The Most Famous PhDs: Celebrating Academic Achievements

Choose the PhD you think is the most famous!

Author: Gregor Krambs
Jun 16, 2023 10:18 (Updated on Dec 1, 2023 14:01)
Welcome to StrawPoll, where your opinion matters! We've curated a fascinating ranking of the most famous PhDs across various fields, celebrating the brilliant minds that have shaped our world. Who do you think is the most renowned PhD? Will it be Albert Einstein, Marie Curie, or perhaps someone unexpected? Dive into our list, cast your vote, and watch as the rankings change with each vote. And if you feel there's a notable PhD missing from our list, don't hesitate to suggest an addition! Your input could shape the course of the rankings and ignite a spirited debate among fellow knowledge-seekers like you. So, put on your thinking caps, and let's explore the incredible contributions of these intellectual giants.

Who Are the Most Famous PhDs?

  1. 1

    Albert Einstein

    Albert Einstein
    Einstein is one of the most famous PhDs in the world. He earned his PhD in physics from the University of Zurich in 1905. His theories of relativity and his contributions to the development of quantum mechanics revolutionized the field of physics.
    Albert Einstein was a revolutionary physicist who developed the theory of relativity, which greatly influenced our understanding of the laws of physics and the universe. Despite facing initial skepticism and rejection, his work eventually led to numerous advances in science and technology.
    • Theory of Relativity: Einstein's groundbreaking theory that explains the relationships between space, time, and gravity.
    • Nobel Prize in Physics: Einstein was awarded the Nobel Prize in Physics in 1921 for his discovery of the law of the photoelectric effect.
    • E=mc²: The famous equation derived by Einstein, which relates energy (E) to mass (m) and the speed of light (c) squared.
    • Special Relativity: A theory that describes the behavior of objects moving at constant velocities relative to each other, challenging traditional concepts of space and time.
    • General Relativity: An extension of special relativity that includes acceleration and gravity, explaining the curvature of space and the motion of celestial bodies.
    Albert Einstein in other rankings
  2. 2

    Marie Curie

    Marie Curie
    Curie was a Polish-born physicist and chemist who earned her PhD from the University of Paris in 1903. She was the first woman to win a Nobel Prize and the first person to win two Nobel Prizes, one in physics and one in chemistry.
    Marie Curie was a renowned physicist and chemist who made pioneering contributions to the field of radioactivity. She was the first woman to win a Nobel Prize and remains the only person to have received Nobel Prizes in two different scientific disciplines. Curie's groundbreaking research laid the foundation for modern nuclear physics and medical treatments.
    • Birthdate: November 7, 1867
    • Nationality: Polish, later became French
    • Nobel Prizes: Physics (1903), Chemistry (1911)
    • Discoveries: Polonium and Radium
    • First Woman: To win a Nobel Prize
    Marie Curie in other rankings
  3. 3
    Stephen Hawking
    NASA · Public domain
    Hawking was an English theoretical physicist who earned his PhD from the University of Cambridge in 1966. He was known for his work on black holes and the origins of the universe.
    Stephen Hawking in other rankings
  4. 4
    Tyson is an American astrophysicist who earned his PhD in astrophysics from Columbia University in 1991. He is known for his work as a science communicator and has hosted several TV shows, including "Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey."
    The Joe Rogan Experience podcast episode featuring Neil deGrasse Tyson.
    • Guest: Neil deGrasse Tyson
    • Episode Number: 1159
    • Release Date: March 7, 2019
    • Duration: 3 hours and 8 minutes
    • Topics Discussed: Science, astrophysics, space exploration, philosophy
    Neil deGrasse Tyson in other rankings
  5. 5
    Merkel is a German politician who earned her PhD in physics from the University of Leipzig in 1986. She served as the Chancellor of Germany from 2005 to 2021 and is one of the most powerful women in the world.
    Angela Merkel is a prominent German politician and businesswoman, widely recognized for her leadership as Chancellor of Germany. She has been described as one of the most powerful women in the world and is known for her influential role in shaping European politics. Merkel's leadership qualities and commitment to economic stability have earned her respect in the business community.
    • Nationality: German
    • Current Position: Chancellor of Germany
    • Powerful Women Ranking: Consistently listed in Forbes' Most Powerful Women list
    • Economic Stability: Known for her commitment to maintaining economic stability in Germany
    • Political Influence: Significant role in shaping European politics
    Angela Merkel in other rankings
  6. 6
    Martin Luther King Jr.
    Nobel Foundation · Public domain

    Martin Luther King Jr.

    Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
    King was an American Baptist minister and civil rights activist who earned his PhD in theology from Boston University in 1955. He is known for his leadership in the American civil rights movement and his advocacy for nonviolent resistance.
    Martin Luther King Jr. was a prominent civil rights activist and leader in the United States during the mid-20th century. He is best known for his role in advancing civil rights through nonviolent methods and delivering the iconic 'I Have a Dream' speech, which called for racial equality. King was an influential figure in the fight against discrimination and segregation, and his legacy continues to inspire individuals around the world.
    • Date of Birth: January 15, 1929
    • Place of Birth: Atlanta, Georgia, United States
    • Education: Ph.D. in Systematic Theology
    • Key Achievements: Nobel Peace Prize (1964), Montgomery Bus Boycott, Civil Rights Act of 1964, Voting Rights Act of 1965
    • Leadership Style: Nonviolent resistance, civil disobedience
    Martin Luther King Jr. in other rankings
  7. 7
    Chomsky is an American linguist who earned his PhD in linguistics from the University of Pennsylvania in 1955. He is known for his work in the fields of linguistics, philosophy, and politics.
    Noam Chomsky in other rankings
  8. 8
    John Nash
    Unknown authorUnknown author · Public domain
    Nash was an American mathematician who earned his PhD from Princeton University in 1950. He was the subject of the book and movie "A Beautiful Mind," which chronicled his struggles with schizophrenia and his contributions to game theory.
    John Nash in other rankings
  9. 9
    Ginsburg was an American lawyer and jurist who earned her PhD in law from Columbia University in 1971. She served as a Supreme Court Justice from 1993 until her death in 2020 and was known for her advocacy for women's rights.
    Ruth Bader Ginsburg was an American jurist who served as an Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States. She was known for her intellect, groundbreaking legal decisions, and being a champion of gender equality. Throughout her life and career, she became an iconic and influential figure in American law and politics.
    • Birthdate: March 15, 1933
    • Deathdate: September 18, 2020
    • Position: Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States
    • Appointed by: President Bill Clinton
    • Service years: 1993 - 2020
    Ruth Bader Ginsburg in other rankings
  10. 10
    Jocelyn Bell Burnell
    Sintegrity · CC BY-SA 4.0
    Burnell is a Northern Irish astrophysicist who earned her PhD from the University of Cambridge in 1969. She discovered the first radio pulsars and was awarded the Breakthrough Prize in Fundamental Physics in 2018.
    Jocelyn Bell Burnell in other rankings

Missing your favorite PhD?


Ranking factors for famous PhDs

  1. Significance of their contributions
    The impact of their research and discoveries on their field and the world should be considered.
  2. Publications and citations
    The number and quality of their published papers and the number of times their work has been cited by other researchers.
  3. Awards and honors
    The number and prestige of awards, prizes, medals, fellowships, and other forms of recognition they have received.
  4. Institution of affiliation
    The reputation and ranking of the university or institution where they earned their PhD.
  5. Public recognition
    The level of public awareness and acclaim they have received, such as media appearances, interviews, popular books, and social media following.
  6. Influence on their discipline
    The extent to which their ideas and methods have influenced the development of their field and future generations of researchers.

About this ranking

This is a community-based ranking of the most famous PhDs. We do our best to provide fair voting, but it is not intended to be exhaustive. So if you notice something or PhD is missing, feel free to help improve the ranking!


  • 261 votes
  • 10 ranked items

Voting Rules

A participant may cast an up or down vote for each PhD once every 24 hours. The rank of each PhD is then calculated from the weighted sum of all up and down votes.

More information on most famous phds

When it comes to advanced degrees, earning a PhD is considered the highest level of academic achievement. It takes years of dedication and hard work to earn this prestigious degree, and those who hold it are often recognized as experts in their field. But who are the most famous PhDs? From Nobel Prize winners to political leaders, there are countless individuals who hold this esteemed degree and have made a significant impact on the world. In this article, we'll explore some of the most famous PhDs and their contributions to their respective fields.

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