University of Heidelberg

Heidelberg, Germany
Website: Founded: 1386 year 42 place StudyQA ranking: 2274 pts. No. Students: 30873 No. Staff: 7392 Languages: German Phone: +49 6221 54-5454 Fax: +49 6221 54-3503
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About Heidelberg University

Heidelberg University (informally Heidelberg, German: Ruprecht-Karls-Universität Heidelberg; Latin: Universitas Ruperto Carola Heidelbergensis) is a public research university located in the town of Heidelberg, Baden-Württemberg, Germany. Founded in 1386 on instruction of Pope Urban VI, Heidelberg is Germany's oldest university and one of the world's oldest surviving universities. It was the third university established in the Holy Roman Empire.

Heidelberg has been a coeducational institution since 1899. The university consists of twelve faculties and offers degree programmes at undergraduate, graduate and postdoctoral levels in some 100 disciplines. Heidelberg comprises three major campuses: the humanities are predominantly located in Heidelberg's Old Town, the natural sciences and medicine in the Neuenheimer Feld quarter, and the social sciences within the inner-city suburb Bergheim. The language of instruction is usually German, while a considerable number of graduate degrees are offered in English.

Associated with 31 Nobel Prize laureates, the university places an emphasis on research. Modern scientific psychiatry, psychopharmacology, psychiatric genetics, environmental physics, and modern sociology were introduced as scientific disciplines by Heidelberg faculty. Approximately 1,000 doctorates are completed every year, with more than one third of the doctoral students coming from abroad. International students from some 130 countries account for more than 20 percent of the entire student body.

Internationally renowned and consistently ranked among Europe's top universities, Heidelberg is a German Excellence University, as well as a founding member of the League of European Research Universities and the Coimbra Group. The university's noted alumni include eleven domestic and foreign Heads of State or Heads of Government.

History of Heidelberg University

Heidelberg University – also known as Ruperto Carola – was established in 1386 and is Germany’s oldest university. It is also one of the strongest research universities in all of Europe. In 1386, Ruprecht I, Elector Palatine, received the Pope’s permission to establish the university in his residential city of Heidelberg. The Dutch scholar Marsilius of Inghen became the new university’s first rector.

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.



Institutional Accreditation or Recognition - Ministerium für Wissenschaft, Forschung und Kunst Baden-Württemberg

Year of first Accreditation - 1386


  • Ranked by the number of Nobel Laureates affiliated with the university at the time of Nobel Prize announcement, Heidelberg is placed 1st in Germany, 4th in Europe and 13th in the world by 2013.
  • In October 2012, The New York Times ranked Heidelberg University 12th worldwide in terms of employability. The ranking was based on a survey among recruiters and managers of leading international companies from twenty countries.
  • The Best Global Universities Ranking of the U.S. News & World Report ranks Heidelberg 1st nationally and 37th in the world as of 2016.
  • The Shanghai Jiao Tong University's Academic Ranking of World Universities ranks Heidelberg 1st nationally and 46th in the world as of 2015.
  • In 2015, QS World University Rankings ranked Heidelberg 66th overall in the world, 2nd in Germany. In the rankings of broad subject areas, Heidelberg ranks globally 29th in life sciences and medicine, 36th in arts & humanities, 39th in natural sciences,144th in social sciences and management, and 214th in engineering & technology.
  • The Times Higher Education Ranking 2015 ranks Heidelberg 2nd in Germany, and 37th in the world.
  • According to the Third European Report on Science & Technology Indicators compiled by the European Commission, Heidelberg ranks 4th nationally and 9th in Europe.
  • The German Center for Higher Education Development Excellence Ranking, which measures academic performance of European graduate programs in biology, chemistry, economics, mathematics, physics, political sciences, and psychology, placed Heidelberg in the European excellence group for biology, chemistry, mathematics, physics, and psychology.
  • The Times (London) referred to Heidelberg University as "the oldest and most eminent in the country of Luther and Einstein" and as "the jewel of German learning".

Student life @Heidelberg University

The university offers a broad variety of athletics, such as teams in 16 different court sports from American football to volleyball, courses in 11 different martial arts, 26 courses in physical fitness and body building, 9 courses in health sports from aquapower to yoga, and groups in 12 different dance styles. Moreover, equestrian sports, sailing, rowing, skiing in the French alps, track and field, swimming, fencing, cycling, acrobatics, gymnastics, and much more. Most of the sports are free of charge. Heidelberg's competition teams are particularly successful in soccer, volleyball, equestrian sports, judo, karate, track and field, and basketball. The track and field team regularly achieves best placings at the German university championships. The University Sports Club men's basketball team, USC Heidelberg, is the championship record holder, won 13 national championships, and is the only university team playing at a professional level in the second division of Germany's national league.

Moreover, the university supports a number of student groups in various fields of interest. Among them are four drama clubs, the university orchestra Collegium Musicum, four choirs, six student media groups, six groups of international students, nine groups of political parties and NGO's, several departments of European organizations of students in certain disciplines, four clubs dedicated to fostering international relations and cultural exchange, a chess club, a literature club, a debate society, two student management consulting groups, and four religious student groups. Student unions structure themselves as "Studierendenrat" (Student body council) as well as on department level.

Heidelberg's student newspaper "ruprecht" is — with editions of more than 10,000 copies — one of Germany's largest student-run newspapers. It was recently distinguished by the MLP Pro Campus Press Award as Germany's best student newspaper. The jury of journalists from major newspapers commended its "well balanced, though critical attitude" and its "simply great" layout that "suffices highest professional demands." The ruprecht is financed entirely by advertising revenues, thus retaining independence from university management. Some renowned journalists emerged from ruprecht's editorial board. However, the critical online student newspaper UNiMUT, which is run by the joint student council of the faculties, criticized the ruprecht often for being conformed, and exceedingly layout-oriented. Heidelberg is also home of Germany's oldest student law reviewHeidelberg Law Review. The journal is published quarterly, at the beginning and end of each semester break, and is circulated throughout all of Germany.

Heidelberg hosts 34 student corporations, which were largely founded in the 19th century. Corporations are to some extent comparable to the fraternities in the US. As traditional symbols (couleur) corporation members wear colored caps and ribbons at ceremonial occasions (Kommers) and some still practice the traditional academic fencing, a kind of duel, to "shape their members for the challenges of life." In the 19th and early 20th century, corporations played an important role in Germany's student life. Today, however, corporations include only a relatively small number of students. Their self-declared mission is to keep academic traditions alive and to create friendships for life. The corporations' often representative 19th-century mansions are present throughout the Old Town.

Heidelberg is not least famous for its student night life. Besides the various parties regularly organized by the student councils of the faculties, the semester opening and closing parties of the university, the dormitory parties, and the soirées of Heidelberg's 34 student fraternities, the city, and the metropolitan area even more, offers night life for any taste and budget. Adjacent to University Square is Heidelberg's major night life district, where one pub is placed next to each other. From Thursday on, it is all night very crowded and full of atmosphere. Moreover, Heidelberg has five major discos. The largest of them is located at the New Campus. The city of Mannheim, which is about three times as large as Heidelberg, is a 15-minute train ride away, and offers an even more diverse night life, having a broad variety of clubs and bars well-frequented by both Heidelberg's and Mannheim's student community.

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