This one is mysterious because it is not in the book Bend, Not Break, nor has Fu Ping spoken about it herself, publicly anyway. But at least two sources have described Fu Ping has a Ph.D. in Chinese Literature.
One is the book How the Web was Born by James Gillies and Robert Cailiau, Oxford University Press, 2000. On Page 237, while describing the birth of the Mosaic browser, it says:
Ping Fu had an eclectic mixture of talents: a Ph.D. in Chinese literature and a flair for scientific visualization projects on computers.Fu Ping was interviewed for the book, but it is not clear whether she was the source of the above.
Another is the Executive Profile provided by Businessweek, which states:
Ms. Fu holds MS and BS degrees in computer science from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. She has PhD in Chinese literature from Nanjing University, China, and an MA in Chinese literature from Suzhou University, China.Businessweek cited no sources.
(Update 7/11/2013: Businessweek web site has now been updated with both of her PhD and MA degrees above removed.)
Perhaps due to the necessity of presenting a case for deportation, the book Bend, Not Break has been very vague on the timeline before Fu Ping's departure from China. So much so that Forbes' Jenna Goudreau discovered it as a "gap" in her timeline. In her own clarification, Fu Ping did mention her plan for attending graduate school in Nanjing:
I originally had been planning to go to graduate school to study comparative literature in Nanjing, but that could not happen due to the circumstances.So, she did not attend the graduate school and, even if she did (as reported in a 2009 story in Chinese media), she would not have had enough time to earn a Ph.D.
Businessweek's profile contains multiple errors as Fu Ping did not have MA from Suzhou University either, or BS from Illinois.
Where did James Gillies, Robert Cailiau, and Businessweek get this erroneous information?
Fu Ping's Explanation:
In late June and early July of 2013, Fu Ping attributed the problem with her academic credentials to "automatic internet search." She told South China Morning Post:
In the book I wrote exactly what the fact is: I don’t have a degree from Suzhou [Soochow University], there is no contradiction. I have a MS and BA in the USA. On my social network sites such as Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter, I only list my two US degrees, which are both in Computer Science. My understanding is that when other publications post my profile on their websites, they may run an automatic Internet search, which presents degrees from other people with the same name as mine, Ping Fu, and these peoples’ degrees get attached to my name. I found many instances of this, even on very reputable sites such as those of Bloomberg Businessweek, the Wall Street Journal, and the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE).and Qiaobao:
But there are places that I have no control of. About 10 years ago, our company's marketing department has a girl from Malaysia. I told her that I did not graduate from Suzhou University. So she wrote on our page "post graduate degree." Because she thought "post graduate degree" could also mean "non degree" besides "masters graduate student." We made corrections right away and it was not on our company web site. But recently when our company changed web site, an program that was automatically fetching files made it visible again. I did not discover it in time.
Right now there are many web sites, including Bloomberg, Wall Street Journal, etc., all carried this incorrect information. I found out later that it was because their automated search feature. The real culprit of this academic credentials fraud is the automated search, not me.