University description (as per official university website)
The University of Freiburg was founded in 1457 as a classical comprehensive university, making it one of the oldest higher education institutions in Germany. Successful in the Excellence Initiative, the university also boasts an illustrious history with numerous Nobel Prize recipients. Brilliant scholars and creative thinking distinguish it today as a modern top-notch university well equipped for the challenges of the 21st century.
As an organization with over 21,000 students, 150 degree programs, and more than 5,000 employees, the University of Freiburg is committed to family friendliness, equal opportunity, and environmental consciousness in its day to day operations.
Periodic future and dialog workshops ensure that the university continues to improve its sustainability and realize its visions.
The structure of the university is multifaceted, ranging from a variety of committees to 11 academic faculties and a complete array of central service departments. As such, we are a dynamic, large-scale institution with a diverse educational offering. As studies, research, and continuing education are all an integral part of this offering, we maintain a close relationship with the city and region as well as with the international academic community and our alumni.
We greatly value the role of alumni, sponsors, and benefactors as „ambassadors“ of the university. Their dedication enables us to award honors and prizes to recognize outstanding academic achievements.
Whether you wish to take up a course of study, browse our job opportunities, or are just looking for information about the Uniseum, we would like to thank you for your interest and welcome you to the University of Freiburg.
Not only is the University of Freiburg physically located in the heart of the city of Freiburg – its students, professors, and staff are also an integral part of daily life in the ‘Capital of the Black Forest.’ This is also one of the reasons why Freiburg has become such a popular place to study. Aside from the numerous leisure activities which may be enjoyed in and near the city and its proximity to the Alsace and Switzerland, it is above all the variety of academic progams which attracts so many students to Freiburg. The university boasts a wide variety of degree programs in any of more than 160 fields in 11 faculties.
Upon its foundation in 1457, the university offered courses of study at the Faculties of Theology, Law, Medicine, and Humanities. Matthäus Hummel, the first rector of the university, chose the leitmotif, “wisdom has built itself a house”, for his inaugural address. Archduke Albrecht VI of Western Austria, on the other hand, had the education of young law and theology students to fill governmental and ecclesiastical posts in mind when founding the university. Following the integration of the Jesuits into the faculty in 1620, the University of Freiburg developed into a bastion of Catholic doctrine. The resulting restrictions in the curriculum were not lifted until Empress Maria Theresa introduced an educational reform which opened the way to new academic fields.
Grand Duke Ludwig insured the continued existence of the University of Freiburg in the unstable times at the beginning of the 19th century. From this point onward the university has carried the names of its two benefactors in gratitude to their generosity. The foundation of the Prussian Empire brought about an increase in enrollment. As a result of the influx of students from northern Germany, the university soon expanded well beyond its medieval walls. Between 1870 and 1885 enrollment increased from 200 to 1000 students, and by 1904 there were already 2000. Each of these milestones was commemorated and celebrated by the city. Today more than 21,500 students are enrolled at the University of Freiburg.
With humanities and the University Library in the city center, the Natural Sciences Campus (Institutsviertel) to the north, and the large University Medical Center at the west end of the old city, the university has grown together with the city. The recent acquisition of a 40 hectare area on the grounds of the airfield assures that it will be able to continue to do so in the future as well.
The 11 faculties of the University of Freiburg include Theology, Law, Economics and Behavioral Sciences, Medicine, Philology, of Humanities, Mathematics and Physics, Chemistry, Pharmacy and Earth Sciences, Biology, Forest and Environmental Sciences, and Engineering.
The Faculty of Mathematics and Physics comprises the entire spectrum of mathematical disciplines. In physics research the university focuses on nuclear physics and high-energy and elementary particle physics. Freiburg is one of the most important centers for interdisciplinary polymer research. The pioneering research of the Freiburger Nobel Prize recipient Hermann Staudinger in the fields of organic and macromolecular chemistry formed the basis for the development of synthetic materials.
The Faculty of Biology is also engaged in a broad spectrum of research. The tradition of developmental biology at the university, initiated by world-renowned biologists such as Weismann, Spemann, and Oehlkers, forms the basis of modern genetic research. Research at the Faculty of Earth Sciences focuses on current global changes, such as the acquisition and management of natural resources, man’s exploitation of them, and the protection of raw materials and the environment. Such research requires on-site examination and measurements, as does the research of the Faculty of Forest and Environmental Sciences, which conducts extensive research on the causes and consequences of forest sicknesses.
The Faculty of Medicine enjoys an excellent international reputation thanks to its wide range of theoretical work in experimental and clinical research. Nearly 8000 nurses, doctors, and other employees work at the University Medical Center, which has been expanded into a full service hospital with 1900 beds and 13 specialist clinics.
The humanities have a long and illustrious tradition at the University of Freiburg. Many outstanding accomplishments in the fields of philosophy, history, and the philology of various European languages are accociated with the names and publications of scholars from Freiburg. The entire spectrum of jurisprudence is cultivated at the Faculty of Law, including the three major areas civil law, criminal law, and public law. The Faculty of Economics, associated with the names Walter Eucken, who founded the moderately liberal “Freiburg School,” and Noble Prize recipient Friedrich August von Hayek, focuses mainly on policital economy. The University Library, built in 1978, offers a wide range of information in many academic fields. More than three million volumes are available for checkout – shelved next to one another that would make a 56 kilometer long row of books! Each year more than 20,000 patrons make use of this vast collection of books, videos, CD ROM’s, and databases.
The Studium Generale program, conceived for the benefit of the citizens of Freiburg as well as for students, organizes lecture series featuring scholars and artists. Especially remarkable is the fact that more than 3000 or about 16 % of the students at the University of Freiburg are international students. Foreign languages are heard at the University of Freiburg even more often in the summer due to the international summer courses, which have taken place here since 1911.
