Is Emmett Brown an actual doctor? It doesn't look like it's shown in the film and 'Doc' or Marty is an unreliable source himself.

3 Answers 3


The first (1988) draft of Back to the Future III supposedly has this scene, which was later cut in future revisions:

Ironically, right then, Dean Wooster stops by with two other men named Cooper and Mintz. They tell Doc that, because he is working for them at the University (as a professor of physics!), he has to participate in one of three projects--working on the Edsel car, working on a chemical warfare thing ("They'll name the final chemical agent after you," notes Cooper. "'Agent Brown.'"), and working on something called Xerox, which Doc pronounces "X-rox." Doc, however, has no interest in any of these projects (even though Marty tries to steer him towards the Xerox one!) and refuses to do them. The Dean then threatens him that his relationship with Jill will be damaged unless he cooperates with them.

Typically, you have to have a doctorates in the field you teach, showing Doc to have a Ph.D. in Physics.*

Modern day universities cheat by having non-doctorate lecturers, not professors, a practice not used back in the day.

This scene happens in 1955 after Marty got the courier letter at the end of BTTF 2, and tracks down 1955 Doc.

This also changes how the Doc/Clara romance is portrayed. It initially had Doc in a relationship with the Dean's daughter, who turned out to only be using him on her Dad's behalf, contrasting the future (past) relationship he has with Clara.


There is no evidence in the Back to the Future movie franchise demonstrating that "Doc" Emmett Brown had any kind of doctorate - almost as though "Doc" is a nickname. The likely reason for that is "he could never stay on one subject long enough to write, much less defend, a doctoral dissertation".

  • 1
    Lack of evidence is not evidence of a lack thereof...
    – cde
    Sep 17, 2015 at 20:56
  • 2
    Correct! And at no point did I say he didn't. :) Merely pointed out the lack of evidence.
    – user5603
    Sep 17, 2015 at 21:01

The thing is, it's just a movie. If the filmmakers tell us he's a doctor, we just kind of have to believe them. Otherwise they have to shoehorn in some framed doctorate on the wall, or something like that. Is there any evidence that Marty's name really is Marty? Maybe it's Paul, and everyone just calls him Marty. They certainly don't show his birth certificate or anything. If filmmakers had to give evidence for every aspect of the setup of the story, the story itself would never get started.

So in a way, the answer is yes. The evidence is that the character is called "Doctor Emmett Brown". He's certainly clever enough.

  • I think the OP is asking for in-universe evidence. Nov 16, 2015 at 14:34
  • Sure. I'm just pointing out that although in-universe evidence doesn't appear to exist, there's no reason to jump from that to an assumption that he doesn't have a degree. The original post does ask "Is Emmett Brown an actual doctor?" before going on to ask about evidence. The answer is yes, he's an actual doctor, and no there isn't any evidence of that. There's certainly no evidence that he isn't an actual doctor, and, like I say, he's obviously smart enough to be one. Nov 16, 2015 at 14:54
  • That's called Tautology...
    – cde
    Nov 16, 2015 at 17:34

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