With the recent 20th anniversary special of Harry Potter released by HBO earlier this year, fans everywhere have been reminded why they fell in love with Emma Watson. As a child, she stole hearts through her portrayal of Hermione Granger, a character known for her intelligence and ethics.
Today, she’s known for her work as an activist and feminist. She made headlines when she was appointed a UN Women Goodwill Ambassador in 2014, was a founding member of Time’s Up UK in 2018, and was appointed to a G7 advisory body for women’s rights in 2019 — all while balancing her acting career. Through the years, she’s even set up her own feminist book club, “Our Shared Shelf,” and her passionate speech calling for gender equality in 2014 remains impactful to this day.
With this, Watson has more than proven that she is as much of a role model as her character, Hermione, is. It may then come as little surprise that she’s an ardent advocate for the importance of education. What sets Watson apart, however, is her active effort to break out of the mould many actors sink into after they find success — choosing to place her education before her career.
Here’s a look into the education of Emma Watson and how it has shaped her career outside of Hollywood.
Education of Emma Watson: The early years
It’s a well-documented fact that Watson was a dedicated student, even during her Harry Potter years. Growing up, she attended The Dragon School, a day and boarding preparatory school in Oxford, UK. The co-education school is known as one of the UK’s top preparatory institutions for children aged four to 13. It boasts an incredibly varied network of alumni of poets, civil servants, actors, athletes, and more.
Above all, the school places a strong emphasis on creativity and individuality, encouraging students to pursue programmes in sports, music, drama, and more. As a child, she was active in the school’s many drama and theatre programmes, allowing her to discover a passion for acting and subsequently cultivate her talent.
Watson then attended Headington School in Oxford, an all-girls boarding institution that’s consistently ranked among the top 100 in the UK. The school offers over 20 options at GCSE level with around 30 subjects to choose from, ensuring that every girl has the flexibility to pursue a curriculum that best suits their abilities.
Girls at Headington consistently achieve impressive GCSE results, and Watson is no exception. With guidance from the school, she studied for her examinations between takes and scored 10 As.
The preparation she received from Headington was instrumental to her success in her A Level examinations. In 2008, she announced via her website that she had achieved straight As for her A Level examinations, which she sat for in between filming for the franchise.
Education of Emma Watson: English Literature at Brown University
Watson is one of few globally renowned actors who chose to go to university after finding fame. “Learning keeps me motivated,” she told Access Hollywood, a trait that she shares with her Harry Potter character.
So, despite strong words of discouragement from her agents, Watson chose to pursue a bachelor’s degree in English Literature. The subject is known for its versatility, exposing students to a breadth of knowledge across literary history, theory, and criticism. Above all, it develops students who are not only skilled critical and creative thinkers, but are empathetic and aware of their place in the world.
— Emma Watson (@EmmaWatson) May 25, 2014
Watson attended the prestigious Brown University in the US. The Ivy League institution is consistently ranked as one of the top universities in the world, with an extremely competitive acceptance rate of only 7%. Its English Department fosters the study of British, American, and Anglophone literature across a wide variety of courses in poetry, drama, fiction, creative nonfiction, film, digital media, and theory.
Graduates from this programme are provided with a strong foundation for employment in many sectors, within and outside the world of academia. These include careers in journalism, publishing, advertising, visual media, consulting, public relations, finance, government, and more. Further study in law, medical and professional schools are common among alumni at Brown, as well.
Apart from Brown, Watson also attended the University of Oxford as part of her third year abroad. It’s a school that needs no introduction and is widely known as being among the top five universities in the world. There, she studied English at Worcester College.
With her extensive breadth of education, it’s no wonder that Watson has thrived in a variety of areas outside acting. Her university experience helped expand her knowledge on a wide range of issues that, in turn, opened up doors for her to pursue a variety of careers. To this day, she remains a passionate advocate for education, and is dedicated to using her voice to advance important causes and events.