5

I often hear among people who are only vaguely familiar with Star Trek referring to the character of Spock as 'Dr Spock', getting confused with the author of the book about children. It got me to thinking though: Spock is a pretty clever guy and it wouldn't surprise me if he had a PhD. My question: Does Spock actually have a PhD? If so, what is it in?

  • 1
  • 2
    @Richard sigh. The low IQ of celebrities never fails to disappoint. – DVK-on-Ahch-To Sep 5 '15 at 13:17
  • 2
    @dvk - She's an actress, dammit, not a Doctor. – Valorum Sep 5 '15 at 14:08
  • 1
    @Richard - Then perhaps she should stick to saying the lines more intelligent people wrote for her. Not expressing her opinions (especially on political topics as that one likes to do) – DVK-on-Ahch-To Sep 5 '15 at 16:40
  • 1
    @N_Soong : You should move the acceptance back to rand, because I found evidence that in the Star Trek: Encyclopedia that the EMH was referring to Benjamin Spock. – Praxis Jan 17 '16 at 16:37
10

Probably not.

He's never referred to as Dr Spock, or as having a PhD, in any of the Star Trek series (source: the second of the two links below). So there's nothing to say he did have a PhD, but also no canon confirmation that he didn't.

You can find fan discussions of the issue here and here. From the first of these links, here are some arguments for Spock not having a PhD:

We know that Vulcans are not above calling themselves Doctor.

We also know that Spock rejected an offer to attend the Vulcan Science Academy in order to attend Starfleet Academy. I suppose he could've earned a Ph.D. at Starfleet, since he did do at least a little bit of postgraduate work, but most evidence is pointing toward no.

Look, we know Spock is a really smart guy, but that's no excuse for being underqualified. Without a doctorate you're probably not going to get a lot of papers published, so where are you contributing to the scientific community? At the very least Spock made it much harder on himself to gain any credibility for his findings among other scientists.

And:

While you need a large breadth of knowledge in your field to obtain a Ph.D, you also spend a significant portion (2-8 years) of the time working towards it by writing your doctoral thesis, which is incredibly specialized.

Much of what the Enterprise deals with is new phenomena (as well as new lifeforms, new chemicals, new plants, etc). In these cases, a specialist may be of less value than someone with a lot of general knowledge.

In addition, specialists would probably be assigned to ships and locations that would make use of their specialization. Write a thesis on a new theory for warp design and Starfleet would probably have you work in warp design. Write a thesis on an aspect of plant biology, work on in a research station, etc.

  • 1
    And here I am, doing a @Richard and answering a question on a scifi work I've never read or watched. Hope I didn't make too big a fool of myself! – Rand al'Thor Sep 5 '15 at 10:54
  • A pretty good logical explanation of why Spock chose to remain a ships science officer – Stevetech Sep 5 '15 at 15:38
  • Nice answer, @randal'thor! Are you sure you haven't watched any Star Trek? ;-) – Praxis Sep 5 '15 at 16:15
  • 1
    @randal'thor : You and N_Soong have inspired me to ask a question: scifi.stackexchange.com/questions/102064/… – Praxis Sep 5 '15 at 16:42
  • 1
    @randal'thor : Indeed. Between asking Star Wars questions without seeing any Star Wars and answering Star Trek questions without seeing any Star Trek, you're becoming a rare breed of SFF user! :-) – Praxis Sep 5 '15 at 23:46
5

UPDATE: Star Trek Encyclopedia (a canon source) confirms that the dialogue below is specifically a reference to Benjamin Spock. For posterity (and in the event the snippet of dialogue is useful to anyone else in the future), the original answer is directly below.


Yes

In the Voyager episode "Ex Post Facto", the Doctor is considering a name for himself, and has the following conversation about it with Kes:

KES: Pick a name you like, perhaps from someone who inspires you.

EMH: Dr...Dr. Galen... Dr. Salk... Dr.—

KES: (interrupts) Those are good.

EMH: —Spock.

KES: Can you see yourself with any of those names?

EMH: Not exactly.

This gives canon confirmation that Spock holds a doctoral degree.

As for the discipline that this degree represents, there is no explicit mention in any Star Trek works. He demonstrates a broad scientific expertise aboard the Enterprise, and so this degree could represent astrophysics / cosmology, exobiology, mathematics, computer science, or some combination of these.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.