What Was Bill Gates College Degree and Is He A Dr?

Bill Gates is well-known for having dropped out of Harvard to found Microsoft. Unfortunately, Bill Gates is not a college degree holder, but he does have an honorary doctorate degree from Harvard University. 

Gates has also received an honorary Doctor of Medicine degree from the Karolinska Institute, which he received alongside his former wife, Melinda. Today, the billionaire has set up a foundation called the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, an organization that is focused on assisting students in making better decisions about where to attend college. Here is all you need to know about the educational background of the former Harvard student who effectively invented the term “college-dropout billionaire”.

Bill Gates’s Education Background and Level

Before he ever knew he was going to be a billionaire, Bill Gates was born and raised as an ordinary kid in Seattle, Washington. He attended a public middle school as a child and had a very high IQ. After noticing that he was a very quiet, albeit smart kid, his parents enrolled him in a private school, Lakeside School, at the age of 13.

This was supposedly aimed at reducing the possibility of him being bullied by his classmates. Bill Gates started taking college preparatory school for students in grades 5–12 in 1971, four years after it became co-educational.

Bill Gates

It was also while he was a student at Lakeside that he wrote his first software program; one that allowed its users to play tic-tac-toe against the computer. During this time, he met a fellow Lakeside student named Paul Allen who turned out to be his longtime business partner and future co-founder of the Microsoft empire.

After performing several impressive software automation deeds, Gates and Allen became very close sidekicks and created the Traf-O-Data, a software that tracked Seattle’s traffic patterns and earned the teenagers a $20,000 reward.

Although Gates wanted to start a business with Allen, his parents vehemently opposed the idea and enrolled him at Harvard. This was possible because Bill Gates was a National Merit Scholar at Lakeside and had gotten a SAT score of 1590 out of 1600. In the fall of 1973, Gates enrolled at Harvard as a pre-law student but was obviously more interested in programming.

He filled his academic schedule with mathematics and graduate-level computer science courses and was known to take classes that had nothing to do with the Law degree he was studying for. During his short stay at Harvard, Gates developed an algorithm to address an unsolved problem posed by Professor Harry Lewis in his combinatorics course. This made him a mini-celebrity of sorts and he quickly gained academic accolades at the prestigious university.

Gates’ solution, which was the fastest for more than 30 years, was published in collaboration with computer science theorist Christos Papadimitriou. He achieved all of these while still studying for his degree. However, after two years, Bill could no longer ignore his heart’s desire and took a two-year leave from Harvard to co-found Microsoft with Allen.

Does Bill Gates Have a College Degree?

Bill Gates

Bill didn’t stay at Harvard long enough to get his degree. He only stayed there for two years. When the MITS Altair 8800, based on the Intel 8080 CPU, was released in 1975, Gates and Allen saw an opportunity to launch their own computer software company.

That same year, Gates dropped out of Harvard to pursue his longtime dream of starting up his own software and computer company. This time around, his parents did not oppose his decision. Quite to the contrary, they were more encouraging after seeing how much he wanted to start his own business.

Bill Gates explained his decision to leave Harvard in a 1994 interview where he stated that he kept his slot at Harvard as a safety net in case his plans fell through. The billionaire said, “if things hadn’t worked out, I could always go back to school. I was officially on leave.” Fortunately, his company experienced massive success, even uplifting him to the world’s richest man status for many consecutive years. Bill Gates never went back to complete his studies and get his college degree.

Is Bill Gates a Dr?

No, Gates is not a Doctor but a philanthropist who has been at the forefront in matters relating to world health. However, he has multiple honorary degrees from some of the most prestigious institutions in the world. Bill Gates is listed as the world’s most powerful doctor on Google.

This has been the subject of various social media debates by users who cannot fathom why Gates, a college dropout—one who was never in the medical field for that matter—was listed as the most powerful doctor in the world. The ensuing controversy gave birth to multiple conspiracy theories.

Some people were of the opinion that Bill Gates was on a mission to decongest the earth hence the reason for him being recognized as a doctor. However, simple logic proves that these theories are fallacies and quite frankly, ridiculous. His cvarious contibutions to world health play a vital role here.

Bill Gates was awarded his first honorary degree in 2007 for his contributions to global health through his wife’s Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. He has also received seven other honorary degrees in recognition of his contributions to various fields such as computer science, global health, and medicine. Some of these doctorates were bestowed upon him by schools like Nyenrode Business University, KTH Royal Institute of Technology, Waseda University, Tsinghua University, the Karolinska Institute, and Cambridge University.

In addition, Bill Gates is also an honorary member of the American Library Association, a member of the National Academy of Engineering, a Distinguished Fellow of the British Computer Society, a foreign member of the Chinese Academy of Engineering, an honorary trustee of Peking University, and a recipient of the President’s Medal of the New York Institute of Technology.

What Bill Gates Has Said About His Decision to Drop Out

Bill Gates

When Bill Gates left Harvard University to found Microsoft in 1975, he didn’t exactly know what to expect. He was so concerned about the future of his business that he left a backdoor to Harvard open just incase he failed. As everyone already knows by now, Gates never finished his bachelor’s degree.

More recently, it is perceived that he set the trend of college dropout billionaires. Some of the other big names who followed said trend are Mark Zuckerberg of Facebook, Larry Page of Google, and Jack Dorsey of Twitter.

However, the Microsoft founder and billionaire doesn’t encourage anyone to tow the path he took. In a 2015 interview reported by The New York Times, Bill Gates reportedly said, “Although I dropped out of college and got lucky pursuing a career in software, getting a degree is a much surer path to success”.

He went further to explain that college graduates were more likely to find rewarding jobs, earn higher incomes, and live healthier lives than if they didn’t have degrees.

Hugo Wright
Hugo Wright
Hugo has extensive professional writing experience and has been writing and editing articles on multiple platforms for several years now. Away from work, he is a football addict who loves to catch up on his favourite pastimes.


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