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University of Freiburg

"University of Freiburg" redirects here. For other uses, see University of Freiburg (disambiguation). University of Freiburg Albert-Ludwigs-Universität Freiburg Latin: Alma Mater Alberto-Ludoviciana Motto: Die Wahrheit wird euch frei machen ("The truth will set you free") Established: 1457Type: Public university Rector: Prof. Dr. Hans-Jochen Schiewer (provisional) Students: 20,714 Location: Freiburg, GermanyColors: Blue and White           Affiliations: German Excellence Universities
Location of Freiburg in Germany.

University of Freiburg (German Albert-Ludwigs-Universität Freiburg ), sometimes referred to in English as the Albert Ludwigs University of Freiburg, was founded 1457 in Freiburg by the Habsburgs. One of the oldest universities in Germany, it has a long tradition of teaching the humanities, social sciences and natural sciences. The university is one of Germany's most prestigious and a leading research as well as teaching institution in Europe. [1]

The University of Freiburg has been appointed a University of Excellence in 2007, in an initiative by the German Federal Ministry for Education and Research and the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft to establish internationally leading beacons of higher education.

Kollegiengebäude I, erected in 1913 as main building of the university.



Originally Albrechts University, the university started with four faculties (theology, philosophy, medicine and law). Its establishment belongs to the second wave of German university foundings in the late Middle Ages, like the Eberhard Karls University of Tübingen and the University of Basel. Established by papal privilege (papal bull) the University in Freiburg actually was - like all or most universities in the Middle Ages - a corporation of the church body and therefore belonged to the Roman Catholic Church and its hierarchy. The bishop of Basel consequently was its provost or chancellor (Kanzler), the bishop of Konstanz was its patron while the real founder of the university was the sovereign, Archduke Albert VI of Austria, being the brother of Frederick III, Emperor of the Holy Roman Empire of the German Nation. At its founding, the university was named after Albert VI of Austria. He provided the university with land and a huge amount of endowments as well as its own jurisdiction. Also he declared Albrechts University as the "county university" (German Landesuniversität) for his territory - in the past including an area from Alsace to Tyrol - until it was handed over to the Austrian House of Habsburg in 1490.

Shortly after that the university had a time of prosperity when numerous later famous humanists were educated there like Geiler von Kaysersberg, Johann Reuchlin or Jakob Wimpfeling. When Ulric Zasius was teaching law (until 1536), Freiburg became a centre of humanist jurisprudence. From 1529 to 1535 Erasmus of Rotterdam lived and taught in Freiburg. Since around 1559 the university was housed at the Altes Collegium ("Old College"), today called the "new town-hall". The importance of the university decreased during the time of the Counter-Reformation. To counter those tendencies, the administration of two faculties was handed over to the Roman-Catholic order of the Jesuits in 1620. (The two faculties were, of course, Theology (or Divinity) and Philosophy.) Since 1682 the Jesuits built up their college as well as the Jesuit church (nowadays the "University Church" or Universitätskirche).

At times, especially during the disorders of the Thirty Years' War, the university had to move out of Freiburg temporarily, e.g. from 1686 to 1698, when French troops devastated Freiburg and the southern parts of the upper Rhine region.

After Freiburg as the capital of Further Austria was re-conquered, a new time began for the university by the reforms of Empress Maria Theresa of Austria. The requirements for admission were changed for all faculties in 1767 (before that time only Roman Catholics were allowed to study) and Natural Sciences were added as well as Public Administration. Also in 1767, the university became a governmental institution despite the Church's protests. The Church finally lost its predominant influence on the university when the Jesuits were suppressed following a decree signed by Pope Clement XIII in 1773. It also might have been the Zeitgeist and the official line of the new Emperor Joseph II (successor and son of Empress Maria Theresa of Austria) that his Patent of Tolerance which ensured Protestants the same rights as Catholics (published 1781) finally began an era of Enlightenment within the domains of the Habsburg, nowadays known as an era called "Josephinismus". Consequently Johann Georg Jacobi (brother of the more famous philosopher Friedrich Heinrich Jacobi) in 1784 was the first Protestant professor teaching at the university in Freiburg. It is said that Joseph II instructed in his will to offer the professorship in Freiburg to Johann Heinrich Jacobi, probably already guessing the shocked reaction which the citizens of Freiburg would show given the fact that the area around Freiburg was deeply devoted to Catholicism.

