Johannes Gutenberg University of Mainz

Johannes Gutenberg University of Mainz

Johannes Gutenberg University of Mainz Details

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With about 33,000 students from about 130 nations, Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz (JGU) is one of the largest universities in Germany. As the only comprehensive university in Rhineland-Palatinate, JGU combines almost all academic disciplines under one roof, including the Mainz University Medical Center, the School of Music, and the Mainz Academy of Arts. This is a unique feature in the German academic landscape. With 75 fields of study and a total of 242 degree courses, including 106 Bachelor’s and 116 Master’s degree programs, JGU offers an extraordinarily broad range of courses. Some 4,360 academics, including 548 professors, teach and conduct research in JGU’s more than 150 departments, institutes, and clinics (including the Mainz University Medical Center; as of December 1, 2014; financed by federal and third-party funding).

JGU is a globally renowned research university of national and international recognition. This reputation comes thanks to its outstanding individual researchers as well as extraordinary research achievements in the field of particle and hadron physics, materials sciences, translational medicine, the life sciences, media disciplines, and historical cultural studies.

JGU’s scientific prowess has been affirmed by its success in the Excellence Initiative by the German federal and state governments to promote top-level research at German universities: Mainz University is one of 23 universities in Germany that have received approval for a so-called Cluster of Excellence as well as approval for a Graduate School of Excellence. The Cluster of Excellence on “Precision Physics, Fundamental Interactions and Structure of Matter” (PRISMA), which is primarily a collaboration between particle and hadron physicists, and the Graduate School of Excellence “MAterials Science IN MainZ” (MAINZ) are considered among the elite research groups worldwide. These two projects will receive financing to the tune of EUR 50 million by 2017.

The university’s good positions in national and international rankings and the award of numerous research prizes are further confirmation of the importance and success of the research being conducted by JGU-based academics. This success has been made possible in part through the unique large-scale research equipment available at Mainz University, such as the TRIGA light water research reactor and the MAMI electron accelerator, which both attract researchers from around the world. The research-oriented teaching – with targeted and early integration of research content into the curriculum – is another key element of the JGU philosophy.

JGU is the sole German university of this size to combine almost all institutes on one campus, while also housing four partner research institutions that conduct cutting-edge research outside the organizational structure of the university itself. There are also on-campus student dormitories and childcare facilities. The clinical and clinical/theory institutes of the Mainz University Medical Center are located within roughly one kilometer of the campus.

JGU lives the notion of a civic university being an integral part of society and collaborating with the community it is part of. This means that it also provides lifelong learning programs and promotes timely and comprehensive knowledge and technology transfer.

Founded in 1477 during the era of Johannes Gutenberg and reopened after a 150-year break in 1946 by the French forces then based in Germany, Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz owes much to the man whose name it bears and his achievements. With his achievements in mind, the university strives to promote and implement innovative ideas, to help improve people’s living conditions through knowledge, to facilitate their access to education and science, and to encourage people to transcend the many restraints that they encounter on a daily basis.

This is the mission that Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz has set itself.

As an international center for research, teaching, and learning, Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz has a special commitment to crossing the boundaries between nations and cultures. This commitment is established in its mission statement and strategic concept, and is also reflected in its strong international relationships. Mainz University is an active player in the global network of science and research as well as teaching and learning.

  • The international work of JGU scientists is supported by a network of 145 cooperating partner universities on all continents. We also have 700 cooperation agreements with European partner universities in the ERASMUS program.
  • About 4,000 JGU students come from abroad. This amounts to eleven percent of the overall student body.
  • For years, JGU has been one of the leading universities in European student and lecturer exchange programs. The University has been awarded the DAAD ERASMUS Quality Label E-Quality 2013 for the fourth time already – after 2004, 2007, and 2011 – for its outstanding implementation of the ERASMUS student mobility program.
  • Our core regions for scientific and student exchange include the European countries France and Poland as well as the United States of America, South Korea, and China outside of Europe.
  • Mainz University trains its students to be global citizens: students in all courses of study may study abroad for one or two semesters. In addition, JGU also offers courses of study in conjunction with foreign universities. With more than 650 courses conducted in languages other than German as well as numerous foreign language courses, JGU provides young researchers with excellent preparation for the international job market.

Schools / Colleges / Departments / Courses / Faculties

  1. Catholic theology and Protestant theology
  2. Social Sciences, Media and Sport Science
  3. Law and Economics
  4. Medicine
  5. Philosophy and Philology
  6. Language and Cultural Studies
  7. Historical and Cultural Studies
  8. Physics, mathematics and computer science
  9. Chemistry, Pharmacy and Earth Sciences
  10. Biology


With the opening of the University of Mainz in 1477, the Archbishop of Mainz, Elector and Chancellor of the German Nation, Diether von Isenburg, realized the dream of his predecessor. His actions were absolutely in line with the spirit of the time, as regional universities had already been founded in almost all of the larger territorial states.

