Mr Goh attended the then University of Singapore between 1961 and 1964. He graduated with First Class Honours in Economics.
After graduation, Mr Goh joined the Singapore Administrative Service as an Administrative Officer in Ministry of Finance. In 1966, he went on a fellowship to Williams College, Massachusetts, USA, and completed a Masters degree in Development Economics.
Mr Goh joined Neptune Orient Lines as Planning and Projects Manager in 1969, a year after the company was founded. He swiftly rose through the ranks to become Managing Director in 1973. Mr Goh entered politics in 1976 when he stood for and won the seat as Member of Parliament (MP) for Marine Parade. He continues to serve as an MP for the Marine Parade GRC today.
In 1977, then Prime Minister and fellow Rafflesian, Mr Lee Kuan Yew, appointed Mr Goh as Senior Minister of State for Finance. Mr Goh was promoted to full Cabinet rank in 1979. He has held several key portfolios including Trade and Industry, Health and Defence. Mr Goh became First Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Defence in 1985.
Mr Goh succeeded Mr Lee Kuan Yew as Singapore's second Prime Minister in November 1990. As Prime Minister, he led the People's Action Party to victory in the 1991, 1997 and 2001 General Elections.
On 12 August 2004, Mr Goh relinquished the office of Prime Minister to pave the way for political succession by a third generation of Singapore leaders. At the request of Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, Mr Goh agreed to remain in the Cabinet as Senior Minister. He has also been concurrently appointed as Chairman of the Monetary Authority of Singapore.
Mr Goh is married to Advocate and Solicitor Mdm Tan Choo Leng. They have a son and daughter, and five grandchildren.