It seems like so many successful business people, especially in the computer industry, do not have degrees of any kind. Bill Gates and Steve Jobs are both college dropouts, never earning a degree. So, what about Elon Musk, does he have a degree?
Yes – Elon Musk graduated from the University of Pennsylvania, with not one, but two degrees. He has a Bachelor of Arts in Physics and a Bachelor of Science in Economics. Is it any surprise that the man who does the same hours in a week as two people, also holds two degrees?
While both of his majors were offered in both degree categories, he chose the flip of what would make sense. Which seems to be a trait that this genius has. Most people might think that a physics degree would be a B.Sc., not a B.A., and that the economics degree would be a B.A., not a B.Sc. With Musk’s sense of humor, he probably gets a kick out of the number of times someone erroneously tries to correct a writer when writing about it.
Journey to Two Degrees
From an early age Elon Musk was interested in making the world a better place and doing so through technology. He read the entire encyclopedia at nine years of age, and then moved on to tough science fiction novels, such as the series Foundation, written by Isaac Asimov.
He knew he wanted to help civilization, and wanted to create products that could achieve this, with a focus on sustainability. And really, thus began his path to getting two degrees. At nine years old. Unofficially of course. Though he kept it in the front of his mind from then on, knowing that if he was going to make a real difference, he’d need to leave South Africa and get to America, where opportunities abound.
He went to Canada from South Africa and enrolled at Queens University. Thus, he began his official path to getting two degrees. After about three years in Canada, he transferred to the University of Pennsylvania, where he would complete his journey with two degrees in hand. He also accomplished making it to America, where he continues to live.
He received a scholarship from Stanford to pursue his PhD., but he deferred the year so he could start a business with his brother Kimbal. The venture was successful and he never returned to complete his doctorate.
In receiving his degrees in economics and physics, he was able to achieve the education needed to produce his end goal, to help civilization and focus on sustainability.
Merriam-Webster defines his two areas of study as such:
Physics – “a science that deals with matter and energy and their interactions”
Economics – “a social science concerned chiefly with description and analysis of the production, distribution, and consumption of goods and services”
Looking at Musk, and what he has already done for his companies, and which he continues to improve and create, we can see that he’s put both of his degrees to good use.
Schooling vs. Education
While Musk may have finished university, he’s not really a big proponent of the institution. In a since-deleted post on Twitter (he deleted his Twitter before starting it up again) he argues that there is a difference in schooling and education.
His beliefs are that you don’t need a degree, or even a high school diploma, as those pieces of paper aren’t what makes you intelligent, or able. He’d hire dropout Bill Gates in a second if he could. Musk doesn’t care that Gates doesn’t have a degree. We’re sure he’s not the only one who would hire Gates in a second.
In fact, he was so disappointed in the schooling systems that he started his own school, wanting his children and others, to have the opportunity to gain useful knowledge. He also wants that knowledge delivered in a way that will help in the ‘real world’. One of his complaints is that the current school systems don’t explain to you why you are learning something, they just teach you out of a book that they were given.
While he may not believe in degrees or proper schooling, he is a big proponent of education. He just believes that there is more than one way to receive an education and that people are capable of doing so without needing to enrol in post-secondary education.