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The Friends episode "The One Where the Stripper Cries" establishes that Ross and Chandler did their undergraduate degrees from 1987 to 1991.

If I remember correctly, it's established that Ross already works at the museum when the show starts, around 1994. Either he already had his Ph.D. at this time, or he was still completing it sometime during the first few seasons.

Is it ever established specifically when he got his Ph.D.?

  • What was his job at the museum? It is possible that he was working there while doing his PhD. I read recently that it is hard to get funding in paleontology. – Taladris Dec 3 '19 at 4:32
  • I don't think it's established when he got his Ph.D. By the time the first episode airs, he's already working as a paleontologist at the museum. – user77775 Dec 3 '19 at 6:45
  • I don't think Friends talked about the professional back-story of it's characters. No on know how Chandler got his jobs, what motivated Monica to be a cook etc. – Ankit Kante Dec 3 '19 at 7:11
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    @AnkitKante Monica became a chef because Chandler said she should, it was shown in a flashback episode. – Darren Dec 3 '19 at 10:04
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    I don't feel that this is trivia, i feel that there could be a good answer to this question, especially with good citations – DForck42 Dec 3 '19 at 14:08
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Being the massive Friends fan that I am, I'll try to piece together the information and come up with an answer.

We first have to look at the Thanksgiving episode The One with all the Thanksgivings. Ross introduces Chandler as his roommate and band member.

Thanksgiving 1987:

Ross: (entering) Hey!

Mr. Geller: Oh my!

Ross: Uh, everyone, this is Chandler! My roommate and lead singer of our band!

Given that this is the first time the family meets Chandler, I'm guessing this is Ross and Chandler's first year or even semester in college. If not, this means he had a roommate for a lot longer and he didn't mention at least a name to his parents.

Ross: So I’m thinking about asking Rachel out tonight. Y'know maybe play her that song we wrote last week.

Chandler: Emotional Knapsack?

Ross: Yeah.

The next flash back happens in The One where the Stripper Cries:

Note: Ross and Chandler are at a Class of '91 reunion

Flashback, Year 1987

Ross: Hey. Hey, check out the flyers for the band. I made 'em on a Macintosh in the computer room!

Chandler: Awesome, the name really stands out.

Ross: Thanks to a little something called "Helvetica Bold 24 point"!

The One with all the Thanksgivings:

Thanksgiving 1988

They remain friends and room mates, and again Chandler is invited to Thanksgiving, only this time Monica is thin.

The One With the Sonogram at the End:

The first appearance of the museum.

Museum of Prehistoric History, Ross and a co-worker (Marsha) are setting up an exhibit which includes some mannequins of cave people

Assuming the air date is also the same date in the episode, and that the museum requires a Ph.D to work there, it takes place in 1994.

  • This summarizes nicely what we already know, but I was hoping for either a direct quote from the show with regard to his Ph.D. (at best) or second to that, a behind the scenes quote explaining the discrepancy or admitting it as a goof. – Tronman Dec 11 '19 at 2:21

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