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Academic genealogy: Where BYU professors got their doctorates


View the interactive map in a larger window 

If you’ve ever attended graduation exercises at Brigham Young University, you’ve noticed that professors don’t attempt to color coordinate their academic dress with their fellow faculty members.

Instead, the 1,216 full-time professors with doctorate degrees proudly don the colors of the 187 universities where they completed their graduate studies. In a sense, those schools represent BYU’s academic genealogy.

Geography professor Brandon Plewe – author of Mapping Mormonism – donated his time to create this interactive map to visualize that diverse heritage. The map includes universities that claim at least two members of the BYU faculty. The school logos are sized proportionately to their representation.

Half of the BYU faculty hails from three athletic conferences with proud academic traditions: the Pac 12 (285), the Big 10 (234) and the Ivy League (89).

Top 5

BYU and the University of Utah are #1 and #2 on the list of where BYU professors earned their doctorate degrees. Together these two schools account for 19 percent of the faculty. Religious Education is the most BYU-centric department on campus with 27 professors earning their doctorates from BYU. The College of Nursing has the highest percentage of doctorates received from the University of Utah.

  1. Brigham Young University (127)
  2. University of Utah (109)
  3. University of Wisconsin (38)
  4. UC-Berkeley (35)
  5. University of Texas at Austin (31)

Midwestern roots

Though BYU is nestled in the foothills of the Rocky Mountains, its professorial roots stretch to the Midwest. The twelve schools belonging to the Big 10 athletic conference conferred a combined 234 doctorate degrees on BYU faculty members – accounting for 19 percent of the total. Minnesota, Michigan, Ohio State, Purdue, Indiana, Illinois and Wisconsin all claim at least twenty BYU professors.

Ivy League and other big names

Eighty-nine BYU professors earned their doctorate from one of the eight Ivy League schools. Nearly half of those come from Harvard (23) and Cornell (19).

Other prominent schools with sizable numbers at BYU include Stanford (23), the University of Chicago (21) and MIT (17).

Most BYU faculty attended graduate school in the United States, but two earned doctorate degrees from Cambridge and two others from Oxford.

Twenty BYU faculty members who received doctorates from the University of Washington may find themselves conflicted December 27 when the Washington Huskies close the football season against the BYU Cougars in the Fight Hunger Bowl.

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Story Highlights

  • BYU professors earned doctorates from 187 different universities
  • Half of the total comes from schools in the Pac 12 (285), the Big 10 (234) and the Ivy League (89)
  • Besides BYU and Utah, the University of Wisconsin-Madison claims the most with 38
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