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First African American to earn a PhD in America? (5333 hits)

First African American to earn a PhD in America?

Patrick Francis Healy or Edward Alexander Bouchet

Edward Alexander Bouchet was the first African American to earn a Ph.D. from an American university. He earned his Ph.D. in physics from Yale University in 1876, having written a dissertation on Measuring Refractive Indices. Bouchet lived in a racially segregated society, denying him many top teaching and research opportunities. Yet he was a trailblazer for African Americans as well as a prominent leader of education in the late 19th and early 20th century.



Patrick Francis Healy earned his Ph.D. from Catholic University of Leuven in Belgium.
Patrick Francis Healy earned his Ph.D. from Catholic University of Leuven in Belgium.
Technically, the honor of first African American Ph.D. could go to either Edward Alexander Bouchet or Patrick Francis Healy. Healy was the first American of part-African descent to earn a Ph.D., as well as the first biracial Jesuit priest. Healy earned his Ph.D. in 1865 from Catholic University of Leuven in Belgium, and eventually became the 29th president of Georgetown University, facilitating Georgetown's transition from a small school to a modern university. While Healy achieved many firsts for African Americans, his racial and cultural identity is a bit ambiguous. He was the son of an Irish American father and a mixed-raced mother who was a slave, and he openly embraced both his black and his white ancestry, and was even considered by some circles to be white. However, Bouchet was the first African American to earn a Ph.D. from an American university.
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Monday, January 31st 2011 at 11:08PM
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