In Mainz, theology, medicine, and Church and Roman law were taught in addition to the seven liberal arts, i.e. grammar, rhetoric, dialectics, arithmetic, geometry, astronomy, and music. This range of subjects was a quite unique feature at the time, because most European universities offered only one or two of these “higher faculties.”


Highly renowned already in the year 1508
The University of Mainz flourished. In its first few decades, the number of students rose to about 200. And in 1508, Mainz University was already “highly renowned,” as Petrus Ravenna chronicled. However, repeated attempts at reform – in 1523, 1535, and 1541 – reflect that the university already experienced its first crisis, caused primarily by its inadequate economic foundation. Moreover, the Protestant Reformation began to take shape and did not fail to leave its mark on the city of Mainz.

By opening a Jesuit college in 1561, the Archbishop of Mainz pursued several goals. So he undertook great educational effort to aid the Catholic Counter-Reformation and helped to renew and stabilize the university. He succeeded in doing so not only in the field of theology but also in the field of medicine. In the end, there was even need of a new building: the Domus Universitatis was built between 1615 and 1618. Today the historical building hosts the university’s School of Journalism and the Institute of European History.

In Mainz, as elsewhere, the Thirty Years War (1618-1648) resulted in a significant decline in the number of students. When Swedish troops occupied the city, the members of Mainz University went into “exile” to Cologne, for example, where they continued teaching. After the war, the University of Mainz was only slow to recover.


Secure economic foundation
Following the suppression of the Jesuit Order in 1773, its Mainz college was disbanded that same year. This required another reform of the university statutes. Finally in 1781, the Mainz University Foundation Fund was established creating a secure economic foundation for the university. Moreover, Mainz University now extended its range of subjects and disciplines. Its new Faculty of Historical Statistics focused on various aspects within the field of history as well as on governance, public policy, and statistics. A Faculty of Cameralistics was set up, which included, for example, teaching in mathematics, botany, and veterinary treatment of livestock. Just as in the beginnings, the curriculum also included theology and medicine. This broad range of subjects attracted up to 700 students to come to Mainz in the next few years. At that time, Mainz University was shaped by the Enlightenment and was home to probably one of the best-known scholars of the old university: Georg Forster, who worked as head librarian at the University of Mainz. The flourishing Mainz University from this period served as a model for a great number of other important European universities.

The French Revolution (1789-1799) left many traces in Mainz. In its wake, the first republic on German soil was founded in 1792. Teaching at Mainz University, however, ceased due to the wars and permanent unrest, the conquest and recapture of the city of Mainz. The Faculty of Medicine held on to the end and awarded its doctorates right until 1818, but had to close five years later.

Only the Mainz University Foundation Fund, a Catholic seminary, and the Mainz “Accouchement,” a school for midwives founded in 1784, continued to exist over time, preserving a little of the university’s tradition until its reopening in 1946. Before that date, there had been continual discussions about reestablishing the entire university-level teaching operation, but all these plans failed due to a lack of financing.


Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz
On May 15, 1946, Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz resumed its teaching activities under its new name. A total of 2,088 students were enrolled in the opening semester and, for the first time in history, female students were admitted too. Teaching in the natural sciences began in the 1946/47 winter semester and increased the number of students to 4,205.

With the university reopening right after World War II, the French military government sought to make a contribution to educating Germans in a “new spirit.” The new Mainz University was located in former military barracks, which were the foundation of our modern international campus university. Since the JGU campus is located somewhat distant from the Mainz city center, the university has always organized a variety of outreach activities which have resulted in a unique portfolio of formats aiming at the public understanding of science. Activities include, for example, science festivals, researchers’ nights, expositions, and public lectures on the Gutenberg campus as well as in downtown cultural institutions such as the Mainz State Theater or the city’s various museums.

In the following decades, Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz experienced a continuous growth in its number of students and the range of disciplines offered. In 2011, for example, JGU counted about 37,000 students from 130 nations and offered 145 different subjects, organized in 119 Bachelor’s and 96 Master’s degree programs. Being a comprehensive university, Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz covers almost all academic disciplines, encompassing the Mainz University Medical Center, the Mainz School of Music, and the Mainz Academy of Arts – a rare but beneficial kind of organization within the German landscape of higher education.

The JGU General Studies program, the International Summer Course, the Faculty of Translation Studies, Linguistics, and Cultural Studies in Germersheim, and the university’s numerous international partnerships are fine examples of the goals set by reopening the university. The continued existence of the faculties of Catholic and Protestant theology, the very name of the university, and many street names on campus still forge links between the “old” and the “new” university. Thus, Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz can draw on many fine and honored traditions and understands their present-day obligations, as set forth in the JGU Mission Statement.

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