Freiburg is located in the heart of a well-known wine region, and even the university may be counted among the vintners: A result of donations many years ago, the university owns vineyards on the nearby Kaiserstuhl and Tuniberg. Each year a tasty “Uni-Wein” is produced on these vineyards. However, wine does not enjoy the same importance for students in Freiburg as it did for members of student fraternities in the Middle Ages. For them, deprival of wine at mealtimes was considered an especially harsh punishment. To compensate for the epicurian delights of Baden’s cuisine, students and employees of the university can take advantage of the Recreational Sports program, which offers courses in 35 sports and forms of physical fitness.
The university plays an important role in the cultural, social, and economic life of the city. With approximately 13,000 employees, the university and the University Medical Center are the largest employers in the region of Southern Baden. The future is also a major concern at the University of Freiburg. The “Institute of Computer Science and Society,” for example, studies the effects of contemporary forms of information technology on society. Two further centers also add to the great diversity at the university: The French Cultural Center conducts research and offers continuing education courses in French studies, and the Freiburg Material Research Center (FMF) works to find practical applications for pure research.
In addition, as a founding member of the “European Confederation of Universities on the Upper Rhine” (EUCOR) along with the Universities of Basel, Strasbourg, Mulhouse, and Karlsruhe, the University of Freiburg has provided new impetus for the integration of the various systems of higher education in Europe.
Freiburg as a Center of Research
The university is not the only research institution in Freiburg. The State School of Music, the College of Education, and the Catholic and Protestant Universities of Applied Sciences play a part in the academic life of the city as well. Research plays an important role in Freiburg even outside of its educational institutions: There are five Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft research institutions in Freiburg, two Max Planck Society institutes, and an institute of the Leibniz Association, several of which are connected with chairs at the university. The researchers in charge of these institutes are also professors of the University of Freiburg. Each of these professors enjoys an excellent reputation in his or her academic field, whether at the Max Planck Institute of Foreign and International Criminal Law, the Max Planck Institute of Immunobiology, or the Kiepenheuer Institute for Solar Physics. Research in Freiburg: With a total of 30,000 students and approximately 16,000 employees at institutions engaged in everything from pure to applied research, Freiburg is a research center of international significance.
550th Anniversary Celebration
In 2007 the university celebrated its 550th anniversary and presented itself to the public with more than 300 events. All eleven faculties and the central service departments of the university participated in the program. In addition to an array of academic conferences, symposia, and exhibitions, there was a university-wide supporting program for students and employees of the university as well as many guests from Germany and abroad. The celebration culminated in a week-long festival in July which began with a ceremony at the Freiburg Concert House. Commemorative speeches were given by President of the European Commission José Manuel Barroso, Federal Education Minister Dr. Annette Schavan, and Minister President of Baden-Württemberg Günther Oettinger. On the same evening, the university welcomed over 2000 guests to an Anniversary Ball, also at the Concert House. The festivities continued with a four-day science fair and a diverse entertainment program on four stages with music, theater, and cabaret, for which the two-lane Werderring in Freiburg’s city center was blocked off. At the science fair, departments and research institutes from all eleven faculites invited guests to “experience research hands on.” 10,000 people brought the festival week to a close with an action-packed summer festival on the main campus.
A large-scale Congress on the Future, which attracted interest far beyond the borders of the region under the moniker "The Humboldt Laboratory," brought together experts on education, politics, and culture to create a vision for the university of the future today. Counting the International Environmental Days, which kicked off the academic program in the spring, and two concerts marking the beginning and end of the anniversary year, a total of far more than 100,000 people took part in the anniversary program.
The New University Foundation was founded on the initiative of the board of trustees of the anniversary celebration, which played a decisive role in planning the program. The foundation provides funding for endowed professorships, international visiting lecturers, and scholarships for outstanding students in order to attract the best and brightest to the university.
On October 19th, 2007, the University of Freiburg became one of nine top universities in Germany to be honored in the Excellence Initiative 2006/07.
A year earlier in the first round of the competition, the „Spemann Graduate School of Biology and Medicine” had already been approved for funding, providing an outstanding interdisciplinary PhD program for young scientists from the areas of biology, medicine, molecular medicine, chemistry, and other fields.
The Excellence Cluster „Center for Biological Signaling Studies“ (bioss), which joined the ranks of the institutions funded by the initiative in 2007, will make important contributions to our understanding of the molecular foundations and principles of biological signaling through the development and implementation of an innovative and highly interdisciplinary approach.
In addition, the University of Freiburg was also rewarded in the competition for its institutional strategy „Windows for Research“. This accomplishment has laid the foundation for attracting highly qualified early stage researchers, internationally renowned scientists, and prominent visiting scholars to Freiburg and further enhancing the university’s research profile. With an international research institute for distinguished scholars from Germany and abroad, the „Freiburg Institute for Advanced Studies“ (FRIAS), the university aims to take a place among the top research universities in the world. Instead of days on end of obstacles, filled with applications for third-party funding, commission work, and administrative duties, scholars will be given the freedom they need to conduct excellent research. The FRIAS is focusing initially on four disciplines: literature and linguistics, history, materials research, and the life sciences. The International Graduate Academy (IGA), another core component of the institutional strategy, is responsible for all questions concerning doctoral studies at the University of Freiburg and for providing a wide range of services to PhD students. The Research Group Program is a university-wide initiative for promoting early stage researchers in the postdoctoral phase. It is organized as a yearly competition consisting of a two-stage international assessment procedure in which up to two postgraduate research groups from selected areas are established and equipped with competitive resources.