University of Hamburg

University of Hamburg

University of Hamburg Details

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Universität Hamburg is the largest institution for research and education in the north of Germany. As one of the country’s largest universities, we offer a diverse course spectrum and excellent research opportunities.

The University boasts numerous interdisciplinary projects in a broad range of subjects and an extensive partner network with leading institutions on a regional, national and international scale.

Sustainable science and scholarship

Universität Hamburg is committed to sustainability and all of our faculties have taken great strides towards sustainability in research and teaching.

Excellent research

In 2007 Universität Hamburg received funding approval for a cluster of excellence in climate research as part of Germany’s Excellence Initiative. The cluster “Integrated Climate System Analysis and Prediction” (CliSAP) is home to a center providing skills and training in climate research and earth system sciences.

In 2012 Universität Hamburg received funding for an additional cluster of excellence, the Hamburg Centre for Ultrafast Imaging (CUI): Structure, Dynamics and Control of Matter at the Atomic Scale, which observes the movement of atoms in real time.

Key research areas

Besides Climate, Earth, Environment, further successful key research areas include: Photon and Nanosciences, Manuscript Cultures, Neurosciences, Infection Research / Structural Systems Biology, Particle Physics, Astrophysics and Mathematical Physics, and Health Economics.

Outstanding variety: over 170 academic programs

Universität Hamburg offers approximately 170 degree programs in the following eight faculties: Faculty of Law; Faculty of Business, Economics and Social Sciences; Faculty of Medicine; Faculty of Education; Faculty of Humanities; Faculty of Mathematics, Informatics and Natural Sciences; Faculty of Psychology and Human Movement; Faculty of Business Administration (Hamburg Business School).

Universität Hamburg also maintains several museums and collections, such as the Zoological Museum, theHerbarium Hamburgense, the Geological-Paleontological Musuem, the Botanical Gardens, and the Hamburg Sternwarte.

Almost 5,000 international students from more than 130 countries are enrolled at our University.

Universität Hamburg seeks to strengthen international research efforts while increasing its own international presence and furthering mobility, among faculty and students alike. Thus, we are developing strategic partnerships as with:

  • Aarhus University in Denmark
  • Stellenbosch University in South Africa
  • Macquarie University in Australia
  • University of California Berkeley in the United States
  • The State University of St. Petersburg in Russia
  • Fudan University in China

Furthermore, the University’s faculties form part of a worldwide network including over 300 partner universities.

Schools / Colleges / Departments / Courses / Faculties

Faculty of Law

  • Jurisprudence

Faculty of Economics and Social Sciences

  • Department of Business Administration (BWL)
  • Department of Social Economics
  • Department of Social Sciences
  • Department of Macroeconomics (VWL)

Faculty of Medicinal Sciences

  • Medical Sciences

Faculty of Education, Psychology and Human Movement

  • Department of Human Movement
  • Department of Education
  • Department of Psychology
  • Service Department for Evaluation

Faculty of Humanities

  • Asia – Africa Institute
  • Department of Theology
  • Department of History
  • Department of Cultural History and Contemporary Culture
  • Department of Philosophy
  • Department of Language, Literature, Media (SLM)

Faculty of Mathematics, Computer Science and Natural Sciences

  • Department of Biology
  • Department of Chemistry
  • Department of Geosciences
  • Department of computer science
  • Department of Mathematics
  • Department of Physics
  • Center for Bioinformatics
  • Center for Forest Products

Faculty of Engineering

  • Department of Mechanical Engineering


At the beginning of the 20th Century, wealthy individuals made several petitions to the Hamburg Senate and Parliament requesting the establishment of a university, however those were made to no avail. Although for a time, senator Werner von Melle supported the merger of existing institutions into one university, this plan failed because of the parliaments composition due to the effects of class voting. Much of the establishment wanted to see Hamburg limited to its dominant role as a trading center and shunned both the costs of a university and the social demands of the professors that would have to be employed.