When Freiburg became a part of the newly established Grand Duchy of Baden (in German "Großherzogtum Baden") in 1805 (after Napoleon occupied the area of the formerly Further Austria), a crisis began for the university in Freiburg. Indeed there were considerations by Karl Friedrich, Grand Duke of Baden and Karl, Grand Duke of Baden to close down the university in Freiburg while both of them thought that the Grand Duchy could not afford to run two universities at the same time (the Ruprecht Karl University of Heidelberg also already existed since 1386). The university had enough endowments and earnings to survive until the beginning of the regency of Ludwig I, Grand Duke of Baden in 1818. Finally in 1820 he saved the university with an annual contribution. Since then the university has been named Albert Ludwigs University Freiburg (Albert-Ludwigs-Universität Freiburg) as an acknowledgement of gratitude by the university and the citizens of Freiburg.

In the 1880s the population of the student body and faculty started to grow quickly. The excellent scientific reputation of Albert Ludwigs University attracted several researchers like economist Adolph Wagner, historians Georg von Below and Friedrich Meinecke, or jurists Karl von Amira and Paul Lenel.

The University of Freiburg, among others, served as a role model for the establishment of Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, USA, in 1875. Johns Hopkins was the first US university committed to research following Alexander von Humboldt's ideas of research as practiced at German universities at the time. Daniel Coit Gilman, founding president of Johns Hopkins, who had studied in Germany, visited Freiburg and other German universities in preparation for the founding of Johns Hopkins. [2]

In 1900 Freiburg became the first German university to accept a female student. Just before World War I the university counted 3,000 students. After World War I the highly distinguished philosophers Edmund Husserl and (since 1928) Martin Heidegger taught at Albert Ludwigs University, as well as Edith Stein (she was the assistant of Edmund Husserl, the predecessor of Martin Heidegger). On the field of social sciences, Walter Eucken developed the idea of ordoliberalism, which consequently is also known as the "Freiburg School".

In the beginning of the 20th century several new university buildings were built in the centre of Freiburg, such as in 1911 the new main building. During the "Third Reich" the university went through the process of Gleichschaltung like the rest of the German universities. This means that most of the non-governmental or non-state-controlled institutions, unions, clubs and associations of students were illegal (e.g. Catholic student fraternities were declared illegal). Under the rector Martin Heidegger all Jewish faculty members, among them many excellent and renowned Jewish scientists and professors, were forced to leave the university in accordance with the "‘Law for the Reintroduction of Professional Civil Service". After World War II the university was re-opened. New buildings for natural sciences were erected in the Institutsviertel ("institute quarter").

In the late 20th century, the university was part of a mass education campaign and expanded rapidly. The student body grew to 10,000 by the 1960s, and doubled to 20,000 students by 1980. In the 1970s, the faculty structure was changed to 14 departments, with the Faculty of Applied Sciences becoming the 15th faculty in 1994. In 2002, the number of faculties was reduced to eleven. The university opened a memorial dedicated to the victims of National Socialism among the students, staff, and faculty in 2003. [3]

Recently, the University of Freiburg has further been able to establish itself in the top group of German and European universities. The reform of the German higher education landscape leading to heightened competition and university rankings, has signaled a willingness to increase the competitiveness of German universities, nationally and internationally. In 2006, the University of Freiburg joined the League of European Research Universities (LERU). One year later, in 2007, the University of Freiburg was chosen as one of nine German Universities of Excellence. Additionally, the leading position of the University of Freiburg has been documented in the various university rankings that have lately sprung up in Germany.


Kollegiengebäude I as viewed from the library.

The city of Freiburg is widely considered one of the most beautiful in Germany. Nestled between hills of the Black Forest and vineyards, this city with its beautiful medieval city center and hallmark bächle helps give the University of Freiburg campus its flair and allure.

Having grown with the city since the 15th century, the university's buildings are deeply intertwined with the city. There are three large campuses (the university center next to the historical city center, the institutes quarter and the applied sciences campus), but other buildings can be found scattered throughout Freiburg.

The university complex in the historical center of Freiburg contains such picturesque buildings as the Jugendstil Kollegiengebäude I, built in 1911 by Hermann Billing, or the gothic revival old university library. The current University Library is also located here, a monumental building erected in the 1970s, which is to be renovated and redesigned starting March, 2008. The University Library (UB Freiburg) is one of the largest in Germany and placed 4th in a recent national ranking of university libraries. [4] The university church, located across from Kollegiengebäude II, was built in 1683 by the Jesuit order. The church and the Jesuit college were handed over to the university after the Jesuit order was suppressed in 1773. The church was destroyed in the bombing raid on Freiburg, November 27, 1944, and reconstructed in 1956.

