Can a University revoke a PhD?

Can a University revoke a PhD?

To know can a University revoke a PhD….Read on this article….!

People spend decades for a PhD, DECADES! It is the result of a culmination of multiple years of hard work and genuine effort. Thus, getting a PhD is no child’s play.

Picture this, you’ve finally earned your PhD, your friends and family are proud and you now can call yourself a doctor, you’re what the world can call the scholarly class, there are tons of job opportunities awaiting you, you’re right on the brink of stardom. You enjoy the benefits or the fruits of your hard work thinking your life is settled and nobody can take away what you have.

Well, think again.

Can a University revoke a PhD?

Did you know that your university, yes, the very university that conferred upon you your precious PhD can revoke the same?

We kid you not, your years of hard work and effort can be reduced to mere dust by your university if you mess up.

It is not very common for a university to revoke a student’s PhD but that does not mean it never happens.

There are multiple cases across the United States where the university has directly revoked its student’s hard-earned PhD. But as with all revocations, the revoking of a PhD can only happen if there are strong reasons fuelling its necessity, some reasons why your university might revoke your PhD are as follows:

Plagiarism and cheating

This is no longer school where one can cheat in their tests and get away with an empty warning, this is where doctorates are conferred and hence, the seriousness is retained. 

If the student has cheated or has plagiarized content for his or her assignments or reports that were demanded by the university, he or she can get in grave trouble, sometimes they can even have their degrees or PhD revoked, DECADES after their degrees were given out. 

Even if a student is found guilty of cheating or plagiarism post their graduation, the University has all rights to rescind the PhD, so we suggest you avoid doing that at all costs.

Legal troubles

If confidentiality isn’t maintained when one is preparing their research paper or assignment, the University can take the job of adjudication in their hands whether or not to consider your research for the PhD or have your PhD revoked.

For instance, there was this student who mentioned details of a company that was under a non-disclosure agreement and when the company heard of this, they threatened to sue the university. The pressure mounted on the University whether or not to delete that section from the student’s research and finally had to give in to the company’s demands, thereby revoking the student’s PhD on grounds of fraudulence.

Saturating amount of flaws in the PhD thesis

If your PhD thesis, which is one of the pivotal documents that can confirm your chances of getting a PhD has a lot of flaws that it makes the thesis nonsensical, and if the university discovers this upon further proofreading, your PhD can be revoked. But this is only in extreme cases. Most theses have errors here and. there and they’re overlooked usually by the board. There are a lot of students who have been conferred with PhDs even after they’ve made multiple mistakes in their thesis (according to university informants), so some errors her and there won’t hurt your chances of getting a PhD. However, a lot of mistakes can certainly challenge your chances, so avoid making mistakes to the maximum possible extent and proofread them before submission.

Fabrication of input, data and results

There have been multiple instances of the PhD status of a student being trivialized because the student had manipulated or fabricated the data that was necessarily the input for the research subject.

The fabrication of input becomes the manipulation and fabrication of the results thereof, this is a grave gaffe that needs to be avoided at all costs. Manipulation of results to finish the work in haste can be a tempting thing to do, but for your own sake, REFRAIN from indulging in any sort of fabrication or manipulation.


The University can easily strip off your PhD if you, in a future date, get convicted of grave charges such as rape, murder, treason, etc. Imprisonment is the easiest way to have your PhD stripped off from you by your university. But then again, what good is a PhD if you’re going to spend your time behind bars?

For instance, Oskar Dirlewanger had his doctorate in poli-sci from Goethe University Frankfurt revoked in 1934 after he was convicted of embezzlement, illegal arms trading, statutory rape of a 14-year old girl, and damaging a stolen government vehicle while drunk.

Political Causes

Now this stands out from the rest of the list because it is not a surefire way to have your PhD stripped off.

If under unfortunate circumstances, an authoritarian government takes over the country, they can suspend your PhD if you’ve published something that goes against their propaganda/tenet.

For instance, Franz Boas, the father of American Anthropology, had his PhD from the University of Kiel revoked by the Nazis because they didn’t appreciate his attacks on scientific racism.

Name some high profile individuals who have had their PhDs revoked?

Pal Schmitt – President of Hungary

Karl-Theodor zu Guttenberg, the former German defense minister

What to do if your PhD got revoked?

The student can file a lawsuit against the university if they believe that the PhD has been stripped off without proper reason.

The student can also try again to get a second PhD after having the first one revoked, typically in another university.


In reality, a University revokes the PhD it bestowed upon someone very rarely, this phenomenon is way more uncommon than you think. But this is not an indication that this never happens. Revocation of a PhD does happen because of the reasons listed above and to avoid this unlikely happening, one must be wary not to commit any of the above misconducts or fall all into any of the aforementioned categories, steer clear of the same and you can rest assured with your precious Ph.D.!

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
  1. How common is it to get your PhD revoked?

Getting a PhD revoked is an extremely rare phenomenon. In the US state ofo Ohio, for instance, one degree gets revoked every two years, note that we are talking about degrees as a whole here, not PhDs, so it is definitely a rare phenomenon.

  1. How to prevent getting your PhD revoked?

Avoid plagiarism, malpractice, dishonesty, maintain confidentiality, do not snoop around on confidential data, and do not fabricate or manipulate data or its results.