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University of Tübingen

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Bernd Engler

+49 7071 290

Red, Grey, Yellow

Motto in English
I dare!


Total enrollment
27,152 (2015)


University of Tübingen

€508.1 million (2015) incl. Medical Faculty

Geschwister-Scholl-Platz, 72074 Tübingen, Germany

Eberhard I, Duke of Württemberg

Undergraduate tuition and fees
Domestic tuition: 0 EUR (2012), International tuition: 0 EUR (2012)

Notable alumni
Johannes Kepler, Horst Köhler, Christiane Nüsslein‑Volhard, Friedrich Hölderlin, Hartmut Michel

Heidelberg University, Albert Ludwigs University, University of Hohenheim, Ludwig Maximilian University, University of Göttingen

International european studies university of t bingen

The University of Tübingen (colloquially German: Tübingen), officially the Eberhard Karls University of Tübingen (German: Eberhard Karls Universität Tübingen; Latin: Universitas Eberhardina Carolina), is a public research university located in the city of Tübingen, Baden-Württemberg. It is one of Germany's most famous and oldest universities, noted in medicine, natural sciences, and the humanities. In the area of German Studies (German: Germanistik) it has been ranked first among all German universities for many years, and is known as a centre for the study of theology and religion. Tübingen is one of five classical "university towns" in Germany; the other four being Marburg, Göttingen, Freiburg and Heidelberg. The university is associated with some Nobel laureates, especially in the fields of medicine and chemistry.


The university city of t bingen discover germany


The University of Tübingen was founded in 1477 by Count Eberhard V (Eberhard im Bart, 1445–1496), later the first Duke of Württemberg, a civic and ecclesiastic reformer who established the school after becoming absorbed in the Renaissance revival of learning during his travels to Italy. Its first rector was Johannes Nauclerus.

Its present name was conferred on it in 1769 by Duke Karl Eugen who appended his first name to that of the founder. The university later became the principal university of the kingdom of Württemberg. Today, it is one of nine state universities funded by the German federal state of Baden-Württemberg.

The University of Tübingen has a history of innovative thought, particularly in theology, in which the university and the Tübinger Stift are famous to this day. Philipp Melanchthon (1497–1560), the prime mover in building the German school system and a chief figure in the Protestant Reformation, helped establish its direction. Among Tübingen's eminent students (and/or professors) have been the astronomer Johannes Kepler; the economist Horst Köhler (President of Germany); Joseph Ratzinger (Pope Benedict XVI), poet Friedrich Hölderlin, and the philosophers Friedrich Schelling and Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel. "The Tübingen Three" refers to Hölderlin, Hegel and Schelling, who were roommates at the Tübinger Stift. Theologian Helmut Thielicke revived postwar Tübingen when he took over a professorship at the reopened theological faculty in 1947, being made administrative head of the university and President of the Chancellor's Conference in 1951.

The university rose to the height of its prominence in the middle of the 19th century with the teachings of poet and civic leader Ludwig Uhland and the Protestant theologian Ferdinand Christian Baur, whose circle, colleagues and students became known as the "Tübingen School," which pioneered the historical-critical analysis of biblical and early Christian texts, an approach generally referred to as "higher criticism." The University of Tübingen also was the first German university to establish a faculty of natural sciences, in 1863. DNA was discovered in 1868 at the University of Tübingen by Friedrich Miescher. Christiane Nüsslein-Volhard, the first female Nobel Prize winner in medicine in Germany, also works at Tübingen. The faculty for economics and business was founded in 1817 as the "Staatswissenschaftliche Fakultät" and was the first of its kind in Germany.

Nazi period

The University played a leading role in efforts to legitimize the policies of the Third Reich as "scientific". Even before the victory of the Nazi Party in the general election in March 1933, there were hardly any Jewish faculty and a few Jewish students. Physicist Hans Bethe was dismissed on 20 April 1933 because of non-Aryan origin. Religion professor Traugott Konstantin Oesterreich and the mathematician Erich Kamke were forced to take early retirement, probably in both cases the non-Aryan origin of their wives. At least 1158 people were sterilized the University Hospital.

After the war

In 1966, Joseph Ratzinger, who would later become Pope Benedict XVI, was appointed to a chair in dogmatic theology at Tübingen, where he was a colleague of Hans Küng.

In 1970 the university was restructured into a series of faculties as independent departments of study and research after the manner of French universities.

