On University Degrees

“Now then, to me university degrees are unearned finds, and they bring the joy that belongs with property acquired in that way; and the money-finds and the degree-finds are just the same in number up to date–three: two from Yale and one from Missouri University.

It pleased me beyond measure when Yale made me a Master of Arts, because I didn’t know anything about art; I had another convulsion of pleasure when Yale made me a Doctor of Literature, because I was not competent to doctor anybody’s literature but my own, and couldn’t even keep my own in a healthy condition without my wife’s help. I rejoiced again when Missouri University made me a Doctor of Laws, because it was all clear profit, I not knowing anything about laws except how to evade them and not get caught.

And now at Oxford I am to be made a Doctor of Letters–all clear profit, because what I don’t know about letters would make me a mutli-millionaire if I could turn it into cash.”
Mark Twain, Autobiography

It shouldn’t be the degree that really matters, but, if the degree holder has really learned anything, what it represents.

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