Home · News

Today in Black History: Martin Luther King, Jr., Receives Doctorate


It’s no surprise that civil rights leader Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., was just as much of a scholar as he was an activist. At 15, the Atlanta University Laboratory School and Booket T. Washington High School honor student enrolled at Morehouse College after excelling academically and skipping the ninth and twelfth grades. He began his education at the Yonge Street Elementary School in Atlanta, Georgia.

After earning his B.A. in sociology, King attended the Crozer Theological Seminary in Chester, Pennsylvania, during the fall of 1948 and received his Bachelor of Divinity degree fin 1951. In addition to his studies at Crozer, he also took classes at the University of Pennsylvania. Elected president of the senior class, the southern gent delivered the valedictory address and won the Pearl Plafker Award for the most outstanding student; and received the J. Lewis Crozer fellowship for graduate study at a university of his choice.

King’s outstanding record of academic excellence continued at Boston University where he took doctoral studies in Systematic Theology  while also studying at Harvard University. His dissertation, “A Comparison of God in the Thinking of Paul Tillich and Henry Wieman,” was completed in 1955, and the Ph.D. degree from Boston, a Doctorate of Philosophy in Systematic Theology, was awarded to this fearless leader on  June 5, 1955.—KNB