How did Einstein earn his PhD? (2023)

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  • #1


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History question:
I searched all over the web and cannot find the answer. I knew that Albert Einstein earned his phd from university of zurich.
from wiki:
In 1900, Einstein was awarded the Zürich Polytechnic teaching diploma.
(Between 1900 to 4/30/1905, I deduced that Einstein was unemployed and working for jobs like clerk.)
On 30 April 1905, Einstein completed his thesis, with Alfred Kleiner, Professor of Experimental Physics, serving as pro-forma advisor. Einstein was awarded a PhD by the University of Zürich.
(Therefore, I am curious of how he could complete a PhD when he was unemployed and working full time in 5 years)
It would be great if you could provide me with historical writings in this aspect.
Thank you very much.

Answers and Replies

  • #3


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"unemployed and working full time"?

  • #4


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HallsofIvy said:

"unemployed and working full time"?

That's how Einstein came up with the Theory of Relativity.

(Video) How Einstein's Brain was Different ?
  • #6



dipole said:

Employment is relative!

Haha. Good one.

  • #7



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dipole said:

Employment is relative!

Especially if you're employed by relatives.

  • #8


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jedishrfu said:

Especially if you're employed by relatives.

Nepotism is a rather relative business. How did Einstein earn his PhD? (1)

(Video) Inside the genius of Albert Einstein | Big Think
  • #9


Gold Member


Yes, he was unemployed for a brief period of time. After posting the question, I also find a brief history of what Albert Einstein was doing between 1900 (undergrad graduation) to 1905 (award of PhD):
"After graduating from the Polytechnic Institute, Albert Einstein faced a series of life crises over the next few years. Because he liked to study on his own, he cut classes and earned the animosity of some of his professors. One in particular, Heinrich Weber, wrote a letter of recommendation at Einstein’s request that led to him being turned down for every academic position that he applied to after graduation. Meanwhile, Einstein's relationship with Maric deepened, but his parents vehemently opposed the relationship citing her Serbian background and Eastern Orthodox Christian religion. Einstein defied his parents and continued to see Maric. In January, 1902, the couple had a daughter, Lieserl, who either died of sickness or was given up for adoption—the facts are unkown.

At this point, Albert Einstein probably reached the lowest point in his life. He could not marry Maric and support a family without a job, and his father's business had gone bankrupt. Desperate and unemployed, Einstein took lowly jobs tutoring children, but he was unable to hold on to any of them. A turning point came later in 1902, when the father of his lifelong friend, Marcel Grossman, recommended him for a position as a clerk in the Swiss patent office in Bern, Switzerland. About this time, Einstein’s father became seriously ill and just before he died, gave his blessing for him to marry. With a small but steady income, Einstein married Maric on Jan. 6, 1903. In May, 1904 they had their first son, Hans Albert."

I am amazed how he found a way to gain a PhD degree from Zurich (but how he did that is still quite mysterious to me and I find this webpage after posting the question and this webpage does not tell me how he obtained admission). In my opinion, this is not very likely to happen in today's world.

  • #10




You might like this website "CHRONOLOGY OF EINSTEIN'S LIFE"

I have found several website's that say that Einstein received his PhD for his paper "A New Determination of Molecular Dimensions".

Again here

Einstein earned a doctorate from the University of Zurich in 1905 for a thesis On a new determination of molecular dimensions. He dedicated the thesis to Grossmann.

It does not appear that he actually attended at the time from what I can find.

  • #11


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td21 said:

I am amazed how he found a way to gain a PhD degree from Zurich (but how he did that is still quite mysterious to me and I find this webpage after posting the question and this webpage does not tell me how he obtained admission). In my opinion, this is not very likely to happen in today's world.

It happens a lot more than you would think. There's even a name and an acronym for Einstein's state between early 1902 (when he submitted his first thesis) and 1905 (when he submitted his second thesis, which was accepted in an amazingly short time).

The acronym is "ABD". It stands for "All But Dissertation" or sometimes even "All But Defense". A graduate student might get married, have a kid, and then find out that the grad student pauper life doesn't fit with having a family. Or a graduate student's advisor might have a heart attack and die, leaving the student in a terrible bind. All kinds of things can happen that makes someone leave graduate school, sometimes shortly before they would nominally receive that PhD. I've worked with a number of ABDs over my career, and some of them did eventually finish up what they left behind, eventually receiving that PhD.

  • #12
(Video) I read Brian Cox's PhD thesis...


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At one point Einstein actually applied for a position in Kamerlingh Onnes lab (which was the first "modern" research lab in the world) but was turned down. This was perhaps in retrospect a good thing. I don't think Einstein would have been able to do the work he did if he had been busy liquefying helium:tongue:
(although the lab did generate an amazing number of discoveries during those years)

  • #13




td21 said:

I am amazed how he found a way to gain a PhD degree from Zurich (but how he did that is still quite mysterious to me

From the link given in post #2:

Since the ETH was not authorized to grant doctoral degrees until 1909, a special arrangement enabled ETH students to obtain doctorates from the University of Zürich.

  • #15




el hombre said:

There is more to this Einstein mistery.

his first wife Mila got in a divorce settelment mony from Einstein Nobel price , the price he got some 3 years later. How did they know he would get it?

There is no mystery, it clearly says

The Nobel Prize — in the event of the divorce and in the event that it is bestowed upon me — would be ceded to you in full a priori.

(Video) Albert Einstein: The Size and Existence of Atoms

he did not know if he would get it, SAYS SO right there.

This is common in divorces where a wife may be awarded future compensation, for example a wife that gave up everything to put her husband through medical school can be awarded money years later when her husband gets rich from his medical practice.

Thread closed.

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                      How did Einstein earn his PhD? ›

                      Einstein completed his Ph. D. thesis in 1905 with Professor Alfred Kleiner, who was an experimental physicist at the University of Zürich. He was awarded a doctorate degree with the dissertation entitled “A New Determination of Molecular Dimensions.

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                      In 1905, his annus mirabilis, or miracle year, Einstein published five groundbreaking papers. One of these papers was his doctoral thesis “Eine neue Bestimmung der Moleküldimensionen” (A New Determination of Molecular Dimensions), which he submitted to the University of Zurich.

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                      On 30 April 1905 Einstein completed his dissertation, A New Determination of Molecular Dimensions with Alfred Kleiner, serving as pro-forma advisor. His thesis was accepted in July 1905, and Einstein was awarded a PhD on 15 January 1906.

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