THE ETH 43
THE
SWISS
FEDERAL
POLYTECHNICAL
SCHOOL
(ETH)
Einstein entered the
Eidgenössische Polytechnische
Schule
(ETH)[1]
in
Zurich
in
October
1896.
He
graduated
in
July
1900
with
a Diplom
accrediting
him
to
teach
mathematics and
physics
at
the
secondary-school
level.
Since
opening
in
1855,
the ETH had
gained
a
worldwide
reputation
for
teaching
and research in the
sciences
and
engineering.[2]
The school
was
divided into
seven
departments (Abteilungen).
Department
VI,
the School for Mathematics and
Science
Teachers
(Schule
für
Fachlehrer
in
mathematischer
und
naturwissenschaftlicher
Rich-
tung), was
the
center
of advanced
scientific research and
training
at
the ETH. It
con-
sisted of
two sections:
Section
VI
A,
Mathematische Sektion
(mathematics,
physics,
and
astronomy),[3]
headed
by
Adolf Hurwitz
(1859-1919),
a
mathematician;
and Section
VI
B,
Naturwissenschaftliche Sektion
(other
natural
sciences),
headed
by
Albert Heim
(1849-1937),
a
geologist.
At
the time of Einstein's
admission, 23
of the
841
ETH
students
were
in
Section
VI
A.
Eleven of the
23
were
in
the
entering
class,
among
them Mileva Maric, the
only woman
then
in
Section
VI
A.[4]
Unlike other
departments, Department
VI
did
not
formally prescribe
a
curric-
ulum.[5]
The section head worked
out
a course
of
study
with each student
at
the
beginning
of the
semester.[6]
Doc.
28
shows that Einstein followed the
suggested plan
of
study
for
physics
students
as closely as possible.[7]
He
was,
however,
unable
to
take
several theoretical
physics
courses or
seminars
that
were
not offered
during
his
last
two
years.
An
ETH student
was
required
to
take
at
least
one course
each
semester
outside
his
or
her
field
of
study.[8]
Einstein took
more
than the
required
minimum number of
electives,
including
courses
in
philosophy, politics,
and
economics.[9]
[1]
Although
the school did
not receive its
present name, Eidgenössische
Technische
Hochschule
(ETH)
until
1911,
the abbrevia-
tion
"ETH"
is
used
for
the school in this
volume.
[2]
Agronomy
and
forestry
were
also
taught
at
the ETH. Histories of the ETH include
Oechsli 1905
and
Guggenbuhl
1955.
[3]
In
1899,
Section
VI
A
was
renamed
"Mathematisch-physikalische
Sektion"
(see
ETH
Reglement
1899,
p.
2).
Some
physics
courses were
also
offered in
Section
VI
B.
[4] See
ETH
Programm
1897b, pp.
35-36.
[5]
Introductory paragraphs
to
course
list-
ings
for
Section
VI
A
in
ETH
Programm
1896-1901.
[6]
An
unpublished plan
for
Section
VI
A
prescribed
a
course
of
study
for the
first
three
semesters
(to
which
exceptions
were
rarely
allowed),
and listed the
courses
from which
a
student could choose
during
later
semesters
(see
"Studienplan
der
Abteilung
VI
A," en-
closed with Adolf Hurwitz
to
Schweizerischer
Schulrat,
15
June
1896
(SzZE
Schulratsarchiv,
1896, no. 359)).
[7]
Summaries of
some courses
taken
by
Einstein
are
included
in
Appendix
E.
[8] See
ETH
Reglement 1873,
p. 14,
and
ETH
Reglement 1899, p. 5.
[9] These
elective
courses
were
offered
in
Department VII, "Allgemeine
philoso-
phische
und
staatswirtschaftliche
Abteilung.
Freifächer"
(see
ETH
Programm 1896-1900).
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