Frank Giordano, 59, originally of Cherry Hill, N.J., had completed all his course work for his degree from Rutgers University except for one physical education class, which he never took because he was too busy building a business, The Philadelphia Inquirer reported Sunday.
Giordano took classes during the morning and worked 40-50 hours a week at his own shop to build a commercial-trailer company that ended up highly successful.
"I'd take the Rutgers parking sticker out of my window so customers didn't know I was a college student," he said.
He was supposed to take a required gym class but kept putting it off. An accident resulting in a broken foot closed the deal for him and Giordano never got his degree, the newspaper said.
Meanwhile, he became a hugely successful local businessman with a number of contacts -- one of whom was the acting dean of the Rutgers-Camden business school, Rayman Solomon, who heard his story and presented it to a faculty committee.
"It was a no-brainer," Solomon said. "He deserves it."
Giordano's degree will be official, not honorary, and dated 1972.