Martin Luther King Earned His ‘Dr.’ At BU

Published January 17, 2011

Digging into JFK’s academic career inspired us, on this Martin Luther King Day, to look back on MLK’s connections to Boston.

King became “Dr.” King in June 1955, after earning his Ph.D. in systematic theology from Boston University. He studied personalism, the philosophy that man’sĀ consciousnessĀ and identity makes him unique in nature. His doctoral dissertation was titled “A Comparison of the Conceptions of God in the Thinking of Paul Tillich and Henry Nelson Wieman.”

King would go on to receive an honorary degree from BU in 1959.

“It was this university that meant so much to me in terms of the formulation of my thinking and the ideas that have guided my life,” King said in an interview recorded in the 1960s.

His BU report card shows King was an A/B student, except for a C in logic. He also took supplemental philosophy classes at Harvard.

In 1964, after he was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize, King realized he was living history and that he needed to get his personal papers to safety. He donated manuscripts, notebooks, correspondence and even his monogrammed briefcase to BU.

The university produced a video retrospective to show off what would become the Martin Luther King Archive.