The Youngest College Graduate (And 7 Other Incredibly Grads)

Every once in a while, we get to hear cool stories involving child prodigies. Case in point, Michael Kearney, the current record holder for the youngest college graduate ever! He entered college when he was just 8 years old, went on to graduate with a bachelor’s degree at 10, and completed his first master’s degree at 14!

Crazy, right? While it may be challenging, graduating from college before becoming teenager is not impossible. There are a few others who also graduated well before they entered their teenage years. Some of them missed earning the youngest college graduate title by only a few months. Still, their accomplishments are amazing. Graduating when you’re just 10, 11, or 12 years old is undoubtedly an impressive achievement.

A look back at some of the youngest college graduates and what they are currently doing can inspire us to aim higher and do our best. Many of the students featured on our list have gone on to earn multiple degrees and are now adults doing amazing work as lawyers, doctors, and professors.  Let’s take a look!

8 of the Youngest College Graduates

1. Michael Kearney 

Michael Kearney holds the Guinness World Book Record for being the youngest college graduate ever. He graduated in 1994 at the age of 10 years and 4 months and that record has not been broken since.

Michael was born in Honolulu, HI where he was homeschooled by his mother. He was diagnosed with ADHD, but that didn’t hold this child prodigy back. He started reading when he was 10 months old and completed his high school education in the record time of one year, when he was just 6 years old.

Kearney went on to earn a bachelor’s degree in anthropology in 1994 followed by two master’s degrees. He earned a master’s degree in chemistry from Middle Tennessee State University when he was 14 and a master’s degree in computer science from Vanderbilt University when he was 18. He continued studying further and earned his doctorate in chemistry 4 years later from Middle Tennessee.

Describing his education, Kearney stated, “Most people, they get into school when they’re 6, and they get out of school around 22, 23…. I just happened to be in college that entire time.”

Kearney’s college route may have been nontraditional, but certainly successful. He is currently a teaching assistant in chemistry at Middle Tennessee State University.

Interesting fact: Michael Kearney was thrust back into the spotlight when he won a grand prize of $1 million in 2006 in the trivia and puzzle game show, ‘Gold Rush’.

2. Moshe Kai Cavalin

The second youngest college graduate, Moshe Kai Cavalin, enrolled in East Los Angeles Community College at the age of 8 and earned his associate’s degree in mathematics at the age of 11 with a 4.0. From there, he enrolled in the University of California – Los Angeles where he had a full scholarship and graduated at 15.

He went on to earn his Master of Science in information security management at 18 from Brandeis University and another master’s two years later from Arizona State University in marketing.

In between his master’s, Cavalin was a Student Engineering Intern at NASA. At the time, he was just 17 years old! At NASA he worked on developing surveillance technology for use in drones and airplanes. He also published 2 books by the time he turned 17.

Today, Cavalin is a product manager for Intel. He is also a martial arts champion. Despite all his accomplishments at a young age, he does not think of himself as a genius and dissuades people do from calling him one.

3. Laurent Simons

  • Age at Graduation: 11
  • Graduation Year: 2021
  • Degree: Bachelor’s Degree in Physics
  • School: University of Antwerp

Laurent Simons is one of the most recent young college graduates, earning his spot on this list as recently as 2021. He ties with Moshe Kai Cavalin as the second youngest college graduate, both having graduated at 11 years.

Hailing from Belgium, Simons was on track to graduate before his 10th birthday but was unable to take the required tests at his previous school of Eindhoven University. That did upset him and he dropped out of Eindhoven. He then enrolled in the University of Antwerp where he earned a bachelor’s degree in physics at the age of 11.

Simons graduated summa cum laude with an 85% and is currently researching the replacement of body parts with mechanical parts. He plans on continuing his education with the goal of being able to use mechanical parts to replace as many body parts as possible.

