It's been 9 years since The Big Bang Theory first aired and Howard has been constantly belittled by Sheldon for not having a PhD.

He expressed his intention to gain one in S08E02 but do we need to wait at least 2 more seasons before he gets it?

Have the creators explained if/when they plan to award Howard a PhD?

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    Isn't it quote common for TV shows characters to be suspended in time and never age in universe? South Park boys graduated to 4th grade in 2000 and still attend classes. Maggie Simpson is toddler since 1987. Granted, this facade can't be maintained for so long in live shows, because actors do age, but audience can be expected to turn a blind eye on actor in 40s playing college students just for the sake of entertainment. I think that apparent lack of passage of time is rarely addressed by creators. Dec 26, 2015 at 11:32
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    @MirosławZalewski, but people in TBBT do age. Sometimes they talk about how Leonard has known Sheldon for 6 years, and that happens in the 6th or 7th season, I think. Also, all the relationships changing (Howard and Bernadette marrying, etc). Dec 26, 2015 at 18:21
  • The producers still have a lot to develop with each character, such as sheldon and Amy finally getting intimate in their relationship. They would much rather let the characters mature with time on their show, rather than have them all grow in a predictable and humorless fashion. The Howard character still has a lot of promise, and is still continuing to grow in a way that the audiences find both humorous and educational.
    – user35227
    May 30, 2016 at 15:43
  • Is there any implication that Walowitz is working on his degree? I know they tease him about only being a "Mr" a lot... but there's not necessarily any reason to assume he's actually studying for a doctorate.
    – Catija
    May 30, 2016 at 18:50
  • @Catija they mention it in season 8. The second answer here has the synopsis of episode 2, where he says he is starting the process.
    – cde
    May 30, 2016 at 19:14

3 Answers 3


Considering the real world requirements to achieve a PhD, then yes it's realistic that it will take Howard 2 to 3 years (each season is one year roughly) to gain a doctorates degree.

See this answer to Does a masters degree help completing PhD sooner? for some details on what's required. In short, it takes meeting the Universities requirements, courses, and research. It's not a fly by night certificate. Howard's work would not necessarily count as course credits or anything, but might depending on the University or his Doctorates mentor.

The show has a habit of not explicitly mentioning all the background efforts of the individual cast unless needed (See the question about Penny's pharma rep job), so it's safe to say that Howard is working in his PhD until we are told he stopped or until he completes it.

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    One other concern is that I have heard that it is not common for people to work at the university where they received their doctorate (none of the main characters except Bernadette has their degree from Caltech AFAIK), so getting his PhD would also mean a career change.
    – Random832
    Dec 26, 2015 at 18:00
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    @Random832 why? Not common does not mean not done.
    – cde
    Dec 26, 2015 at 22:02

in Season 8 episode2, "The Junior Professor Solution", Sheldon becomes Junior professor.

According to this site:

Howard volunteers to take his class since he wants to start work on his doctorate.

Maybe he his secretly still working on it and in some later season we will have a surprise... or not: it is fun to pick on him, I am not sure authors want to lose an easy chance for some gags.

  • Already holding a Masters, and extensive field experience, would you actually have to attend classes to get a Doctorate? (I know most US Doctorates are unusual in including classes in the first place).
    – OrangeDog
    Dec 10, 2019 at 15:17

In real life Howard would earn the highest income of any of his friends, save Penny. With sales commissions, Penny's income could be much higher. Howard's position is not a teaching position so a doctorate would not be required. Maybe he doesn't have a desire to teach or move. So based on personal experience there is no reason to get his doctorate except personal satisfaction. After 6-8 years of experience any increase in salary Howard would get by having a doctorate would not justify the expense of obtaining one.

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    How do you determine that Howard would earn the highest income in real life? It's pretty hard to compare Masters of Engineering graduate salaries with Physics Doctorate salaries, because there are so many different positions that you could in theory get with either of those degrees.
    – JMac
    Jan 14, 2019 at 14:52
  • According to Glass Door a Research Scientist gets an average of $84k per year with a maximum of $137k. Given Sheldon's and Leonard's experience and competition I would put them at about $110k. Bernadette's salary is harder based on the company, but I would put it about $100k. The average salary for a Mechanical Engineer at Caltech is $162k. Given that Howard is an astronaut and has designed equipment for the space program it would be above that, Maybe around $180k.
    – spelunker
    Jan 17, 2019 at 4:36
  • A teaching position does not normally require a doctorate. A bachelors is sufficient for Lecturer for Introductory Biology Lab Course at Caltech (link will be dead when position is filled).
    – OrangeDog
    Dec 10, 2019 at 15:15
  • @StopHarmingMonica - While it may say bachelors, the reality is that almost all universities now have a masters degree as a minimum requirement.
    – JohnP
    Dec 10, 2019 at 16:00
  • @JohnP then a) someone should sue Caltech for lying about their recruitment, and b) that's still not a doctorate
    – OrangeDog
    Dec 10, 2019 at 16:01

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