The university made the headlines in November 2009 when a group of left-leaning students occupied one of the main lecture halls, the Kupferbau, for several days. The students' goal was to protest tuition fees and maintain that education should be free for everyone.

In May 2010 Tübingen joined the Matariki Network of Universities (MNU) together with Dartmouth College (USA), Durham University (UK), Queen’s University (Canada), University of Otago (New Zealand), University of Western Australia (Australia) and Uppsala University (Sweden).

Research focus

The University of Tübingen undertakes a broad range of research projects in various fields. Among the more prominent ones in the natural sciences are the Hertie Institute for Clinical Brain Research, which focuses on general, cognitive and cellular neurology as well as neurodegeneration, and the Centre for Interdisciplinary Clinical Research, which deals primarily with cell biology in diagnostics and therapy of organ system diseases. In the liberal arts, the University of Tübingen is noteworthy for having the only faculty of rhetoric in Germany – the department was founded by Walter Jens, an important intellectual and literary critic. The university also boasts continued pre-eminence in its centuries-old traditions of research in the fields of philosophy, theology and philology. Since at least the nineteenth century, Tübingen has been the home of world-class research in prehistoric studies and the study of antiquity, including the study of the ancient Near East; a particular focus of the research in these areas at the University of Tübingen has been Anatolia, e.g., through the continued excavations of the university at Troy.


The University of Tübingen is not a campus university, but is spread throughout the town: Tübingen is one of five classical "university towns" in Germany. The other four are Marburg, Göttingen, Freiburg and Heidelberg. In Tübingen there are four areas with a major concentration of university institutions.

  • The university uses a number of buildings in the old town of Tübingen, some of which date back to the foundation of the university. Today, these are mainly used by smaller humanities departments, as is the adjacent castle, Schloss Hohentübingen.
  • Northeast of the old town, the Wilhelmstraße area surrounding the street of the same name is home to larger humanities departments as well as the university's administration. The main university library and main refectory are also in this area.
  • A new campus for the sciences was built in the 1970s at Morgenstelle, on a hill north of the historic centre of Tübingen. Facilities include a large refectory.
  • The university's teaching hospitals are located between the Wilhelmstraße area and the Morgenstelle campus in an area collectively known as the Klinikum. The 17 hospitals in Tübingen affiliated with the university's faculty of medicine have 1,500 patient beds, and cater to 66,000 in-patients and 200,000 out-patients on an annual basis.
  • Accommodation provided by the Tübingen Studentenwerk is in several locations throughout the town. The largest of the eleven halls of residence are at Waldhäuser Ost (1,700 rooms) and in the Französisches Viertel (500 rooms).


    The University Library of Tübingen is not just available to those affiliated with the university, but also to the general public. The library provides more than three million individual volumes and more than 7,600 journals. Apart from the main library, more than 80 departmental libraries containing an additional three million volumes are also associated with the university.

    The main lending library is located on Wilhelmstraße and consists of several different parts which are connected through corridors and walkways:

  • The Bonatzbau, the library's oldest building, was built in 1912 and currently houses the historical reading room (Historischer Lesesaal), the university archive, along with a number of manuscript collections.
  • The library's main building, constructed in 1963, contains the information desk and research stations to access electronic catalogues and databases.
  • The Ammerbau is the most recent addition to the library complex. Built in 2002, it offers users direct access to over 300,000 volumes and latest issues of newspapers, magazines and journals. It also contains numerous work places and separate individual rooms for group work.
  • Faculties

    The university is made up of 7 faculties, some of which are subdivided into further departments.

  • Protestant Theology
  • Catholic Theology
  • Law
  • Medicine
  • Humanities
  • Economics and Social Sciences
  • Science
  • Governance

    The university is governed by three separate bodies sharing different functions and duties. However, some persons serve in more than one body.

    The Rectorate is the executive component of the university's governing body. The current rector, Professor Bernd Engler, is supported by four deputies consisting of three prorectors and one provost. All are also permanent members of the university senate.

    The Senate forms the legislative section of governance. Apart from the members of the rectorate, it includes the equal opportunities commissioner, the deans and 20 elected members representing the professors, lecturers, students and non-academic staff. Two advisors represent the university's teaching hospitals.

    The University Council (Hochschulrat or Universitätsrat) has 13 members, including its president and vice-president as well as five further internal and six external members.


    The University of Tübingen is associated with several Nobel laureates, especially in the fields of medicine and chemistry. In 2012 the University of Tübingen was awarded for its future concept "Research – Relevance – Responsibility" in the course of the German Universities Excellence Initiative. The award brings huge additional research funds for five years. The university may also call itself German "Eliteuniversität" (Elite University) now.

