Luciano Baietti, a retired school headmaster from the town of Velletri, in Italy, holds the Guinness record for the most university degrees. The 70-year-old currently has 15 bachelors or masters degrees from various universities across Italy, and is getting ready to get his 16th.
Getting more than one college degree is not exactly unheard of, but 15 is apparently quite impressive, since it’s only been done by one man. Although he spends his days working around his house and garden, like most people his age, at night, Luciano Baretti turns into a student again. Every morning, at 3 a.m., as most of the world is sleeping, he wakes up, takes out his books and studies by the light of his desk lamp. He claims that studying helps keep his mind active and that every degree he has obtained has helped broaden his knowledge of the world around him. Plus, getting mentioned in the record books is a nice perk too.
Photo: video screengrab
“Thanks to books, I feel free, dammit,” Baietti recently said. “After all, the words share the same root,” he says, referring to the Italian words libro (book) and libero (free).” He claims to have been inspired 19th century French essayist Louis-Francois Bertin, whose portrait is also on display in his study, alongside his many framed university degrees, and whom he describes as “a man of culture and knowledge.”
Baietti first made it into the Guinness Book of Records in 2002, after getting his eight degree, but he didn’t stop there. After getting degrees in physical education, sociology, literature, law, political science philosophy and motor skills, he spent the next 15 years adding seven more bachelors and masters degree to his collection. Most of them are from the famous La Sapienze University, in Rome, one of the oldest in the world, but he’s also graduated from a distance-learning university in Turin, and an online university in Naples. Luciano now holds degrees in criminology and military strategies, as well.
Photo: D. Brighi
“Each time I set myself a new challenge, to see how far my body and my brain can go,” Luciano says. At 70-years-old, he thinks he has enough energy for at least one more degree, this time in food science.
Probably the most important thing about Luciano Baietti’s achievement is that he managed to get most of his university degrees while working as the headmaster of a secondary school, and volunteering with Italy’s Red Cross. The secret was always getting up at 3 in the morning, to make sure that his thirst for knowledge didn’t affect his professional activity and his family life. He spent 3 hours studying every day, and that was apparently all he needed to pass his exams and write his thesis.
“At that time the brain is more open to assimilating knowledge, and it also allows me to keep a normal family life,” Baietti said.