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This is a question of pure curiosity: just like there exists polyglots who speak dozens of languages, are there any cases of people obtaining at least four PhDs? (It is okay if topics are fairly close, e.g. Maths, stats, cs, theor phys).

Note, I am specifically not asking about whether doing multiple PhDs is advisible.

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  • Not at all the same thing, but I once knew a Chiropractor who also held both MD and DO (osteopathy) credentials. A bit odd, perhaps. – Buffy Apr 16 at 14:49
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    If you discount honorary degrees, probably no one who was or is a serious researcher. It’s certainly not unheard of to have people do interdisciplinary research across a number of fields, but to document this through obtaining Ph.D.s in those other fields as well would be a waste of time. Someone who would go for this would probably be a collector deriving satisfaction from being able to show them off to people not realizing how weird that is. – gnometorule Apr 16 at 15:09
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    Related, possible duplicate: Is doing two PhDs a good path?; note in particular the first answer, which is excellent. – cag51 Apr 16 at 15:09
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    @cag51: thanks but this is not a duplicate as I'm surely not asking whether this a good path, just if some people did, in the spirit of polyglotism (this is aboit learning topics with experts). – Archie Apr 16 at 15:23
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    @Archie What the links and commenters are saying is that a smart "polyglot" would not approach this by earning multiple PhDs. It's not necessary to enroll in a PhD program to learn a topic from experts. It's especially not necessary for someone respected as a researcher in another area. Professors in interdisciplinary fields learn related topics from other experts all day every day as part of their normal job. – Bryan Krause Apr 16 at 15:26
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According to this 2009 newspaper article, there is at least one person, a retired professor from India, who holds five PhDs.

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In German-speaking countries, or at least in Austria, the abbreviation DDr. mult. is used to denote people who have more than two doctorates. Googling for DDr. mult. allows one to identify some persons, but I cannot quickly verify whether they received just three or even four+ such titles.

However, note that some of them should actually be labelled DDr. h.c. mult., whereby h.c. (honoris causa) suggests that the doctorates are honorary titles. In other words, oftentimes they did not start PhD programs from the beginning to the final defense of their dissertation multiple times, but perhaps just once, whereafter they received some honorary titles for some public service.

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    How does this anwer the question? – user151413 Apr 16 at 21:35
  • In any case, DDr is Austrian - in Germany, Dr. mult. is being used, AFAIK. – user151413 Apr 16 at 21:38

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