    According to The Times Higher Education Supplement (2016) Tübingen is one of the 78 best universities in the world and one of the 48 world-beating universities in Arts and Humanities. As a consequence of this, The Economist understands Tübingen as "home to a famous university". Since some of the most influential Protestant and Catholic theologians of the 20th century have been trained there, the University of Tübingen is especially renowned in the fields of Theology and Philosophy of Religion. The Eberhard Karls University is the only university in the German-speaking world that teaches rhetoric as an independent subject of study. Moreover, in the area of German Studies (German: Germanistik) Tübingen has been ranked first among all German universities for many years.

    Tübingen has numerous highly renowned partner universities all over the world. Many of them are members of the Association of American Universities. The partner schools include inter alia University of Cambridge, University of St. Andrews, University of Edinburgh, University College London in Great Britain, National University of Singapore, University of Hong Kong, Peking University in Asia, McGill University in Canada, Yale University, University of Michigan, Georgetown University, University of Texas at Austin, University of California, Berkeley, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Brown University, and Princeton Theological Seminary in the US. Students from the University of Tübingen can study within the framework of study exchange programs (without tuition fees) at these foreign partner universities, too. More than 1,000 students from Tübingen study in more than 500 foreign partner universities each year.

    Student life

    As the university's students make up roughly a third of the total population of Tübingen, the town's culture is to a large extent dominated by them. Consequently, there is a slump of activity during university holidays, particularly over the summer, when a large number of otherwise regular events do not take place.

    Around 30 Studentenverbindungen, the German type of fraternities, are associated with the university. While famous for their parties, public academic lectures and the yearly "Stocherkahn-Rennen" punting-boat race on the Neckar river, some of them are the subject of ongoing controversy surrounding alleged rightwing policial views, leading to strong criticism from leftist groups. The university itself takes a neutral stance on this issue.

    Also closely linked to the university are a number of student societies representing mainly the arts and political parties. Most notable are a number of choirs as well as student theatre groups affiliated with the faculty of Modern Languages, some of which perform in foreign languages. Radio Uniwelle Tübingen is the university's radio station, airing seven hours of programmes a week produced by students under the supervision of staff employed by the university.

    The university also offers gym and sports classes called Hochschulsport. Since Tübingen has a department of sports science with a broad range of facilities, students of other subjects have the possibility to participate in various kinds of sports courses in teams or as individuals. Furthermore, even exotic sports, such as parachuting or martial arts, are offered. Students may attend courses either for free or at reduced rates. The sports department is located close to the Wilhelmstraße area of university buildings and is served by a number of frequent bus routes.

    Unlike in some major cities, student discounts are not widely available in Tübingen. Cinemas and the town council's public library in particular do not offer discounts for students, and there are only a handful of restaurants which have reduced lunch deals. However, students may benefit from the Semesterticket, a heavily discounted public transport season pass offering six months of unlimited travel on trains and buses in the naldo Verkehrsverbund transport association for approximately €62.50. The Landestheater Tübingen theatre and all public swimming pools also have discounts for students.

    Nightlife in Tübingen is centered on the numerous pubs in the old town along with a number of clubs, most of which dedicate themselves to non-mainstream music. During the semester, the Studentenwerk-owned Clubhaus at the centre of the Wilhelmstraße university area hosts the weekly Clubhausfest on Thursday nights. This popular, free-entry club night is organized and promoted by student societies and Fachschaft student representative bodies and all proceeds go towards their activities in support of students.

    Points of interest

  • Botanischer Garten der Universität Tübingen, the university's botanical garden
  • The university´s geological trail at Kirnberg: The geological trail is located in the natural park Schönbuch at Kirnberg and was created in 1977 to the 500th anniversary of the Eberhard Karls University of Tübingen.
  • Nobel laureates

    Faculty members and alumni who have been awarded with the Nobel Prize:

  • William Ramsay (1904, Chemistry)
  • Eduard Buchner (1907, Chemistry)
  • Karl Ferdinand Braun (1909, Physics)
  • Adolf Butenandt (1939, Chemistry)
  • Georg Wittig (1979, Chemistry)
  • Hartmut Michel (1988, Chemistry)
  • Christiane Nüsslein-Volhard (1995, Medicine)
  • Günter Blobel (1999, Medicine)
  • Notable alumni

    This list also includes alumni of the Tübinger Stift, which is not a part of the University, but has a close relationship with it.


