Does Elon Musk Have an Undergraduate Diploma in Physics?


Elon Musk has a bachelor’s diploma in physics from the College of Pennsylvania.


Does Elon Musk Have an Undergraduate Diploma in Physics?


Musk has on earlier events claimed he obtained this diploma in 1995, however the College of Pennsylvania says it was awarded in 1997.

A thread authored by the Twitter account “Capitol Hunters” went viral in December 2022 when it alleged that billionaire Elon Musk lied about his instructional background, particularly relating to a bachelor of arts diploma in physics from the College of Pennsylvania, in addition to his declare of attending, briefly, a Ph.D. program at Stanford. This text explores the controversy across the physics diploma.

Musk’s Statements

In early biographies, Musk said he obtained levels in economics and physics from the College of Pennsylvania in 1995. In a 2002 SEC submitting for the corporate PayPal, for instance, Musk supplied this info relating to his instructional {and professional} background:

Mr. Musk co-founded Zip2 Corp. in 1995 the place he labored in quite a lot of roles together with Chairman, CEO and CTO from 1995 to February 1999. Mr. Musk obtained a B.S. in Physics from the College of Pennsylvania and a B.S. in Economics from The Wharton Faculty of the College of Pennsylvania in 1995.

In a 2007 lawsuit alleging that Musk stole enterprise secrets and techniques, web promoting entrepreneur John O’Reilly sued Musk over allegedly false statements Musk made to safe a enterprise assembly with him in 1995. In that submitting, O’Reilly claimed:

Musk has falsely claimed to have a level in Physics from the College of Pennsylvania that he obtained in 1995, when the truth is he has no such diploma and the one diploma he holds was obtained later than that. Upon info and perception, Musk’s solely recognized undergraduate diploma is a Bachelor’s of Science in Economics, obtained from the College of Pennsylvania in 1997.

The swimsuit, which ended with a ruling in Musk’s favor, entered into the general public file copies of Musk’s diplomas. These paperwork had been then utilized in a 2009 lawsuit filed by Tesla founder Martin Eberhard, who accused Musk of “taking management of the corporate [Tesla], orchestrating his ouster in 2007 and making an attempt to ‘rewrite historical past’ to take credit score for creating the pioneering electrical Roadster the 2 males labored collectively to create.”

The case was settled out of court docket, however Musk spoke about his educational background throughout a deposition compelled by this case. Musk, in that occasion, equivocated concerning the timing of when he really obtained these levels.

Q. Okay. So that you obtained a B.S. in Computational Physics from Penn?
Musk: Yeah.


Musk: Truly, I ought to be clear about that. So, I obtained the one Graduate diploma in Enterprise and Physics however [had] an settlement with the.. College of Pennsylvania. They stated that I might have.. I might full the English and Historical past credit score once I was now not a scholar at Stanford. So they might delay transmitting the diploma till I had finished that.”

This clarification additionally comes up in an early version of a biography of Musk written by reporter Ashlee Vance. Vance was unable to verify the particular educational timeline in Musk’s early biographies. In an appendix, nonetheless, Vance defined his analysis on the subject and included Musk’s clarification for the discrepancy in dates and levels :

Whereas enjoying detective, O’Reilly unearthed some details about Musk’s previous that is arguably extra attention-grabbing than the allegations within the lawsuit. He discovered that the College of Pennsylvania granted Musk’s levels in 1997—two years later than what Musk has cited. I referred to as Penn’s registrar and verified these findings. Copies of Musk’s information present that he obtained a twin diploma in economics and physics in Could 1997.

Musk … had an evidence for the bizarre timing on his levels from Penn. “I had a Historical past and an English credit score that I agreed with Penn that I might do at Stanford,” he stated. “Then I put Stanford on deferment. Later, Penn’s necessities modified in order that you do not want the English and Historical past credit score. So then they awarded me the diploma in ’97 when it was clear I used to be not going to go to grad faculty, and their requirement was now not there.”

“I completed every thing that was wanted for a Wharton diploma in ’94. They’d really mailed me a Wharton diploma. I made a decision to spend one other yr and completed the physics diploma, however then there was that Historical past and English credit score factor. I used to be solely reminded concerning the Historical past and English factor once I tried to get an H-1B visa and referred to as the varsity to get a duplicate of my commencement certificates, they usually stated I hadn’t graduated. Then they regarded into the brand new necessities, and stated it was high-quality.”

The reasons for the delay in diploma granting usually are not fully constant, the Capitol Hunters Twitter account noted, and that account has additionally referred to as into query the existence of the “new necessities” relating to Historical past and English that might have facilitated Musk’s being granted a level after the actual fact.

Penn’s Documentation and Statements

One other space of controversy considerations the looks and nature of the physics diploma, particularly. Certificates of each a Penn economics diploma and an alleged physics diploma are included in paperwork filed as a part of the O’Reilly and Eberhard lawsuits. Whereas the economics diploma filed as proof particularly signifies the educational self-discipline, identify, and different particulars concerned within the diploma, the physics diploma seems to be a largely clean diploma and signifies no particular focus:


The College of Pennsylvania Division of Physics and Astronomy does describe Musk as an alumnus. In 2009 — the identical yr the dispute with Eberhard was litigated — Musk gave Penn’s Heart for Particle Cosmology a “beneficiant endowment” permitting for an annual “Elon Musk Public Lecture”:

The Elon Musk Public Lecture is made attainable via a beneficiant endowment gifted to the Heart for Particle Cosmology in 2009 – its inaugural yr. Mr. Musk is an alumnus of the Division of Physics and Astronomy at Penn, and a proud advocate for the preparation {that a} physics training gives in many various careers.

In 2019, Aaron Greenspan, proprietor of the authorized web site Plainsite, in addition to a frequent critic of, and litigant towards, Elon Musk, requested Penn for an announcement on Musk’s levels. In response, the college’s public affairs workplace said that:

Elon Musk earned a B.A. in physics and a B.S. in economics (concentrations: finance and entrepreneurial administration) from the College of Pennsylvania. The levels had been awarded on Could 19, 1997.

The Backside Line

The College of Pennsylvania considers Musk to be a graduate of each the economics division and the physics division. Musk’s previous statements about his instructional background, nonetheless, have been, at finest, imprecise. He has claimed on a number of events to have obtained a physics diploma in 1995 — a declare that was by no means totally true however which can have aided Musk’s early enterprise profession.



APPENDIX 1 – Elon Musk: Tesla, SpaceX, and the Quest for a Unbelievable Future (2017). https://publicism.information/biography/elon_musk/14.html. Accessed 21 Dec. 2022.

CapitolHunters. “Somebody Has to Say It: Elon Musk Has Lied for 27 Years about His Credentials.” Twitter, Accessed 21 Dec. 2022.

Martin Eberhard v Elon Musk et Al. Accessed 21 Dec. 2022.

“O’REILLY v. MUSK | No. H034863. | 20100928061 | Leagle.Com.” Leagle, Accessed 21 Dec. 2022.

O’Reilly v. Musk, No. H035288 | Casetext Search + Citator. Accessed 21 Dec. 2022.

Tesla Investor Newest To Sue Elon Musk For Libel By Tweet – Law360. Accessed 21 Dec. 2022.

Yarow, Jay. “Tesla Settles Lawsuit–Everybody Is A Founder.” Enterprise Insider, Accessed 21 Dec. 2022. Accessed 21 Dec. 2022.

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