Heidelberg University

Heidelberg University

Heidelberg University Details

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Heidelberg University, founded in 1386, is Germany’s oldest university and one of the strongest research universities in all of Europe. The successes in both rounds of the Excellence Initiative and in internationally recognised rankings prove that Heidelberg’s excellent reputation and leading role in the scientific community are well deserved. In terms of educating students and promoting promising early-career academics, Heidelberg relies on research-based teaching and an outstanding, well-structured training for doctoral candidates.

Heidelberg University is a comprehensive university, offering the full spectrum of disciplines in the humanities, law and the social sciences alongside the natural and life sciences, including medicine. As a comprehensive university, Heidelberg aims to continue to strengthen the individual disciplines and to further interdisciplinary cooperation, as well as to carry research results over into society and industry.

With its aspiration of connecting traditional values with future-oriented scientific concepts in research and teaching, the university is building bridges to the future – Zukunft. Seit 1386.

Heidelberg University’s twelve faculties, including the two medical faculties in Heidelberg and Mannheim, boast a total enrolment of over 30,000 students. With over 160 study programmes, Heidelberg offers a spectrum of subject combinations nearly unparalleled in Germany. This unique range creates an optimal setting for individualised and interdisciplinary studies.

The Graduate Academy is setting up excellent frameworks for both individual and structured doctoral training at Heidelberg University. As the central coordinating body for all support services related to general advising, professional and academic development and financial assistance for doctoral students, it continues to assure the high standards and quality of doctoral training at the university. Heidelberg has established three graduate schools in the natural sciences, which are financed by the Excellence Initiative, as well as a school in the humanities and social sciences and various DFG Research Training Groups and structured doctoral programmes.

Studying and Living in a Cosmopolitan Atmosphere

Heidelberg’s cosmopolitan and student-friendly atmosphere is one of the city’s distinguishing characteristics. Heidelberg is a lively centre of the Rhine-Neckar metropolitan region and is marked by its high density of research-intensive industry and conglomeration of scientific research institutions. These institutions, working alongside the university, form an internationally competitive research network, providing a wide assortment of contact and cooperation possibilities for Heidelberg University researchers and students.

Situated in one of Germany’s most beautiful cities, the university offers a varied programme of events alongside work and studies. Both the city and the university offer sports and leisure activities, as well as numerous theatres, renowned film and music festivals and a large number of museums, creating a sophisticated and diverse cultural atmosphere. Popular local tourist destinations include the world-famous Heidelberg Castle, the historic streets and alleys in the old city and the Philosopher’s Path, one of the most beautiful mountain hiking trails in Europe, as well as many fine restaurants.

Schools / Colleges / Departments / Courses / Faculties

  • The Faculty of Behavioural Sciences and Empirical Cultural Sciences
  • The Faculty of Biosciences
  • The Faculty of Chemistry and Earth Sciences
  • The Faculty of Economics and Social Sciences
  • The Faculty of Law
  • The Faculty of Mathematics and Computer Science
  • The Faculty of Medicine
  • The Faculty of Medicine in Mannheim
  • The Faculty of Modern Languages
  • The Faculty of Philosophy and History
  • The Faculty of Physics and Astronomy
  • The Faculty of Theology


In the centuries since its founding, Heidelberg University has experienced many ups and downs in connection with its scientific reputation, its intellectual charisma, and its attractiveness to professors and students. In the 16th century Heidelberg evolved into a centre of humanism. Martin Luther’s public defense of his Ninety-Five Theses in April 1518 had a lasting effect. In the years following, the university gained a special reputation as Calvinist stronghold. The Heidelberg Catechism was written in 1563 and to this day remains a fundamental confessional for the reformed church. After a difficult span of years marked by revolutions and financial mismanagement, Baden’s first grand duke Karl Friedrich reorganised the university. The university added his name to that of its founder, thereafter calling itself Ruprecht-Karls-Universität.

During the 19th century, Heidelberg was widely celebrated for its high level of research, its liberality and commitment to democratic ideals and its openness to new ideas. This combination attracted a large number of foreign students. This second flowering was marked by extraordinary research efforts across all faculties and was punctuated by such names as Robert Bunsen, Hermann Helmholtz, Gustav Kirchhoff and Max Weber.

As with its first flowering, Heidelberg saw its second great prospering end with the outbreak of war in 1914. The two world wars in the first half of the 20th century and the horrendous circumstances associated with them plunged Heidelberg University into a nadir from which it only slowly recovered.

In the mid-1960s, Heidelberg, like so many other universities, degenerated into an overcrowded degree factory. Between 1950 and 1960, Heidelberg’s student population doubled; it tripled again between 1961 and 2010, leading to extreme overcrowding and overloading. Despite this, and despite concurrent financial problems, Heidelberg recovered its footing and its extraordinary reputation. It has even improved on that reputation, once again becoming extremely attractive to international academics and students alike. Heidelberg University was also successful on both rounds of Germany’s Excellence Initiative – in 2006/07 and in 2012 – and this, combined with its high position in internationally regarded university rankings is a further indication of the university’s leading role and excellent reputation in international academia.

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