15-Year-Old University Graduate Could Become the Youngest Brit to Hold a PhD

December 27, 2019 Updated: December 27, 2019

A 15-year-old university graduate could become the youngest ever Brit to hold a PhD after being accepted to the course.

Wang Pok Lo graduated with distinction in his Master’s degree in Statistics with Medical Applications after studying in his free time. Known as Pok to his friends at Queensferry Community High School, in South Queensferry, West Lothian, he is still en route to complete his schooling.

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15-year-old Wang Pok Lo graduated with a Master’s degree in Statistics with Medical Application. (©SWNS)

When Pok was just 13 years old, the prodigy earned a first-class honors degree in Maths through the Open University in 2017. Pok then went on to enroll at Sheffield University to study the part-time Master’s degree online—only having to complete the 550-mile round trip to Sheffield for exams.

Pok said: “It was distance learning so all the materials were online.

“I only needed to go to campus when I needed to do exams.

“There were lectures as well that were recorded and posted online.

“It’s been quite a challenging journey but very rewarding.

“I’ve learned a lot in the field of medical statistics.

“It’s quite a turn from my undergraduate degree in maths.

“Statistics is a lot of analysis and less calculations.”

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Pok will be starting PhD in Septemeber, 2020. (©SWNS)

Pok further continued: “The challenging part was the workload but I felt the modules were manageable.

“The lecture notes were quite clear and there was an online discussion forum where people could ask questions and lecturers would respond quite quickly.

“The module I liked the most was my dissertation, although it was the hardest part.

“It contributed a third of my degree.

“My supervisor was very helpful with comments and he helped me into my PhD program at Edinburgh.”

Pok, who moved to Scotland from Hong Kong in 2006, was doing sums when he was just 2 years old and passed his advanced higher maths exams when he was only 12. In primary school, Pok zipped through the entire pre-higher maths curriculum by the time he was 8. By the time he was 9, Pok started studying with the Open University.

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FILE PHOTO – Wang Pok Lo, then 11, was a student at Queensferry High after he got an A in his Advanced Higher Maths exam. (©SWNS)

Pok, who was shocked at gaining a place on the PhD course, because of his age, admits it’s going to be more difficult. He will begin his full-time PhD in September 2020 after he completes his high school education and celebrates his 16th birthday.

The genius is currently completing his advanced highers in maths, physics, biology, and chemistry.

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FILE PHOTO – Wang Pok Lo, then 13, a student at Queensferry High School, West Lothian, after he received a first-class honors degree in maths from the Open University. (©SWNS)

The PhD course will take three years, and Pok will be 19 by the time he graduates. Prior to being accepted, he had to complete an interview and prepare slides, competing against people much older than him and with industry experience.

Pok said: “I found out in May.

“I was really happy.

“I didn’t expect to be accepted due to my age and I expected other candidates to be more competent than me—especially because they had experience in the workplace.

“That was a great moment.

“My friends were surprised—I only told them recently.

“They asked me some things about the PhD because they weren’t too familiar with the syllabus.”

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Despite undertaking studies well beyond his age group, Pok still finds time to socialize with his friends, enjoy playing piano and guitar, and listen to classical music.

After his PhD, he is hoping to go on to study medicine, with interests in cardiology and neurology.

Pok, who used a progress chart on his bedroom wall to help monitor his degree and masters studies, is preparing for his workload to increase even more.

He said: “The workload is going to be a lot greater.

“I think I need to plan quite carefully how I do my PhD.

“But I’m really looking forward to it because I get to meet new people as well.”

John Wood, the headteacher at Queensferry Community High School, said: “The whole school community are extremely proud of Pok and his tremendous achievements.

“In thirty-five years of teaching, I’ve taught many very able young people but I must say that Pok is quite unique.

“His flair and aptitude for Mathematics are extraordinary.

“In many ways, Pok is just like any other 15-year-old lad who is just getting on with his studies and attending school with his peers.

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“The only difference is he has a Masters’s degree with distinction in Statistics with Medical Applications, achieved this year, in addition to a first-class honors degree in Mathematics, a qualification which he achieved aged just 13.

“He will leave us at the end of this year to pursue a PhD in Population Health Sciences at the University of Edinburgh.

“Looking ahead, we wish him well in his studies and look forward to hearing more about his ongoing success.”

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