The institutes quarter (Institutsviertel) is home to the science faculties. This campus was destroyed almost completely in the Freiburg bombing raid in 1944. After World War II, the reconstruction of the institutes began. Today, the institutes quarter houses the physics buildings, the tall main chemistry building, visible from afar, the famous Institute for Macromolecular Chemistry at the Hermann-Staudinger-Haus, various other science buildings, as well as the renowned pre-clinical institutes of the Faculty of Medicine.

The applied sciences campus is located next to the small Freiburg airfield to the northwest of the city center, close to the University Medical Center. The camus is home to the IMTEK (Institut für Mikrosystemtechnik, Department of Microsystems Engineering) and the Department of Computer Science. By having added the Faculty for Applied Sciences, the University of Freiburg has become the first classical university which combines traditional disciplines with microsystems technologies.

The University Medical Center Freiburg (Universitätsklinikum Freiburg) is one of Germany's largest medical centers. It boasts 1,600 beds and handles 55,000 in-patients a year, with another 357,000 being treated ambulatorily. It consists of 13 specialized clinics, 5 clinical institutes, and 5 centers (e.g. Center for Transplantation Medicine). Many of the University Medical Center's achievements are ground-breaking, such as the first implantation of an artificial heart Jarvik 2000 (2002) and so help to make the university clinic one of Germany's most distinguished.

Most recently, the University of Freiburg purchased a large historic villa in the picturesque Freiburg district of Herdern, which will house part of the literature and linguistics as well as history departments of the Freiburg Institute for Advanced Studies (FRIAS).

Students and admission

Prospective students
Today, the university has a student population of around 20,700, including both undergraduate and graduate students. Approximately 16% of these students are foreigners and have come to Freiburg from over 120 different countries. As the University of Freiburg is highly popular among students, admission can be very competitive. The selectivity largely depends on the faculty and program applied for and is strictly merit based, with the average score on the German Abitur playing an important role. The medical, law, and biology faculties are particularly selective in their admissions and maintain a high numerus clausus.

The University of Freiburg offers a large variety of top-ranking undergraduate, graduate, and postdoctoral degree programs at its eleven faculties. 140 fields of study are offered, for a complete list, see the Student Portal at the university website.

As common among German universities, the academic year consists of a summer and winter semester. The winter semester runs from October 1 to March 31, while the summer semester runs from April 1 to September 30. However, lectures and classes usually do not run for the full duration of these times and allow for semester breaks in spring and fall.

German universities enjoy substantial government subsidies, so tuition fees are very moderate. The University of Freiburg charges EUR 1210 per year for all undergraduate and most graduate and doctoral programs, regardless of EU or non-EU citizenship of students.

The mission statement of the university highlights its dedication to providing oustanding education: "The university’s leading position in research is simultaneously the basis for an excellent education, which makes the University of Freiburg one of the most attractive academic centers in Europe; its graduates have high recruitment potential as the elite of the academic, economic, and political world of the future." [5]

There are numerous student clubs and organizations, among them a student-run radio station (echo-fm [6]) and a student television program, alma* [7], which is also available as a podcast. Due to the proximity to the French and Swiss borders and the idyllic location in the Black Forest, Freiburg offers plenty of leisure and outdoor activities. The university also owns a retreat on the near Schauinsland Mountain, where such greats as Martin Heidegger have already enjoyed the tranquil environment.

To assist the student's transition into professional life and help ensure excellent job opportunities, the University of Freiburg has its own career center, recently singled out as one of the best in Germany by the Stifterverband für die Deutsche Wissenschaft[8].


Today, there are about 430 professors, 3,695 scientific employees and 8,644 non-scientific employees working for the Albert Ludwigs University, making it Freiburg's and the region's biggest employer. The university's reputation attracts world-class professors and researchers to Freiburg, leading to an excellent position in the 2005 Humboldt Ranking[9], which measures the number of research stays by foreign fellows and award winners sponsored by the Humboldt Foundation. Freiburg achieved a particularly high rank in the life sciences, finishing second.

A further testimony to the attraction Freiburg exercises upon researchers, 17 Nobel laureates are affiliated with the University of Freiburg and 11 scientists were honored with the highest German research prize, the Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz Prize, while working at the University of Freiburg.

Current affairs and academics

In university rankings of German magazines and periodicals (Der Spiegel, Zeit, Focus, etc. [10], [11]) the University of Freiburg has established itself as one of Germany's top universities [12]. The faculties for law, medicine [13] [14], history, English studies, biology, and pharmacology achieve especially high scores.