4.  Clovis Hung

  • Age at Graduation: 12 years
  • Graduation Year: 2023
  • Degree: 5 Associate’s Degrees in Science and Mathematics, Social Behavior and Self-Development, Arts and Human Expression, Social Sciences, and History
  • School: Fullerton College, California

Clovis Hung entered college as a 9-year-old and graduated at 12 years of age with and impressive 5 Associate’s Degrees in Science and Mathematics, Social Behavior and Self-Development, Arts and Human Expression, Social Sciences, and History.

Hung’s mother pulled him out of traditional public school when he was 9 years old because she felt the schools could not satisfy his insatiable curiosity. Motivated by a sense of friendly competition, Hung decided to enroll in college to match the accomplishment of Fullerton alum Jack Rico. At that time, Rico held the record as Fullerton college’s youngest graduate, having graduated from the college at the age of 13. Not only did Clovis Hung match the accomplishment, he surpassed it by graduating at the age of 12.

Clovis Hung enrolled at Fullerton through the school’s ‘Special Admit’ program, which allows students of any age to take courses at the school for college credit. Hung’s mother supplemented his college classes with a homeschool curriculum especially tailored to meet his unique academic needs. Hung claims he had a positive college experience with a strong support system in his new classmates and professors who looked out for him, cheered him on, and celebrated his successes.

Currently, Clovis is exploring multiple career paths in aerospace and medicine while simultaneously working toward getting his pilot license by the time he turns 16.

5. Sho Yano

Yano started his college education when he was just 9 years old. At 12 years of age, he earned his first degree, graduating summa cum laude from Loyola University Chicago. He went on to attend the Pritzker School of Medicine at University of Chicago, from where he earned his doctorate in molecular genetics and cell biology in 2009 at the age of 18. In 2012, when he was 21, he earned his M.D. from the same school, becoming the youngest M.D. in history.

That’s not all! Sho Yano shares the record as having an estimated IQ of 200, which is considered the highest IQ in the world. There’s more – he earned a 1500 out of 1600 on the SAT. He’d also been reading since he was 2 years old and composing for the piano at age 5.

A rotation at LaRabida Children’s Hospital in Chicago sparked Yano’s interest in pediatric neurology. Today, Sho Yano is a pediatric neurology resident at the university.

6. Gregory Smith

  • Age at Graduation: 13
  • Graduation Year: 2003
  • Degree: Bachelor’s Degree in Mathematics
  • School: Randolph-Macon College

Gregory Smith completed elementary school in one year, moved on to high school before turning 7 years, and enrolled in college by the age of 10. In college, he took advanced level courses in calculus, physics, and French, graduating three years later with a bachelor’s degree in mathematics. He was only 13 years old when he graduated.

Three years later, at the age of 16, Smith earned a Master of Science degree in mathematics from the University of Virginia. He followed this with another master’s in computational biology from Carnegie Mellon University at 19 years of age and a Ph.D. in biological sciences, also from CMU, 6 years later.

After earning his doctorate, Gregory Smith joined Mount Sinai as a postdoctoral researcher in his early 20s. His main interest lies in studying stochastic gene expression, with the ultimate goal of building better drugs.

Smith is also firmly committed to advocating for children’s right and safety. His continued dedication to charity work has earned him nominations for the Nobel Peace Prize five times.

7.  Alia Sabur

  • Age at Graduation: 14
  • Graduation Year: 2003
  • Degree: Bachelor’s Degree in Applied Mathematics
  • School: Stony Brook University

Alia Sabur’s parents knew she was special from a very young age. She didn’t even complete elementary school before she attended college at Stony Brook University at only 10 years old. She would earn her bachelor’s and graduate summa cum laude with a degree in applied mathematics in 2003, at only 14 years of age.

In 2006, by the time she was 17, Sabur received her master’s in materials science and engineering from Drexel and was awarded the 2007 Dean fellowship. Three days before her 19th birthday on February 19, 2008, Alia Sabur attained the position of lecturer in the Department of Advanced Technology Fusion at Konkuk University in Seoul. This earned her a spot in the Guinness World Record for the youngest professor, a record she still holds to date.

Sabur also has a black belt in Taekwondo, which she took up to protect herself against bullies in high school and college.