Progress was made however, since proponents of a university founded the Hamburg Science Foundation (Hamburgische Wissenschaftliche Stiftung) in 1907 and the Hamburg Colonial Institute in 1908. The former institution supported the recruitment of scholars for the chairs of the General lecture system and funding of research cruises, and the latter was responsible for all education and research questions concerning overseas territories. In the same year, the citizenry approved a construction site on the Moorweide for the establishment of a lecture building, which opened in 1911 and later to become the Main Building of the university. However, the plans for the foundation of the university itself had to be put on a shelf following the outbreak of the First World War.

After the war, the first freely elected senate choose von Melle as mayor. He and Rudolf Ross made a push for education reform in Hamburg, and their law establishing the university and a Adult high school finally went through. On March 28, 1919 the University of Hamburg opened its gates. The number of full professorships in Hamburg was increased from 19 to 39. Both the Colonial Institute and the General Lecture system were absorbed into the university. The first faculties created by the university were Law and Political Science, Medicine, Philosophy and Natural Sciences.

During the Weimar Republic, the university grew into importance fast. Several thousand students were continuously enrolled, and it drew scholars like Albrecht Mendelssohn Bartholdy, Aby Warburg and Ernst Cassirer to Hamburg. The number of full professors had by 1931 grown to 75. Because many students had to suffer due to the bad economic situation that prevailed in the early republic, the Hamburg Association of Student Aid was founded in 1922. Ernst Cassirer became principal of the university in 1929, one of the first Jewish scholars to do so in Germany.

The academic situation shifted fast after the general election in March 1933. Already on May 1 of that year – the university held a ceremony to honor Adolf Hitler as its leader. Massive political influence by the Nazis followed, including the removal of books from the libraries and harassment against alleged enemies of the people. About fifty scientists, including Ernst Cassirer and William Stern, had to leave the university.

At least ten students working with the White Rose in Hamburg were suspected and arrested; four of them died in custody or were executed. In the foyer of the lecture hall a design by Fritz Fleer commemorative plate was taken in 1971 in memory of the four resistance fighters into the ground.

After the Second World War, the university was reopened in the winter of 1945 with 17800 employees. Out of the 2.872 students who were enrolled at the University of Hamburg in the first postwar semester of 1945/46, 601 had been admitted at the Philosophical, 952 at the Medical and 812 to the Faculty of Law and Political Science. The smallest number joined the Faculty of Mathematics and Natural Sciences with 506 students in total. The first student association during this period was elected in 1946 under British supervision, and it formed the foundation of the AStA in 1947.

During the West German era, new departments were added to the university, most notably the Faculty Theology as well as the Faculty of Economic and Social Sciences in 1954. The late 1950s and early 1960s saw a lot of construction: the Auditorium and the Philosopher’s Tower where inaugurated near the Von-Melle-Park, while the Botanical Institute and Botanical Garden were relocated to Flottbeck. The university grew from 12,600 students in 1960 to 19,200 in 1970. A wave of protests during the student movements of 1968 sparked a reform of the university structure, and in 1969 the faculties were dissolved in favor of more interdisciplinary departments. Student and staff involvement in the administration was also strengthened, and the office of Rektor abolished in favor of a university president. However, parts of the reform were later rescinded in 1979. Further construction in the 1970s also built up the remaining space on the main campus of Rotherbaum quarter, with the Geomatikum building and the Wiwi-Bunker (named for its bunker-like architecture) being the distinctive addition for that decade. Since then, new properties were opened in other parts of Hamburg. Two newly constructed buildings were opened adjacent to the Main Building in 1998 and 2002, revitalizing the Moorweide area of the university.

In 2005, the Hamburg University of Economy and Politics was merged into the University of Hamburg by a political act that was opposed by both institutions. With the same act, the 17 departments were merged restructured into six faculties. The university has also become used to regular cuts of its budget by the state of Hamburg. The implementation of the Bologna process was also a major point of contention during that decade. Tuition fees were introduced at 500 euros in 2006, but later reduced to 375 euros and fully abolished in 2012.

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