The 20 Most Powerful Harvard Graduates

Obama michelle air force oneKevin Lamarque/ReutersHarvard alums Barack and Michelle Obama exit Air Force One.

From the president of the United States to the heads of some of the biggest financial institutions in the world, Harvard University graduates have established themselves in powerful positions.

Harvard—which was recently named the university with the best reputation in the world—is known as being one of the best academic institutions in the America. Both its undergraduate and graduate programs consistently top many higher education rankings.

For this list, we’ve included any living person who has a degree from one of Harvard’s schools. We looked for those who are currently in positions of major power and influence on both a national and global stage.

Jill Abramson, Executive Editor of the New York Times, graduated in 1976 with a B.A. in History

Jill Abramson is not only the Executive Editor of the New York Times, arguably the most influential newspaper in the world, but she is the first female to hold the title in its 160 year history. She also graduated from Harvard magna cum laude.

Ban Ki-moon, Secretary-General of the UN, earned an M.A. in public administration in 1985

Ki-moon has held the title of Secretary-General of the UN since 2007, after being unanimously re-elected in 2011. For his second term he wanted to focus on empowering women and promoting sustainable development. Prior to his appointment, he was South Korea's Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade.

Ben Bernanke, former Chairman of the Federal Reserve, received a B.A. and later a M.A. in economics in 1975

Ben Bernake is the former chairman of the Federal Reserve, where his name was at the forefront in trying to solve the economic collapse. Now, he makes more money in a 40 minute speech than he did for a year's worth of work.

Lloyd Blankfein, CEO of Goldman Sachs, earned his B.A. in 1975 and his J.D. in 1978

Goldman Sachs has $US938 billion in assets, making it one of the financial superpowers of the world. Blankfein has been its CEO since 2006 and in 2013 was listed #27 on Forbes Magazine's List of The World's Most Powerful People.

Michael Bloomberg, former Mayor of New York City, received his M.B.A in 1966

The uber-wealthy, former three-term mayor of New York City changed how we all look at giant sodas. He was recently appointed by United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon as his Special Envoy for Cities and Climate Change.

Stephen Breyer ('64)/Elana Kagan ('86)/Anthony Kennedy ('61)/Antonin Scalia ('60), Associate Justices of the Supreme Court of the United States

Together, this group of Harvard graduates make up half of the US Supreme Court's associate justices, spanning the entire ideological spectrum.

Sylvia Mathews Burwell, Director of the Office of Management and Budget, received a B.A. in government in 1987

Burwell was the one who shut down the government for 16 days this October when she was only six months on the job. She has also held high positions in large charities such as the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and the Wal-mart Foundation. She graduated form Harvard cum laude.

Jamie Dimon, CEO of JPMorgan Chase, graduated with an M.B.A in 1982

Jamie Dimon is listed #22 on Forbes Magazine's List of The World's Most Powerful People and runs one of the largest banks in the world. He recently came under fire for getting a 74% raise in 2013 while JPMorgan had big lay-offs. Dimon was previously a director for the New York Federal Reserve.

Shaun Donovan, Secretary of Housing and Urban Development, earned his B.A., and two M.A.s in architecture and public administration by 1995

Donovan has been the Secretary of Housing and Urban Development since 2008. He's been the one dealing with the subprime mortgage crisis since it began.

Arne Duncan, Secretary of Education, graduated magna cum laude in 1987 with a B.A. in sociology

Duncan has been the Secretary of Education since 2009. Prior to his appointment he was CEO of Chicago Public Schools. He was also named MVP of the recent basketball All-Star Celebrity Game, earning a 20 point all-time high.

Jack Lew, Secretary of the Treasury, graduated with a B.A. in 1978

From his current Secretary of Treasury to to his former positions at Chief of Staff and Director of the Office of Management and Budget, Lew has held some pretty powerful positions. His loopy signature now graces newly circulated currency.

Bill O'Reilly, host of 'The O'Reilly Factor,' received a M.A. for public administration in 1996

The controversial commentator has been the host of the most popular news cable show for the past 13 years. He's also written five best-selling, non-fiction books and has managed to turn his polarising chatter into a full-blown brand.

Barack Obama, President of the United States, graduated with a J.D. magna cum laude in 1991

He's ranked #2 on Forbes Most Powerful List. Oh, and he's the President of the United States.

Michelle Obama, First Lady of the United States, earned her J.D. in 1988

She's the First Lady who wants the country's children to move. She's the head of the 'Let's Move!' campaign which fights to combat childhood obesity and promotes healthy eating.

Samantha Power, U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations, received her J.D. in 1999

As the U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations, Power has been known to make headlines by speaking for human rights, especially in cases against genocide.

Chief Justice John Roberts graduated with an B.A. in 1976 and a J.D. in 1979

Being a relatively young Chief Justice, Roberts will likely be able to shape and direct the court for many years to come. He has already written influential opinions on cases such as healthcare reform. Roberts graduated summa cum laude with his Bachelor's and magna cum laude with his Juris Doctor.

Sheryl Sandberg, CEO of Facebook, graduated with an B.A. in economics in 1991

Facebook is one of the most widely used social mediums in the world and Sheryl Sandberg operates it -- making her net worth more than $1 billion. Previously, Sandberg was Vice President of Global Online Sales and Operations at Google, and served as chief of staff for the United States Secretary of the Treasury. She graduated summa cum laude.

Stephen A. Schwarzman, CEO of Blackstone, earned his M.B.A in 1972

As the CEO of Blackstone, the private equity and financial advisory firm, Schwarzman made $375 million last year and is worth about $US6.5 billion. He recently announced a $US100 million donation to fund a scholarship program in China called Schwarzman Scholars.

Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, President of Liberia, earned a M.A. in public administration in 1971

Johnson Sirleaf became the President of Liberia in 2006, subsequently becoming the world's first elected black female president and Africa's first elected female head of state. In 2011 she was awarded a shared Nobel Peace Prize for her efforts promoting Liberian reconciliation.

Now for some current college kids

NOW WATCH: Briefing videos

Business Insider Emails & Alerts

Site highlights each day to your inbox.

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