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Did the statistician Egon Pearson have a PhD? If not, to what extent did he write a dissertation?

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  • $\begingroup$ What sources have you consulted so far, and what information did you find? A quick Google search shows that multiple sources from 1933 appear to refer to him as "Dr. E. S. Pearson". Unfortunately I have yet to find one that is actually viewable online. Whether the title was conferred on the basis of a Ph.D. thesis or honorary in nature I do not know at this time. $\endgroup$
    – njuffa
    Sep 16 at 22:58
  • $\begingroup$ [My bolding] "Student", "Errors of Routine Analysis." Biometrika, Volume 19, Issue 1-2, July 1927, Pages 151–164 (online): Introduction. Dr E. S. Pearson, Biometrika, Vol. xviii, p. 192, has given the moment coefficients of the distributions of range in small samples drawn from the normal population when the number of samples lies between 2 and 6. $\endgroup$
    – njuffa
    Sep 16 at 23:03
  • $\begingroup$ Clopper, Charles J., and Egon S. Pearson. "The use of confidence or fiducial limits illustrated in the case of the binomial." Biometrika, Vol. 26, No. 4., (1934): 404-413 (online): "By C. J. Clopper, B.Sc., and E. S. Pearson, D.Sc.". Presumably D.Sc. means Doctor of Science? $\endgroup$
    – njuffa
    Sep 17 at 0:21
  • $\begingroup$ Wikipedia explains, regarding D.Sc. in the UK: "The degree is conferred on a member of the university who has a proven record of internationally recognised scholarship. A candidate for the degree will usually be required to submit a selection of their publications to the board of the appropriate faculty, which will decide if the candidate merits this accolade. The award or obtaining of a regular PhD degree is not in any way a pre-requisite for obtaining a DSc [...]" $\endgroup$
    – njuffa
    Sep 17 at 0:33
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    $\begingroup$ Egon S. Pearson, "Bayes' Theorem, Examined in the Light of Experimental Sampling.", Biometrika, Vol. 17, No. 3/4 (Dec. 1925). pp. 388-442 (jstor.org/stable/2332088) identifies the author as: Egon S. Pearson, M.A. But Egon S. Pearson, "A further note on the distribution of range in samples taken from a normal population." Biometrika, Vol. 18, No. 1/2 (Jul. 1926), pp. 173-194 (jstor.org/stable/2332501) identifies the author as Egon S. Pearson, D.Sc. $\endgroup$
    – njuffa
    Sep 17 at 3:08
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A biography of Egon Pearson from the Royal Society covers his education this way:

After finishing his school education at the Dragon School, Oxford, and Winchester College, E. S. Pearson would have liked to join up in the summer of 1914, but was considered by his father hardly fit enough physically, and went somewhat reluctantly to Trinity College, Cambridge, being admitted as an Entrance Scholar on 25 June of that year. His tutor was Mr Whetham (afterwards Sir William Dampier), and he obtained a First class in Part I of the Mathematical Tripos at the end of his first year, in spite of being quite ill for a time. Still anxious to do something useful for the war effort, he obtained a post at the Admiralty and then the Ministry of Shipping. This war service enabled him to qualify for his B.A. in 1920 (and M.A. in 1924) by taking a further approved course of study.

There is no mention of a doctorate, or any thesis work. This was not uncommon in much of the 20th century. A PhD was not a requirement to be a professor for quite some time.

Now, as noted by @njuffa in comments, his tagline in publications changed from M.A. to D.Sc between 1925 and 1926, several years after getting his masters. By 1926 he had published 8 papers, which is a pretty good output for a Ph.D student (note njuffa's pointer to what a D.Sc. represents). And it is a bit curious that the Royal Society biography would not mention it.

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    $\begingroup$ M. S. Bartlett, "Egon Sharpe Pearson." Biographical Memoirs of Fellows of the Royal Society of London, 27, (1981), pp. 425-443 $\endgroup$
    – njuffa
    Sep 16 at 23:19
  • $\begingroup$ @njuffa - quite interesting that his D.Sc was not mentioned in the Royal Society biography. $\endgroup$
    – Jon Custer
    Sep 17 at 13:41
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    $\begingroup$ The official list of University of London graduates up to December 1926 can be found here. On page 510 we find: Pearson, Egon S.: D.Sc. 26, Univ. C.. So that establishes that he was awarded the D.Sc. by University College, London in 1926. At the time he worked in the biometric laboratory as a senior assistant under his father Karl Pearson, head of the department for Applied Statistics and Eugenics. Which makes me wonder what the exact circumstances were in which the degree was conferred. $\endgroup$
    – njuffa
    Sep 17 at 17:11
  • $\begingroup$ @njuffa - there was certainly a little nepotism going on, but his contributions up to 1926 seemed not unreasonable for a PhD equivalent. And certainly his contributions afterwards validate it. $\endgroup$
    – Jon Custer
    Sep 17 at 18:05

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