The European Commission compiled a list of the 22 European universities with the highest scientific impact [15] (measured in terms of the impact factor of their scientific output), taking several years of specialist effort to evaluate. The ranking focuses on the scientific quality of an institution, as opposed to its size or perceived prestige. The University of Freiburg ranked 6th highest in Europe and 2nd highest in Germany.

In the Academic Ranking of World Universities by Shanghai Jiao Tong University, despite the methodology of the ranking favoring anglophone universities, the University of Freiburg ranks among the top 100 universities of the world, finishing ahead of renowned US institutions such as Dartmouth College, the University of Virginia, Tufts University, Emory University, or Georgetown University.

The Alberto-Ludoviciana again demonstrated its position as a leading university during the Excellence Initiative by the Federal Ministry for Education and Research (Germany) and the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft, which intends to improve German university funding and create a group of internationally visible Universities of Excellence. The University of Freiburg received funding for the new graduate school Spemann Graduate School of Biology and Medicine, the excellence cluster Centre for Biological Signalling Studies, and was selected for funding at the highest level of the Excellence Initiative, making Freiburg one of nine elite universities in Germany. The university will be able to realize its concept for the future, called "Windows for Research", which aims to promote a high level of interdisciplinarity between the research fields and attract scientists from all over the world. The University of Freiburg has founded a Freiburg Institute of Advanced Studies (FRIAS) with four main schools: School of Historical Studies, School of Language and Literature, School of Life Sciences, and School of Soft Matter Science and Functional Systems. Members of this institute will be top researchers of international renown to be invited as fellows.

After having selected three "elite universities" in the first round in 2006, the Excellence Initiative jury announced on October 19, 2007 that they had chosen a further six elite universities in the second round which will receive funding for their future concepts. This increases the number of future concepts funded to a total of nine. As one of the institutions selected, the University of Freiburg can now refer to itself as a University of Excellence and look forward to over EUR 130 million in extra funds over the next five years. ([16], [17])

In 2007, the Albert Ludwigs University celebrates its 550th anniversary. Speakers at the festivities included: President of the European Commission, José Manuel Barroso, Federal Minister of Education and Research, Annette Schavan, and Minister-President of the State of Baden-Württemberg, Günther Oettinger.

The moot court team of the Faculty of Law won the Willem C. Vis International Commercial Arbitration Moot, a prestigious international moot court competition, for the second time in 2007.

The genetically engineered golden rice was developed by the University of Freiburg and the ETH Zurich from 1992 to 2000. It was considered a breakthrough in biotechnology at the time of the publication and now helps to provide people with vitamin A in areas with a dietary lack thereof.

The university's humanoid robot team (NimbRo) [18] of the Faculty for Applied Sciences regularly competes very successfully in international tournaments. Team NimbRo are the currently reigning world champions in the TeenSize and KidSize categories of the humanoid league.

When the former rector Prof. Dr. Jäger retired in 2008, the law professor Prof. Dr. Andreas Voßkuhle was chosen as his successor. However, shortly after the begin of his term, the Social Democratic Party of Germany (SPD) nominated Voßkuhle as vice-president of the Federal Constitutional Court of Germany. Voßkuhle accepted the nomination and was subsequently elected into office, assuming his seat in May, 2008. Until further notice, the vice-rector Prof. Dr. Hans-Jochen Schiewer will assume the duties of rector.


Students eating in the central mensa (cafeteria) on Rempartstraße. "Die Wahrheit wird euch frei machen" (The truth will make you free).


The university is headed by a rector and divided into 11 faculties:

Faculty of TheologyWebsiteFaculty of LawWebsiteFaculty of MedicineWebsiteFaculty of Economicsand Behavioural SciencesWebsiteFaculty of PhilologyWebsiteFaculty of Philosophy(history, sociology, etc.) WebsiteFaculty of Mathematicsand PhysicsWebsiteFaculty of Chemistry, Pharmacyand Geo-sciencesWebsiteFaculty of BiologyWebsiteFaculty of Forestryand Environmental SciencesWebsiteFaculty of Applied Sciences(MEMS, computer science) Website

Graduate schools

The University of Freiburg and its faculties offers many opportunities for excellent graduate education and research. In an evaluation of European graduate programs conducted by the Centrum für Hochschulentwicklung, a German think tank for higher education, Freiburg University ranked in the excellence or top group for all subject fields examined.[19], [20]

Among the projects funded by the German Excellence Initiative, the Freiburg Institute for Advanced Studies (FRIAS) stands out in particular. Designed to be an incubator for young researchers, it will offer numerous possibilities for graduate and post-graduate research.