  • Marija Gimbutas (1921–1994), archaeologist
  • Manfred Korfmann (1942–2005), archaeologist, director of excavations in Troy
  • Sir Aurel Stein (1862–1943), archaeologist (PhD 1883)
  • Economics

  • Helmut Haussmann, German minister of economy (1988–1991)
  • Horst Köhler, director of the IMF (2000–2004) and President of Germany (2004–2010)
  • Jürgen Stark, Chief Economist and Member of the Executive Committee of the European Central Bank
  • Klaus Töpfer, United Nations Under-Secretary-General and Executive-Director of the United Nations Environment Programme
  • Egyptology

  • Boyo Ockinga, Egyptologist
  • History

  • Kurt Georg Kiesinger, Chancellor of Germany (1966–1969)
  • Rita Süssmuth, President of the German federal parliament (1988–1998)
  • Hans Mommsen (1930–2015), historian
  • Bernhard Zeller (1919–2008), founding Director of the Deutsches Literaturarchiv Marbach
  • Indology and Hinduism

  • Heinrich von Stietencron, Indologist
  • Law

  • Martin Bangemann, German minister of economy (1984–1988) and EU commissioner (1989–1999)
  • Herta Däubler-Gmelin, German minister of justice (1998–2002)
  • Roman Herzog, President of Germany (1994–1999)
  • Philipp Jenninger, President of the German federal parliament (1984–1988)
  • Klaus Kinkel, vice-chancellor and minister of foreign affairs of Germany (1993–1998)
  • Gebhard Müller, President of the Federal Constitutional Court of Germany (1959–1971)
  • Günther Oettinger, European Commissioner for Budget and Human Resources, Vice President of the Barroso II commission (2010-)
  • Carlo Schmid, German politician and one of the "fathers of the constitution"
  • Konstantin Freiherr von Neurath, Minister of foreign affairs of Germany (1932–1938)
  • Gerhard Anschütz, father of the constitution of the Bundesland Hesse
  • Christoph Martin Wieland, (1733-1813), poet
  • Jürgen Wöhler (b. 1950), German lawyer and manager
  • Medicine/natural sciences/mathematics

  • Yousef Al-Abed (b. 1964), chemist
  • SM Razaullah Ansari (b. 1932), historian of science
  • Alois Alzheimer, psychiatrist and neuropathologist
  • Simon Brendle (b. 1981), mathematician
  • Victor von Bruns, surgeon
  • Rudolf Jakob Camerarius (1665–1721), botanist, physicist
  • Theodor Eimer (1843–1898), zoologist and comparative anatomist
  • Leonhart Fuchs (1501–1566), botanist, physicist
  • Hans Geiger (1882–1945), physicist
  • Carl Haeberlin (1870–1954), physician
  • Felix Hoppe-Seyler, chemist and physiologist
  • Friedrich von Huene (1875–1969), paleontologist
  • Johannes Kepler (1571–1630), astronomer
  • Karl Meissner (1891–1959), physicist
  • Lothar Meyer (1830–1895), chemist
  • Hugo von Mohl (1805–1872), botanist
  • Friedrich Miescher, biologist
  • Christiane Nüsslein-Volhard (b. 1942), biologist
  • Hans Schlossberger (1887–1960), immunologist and microbiologist
  • Wilhelm Schickard (1592–1635), astronomer
  • Johann Georg Gmelin (1709–1755), botanist
  • Bei Shizhang (1903–2009), biologist
  • Karl von Vierordt, physiologist (1818–1884)
  • Detlef Weigel (b. 1961), biologist
  • Philology

  • Erhard Eppler (b. 1926), German Social Democratic politician and founder of the GTZ
  • Eugen Gerstenmaier (1906–1986), President of the German federal parliament (1954–1969)
  • Ernst von Herzog (1834–1911), German archaeologist
  • Walter Jens (b. 1923), philologist, literature historian and critic
  • Hellmuth Karasek (b. 1934), journalist and literary critic
  • Adelbert von Keller (1812–1883), German philologist
  • Salomon Schweigger (1551–1622), theologian, classical philologist and orientalist
  • Siegfried Unseld (1924–2002), publisher (Suhrkamp)
  • Martin Walser (b. 1927), writer
  • Philosophy

