Verdict: Yes, Bruce Wayne has a college degree.
I could base this assertion on the many times in various versions of Batman it is mentioned that he is an alumnus of something like 'Gotham University'.
|Alfred does the sweetest things sometimes.|
An aside: No, Bruce Wayne did not go to Yale just because of one background detail in a Bronze Age Batman story, no matter how many times YALE reasserts that he did.
First of all, no character is more committed to his fictionopolis than Batman. Batman is all about Gotham City. Bruce Wayne would NEVER go to a real college, he would only go to a fictional college, and one with 'Gotham' in its name; it's really just not debatable. Second, Bruce Wayne is not an a-hole, so he can't possible be a Yale alum. Third, the one thing that all Ivy Leaguers agree on is that New Haven is a pit; the only way Bruce Wayne would even visit it would be as preparation for invading Santa Prisca.
|Not even the Waynes would be dumb enough to walk through New Haven on the way home from the theater.|
But even without the references to Bruce being an alum of A Gotham Institute of Higher Learning, I make the assertion that Bruce has a college degree as pure common sense.
Now, I can already hear the squeals of those of you who are wedded to the idea put forth in one version of Batman's origin, that he "wandered the world learning many things and attending college classes but never bothering to earn a degree." And you cling to this idea with the passion of an adolescent lover for a reason. Comic book heroes (especially DC's) are aspirational and our aspirations have changed.
Over the last near century since Batman was created, our ideas of privilege have changed. When Batman was created, 43% of the population lived in rural areas and fewer than 5% of adults had college degrees, and the poverty rate was somewhere between 40% and 30%. To readers of that time, the signifiers of being rich/privileged were things like having a mansion, not needing a job, wearing tuxedoes and smoking jackets, going to the opera and other big city entertainments, and being graduated from college.
|Adam West's superpower was being able to wear an ascot and smoking jacket while STILL looking like a bad-ass.|
|I will explain later why Bruce is smoking that pipe.|
Before the G.I. Bill, college was a luxury mostly affordable by the well to do. But nowadays, 82% of the U.S. population is urban, more than a third of all adults have a college degree, and the poverty level is 10% (still too high, of course, but that's a different subject). Readers no longer dream of going to college and then living in the big city. They went to college; they live in the big city. College went from being a luxury for the rich to a requirement for the middle class. What readers dream of is not having had to go to college, of being rich enough to thumb their noses at such requirements. The privilege of the rich is no longer symbolized by being able to dress up; it's symbolized by being able to dress DOWN, because you don't have to impress anyone (like a boss). My absurdly rich college roommate always wore the same pair of jeans with holes at the knees; he also had a $300 sled and went to Switzerland on break. "Up goes the price of shoddy", as the old song says.
For that reason, you cling to the idea that Bruce never 'had' to get a college degree because that's a freedom YOU long for. It's what you imagine YOU would do if you were Bruce Wayne.
But you are not Bruce Wayne. Bruce Wayne understands something that Donald Trump understood (as much as it PAINS me to make the comparison): branding.
|"HOW MANY SUBSCRIBERS DO YOU HAVE, PUNK?!"|
Bruce Wayne LOVES branding and knows its powers. WayneTech. Wayne Enterprises. Wayne Manor. All of Batman's vehicles and devices get branded with a bat, either in name or appearance. The only reason Robin wasn't named "Batlad" was because Bruce had NO intention of diluting his brand. Bruce Wayne spend his formative years preparing to fight crime BUT knew for an absolute fact one thing: that he couldn't begin doing so without figuring out his brand.
|Pictured: focus group–driven branding.|
What does branding have to do with going to college? Two things.
One, the branding of Bruce Wayne. Bruce Wayne has to have gone to college to be respectable among the social circles he inherited (and needs to do his job well). It's necessary to the branding of Bruce Wayne, as a character Bruce Wayne plays. He doesn't have to have done well, mind you. Probably involved a lot of distance learning, in fact. Or just showing up and acing the test.
|"Well, that IS the right answer, Bat-Hound, but you are supposed to show your work."|
But while Bruce Wayne doesn't have to seem like a hardworking genius as part of his billionaire persona, he does have to seem respectable. And respectable Gotham socialites are not college washouts; that would be seen as being a quitter or a failure.
|He's BATMAN, not some sort of merfolk exchange student.|
Batman's Bruce Wayne persona is about being a bland and unnoticeable heir; he would get a college degree if for no other reason than NOT getting one would be suspicious. But a degree in what? Ah ha; that's where it get interesting.
Nothing suspicious. That means no degree in criminology (the very idea is laughable if he wants to protect his secret identity). So, too any technical or scientific degree.
Beside those are things that Batman could, would, and did study on his own (and probably more efficiently).
|"Aerosolized into a fine spray, this chemical should be able to repel even the most determined Elasmobranchii!"|
Business? Certainly bland enough, but unless it's needed for some aspect of a plot, Bruce never seems all that interested in the 'business' of Wayne Enterprises; he doesn't need to be a business, he pays people to do that for him.
|"Ugh the boy billionaire's been bugging Marketing AGAIN."|
"Wants the W to look more like a bat. Says consumers are a 'cowardly and superstitious lot'."
No, Bruce Wayne would major in something that seems frivolous and irrelevant to -- but consistent with --his life as a billionaire, but still useful to Batman, something that he couldn't study in isolation in lab.
It seems pretty obvious to me that Bruce Wayne's degree is in:
|"You hate me, don't you?"|
Once you have stopped laughing at this idea, you'll start to think about it.
|Professor of Marketing, R.A. Ghul.|
And you'll realize I'm right.
Batman might become a master of disguise on his own, but acting? That requires working with others; THAT is something Batman would study in college. This is why Batman is smoking a pipe in early appearances; because, although he's not a smoker, he knows he NEEDS to be able to smoke (like actors) because a part might sometimes require it.
|Like his go-to underworld disguise for the last 35 years, Matches Malone.|
|If there is one Batman constant, it's that he loves putting on a costume and a show.|
Bruce's Ward and Batman's crimefighting partner?
|A performer he meets while attending the circus.|
Bruce's trusted major domo and Batman's constant aide de camp?
|An experienced stage actor.|
Bruce's first (documented) girlfriend?
|A movie actress.|
|A clown on stage, radio, and television|
Bruce Wayne's transformative experience and Batman's origin?
|Returning from the theater.|
Batman IS theater; and Bruce Wayne's degree is in theater. It's the only thing that makes sense.