Presidents And Prime Ministers With a PhD

dsd originally published on The on  8 March 2013.


Does formal education really matter for statesmen? It should, but how much of it? This is a question with no definite answer. Can a high school dropout perform as good as a premier with a PhD degree? There can be many reasons and arguments. In the past, we have seen renowned leaders with a doctorate degree including Dr Condoleezza Rice (U.S Secretary of State), Dr Gordon Brown (British Prime Minister) and Dr Abdul Kalam Azad (President of India). Below is a list of few incumbent statesmen, who apart from being “Mr President” and “Mr Prime Minister,” are also eligible to be respectfully called “Dr”.

1. Dr Vladimir Putin- President of Russia
Setting aside politically motivated propaganda against all Russian agendas, Valadmir Putin the incumbent President of Russia is a true inspiration. Since 1999, he has been either a President or the prime minister of his country. Apart from the being winner of various local judo competitions he is fond of skiing, skating, fishing and playing badminton. He graduated from the Law Department of Leningrad State University in 1975, and later earned his PhD degree. His thesis was titled, “The Strategic Planning of Regional Resources under the Formation of Market Relations,” and it argued that Russian economic success would depend on creating national energy champions.

2. Dr Manmohan Singh – Prime Minister of India
The Pakistan born (pre partition) Indian Prime minister, Mr Manmohan is a true prodigy with a maculate academic profile. He got his Bachelor’s and Master’s Degrees in economics. In 1960, he went to the University of Oxford for the DPhil and completed his doctoral thesis titled “India’s export performance, 1951–1960, export prospects and policy implications.” His PhD thesis later became the basis for his book “India’s Export Trends and Prospects for Self-Sustained Growth”. He remained the chief economic adviser, finance Minister, governor of reserve bank of India before becoming prime minister in 2004, and was reelected in 2009 for another five-year term. Dr Manmohan Singh is regarded as a man with clear background, whose actions speaks louder than words.

3. Dr Ahmedi Nijad – President of Iran
Mr Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, the President of Iran, came into power in 2005 and was reelected in 2009. In 1976, Ahmadinejad stood 132nd out of 400,000 participants in Iran’s national university entrance exams .He enrolled in the Iran University of Science and Technology (IUST) at Tehran as an undergraduate student of civil engineering. He was accepted to a Master of Science program at his alma mater in 1986. Later, he joined the faculty as a lecturer in 1989. He earned his PhD degree in 1997 in civil engineering and traffic transportation planning.

4. Dr Mohamed Morsi – President of Egypt
Mohamed Morsi, the incumbent President of Egypt, assumed office as the fifth president of his country on 30 June 2012. He earned his bachelor’s and master’s degree in engineering from Cairo University in 1975 and 1978, respectively. He later earned his Ph.D. in materials science from the University of Southern California in the U.S. in 1982. His PhD dissertation was titled, “High-Temperature Electrical Conductivity and Defect Structure of Donor-Doped Al2O3.” He remained an Assistant Professor at California State University, Northridge, from 1982 to 1985. In 1985, he returned to Egypt and began to serve as the head of the engineering department at Zagazig University, where he was a professor until 2010.

5. Dr Abdullah Güll – President of Turkey
Abdullah Gül, became President of Turkey in 2007. He previously served as Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs. President Gül studied Economics at the Istanbul University. During his graduate education, he studied for two years in United Kingdom. In 1991, he became a lecturer in International Management. He established the Department for Industrial Engineering at the ITU Sakarya Engineering Faculty, which later became the Sakarya University in 1992. He is also conferred to an Honorary Ph.D. degree from Amity University, India in 2009.

6. Dr Heinz Fischer- President of Austria
The incumbent president of Austria, Hienz Fischer, took office in 2004 and was re-elected in 2010. He studied law at the University of Vienna, earning a doctorate in 1961. Fischer served as Minister of Science from 1983 to 1987. Apart from being a politician, he pursued an academic career, and became a Professor of Political Science at the University of Innsbruck in 1993.

7. Dr Tony Tan – President of Singapore
Mr Tony Tan Keng Yam, the current President of Singapore, resumed office in 1 September 2011. In early years, he received a government scholarship, and graduated with first class honors in physics from the National University of Singapore securing first position in his class. He also attended the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in United Sates where he completed a Master of Science in operations research. He later earned a PhD in applied mathematics at the University of Adelaide, Australia and went on to lecture mathematics in the University of Singapore. From 1980 to 1981, Tan served as the first Vice Chancellor of the National University of Singapore (NUS).

8. Dr Mykola Azarov- Prime Minister of Ukraine
Mykola Yanovych Azarov has been the Prime Minister of Ukraine since March 2010. Dr Azarov earned his doctorate in geology and mineralogy in 1971 from the Moscow State University. In 1984–1995, he became a deputy director and director of Ukraine’s State Research and Design Institute of Mining Geology and Geo mechanics. Since 1991, he has been professor of Donetsk National Technical University.

9. Dr Aníbal Cavaco Silva – President of Portugal
Dr Aníbal Cavaco Silva won the Portuguese presidential election in 2006 and was re-elected in 2011. He was initially an undistinguished student at school, but later obtained a degree in economics and finance from Technical University of Lisbon, with distinction. In 1973, he was awarded a doctorate in economics from the University of York, in the United Kingdom. His thesis at York was a defense of (then popular) Keynesian economics.

10. Dr Pal Schmitt – Ex President of Hungary
A former Olympic fencer, diplomat and member of the European Parliament, Mr. Pal Schmitt was elected president in 2010 by the Hungarian Parliament. In April 2012, he resigned from his post amid a storm of criticism over allegations of plagiarism in his 1992 doctoral thesis. Later The University in Budapest that awarded his doctoral degree stripped it from him.

The man lost both the Presidency and his PhD!


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