There are plenty of reasons why you should consider to get a university degree in Germany. Germany has a long academic tradition, and the country’s universities have educated some of the smartest minds in the world. In this list, we take a short look at the ten oldest universities in Germany in continuous operation. That means we excluded some universities from this ranking which were shut down for longer periods, such as the University of Cologne, which would otherwise have made the second rank (founded 1388, closed in 1798, reopened in 1919).
Friedrich Schiller University Jena (1558)
The young one in our selection is Friedrich Schiller University in Jena, a small town in Germany’s East. In the 18th century, FSU was briefly the largest university in Germany. Today, it educates around 19,000 students.
Philipps-Universität Marburg (1527)
Closing in on 500 years of age, the University of Marburg is famous for its research in life sciences and chemistry. In 1609, it was the first university in the world to establish a professorship in chemistry; this tradition is commemorated in its on-campus participative chemistry museum. If you are looking for a picture-book study abroad experience in Germany, Marburg might be the typical university city you are looking for: Almost a third of its 75,000 inhabitants are students.
Martin Luther University Halle-Wittenberg (1502)
Martin Luther University was created in a merger of two existing universities in 1817: the University of Wittenberg (founded in 1502) and the University of Halle (1694). Martin Luther himself taught theology at the former, but it was not until the 20th century before the university adopted its current name in its honour.
University of Tübingen (1477)
The more than 28,000 students at University of Tübingen represent nearly a third of the small town’s population. Like many other universities in this article, it was deemed an outstanding place of research and education in the German federal government’s recent “Excellence Initiative”.
LMU Munich (1472)
Also known as simply University of Munich, this school is one of the most-respected universities in Germany, Europe, and even the world. It offers a wide range of degrees to its currently over 50,000 students, but competes with the equally excellent TU Munich in technological subjects.
University of Freiburg (1457)
The University of Freiburg looks back at a history of 450 years and is often ranked among the best universities in Europe. Freiburg im Breisgau, located near the borders to France and Switzerland, is one of the most typical German cities you could pick when you study in Germany. It is also famous for being the place with the most sunlight in the country.
University of Greifswald (1456)
Founded in 1456, the University of Greifswald is located in a small, beautiful Hanseatic harbour town. Greifswald is known for its diverse, exciting student life.
University of Rostock (1419)
The University of Rostock is the oldest university located on the Baltic Sea. After its founding in 1419, it initially taught Law, Medicine and Philosophy. In the 1960s, the University of Rostock was the first “classical” German university to add a faculty for technical research and education, starting with maritime engineering.
Leipzig University (1409)
Leipzig University was founded in 1409, making it Germany’s second-oldest university. It was modelled after the University of Prague (today called Charles University), and some of its early German-speaking faculty members came from that university. During the division of Germany, the university was also briefly known as “Karl Marx University”.
Heidelberg University (1386)
Germany’s oldest university is located in Heidelberg, a small city of 150,000, between Stuttgart and Frankfurt am Main. Founded in 1386, Heidelberg University is also the sixth-oldest university in Europe. Heidelberg University looks back at a long tradition as a research university, and continues to contribute as one of the world’s best institutions. In recent times, it has produced more than 30 Nobel prize laureates.