Most Educated NFL Players | Doctors, PHD Holders, Engineers, & More

While people often think that only NFL consists of physically bulky players, who like to party and hate academics, numerous are nerds in real life and have a high degree to their name.

These players often have advanced degrees like JD, MD, and even Ph.D. and are equally skilled on and off the field. Here, we will talk about a few of these most educated NFL Players. 

Frank Ryan

Frank Ryan is first on the list to break the stereotype related to the academic background of the NFL player.

The former quarterback who played for three different NFL teams and ended his career playing for Washington Redskins was a champ both on and off the field.

Ryan is an NFL champion and a three-time Pro Bowl winner who also has a Ph.D. in mathematics that he earned from Rice University.

John Urschel


Ryan is not the only NFL player with a thing for mathematics. John Urschel shares the same love for mathematics as Ryan and has a Ph.D. in applied mathematics, which he earned from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT).

Urschel played for the Baltimore Ravens for only three seasons before announcing his retirement because of the chances of chronic traumatic encephalopathy among NFL players.

Though the NFL player playing in the guard and center positions ended his time in the NFL, he continued his studies outside the field and earned a Ph.D.

He is also quite interested in Chess.

His Education Details:

  • John Urschel received a Bachelor of Science degree in Mathematics from Penn State University in 2014.
  • He received a Master of Science degree in Mathematics from Penn State University in 2015.
  • He worked on a second Master’s degree in math education while at Penn State.
  • He received a Ph.D. in Mathematics from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 2021.
  • He is currently a member of the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton, New Jersey.

Travis Dorsch

The list of most educated NFL players continues with another Ph.D. holder player, Travis Dorsch, who also has a Ph.D. like Ryan and Urschel.

Dorsch started his career in the NFL at the 2002 NFL Draft and played for six seasons as a punter.


After his days in the NFL, the former punter continued his advanced degree at Purdue University and earned a Ph.D. in sports and exercise psychology (2013)

Since retiring from NFL, he worked at Utah State University as an associate professor.

Charley Johnson

Despite the belief that NFL players do not have advanced academic degrees, we have another player, Charley Johnson, who also has a Ph.D. Johnson is a former quarterback who played the last games of his fifteen-year-long NFL career with the Denver Broncos.

While many players got their advanced degrees after retiring from NFL, the Pro Bowl champion of 1963 earned his Ph.D. while still playing on the field.

New Mexico State UniversityBachelor’s degree in Chemical Engineering1961
Washington University in St. LouisMaster’s degree in Chemical Engineering1967
Washington University in St. LouisDoctoral degree in Chemical Engineering1968

The former quarterback earned his Ph.D. in chemical engineering from Washington University in St. Louis and even worked as a professor.

Laurent Duvernay-Tardif

NameLaurent Duvernay-Tardif
UniversityMcGill University
DegreeDoctor of Medicine (MD) and another Master of Surgery (CM)
Date of Graduation2018

Following the above NFL players who have an advanced degree in their field, many might not have a Ph.D. but has the highest degree in fields like medicine, law, etc.

One of these NFL players is Lauren Duvernauy-Tardif, who played as the guard for Kansas City Chiefs for eight years before joining the New York Jets in 2021.


Duvernauy-Tardif has two advanced degrees, one Doctor of Medicine (MD) and another Master of Surgery (CM), and is the fourth NFL player to have graduated from medical school.

The NFL player, who is also a doctor, is still active on and off the field.

Billy Cannon

Along with many doctors with the highest degree in medicine, the NFL also has many NFL players who practice dentistry and have the highest degree in their field. One of those players was Billy Cannon, who was a dentist and also a versatile footballer.

NameBilly Cannon
UniversityLouisiana State University,
University of Tennessee College of Dentistry
DegreeBachelor’s Degree in Dental Hygiene (1959),
Doctor of Dental Surgery (DDS)

Cannon played eleven seasons for three different NFL teams. During his career in the NFL, he played as a halfback, fullback, and tight end and continued his studies at the side.

The former footballer earned his Doctor of Dental Surgery (DDS) from the University of Tennessee College of Dentistry while still playing football.

He then started his dentistry practice after taking his leave from the field.

On May 20, 2018, he passed away at the age of 80.

Dwayne Woodruff

Besides Ph.D. holders, doctors and dentists, many other players also have the highest degree in the law sector. The former cornerback of the Pittsburg Steelers, Dwayne Woodruff, is also one of the NFL players with a Juris Doctorate(JD) degree and has been working as a judge after he retired from football.

InstitutionDegreeDates of Attendance
Thomas R. Kline School of Law of Duquesne UniversityDoctor of Law (J.D.)1984 – 1988
University of LouisvilleBachelor of Science (BSC), Finance, General1975 – 1979

Woodruff played for twelve seasons with the Woodruff and practiced law side by side. He announced his retirement in 1990. After retirement, he began practicing law full-time and is now a judge.

These are only a few of the most educated NFL players. However, many other players have advanced degrees in their field. These NFL players are living examples that challenge the stereotype of not having a solid academic background among NFL players.

Besides this, these players also motivate other young NFL players and rookies so that they can have the best of both worlds.

Interested to know about some of the NFL players who have done the dumbest of actions. Here it is – Dumbest NFL players.

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