Sheldon Cooper’s education timeline explained

Jasmine Valentine
Sheldon Cooper at East Texas Tech in Young Sheldon

Young Sheldon Season 7 shows Sheldon Cooper’s education in a new light — and it’s not always a good one. Here’s his full college and higher education timeline explained.

The time has come for our little boy genius to be put in his place. Throughout his whole life, Sheldon Cooper has taken great pride in his superior intellect — until Young Sheldon Season 7.

Sheldon and Mary began the series in Germany, where his new professor challenged everything Sheldon knows to be true, from the laws of physics to why he could benefit from listening instead of talking.

With his education now back in the spotlight after pivots to Georgie and Mandy’s wedding and George’s death, here’s the full rundown of Sheldon Cooper’s complete education history.

Who is Sheldon Cooper?

Jim Parsons as Sheldon Cooper in The Big Bang Theory

For those who are new to the Sheldon-verse, Sheldon Cooper is the main protagonist in the 2007-2019 sitcom The Big Bang Theory, and the current prequel series Young Sheldon. Iain Armitage takes on the role of the child and teenage iteration, while Jim Parsons is the adult version and narrator of the follow-up 2017 show.

In his own world, Sheldon has an IQ of 187, classifying him as a bonafide genius. However, his substantially lower EQ means he has a hard time making friends — until Leonard, Howard, and Raj come along. With a head for science, Sheldon continually leans into facts rather than his family’s Christian faith. He was born and raised in Texas, though consciously changes his accent to try and shake off the stereotype.

What college does Sheldon Cooper attend? Education timeline explained

Merging both Young Sheldon and The Big Bang Theory together, below is a full timeline of Sheldon’s education — with a few notable differences.

As Sheldon delves further into higher education, what is mentioned in passing during the main series never comes to fruition in Young Sheldon at the expected time. In the show’s latest episode, it’s a case of trying to undo some continuity damage, with some minor tweaks.

We’re also keeping Sheldon Cooper’s education strictly to what is seen on TV — no elementary school, no kindergarten, or anything else that he would have deemed beneath him.

Medford High School

Sheldon Cooper holding up two pieces of paper at Medford High School

As Young Sheldon Season 1 immediately puts into place, a nine-year-old Sheldon is enrolled in Medford High School’s ninth grade, which is exactly the same year that older brother Georgie is also in. Sheldon is extremely quick to rub his teachers up the wrong way, questioning both their teaching methods and the implementation of school rules. Complaining, the teachers try to have Sheldon removed, but George and Mary insist they persevere.

Sheldon stays there for a total of two years — although during this time, he does a lot of self-tutoring while looking for other educational figures to take inspiration from.

East Texas Tech

Sheldon Cooper at East Texas Tech

By the age of 11, Sheldon ditches high school for the dizzy heights of East Texas Tech. He starts to be more academically challenged here, befriending the likes of John Sturgis and Grant Linkletter — both of who he quickly puts on a pedestal. Sheldon also meets Paige here, who is the first peer who might actually go beyond matching his level of intelligence.

Sheldon stays here for three years, graduating from ETT in 1995 at the age of 14, which takes us up to the current series of Young Sheldon.

The University of Heidelberg

Iain Armitage as Young Sheldon in Season 7 Episode 1

Here’s where The Big Bang Theory and Young Sheldon start to differ slightly. In the main series, Sheldon supposedly visited the Heidelberg Institute when he was 15, with Mary leaving to help the rest of his family during tornado season. In Young Sheldon, the titular character is 14 while attending The University of Heidelberg, with Mary fully staying put after a conversation with Meemaw. They are trivial details, but the kind that would ironically annoy Sheldon if he actually was writing his own story.

Sheldon’s move to Germany is certainly a pivotal moment in his education, opening him up to the idea that he doesn’t know as much as he likes to think. In Season 7 Episode 2 of Young Sheldon, his new tutor — played by Robert Picardo — suggests that Sheldon is tutored, much to his and Mary’s amazement.


Sheldon Cooper with Leonard and Howard at Caltech

Of course, any fan of The Big Bang Theory will know that Sheldon attended, graduated, and worked at the California Institute of Technology – better known as Caltech. The main show depicts his ties to the institute were first formed when he was fourteen and a half, receiving his first doctorate at the age of 16. He then spent four years on his second dissertation before obtaining his position as a theoretical physicist.

As Sheldon is 14 at the time of Young Sheldon Season 7’s premiere, it was a given that we would see his inroads into Caltech in later episodes. Thanks to leaked photos of the set, we also know that Caltech will be featured in the finale. It’s also well documented that this is around the same time that Sheldon became the youngest person at the time to receive the Stevenson Award.

In Young Sheldon Season 7 Episode 9, it’s revealed that Sheldon actually was due to attend MIT, only picking Caltech after arriving in Massachusetts for a tour and hating the bad weather.

Is Sheldon Cooper on the autism spectrum?

There is no official diagnosis for Sheldon, meaning he isn’t on the autism spectrum – though he does display similar behaviors.

Following criticism of neurodivergent storylines, TBBT actress Mayim Bialik explained [via Radio Times] “All of our characters are in theory on the neuropsychiatric spectrum, I would say. Sheldon often gets talked about in terms of Asperger’s or OCD. He has a thing with germs, he has a thing with numbers, he’s got a lot of that precision that we see in OCD.

There’s a lot of interesting features to all of our characters that make them technically unconventional socially.”

While you wait for the next episode, you can catch up with our other Sheldon content, like our Season 7 theories, filming locations, how to watch Season 7 outside the US, and how to watch Young Sheldon on streaming.

You can also check out all the best new TV shows coming out this month.

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