  • Rabbi David Zvi Hoffmann, Rabbi
  • Johannes Reuchlin, humanist and philosopher
  • Friedrich Hölderlin, poet
  • Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel, philosopher
  • Alberto Jori, philosopher
  • Heinrich Christoph Wilhelm Sigwart, philosopher
  • Christoph von Sigwart, philosopher
  • Friedrich Wilhelm Joseph von Schelling, philosopher
  • Ernst Bloch, philosopher
  • Burghart Schmidt, philosopher
  • Otfried Höffe, philosopher
  • Julian Nida-Rümelin, philosopher
  • Ernst Tugendhat, philosopher
  • Manfred Frank, philosopher
  • Psychology

  • Paul Enck, psychologist specializing in psychosomatic medicine
  • Wolfgang Köhler, psychologist
  • Robert Zajonc (1923–2008), psychologist
  • Sociology

  • Ralf Dahrendorf, sociologist, economist, political scientist and politician
  • Theology

  • Karl Barth, Swiss, Reformed, one of the most influential Protestant theologians of the 20th century
  • Ferdinand Christian Baur, Protestant theologian and historian of early Christianity and the New Testament
  • Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Lutheran, one of the most influential Protestant theologians of the 20th century, pastor and opponent of the Nazi Regime
  • Rudolf Bultmann, one of the most influential Protestant theologians of the 20th century, famous for existential biblical interpretation
  • Gerhard Ebeling, Protestant theologian, former student of Rudolf Bultmann, expert on philosophical hermeneutics
  • Johannes Eck (1486–1543), Catholic theologian, counter-Reformer
  • David F. Ford, Regius Professor of Divinity at the University of Cambridge (since 1991)
  • Romano Guardini, Roman Catholic priest, author and academic
  • Walter Kasper, Cardinal in the Roman Catholic Church, very influential Roman Catholic theologian of today
  • Hans Küng, one of the most influential Roman Catholic theologians of today, critic of Catholic doctrine
  • Philipp Melanchthon (1497–1560), Protestant reformer, first systematic theologian of the Protestant Reformation
  • Eduard Mörike, Protestant theologian, famous German poet
  • Jürgen Moltmann, one of the most influential Protestant theologians of today
  • Konrad Raiser, Protestant theologian, former General Secretary of the World Council of Churches (WCC)
  • Charles-Frédéric Reinhard (1761–1837), Württembergian-born French diplomat, essayist, and politician
  • Friedrich Wilhelm Joseph von Schelling, Protestant theologian, influential philosopher
  • Adolf Schlatter, influential Protestant theologian
  • David Strauss, very influential Protestant theologian and writer who revolutionized the study of the New Testament
  • Paul Tillich, German-American theologian at Harvard University, one of the most influential Protestant theologians of the 20th century
  • Miroslav Volf, Christian theologian at Yale University
  • Karl Heinrich Weizsäcker, Protestant theologian and chancellor of the University of Tübingen
  • Controversies

    Tübingen's elitist self-conception is often controversially discussed. Since almost all German universities are public (most private universities do not have the official German "Universitätsstatus"), and therefore mainly paid by taxes and generally egalitarian, there is no German Ivy League of institutions of higher education. Moreover, the German Universities Excellence Initiative is a publicity-laden fund for specific research projects only. It aims to promote cutting-edge research, to create outstanding conditions for young scientists at universities, and to strengthen some selected universities more than others in order to raise their international visibility.

    This self-conception is also of historical interest: from 1900 to 1929 members of the Studentenverbindungen in Tübingen already understood themselves as the German national elite ("Führer der Nation"). Every May until 2008, duelling fraternities of the "Tübinger Waffenring" organized a big torchlight procession and sang traditional German and Germanic songs in the old town ("Maieinsingen"), accompanied by huge anti-nationalistic counter-demonstrations of left-wing student groups.

    In 1969, the progressive political and theological climate alienated Professor Joseph Ratzinger (who later became Pope Benedict XVI) and led to his short-lived tenure at the university. According to the Swabian daily newspaper, the Schwäbisches Tagblatt, Ratzinger was theologically "traumatized" at the University of Tübingen. In Aus meinem Leben: Erinnerungen he describes the liberalism of Tübingen's student activism as "the cruel countenance of this atheistic devoutness" ("das grausame Antlitz dieser atheistischen Frömmigkeit").


  • "One need merely say 'Tübingen Seminary' to understand what German philosophy is at bottom: an insidious theology. The Swabians are the best liars in Germany: they lie innocently." – Friedrich Nietzsche, 1888
  • References

    University of Tübingen Wikipedia