After a short stint as a court reporter, Millikan entered Oberlin College in Ohio (his mother's alma mater) and majored in the Classics yet was persuaded by an advisor to adapt his fascination with mathematics to teaching physics. He remained teaching elementary physics after graduating in 1891. His scientific career proceeded to a Fellowship in Physics at Columbia University in 1893 and its first doctorate in physics in 1895. His doctoral research concerned the polarization of incandescent light.
In 1895, Millikan moved to Germany and studied for a year with Max Planck and Walther Nernst at the Universities of Gottingen and Berlin, returning in 1896 to join A. A. Michelson at the University of Chicago.
Millikan married Greta Erwin Blanchard in 1902 and their family grew to include three sons.
Devoted to teaching, Millikan became a professor in 1910, establishing a curriculum and collaborating on many textbooks which stressed laboratory-based learning in introductory physics at high school and college levels.
Copy of article from Science, April 10, 1931, Autobiographical notes published on birthdays of scientists in "Nature" / (604 k); 4/10/1931
Copy of Encyclopedia Britannica, 14th Ed., entry on Millikan, (712 k); undated