Perpetual student

A perpetual student or career student is a college or university attendee who re-enrolls for several years more than is necessary to obtain a given degree, or who pursues multiple terminal degrees.


  • Bruce Berry (1940-2014), notable for being a school crossing guard having retired from a career including technical document translation for Agfa-Gevaert, working for the Post Office, and teaching, took his first degree from Manchester University in 1963, and continued to study from the 1970s onwards, coming to possess several further Bachelor's and master's degrees (from universities including Leeds, York and Normandy University, Caen), as well as a Ph.D. from Leeds Metropolitan University; he died before completing his twelfth degree, another Ph.D. Fluent in several languages, he was also a Fellow of the Chartered Institute of Linguists.[1][2][3]
  • Benjamin Bolger, who received his first four-year degree from the University of Michigan, claims to be the second most credentialed student in modern history, with fourteen degrees.[4]
  • Christopher Gontar (born 1972) claims to hold the most diverse set of academic degrees in modern history, in subjects of music, humanities, philosophy, and English.
  • Milton De Jesús has been a student at the University of Puerto Rico since 1963. De Jesús was recently interviewed by the newspaper, since he is the only student at the campus that can make comparisons among the 2010 student strikes and the 1970s, 80s, 90s, and 2005 strikes. It is not certain if he has a degree.[5]
  • Shrikant Jichkar held twenty academic degrees, often considered the second most degrees earned outside the Western world (the highest being V.N. Parthiban).
  • Johnny Lechner attended the University of Wisconsin–Whitewater from 1994 to at least 2005.[6] He was scheduled to graduate in 2008 with multiple majors and minors, but continued into a 15th year of college.
  • Michael Nicholson has 30 degrees, including 19 master's degrees and one doctorate.[7]
  • V.N. Parthiban holds the overall record for the most degrees earned in history, holding one hundred forty-five.[8]

Portrayal in mediaEdit

The 2002 film National Lampoon's Van Wilder tells the story of Van Wilder, a popular student who has been in college for seven years, with no plans to graduate.

The CW Network's program Girlfriends's character, Lynn Searcy, remains in school and receives multiple post-graduate degrees.

The Librarian is a series of made-for-TV movies from TNT starring Noah Wyle as a perpetual student who becomes a librarian protecting a secret collection of artifacts.

Diane, from the TV comedy Cheers.

The character of Daljit ("DJ") from the 2006 Bollywood movie Rang de Basanti.

The character of Peter Trophimof in Anton Chekhov's The Cherry Orchard.

Rincewind, the protagonist of many of Terry Pratchett's books.

Victor Tugelbend, the protagonist of Moving Pictures, another Pratchett novel, has a trust fund only supporting him until he graduates or gets too low a score on the exam. Thus, Victor made a career out of scoring between failure and graduation on every exam.


  1. ^ "Bruce Berry".
  2. ^ "Lollipop man studies 12th degree". BBC News. 2012-05-02.
  3. ^ "Lollipop Man Studies for His 12th Degree". 2012-05-03.
  4. ^ Tess McEnroe. "Twenty-seven degrees and counting: Kalamazoo man enjoys the 'freedom' of intellectual pursuits". Kalamazoo Gazette. Retrieved 2012-06-19.
  5. ^ El Nuevo Día year xxxx, vol14449 page 6- also at:
  6. ^ Sam Dillon (2005-11-10). "For One Student, a College Career Becomes a Career". The New York Times. Retrieved 2010-05-22.
  7. ^ Twenty-seven degrees and counting: Kalamazoo man enjoys the 'freedom' of intellectual pursuits
  8. ^

Further readingEdit

  • Kalamatianou, A. McLean, S. (2003). “The Perpetual Student: Modeling Duration of Undergraduates Studies Based on Lifetime-Type Educational Data”, Lifetime Data Analysis, 9: 311–330.
  • Kalamaras, D. Kalamatianou, A. (2006). “Life table methods for the duration of studies: further results”, Proceeding of 9th Young Statistician Meeting, 24.