8. Eugenie Carys de Silva

  • Age at Graduation: 14
  • Graduation Year: 2013
  • Degree: Bachelor’s Degree in Intelligence Analysis
  • School: American Military University

From Manchester, England, Eugenie Carys de Silva finished high school when she was just 11 years old. From there, she enrolled in the American Military University. At the age of 14, she graduated with a 4.0 GPA and a bachelor’s degree in Intelligence Analysis. She still holds the record for being the youngest college graduate to earn a Bachelor’s Degree in Intelligence Analysis.

A year later, she earned a master’s in Intelligence Studies from the same school, as well as a second master’s from Harvard in Extension Studies and an M. Phil from University of Cambridge in Education, Globalization, and International Development.

The youngest student to graduate from Harvard, de Silva also received a Ph.D. in Politics from the University of Leicester, England when she was just 15 years old. She also holds the record for the youngest person to read for a Ph.D. academic degree in the U.K.

Eugenie Carys de Silva is currently a student ambassador for the American Military University and also works as a Senior Consultant for Booz Allen Hamilton. She has also founded the International Association of Child Prodigies which aims to provide children a nurturing environment that encourages them to pursue their academic goals.

These eight youngest college graduates certainly proved that age doesn’t have to hold you back. While many of them may have faced scrutiny and extremely unique challenges, they pursued their dreams and achieved them.

Even if you weren’t reading before your first birthday, graduating college before driving, or breaking world records, you can definitely be inspired by their motivation and find ways to incorporate their drive in your own life.

How Can You Graduate Faster? 

If you’re over 10 years old, you may not be able to qualify for the youngest graduate title, but that shouldn’t stop you from aspiring to speed up your graduation,
If you wish you could graduate faster, these tips may help.

To Graduate from High School Faster

It is absolutely possible to speed up your high school education. There are quite a few students who have graduated after just 3 or 3.5 years at their school.

First, you need to talk to your guidance counselor before you can graduate high school in less than four years. You will need their approval and also their assistance in creating your schedule. Your guidance counselor will have to create a schedule that works for you while also ensuring that you’re meeting state requirements to earn your degree. To graduate early, you may have to take summer or online classes or take a rigorous schedule. Your parents and the school administrators will also have to be on board and approve of your plan.

It’s not always recommended that you graduate high school early. By taking the four years, you have more time to take advanced classes, apply to colleges, and impress those schools by participating in extracurriculars. If you have a very rigorous schedule, you might not have time for those extra experiences.

This is a decision that requires careful thought and discussions with your teacher, guidance counselor, and your parents.

To Graduate from College Faster

Plenty of students graduate from college quickly! And doing so can save you quite a bit of money in college expenses – you’ll still have to pay for those credits, but you’ll save elsewhere, like room and board. In order to earn your associate’s or bachelor’s faster than other students, you should:

  • Attend the summer and winter semesters. Colleges often have summer and winter semesters available to students. You may be limited on choice though, so you will need to plan out your semesters well ahead of time to ensure you’re not running into an issue where you’ve already taken the available courses during the fall and spring semesters.
  • Take more credits during semesters. In order to be a full time student, you need to take 12-15 credits per semester at college. You may be able to take more than 15, though schools can limit you per term. Just be prepared to take on the extra workload.
  • Attend placement tests. If your school doesn’t offer placement tests during your orientation or freshmen year, make sure to talk to your school. It may be possible to take an exam that helps you “opt out” of the class and credit by proving you already know the material. For example, if you speak Spanish fluently or even semi-fluently, you may be able to skip Spanish 101 and 102 if you score well enough on the placement test.


These young college graduates certainly proved that age doesn’t have to hold you back. While many of them may have faced scrutiny and extremely unique challenges, they pursued their dreams and achieved them. Even if you weren’t reading before your first birthday, graduating college before driving, or breaking world records, you can be inspired by their motivation and find ways to incorporate their drive in your own life.

Use College Raptor to discover individualized college matches, personalized tuition price estimates, your acceptance odds, and potential financial aid from schools around the country!

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