What Might Surprise You About Elon Musk’s Education

by / ⠀Blog Entrepreneurship / October 13, 2022
elon musk education

Elon Musk is one of the richest men in the entire world. It is a high achievement that only a few have managed to succeed in all of humanity. At a whopping over $219 billion, let’s talk about Elon Musk’s education and the foundations of how he made that kind of money.

The Early Life of Elon Musk

Elon Musk was born in the country of South Africa back in 1971. His mother Maye was a Canadian model and dietitian while his father Errol was a pilot, consultant, sailor, property developer, and electromechanical engineer. Errol also owned half of an emerald mine in the landlocked country of Zambia. Musk also has two younger siblings named Kimbal (his brother) and Tosca (his sister).

Elon Musk was fortunate to grow up in a wealthy family for his youth. His father was a city council member of Pretoria, one of the largest cities in South Africa where they are from. Errol Musk represented the anti-apartheid Progressive Party. It is reported that like Errol, his children also did not approve of apartheid.

However, Elon had a hard time in South Africa. He was bullied and introverted and also had tension with his father. According to Elon, Errol was a “terrible human being”. While not a violent person, Musk said that his father had done “almost every crime you can think of. It’s so terrible, you can’t believe it.”

In 1980, Musk’s parents divorced and he chose to live with his dad. However, Musk came to regret the decision to move in with his father and would later become estranged from him.

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Education in South Africa

When he lived in South Africa, Elon Musk attended the Waterkloof House Preparatory School, the Bryanston High School, and then graduated from Pretoria Boys High School. By this time, Musk applied for a passport to Canada, where his mother is from. Knowing that this was the easiest way to immigrate to the United States. He wanted to go to America as he believed that there were more economic opportunities for him.

Musk then attended the University of Pretoria for just five months. This was because of two reasons. Number one, he was waiting on his passport to be approved. Secondly, in apartheid South Africa, it was a requirement to serve in the South African Defense Force. Because of his anti-apartheid views and because of enrolling in the University of Pretoria, he was able to avoid service.

Education in Canada

It was not until June 1989 that 18-year-old Elon Musk’s education wish was granted and he made it to Canada. He lived with his second cousin for one year in the province of Saskatchewan. There, he had several odd jobs including a farm and a lumber mill.

A year later in 1990, he went to the Queen’s University in Kingston, Ontario.

Education in the United States

Two years later in 1992, he transferred to the University of Pennsylvania. He completed his studies there with a Bachelor of Arts degree in physics and a Bachelor of Science in economics from Wharton School in 1995.

Musk had two internships, both in Silicon Valley. The first included the energy storage startup called Pinnacle Research Institute. The second included the startup called Rocket Science Games. He would later be accepted to a Doctor of Philosophy (PH.D.) program in materials science at Stanford University.

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Yet, two days into his program, he dropped out. Why? Because of the Internet. It had quickly become the latest fad and it was clearly there to stay. Knowing that this was going to become the next big thing, he tried to apply for Netscape, but never got a response.

After Education

While he finished his studies in 1995, later that year, Musk got his brother and friend named Greg Kouri. They borrowed money from Musk’s father and created Zip2. The purpose was to be an Internet city guide with maps, directions, and more.

The rest was history.


While the details of his time at these schools are unknown, it shouldn’t surprise us about Elon Musk’s education because he is a private person. He does not bring up his time in South Africa much.

Regardless, he clearly got his interests in business and science from his father. This was probably what led him on the path to Space X, PayPal, Tesla, and his other pursuits. But, no matter what he thinks of Musk, he did a lot of schooling to get where he wants to be.

This should be a lesson for any high schooler or person just starting college. Your schooling matters. Focus on that during your time there. Make the most of it and it will take you onto the path to success. It worked for Elon Musk, so why not you as well?

About The Author

Tristan Anderson

Hello! My name is Tristan Anderson and I live in Manhattan, Kansas. I enjoy being in nature and animals. I am also a huge geek who loves Star Wars and has a growing collection.


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