The Fine Gael TD for Cork North Central, who also has responsibility for data protection, and who was recently elected vice president of the European People’s Party, was among hundreds of students who graduated with an arts degree from UCC on Wednesday.
Work commitments prevented him from attending the graduation ceremony.
But Mr Murphy confirmed that arrangements were put in place in recent months which allowed him to complete two modules — in public finance and in innovation — both of which were required for him to complete his original degree course.
Mr Murphy said he did not have to attend lectures, that his lecturers emailed their lecture slides to him, that he acquired the course books, and studied the modules at home by night, while travelling, and in hotels while away on government business.
“But it did not impact on my ministerial duties,” he said.
Mr Murphy sat exams in late May and early June, passed the exams, and was conferred with a degree in his absence on Wednesday.
He said it was the fulfilment of a long-held ambition of his to complete the economics degree course he started in 1988.
Mr Murphy started his own catering fit-out business while still in the third and final year of his degree course.
He sat final exams while running the business, but failed the exams and decided to drop out of college completely to focus on the business, which took off in the early years of that decade. It has since closed.
“I was unsuccessful in my final exams. Not finishing the degree was something I always regretted, and was something I always wanted to address when I got the opportunity,” he said.
The former member of the Dáil finance committee said he was delighted to get an academic overview of some of the practical work he has encountered during his time in the Dáil, and more recently in government.
And he said completing the degree course has given him a new appreciation of the importance of lifelong learning.
He said he hopes to pursue other educational opportunities in the future.
His party colleague, Cork South Central TD Jerry Buttimer, said that it was always great to see people being encouraged back to education.