One day, in a fit of rage, John McCain sarcastically asked how many times a person can graduate from Columbia. Mr. McCain may have had a point. Bwog stopped and asked: Wait, how many times can someone graduate? Matriculation Guru Derek Huang tries to answer this question by documenting one hypothetical student’s quest to earn as many degrees from Columbia as possible.
As we start following our student cursed with the insatiable passion for learning, a basic choice presents itself. Which undergraduate school should someone attend first: Columbia College or the School of Engineering and Applied Science? Why not both! Due to 4-1 or 3-2 programs, someone could easily graduate from both schools in five years, garnering both a Bachelor of Science and Bachelor of Arts. Depending on whether or not our student is naturally blessed with the ticket to entering Barnard, there is the option of a costly sex change operation to squeeze out four more years as an undergraduate. Then, our poor student would have to temporarily give up that which he/she has so dutifully pursued for the past nine years—academics—in order to qualify as one who has “chosen non-traditional paths in their education,” and thus allowed to enroll in the School of General Studies for another four years, and another Bachelor’s Degree.
After these thirteen years and four Bachelor’s Degrees, a staggering number of options would open up to our learning-addicted test case. The Columbia Business School, School of Nursing, Mailman School of Public Health, Graduate School of Journalism, School of International and Public Affairs, Graduate School of Architecture, Teachers College, Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, School of Social Work, and SEAS all offer at least one Master’s and one Ph.D. If we assume that, on average, it takes 2-3 years to earn a Master’s Degree and 4-5 years to earn a Ph.D., graduating with both degrees from each graduate school would take around 70 years, catapulting our philomath well past his or her prime.
Another 6oo years or so (but actually) documented after the jump.
And there are still degrees to be earned. The previous figure assumes that our subject only graduates with one Masters and one Ph.D. from the School of Arts and Sciences and SEAS; however, all told, these two schools have a staggering combined total of 109 departments. Furthermore, our undaunted learner could pursue a variety of more intensely-specialized degrees from the professional schools:
Each of these Masters degrees tacks on another 2-3 years, and the Ph.D.’s another four or five. So, if our student wanted to graduate from all four undergraduate schools, plus each graduate school with as many degrees as possible and with a Masters and Ph.D. from each department (redundant, but hey, it’s all about the journey), it would end with a total of 142 degrees and take a nice, round 887 years.