Many people dream of becoming the CEO of a major corporation, but for most its only a far-fetched fantasy.

Though the odds of achieving this lofty goal are small, it is possible, and there are a few business professionals who have gained the opportunity to lead a Fortune 500 company. The life stories and academic credentials of this powerful segment of the world population varies widely.

Some Fortune 500 CEOs have spent their entire business careers in the U.S., while others are globetrotters who have worked in multiple countries. Many of these CEOs havegraduate degrees, but someclimbed to the top of the corporate ladder with only a college degreeon their resume, and a few dropped out of college. For instance, the billionaire leaders of two famousFortune 500tech companies — Mark Zuckerberg of Facebook Inc. and Michael S. Dell of Dell Inc. — both dropped out of college to focus on their businesses.

[Read:How Business School Helped Executives Succeed.]

MBA hopefuls who aspire to become a CEO someday should know that anMBA degreeis not a requirement for the executive role. Among the top 100 CEOs in the Fortune 500, only about a third of these CEOs have an MBA on their resume.

Among the top 100 CEOs on the Fortune 500 list, those who did earn an MBA didnt necessarily attend a highly ranked school. Several of these CEOs earned their MBA degrees from B-schools that did not receive a rank in theU.S. News Best Business Schoolsrankings. For instance, Stephen Squeri, the chairman and CEO at American Express Co., earned his MBA degree fromManhattan Colleges OMalley School of Business, which has an unranked full-time MBA program.

There are also some CEOs who attendedMBA programs outside the U.S., including Ramon Laguarta, the chairman and CEO of PepsiCo Inc., who received his MBA from the ESADE Business School in Spain.

There are 23 B-schools whose MBA alumni are leading one of the top 100 companies on the Fortune 500 list, and a handful of these schools have more than one MBA recipient in this position. Five MBA programs have trained more than one Fortune 100 CEO, and all are highly prestigious institutions, placing among the top 10 in the U.S. News Best Business Schools rankings.

[Read:See Which MBA Programs Lead to the Best Return on Investment]

The five MBA programs that graduated two or more individuals who now lead one of the top 100 companies on the Fortune 500 list areHarvard Business School, the University of PennsylvaniasWharton School, Northwestern UniversitysKellogg School of Management, theStanford University Graduate School of BusinessandColumbia Business School.

Searching for a business school? Get ourcomplete rankingsof Best Business Schools.

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