For over a century, science fiction literature, films, and television shows have introduced readers and viewers to characters who have earned the highest academic honors: the Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.). Some of these characters, such as Henry “Indiana” Jones, Jr., all wanted to earn an advanced degree to expand the understanding of humanity and ended up saving the world. Others, including Victor von Doom of Latveria, have attempted to subjugate the world to their wills.
Whether for good or for ill, we can only hope that some of these accomplished scholars earned their post-graduate degrees through online schools, rather than subject their fellow students to some of their more radical experiments.
Peter Venkman (“Ghostbusters”)
Ph. D. in: Psychology, Parapsychology
What he did: Formed the “Ghostbusters” team with Egon Spengler, Ph.D., Ray Stantz, Ph.D. and Winston Zeddmore, USMC.
Why we hope he earned his degree online: Can you imagine being in the lab where he developed the proton packs? The safest place to do that would be online.
Reed Richards (“Fantastic Four”)
Ph. D. in: Physics, Electrical Engineering
What he did: Formed the “Fantastic Four” superhero team with his best friend, Ben Grimm (“Thing”), his future wife, Sue Storm (“Invisible Woman”), and her brother, Johnny Storm (“Human Torch”).
Why we hope he earned his degree online:. He stole an experimental spaceplane, turned his best friend into an orange-skinned rock monster, and allowed Jessica Alba to continue to believe she could act in the two “FF” movies.
Hubert J. Farnsworth (“Futurama”)
Ph. D. in: Unknown, possibly Robotics
What he did: Founded Planet Express Delivery Service in 30th Century
Why we hope he earned his degree online: Between his lack of business sense (sending Fry and friends out on suicide missions) and his relations with evil CEO Mom, he represents the worst in the corporatization of science.
Emmett Brown (“Back to the Future”)
Ph. D. in: Unknown, possibly Physics
What he did: Invented “flux capacitor”, the power source for the DeLorean time machine.
Why we hope he earned his degree online: No ethical university, campus-based or online, would allow such reckless behavior as buying plutonium from Libyan terrorists. Although online schools didn’t exist in 1985, he could have used the time machine to jump ahead and earn his doctorate.
The Doctor (“Doctor Who”)
Ph. D. in: Unknown, possibly Physics and Engineering
What he did: Traveled through time, defeated alien menaces, regenerated ten times
Why we hope he earned his degree online: As much trouble as “the Doctor” has had with both his TARDIS and his companions over the last fifty years, he may need to go back online for refresher courses.
Despite the convenience of earning a degree online, perhaps some of these schools should use stricter entrance criteria for their post-graduate programs. The last thing these schools need is another Dr. Octopus or Dr. Evil ruining their reputations.