A plaque remaining from the Big Apple Night Club at West 135th Street and Seventh Avenue in Harlem.

Above, a 1934 plaque from the Big Apple Night Club at West 135th Street and Seventh Avenue in Harlem. Discarded as trash in 2006.

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Entry from October 21, 2018
Papa Has Dough ("Ph.D” backronym)

The doctorate degree (Ph.D.) is expensive to acquire. The student’s father often has to pay for it. “Papa Has Dough”—“dough” is slang for money—is a Ph.D. backronym (back acronym) that has been cited in print since at least 1941 and 1989. “Papa Has Dough” is often said of a young woman who has a rich father and is not necessarily a student.

Other Ph.D. backronyms include “Permanent Head Damage,” “Piled Higher and Deeper,” “Pizza Hut Deliveryman,” “Poor, Hungry and Determined,” “Poor, Hungry Doctor,” “Poor, Hungry and Driven” and “Pretty Huge Debt.”

The Bachelor of Fine Arts (B.F.A.) degree is sometimes called “Bachelor of Fuck All.” The Bachelor of Science degree is frequently called B.S. ("bull shit") and the Master of Science degree is called M.S. ("more shit” or “more of the same"), with both referenced in print since at least 1932.

Popular backronyms for the M.B.A. (Master of Business Administration) degree include “Massive Bank Account,” “Master Bullshit Artist,” “Mediocre But Aggressive” and “Mediocre But Arrogant.” M.D. (Doctor of Medicine) degree backronyms include “Money Doctor” and “Much Deeper.”


20 June 1941, The Jewish Exponent (Philadelphia, PA), “Your Family And Mine” by Rabbi Samuel M. Segal, pg. 8, col. 2:
“I don’t know but I hear PHD stands for Papa Has Dough,” he declared.

Google Books
Masa:
Odyssey of an American Jew

By Lewis H. Weinstein
Boston, MA: Quinlan Press
1989
Pg. 71: 
“Papa has dough, that’s the best Ph.D.”

Google Books
The Clinic
By Jonathan Kellerman
New York, NY: Bantam Books
1996
Pg. 11:
NEESE: What does Ph.D. mean, anyway? “Piled higher and deeper”? “Papa has dough”?

Google Groups: bit.listserv.techwr-l
Obsession with Degrees
alsa...@netvision.net.il
9/23/96
(...)
As I also remember, having a degree doesn’t mean much. What was the joke: Ph.D. means Papa Has Dough? Whatever, there are plenty of people who obtain degrees but aren’t so great in their chosen fields.

30 May 2002, Ottawa (ON) Citizen, “Crunch time getting close: The Renegades’ Brad Watters grows nervous with training camp only days away, writes Matthew Sekeres,” pg. C1:
“A PhD is something you earn on your own, it doesn’t stand for Papa Has Dough.”

Twitter
Cristina
@Justcristina
“P.H.D. Papa Has Dough.” -Sydney. ROFL xD
5:44 PM - 18 Aug 2009

Twitter
Lauren Ashley
@LaurenShapiro
At #mercedesbenz, I want them all. Why don’t I have a PhD (papa has dough)
10:45 AM - 21 May 2010

Twitter
Sara Dinkin
@SaraDinkin
PHD= Papa Has Dough
2:08 AM - 24 Oct 2010

Twitter
2 pelotos
@sitragaleche
Replying to @dbongino
PHD- it’s called Papa has dough!!
8:17 AM - 16 Oct 2018

Posted by Barry Popik
New York CityEducation/Schools • Sunday, October 21, 2018 • Permalink