

Some of their chosen majors link up perfectly with what they ended up accomplishing, while others made decisions that might not immediately make sense to an outside observer.

But whether you major in International Studies like Bumble’s Whitney Wolfe, or Metallurgical Engineering like Google’s Sundar Pichai, there are plenty of ways to make it big in tech.

Take a look:

Get the latest IBM stock price here.

Reed Hastings -- Netflix CEO

Alma Maters: Bowdoin University (B.A.), Stanford University (M.S.)

Majors: Mathematics (B.A.), Computer Science (M.S.)

Hastings deferred his college acceptance for one year to continue his summer job: selling vacuums door-to-door. While at Bowdoin, Hastings ran the Outing Club which organised climbing and canoeing trips.

Jack Ma -- Alibaba CEO

Sean Gallup/Getty Images

Alma Maters: Hangzhou Normal University (B.A.), Cheung Kong Graduate School of Business

Majors: English (B.A.), M.B.A.

Ma didn't get into college on his first attempt. Or his second. Or even his third. In all, Jack Ma applied to college four separate times before he was accepted and got an English degree. Now, he is worth almost $US30 billion.

Whitney Wolfe -- Bumble CEO

Whitney Wolfe
Whitney Wolfe, co-founder of Tinder and founder of Bumble

Alma Mater: Southern Methodist University

Major: International Studies

As a sophomore, Wolfe started a business selling tote bags to benefit wildlife harmed by the 2010 BP oil spill.

Reid Hoffman -- LinkedIn CEO

Kimberly White/Getty Images
LinkedIn chairman Red Hoffman speaks at the 2016 New York Times New Work Summit.

Alma Maters: Stanford University (B.S.), Oxford University (M.S.)

Majors: Symbolic Systems (B.S.) and Cognitive Science (B.S.), Philosophy (M.S.)

Meg Whitman -- Hewlett Packard Enterprise CEO

HPE CEO Meg Whitman

Alma Maters: Princeton University (B.A.), Harvard Business School

Majors: Economics (B.A.), M.B.A.

Whitman initially wanted to be a doctor, and began her college career studying science and mathematics. However, after spending a summer selling advertisements for magazines, she switched her major to economics.

Elon Musk -- Tesla and SpaceX CEO

Getty Images

Alma Mater: University of Pennsylvania's College of Arts and Sciences & Wharton School of Business

Majors: Physics and Economics

Before he was envisioning putting a man on the surface of Mars, Musk was enjoying much more pedestrian pursuits. As an undergrad at the University of Pennsylvania, Musk famously rented a 12-bedroom house and turned it into a nightclub, sometimes having as many as 500 guests a night.

Bonus: Bobby Murphy -- Snapchat CTO

Jemal Countess / Getty

Alma Mater: Stanford University

Major: Mathematical and Computational Science

While at Stanford, Murphy was a member of the Kappa Sigma fraternity where he met Snapchat co-founder and CEO Evan Spiegel.

Bill Gates -- Microsoft founder, former CEO

Ramin Talaie/Getty Images

Alma Mater: Harvard University (dropped out)

Major: N/A

Gates never decided on a major during his time at Harvard. He famously spent much of his time fooling around on the school's computers. In a recent Reddit AMA, he admitted that he hardly ever attended his classes, and would instead attend classes he wasn't signed up for.

Marissa Mayer -- Yahoo CEO

Ethan Miller/Getty Images

Alma Mater: Stanford University (B.S., M.S.)

Majors: Symbolic Systems (B.S.), Computer Science (M.S.)

Mayer arrived at Stanford with a plan to pursue the pre-med track and eventually become a pediatric neurosurgeon. However, her freshman year she took a class called CS 105A -- Computer Science for Non-Majors and quickly fell in love with the field.

Mark Zuckerberg -- Facebook CEO

By Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

Alma Mater: Harvard University (dropped out)

Majors: Psychology and Computer Science

Zuckerberg never did complete either of his two majors -- he dropped out during his sophomore year to move to Palo Alto and work on Facebook full time.

Larry Page -- Alphabet CEO

Justin Sullivan/Getty

Alma Maters: University of Michigan (B.S.), Stanford University (M.S.)

Majors: Computer Engineering (B.S.), Computer Science (M.S.)

BONUS: Sergey Brin -- Alphabet president, Google cofounder

Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

Alma Mater: University of Maryland

Major: Computer Science

Ginni Rometty -- IBM CEO

IBM CEO Ginni Rometty

Alma Mater: Northwestern University

Majors: Computer Science and Electrical Engineering

While at Northwestern, Rometty served as president of the Kappa Kappa Gamma sorority.

Marc Benioff -- Salesforce CEO

Alma Mater: University of Southern California

Major: Business Administration

Stewart Butterfield -- Slack CEO

Slack CEO Stewart Butterfield

Alma Maters: University of Victoria (B.A.), University of Cambridge (M.A.)

Majors: Philosophy (B.A.), Master of Philosophy

'Studying philosophy taught me two things,' Butterfield told Forbes. 'I learned how to write really clearly. I learned how to follow an argument all the way down, which is invaluable in running meetings.'

NOW WATCH: Tech Insider videos

Business Insider Emails & Alerts

Site highlights each day to your inbox.

Follow Business Insider Australia on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Instagram.