Freiburg Institute for Advanced Studies (FRIAS) Website

Apart from the many graduate programs of its faculties, Freiburg has set up additional specialized graduate schools and graduate research centers, coordinated by the newly founded International Graduate Academy (IGA) Freiburg to help promote top-level research and ensure excellent future prospects for graduates. Following special graduate schools and graduate research centers are available, next to the faculties' own graduate possibilities:

Graduate Schools under coordination by IGA
Spemann Graduate School of Biology and Medicine (SGBM) WebsiteEuropean Cultures and Intercultural Networking WebsiteTheology and Religious Studies WebsiteHermann Paul School of Language Sciences
Graduate Research Centers (Graduiertenkolleg) under coordination by IGA
Biochemistry of Enzymes WebsiteFriends, Patrons, Clients WebsiteFormation and Development of Present-Day Landscapes WebsiteMathematical Logics and Applications WebsiteMechanisms of Neuronal Signal Transduction WebsiteCatalysts and Catalytic Reactions for Organic Synthesis (in cooperation with the University of Basel) WebsiteHadron Collider Physics WebsiteEmbedded Microsystems WebsiteFrom Cells to Organs: Molecular Mechanisms of Organogenesis WebsiteSignal Systems in Model Organisms of Plant Origin WebsiteMicro Energy Harvesting WebsitePhD program Computational Neuroscience at the Bernstein Center for Computational Neuroscience Freiburg Website

The university also operates joint graduate schools with the Max Planck Society.

International Max Planck Research School for Molecular and Cellular BiologyWebsiteInternational Max Planck Research School on Retaliation, Mediation and PunishmentWebsiteInternational Max Planck Research School for Comparative Criminal LawWebsite

University cooperations

The University is part of the regional EUCOR federation with Karlsruhe, Basel, Mulhouse and Strasbourg, the League of European Research Universities, the European University Association, ASEA-Uninet, AC21, and the International Forum of Public Universities (IFPU). Additionally, the University of Freiburg has exchange agreements and cooperations with renowned universities on almost every continent.

There are numerous scientific institutions located in Freiburg, which also cooperate with the university, adding on to the formidable scientific repertoire of Freiburg.

They include, among others:

Notable alumni and professors

With its long tradition of excellence in science and research, the University of Freiburg has been home to some of the greatest minds. Among them are Hannah Arendt, Edmund Husserl, Martin Heidegger, Paul Ehrlich, Hans Adolf Krebs, Hans Spemann, and Friedrich August von Hayek, to name but a few.

Among the distinguished affiliates, there are numerous Nobel laureates and Leibniz Prize winners.

For a complete list of notable alumni and professors, see: People associated with the University of Freiburg

See also

External links

v • d • eUniversity of Freiburg Schools and Centers Faculty of MedicineUniversity Medical CenterFreiburg Institute for Advanced Studies (FRIAS)Various People associated with the University v • d • eGerman Excellence Universities

RWTH Aachen · Freie Universität Berlin · Universität Freiburg · Universität Göttingen · Universität Heidelberg · Universität Karlsruhe · Universität Konstanz · LM Universität München · Technische Universität München

v • d • eLeague of European Research Universities

Amsterdam • Cambridge • Edinburgh • Freiburg • Geneva • Heidelberg • Helsinki • Karolinska (Stockholm) • Leiden • Leuven • London (UCL) • Lund • Milan • LMU Munich • Oxford • Paris VI • Paris-Sud • Strasbourg I (Louis Pasteur) • Utrecht • Zürich


  10. CHE research ranking 2006 (
  11. FOCUS-Uniranking 2007 (in German)
  12. CHE research ranking 2007 (
  13. Ärzteblatt studieren: Medizinische Fakultäten: Der Ausbildungserfolg im Vergleich (I)
  14. Ärzteblatt studieren: Medizinische Fakultäten: Der Ausbildungserfolg im Vergleich (II)
  15. Downsizing and specialising: the university model for the 21st century? (Ranking of top 22 European Universities with highest scientific impact, part of the "Third European Report on Science & Technology Indicators" 2003, updated 2004)
  16. University of Freiburg press release (10.19.2007)
  17. University of Freiburg, Excellence Initiative site
Categories: University of Freiburg | Universities and colleges in Germany | 1457 establishments | Educational institutions established in the 15th century

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