What Is Neil Degrasse Tyson’s IQ, Is He the Smartest Person Ever?

Neil deGrasse Tyson

What Is Neil Degrasse Tyson’s IQ, Is He the Smartest Person Ever?

Key Points

  • Neil deGrasse Tyson has an IQ of 123, which is considered ‘superior’ but not genius level.
  • Tyson’s ability to teach complex concepts in an easy-to-understand way sets him apart.
  • He attributes his success to his passion for learning and his willingness to collaborate with other scientists.
  • Tyson’s curiosity and willingness to ask questions contribute to his success as a scientist.
  • Despite controversies, Tyson remains focused on his love for science and space.

Once voted as the “Sexiest Astrophysicist Alive”, Neil deGrasse Tyson is a well-known and loved scientist. He’s the host of many different shows and conferences, including ‘Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey’. Not only that, he also has a Ph.D. in Astrophysics, making him incredibly smart. But what is Neil deGrasse Tyson’s IQ, and is he the smartest person in the world? Let’s explore.

Neil deGrasse Tyson’s IQ

Many people consider Neil deGrasse Tyson as an incredibly smart man. And some assume that because of his degrees and work in Astrophysics, he has an IQ that is above average. You may be surprised to know that according to experts, he has an IQ of 123. It’s important to note that there was no testing or clinical observations to back up this claim. However, a score of 123 is considered “superior”.

Quick Facts

Full Name
Neil deGrasse Tyson
October 9, 1958
Net Worth
Two children Travis and Miranda Tyson
Place of Birth
New York City
Fields of Expertise
Astrophysicist, author, and science communicator
Popularize astrophysics, written over a dozen books

What makes Neil deGrasse Tyson stand out when it comes to his “smarts” is his ability to learn and teach what he learns in an easy way to understand. He’s able to break down complicated terms and knowledge and teach small children who want to understand space and science.

Neil deGrasse Tyson's IQ
Astrophysics is the study of physics and chemistry between astronomical objects and space.

©Lia Koltyrina/Shutterstock.com

What Makes Neil deGrasse Tyson So Smart?

So, if Tyson is considered above average, but not a genius, on the IQ scale, what makes him so smart and intriguing? He’s been able to have a great amount of success, including a few shows, podcasts, and more. Here’s how he’s been able to reach the success he has today.

He Yearns to Learn

Neil deGrasse Tyson often states that he was an average or below-average student in his younger years. But that all changed when he went on a school trip to a planetarium. He claims his love for the trip and the planetarium made him pursue science. He went to the Hayden Planetarium to attend the astronomy courses offered. After this, he developed a small obsession with astronomy. Due to his obsession, he decided to attend STEM middle and high schools.

Because of his passion, he pursued a degree in Physics at Harvard University. He later earned his Ph.D. in Astrophysics at Columbia University. He also obtained a Master of Philosophy in Astrophysics and a Master of Arts in Astronomy at the University of Texas at Austin.

Neil deGrasse Tyson loves learning. He notes this on his Twitter account and in multiple interviews he’s had over the years. Tyson believes that in order to continue to grow as a person, you must always be willing to learn.

He Looks up to Others

Tyson doesn’t believe he’s the smartest person in the room. He often discusses how he looks up to other Astrophysicists and scientists. During one interview, he states that he joined the Amateur Astronomers Association of New York and would go to all of the observing sessions in order to meet other like minds and be able to study his love of astronomy.

This can be a great skill to have. Being able to work with others and collaborate is how science progresses. It’s much more than completing research. Tyson understands this and looks up to many different scientists to help him grow in his field and intelligence.

He Asks a Lot of Questions

In order to be a successful scientist, you must be willing to ask questions and learn how to answer them via research and testing. Neil deGrasse Tyson seems to have that curiosity in check. He isn’t afraid to ask questions about things he doesn’t understand or things he wants to know more about.

What to Know About Neil deGrasse Tyson

While Neil deGrasse Tyson may not be considered the smartest man in the world, he’s incredibly intelligent and hard-working. He also believes in following your loves and passions.

  • While Tyson got his degrees in Physics and Astrophysics, he also loves dancing and considered a career in Latin ballroom dancing.
  • He has received multiple honorary doctorate degrees. He also has a NASA Distinguished Public Service Medal, which is NASA’s highest civilian honor. He even has an asteroid named after him!
  • He is the host of the podcast StarTalk, which explores science, pop culture, and more.
  • People magazine named him the “Sexiest Astrophysicist Alive” in 2000.
  • He mentioned that the night sky depicted in James Cameron’s movie “Titanic” was wrong. He stated that the stars were not in the correct alignment. The team who worked on the movie corrected the star alignment after discussing it with Tyson and re-released the movie in 2012 with the correction.

As you can see, Neil deGrasse Tyson is a busy man, but he loves space more than anything and works in the industry because of his passion.

Neil deGrasse Tyson in the News

While Neil deGrasse Tyson is a popular scientist and has many projects under his belt, including TV shows and a podcast, he’s also been in the news in support of AI and constant learning about space through programs like NASA.

Unfortunately, he’s also been the subject of outrage, especially when he tweeted an ill-timed tweet about death after a mass shooting in 2019. So he’s not without his controversies. But overall, it seems like he tries to be a decent person and keep his focus on his love for science.


As you can see, Neil deGrasse Tyson isn’t the smartest scientist alive, but that doesn’t mean he’s not intelligent and quick-witted. And his love of science and space, along with his charm, has quickly made him one of America’s most beloved Astrophysicists. In our opinion, that makes him a smart man indeed.

Summary Table

Neil deGrasse Tyson’s IQ123 (considered “superior”)
What Makes Neil deGrasse Tyson So Smart?His ability to learn and teach complex concepts in an easy-to-understand manner
He Yearns to LearnDeveloped a passion for science after a school trip to a planetarium, pursued degrees in Physics and Astrophysics
He Looks up to OthersBelieves in collaboration and learning from other scientists
He Asks a Lot of QuestionsConstantly curious and willing to ask questions to expand his knowledge
Neil deGrasse Tyson in the NewsSupports AI and continuous learning about space, has faced some controversies

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the highest IQ level?

As of right now, there is no cap to a person’s IQ, although many experts believe the max to be between 200 and 250. Marilyn vos Savant had the highest ever recorded IQ of 228.

Is Neil deGrasse Tyson as smart as Einstein?

If we were to assume that his IQ is 123, he wouldn’t be as smart as Einstein, who has an IQ of 160. However, he isn’t far off.

What is the average IQ?

To be considered of average intelligence, you would need an IQ score between 85 and 115.

Was Neil deGrasse Tyson a prodigy?

Surprisingly, Tyson was fairly average in school, until he found out that he adored Science. In high school, he worked harder and was a straight-A student, and he eventually graduated from Harvard. However, he wouldn’t be considered a prodigy.

What did Neil deGrasse Tyson do for his PhD?

Neil deGrasse Tyson got his degree in Physics from Harvard, and went on to get his PhD in Astrophysics from Columbia.

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