University of Cologne


The University of Cologne (German: Universität zu Köln) is a university in Cologne, Germany. It was established in the year 1388, the sixth university to be established in Central Europe.[2] It closed in 1798 before being re-established in 1919. It is now one of the largest universities in Germany with more than 50,000 students.[1] The University of Cologne is a member of the German U15 association of major research-intensive universities and was a university of excellence as part of the German Universities Excellence Initiative from 2012 to 2019. It is constantly ranked among top 20 German universities in the world rankings.

University of Cologne
Universität zu Köln
University seal of 1392
Latin: Universitas Coloniensis
Established1388; 636 years ago (1388)
Academic affiliation
Budget€897.9 million[1]
RectorJoybrato Mukherjee
Academic staff
Location, ,

50°55′41″N 6°55′43″E / 50.92806°N 6.92861°E / 50.92806; 6.92861

University of Cologne has 4 Clusters of Excellence; CECAD Cluster of Excellence for Aging Research, Cluster of Excellence ECONtribute: Markets & Public Policy, CEPLAS Cluster of Excellence for Plant Sciences and Cluster of Excellence Matter and Light for Quantum Information (ML4Q). As of 2022, among its notable alumni, faculty and researchers are 4 Nobel Laureates, 11 Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz Prize winners, 7 Humboldt Professorship winners, 2 Humboldt Research Awards winners and 1 Rhodes Scholar.


First building of the new university



The university of Cologne was established in 1388 as the fourth university in the Holy Roman Empire, after the Charles University of Prague (1348), the University of Vienna (1365) and the Ruprecht Karl University of Heidelberg (1386). The charter was signed by Pope Urban VI. The university began teaching on 6 January 1389, and operated for several hundred years.

In 1798, the university was abolished by the French First Republic, who had invaded Cologne in 1794, because under the new French constitution, many universities were abolished all over France. The last rector Ferdinand Franz Wallraf was able to preserve the university's Great Seal, now once more in use.


Main building, by architect Adolf Abel, 1934

In 1919, the Prussian government endorsed a decision by the Cologne City Council to re-establish the university. This was considered to be a replacement for the loss of the University of Strasbourg on the west bank of the Rhine, which contemporaneously reverted to France with the rest of Alsace. On 29 May 1919, the Cologne Mayor Konrad Adenauer signed the charter of the modern university.

At that point, the new university was located in Neustadt-Süd, but relocated to its current campus in Lindenthal on 2 November 1934. The old premises are now being used for the Cologne University of Applied Sciences.

Initially, the university was composed of the Faculty of Business, Economics and Social Sciences (successor to the Institutes of Commerce and of Communal and Social Administration) and the Faculty of Medicine (successor to the Academy of Medicine). In 1920, the Faculty of Law and the Faculty of Arts were added, from which latter the School of Mathematics and Natural Sciences was split off in 1955 to form a separate Faculty. In 1980, the two Cologne departments of the Rhineland School of Education were attached to the university as the Faculties of Education and of Special Education. In 1988, the university became a founding member of the Community of European Management Schools and International Companies (CEMS), today's Global Alliance in Management Education.

The university is a leader in the area of economics and is regularly placed in top positions for law and business, both for national and international rankings.


University campus between main building and mensa (the university canteen)

The University of Cologne is a statutory corporation (Körperschaft des öffentlichen Rechts), operated by the Federal State of North Rhine-Westphalia.



The university is divided into six faculties, which together offer 200 fields of study. The faculties are those of Management, Economics and Social Sciences, Law, Medicine (with the affiliated University clinic), Arts, Mathematics and Natural Sciences and Human Sciences.

Faculty Students
  Faculty of Management, Economics and Social Sciences c. 10,000
  Faculty of Law c. 5,000
    Faculty of Medicine with University Hospital of Cologne c. 3,200
    Faculty of Arts and Humanities c. 16,500
    Faculty of Mathematics and Natural Sciences c. 7,500
      Faculty of Human Sciences c. 2,800


Axel Freimuth, 2007

On 24 November 2004, the physicist Axel Freimuth was elected as Rector of the University. His (initially four-year) term began on 1 April 2005. He succeeded Tassilo Küpper and was the 49th Rector since 1919. He was previously Dean of Mathematics and Natural Sciences.

Academic profile


The University of Cologne is member of the association German U15 e.V. which is a coalition of fifteen major research-intensive and leading medical universities in Germany with a full disciplinary spectrum.

Especially the faculties of law and economics are renowned and leading in Germany. Leading researchers are affiliated to Cologne: e.g., Angelika Nußberger, Thomas von Danwitz, Claus Kreß, Martin Henssler, Ulrich Preis, Heinz-Peter Mansel.

Apart from these, affiliated persons with the university have won various awards including Max Planck Research Award, Cologne Innovation Prize (City of Cologne), Postbank Finance Award (Deutsche Postbank), Ernst Jung Prize in Medicine (Jung Foundation), SASTRA Ramanujan Prize, Wilhelm Vaillant Prize (Wilhlem Vaillant Foundation), Heinz Maier Leibnitz Prize (DFG), Alfried Krupp Prize for the Advancement of Young Professors, Innovation Prize of the State of NRW, Karl Arnold Prize (North Rhine-Westphalia Academy of Sciences and Arts).


University rankings
Overall – Global & National
QS World 2024[3] 268 17
THE World 2024[4] 160 15
ARWU World 2023[5] 151-200 6-9
QS Europe[citation needed]
QS Employability[citation needed]
THE Employability[citation needed]

According to the QS World University Rankings, the university held the 268th position globally and the 17th position nationally in 2024.[3] The Times Higher Education World University Rankings for 2023 saw the university at the 160th place globally and 15th place at the national level.[4] In the Academic Ranking of World Universities, more commonly known as the ARWU rankings, for the year 2022, the university was ranked within the 151-200 range globally and between 6th and 9th in the national ranking.[5]

By subject


Museums and collections

  • GeoMuseum: The only natural history museum in Cologne
  • Theatre Collection in Schloss Wahn: images and text from European theater from the 16th century
  • Max Bruch Archive of the Institute of Musicology: autographs and writings from and about Max Bruch
  • The Kathy Acker Reading Room, the personal library of author Kathy Acker.
  • Musical Instrument Collection of the Musicology Institute
  • Egyptian collection: Papyri and parchments, ceramics and small sculptures
  • Prehistoric collection artefacts from all periods of prehistoric and early history also from foreign sites, from the Neanderthal fist to the bronze sword and iron weapons of the early Middle Ages
  • Papyrus collection of the Institute of Antiquity
  • Barbarastollen: Under the main building, a mining gallery was built as part of a museum for trade and industry in 1932

Students and faculty

Campus of the Cologne University Hospital in Lindenthal

In 2005, the university enrolled 47,203 students, including 3,718 graduate students. In 2003, the number of post-doctoral researchers was 670.

There were 6,157 international students in the 2005 Summer Semester (approximately 13% of all students). Those from developing countries made up about 60%, representing a total of 123 nations. The largest contingents came from Bulgaria (10.5%), Russia (8.8%), Poland (7.4%), China (6.2%) and Ukraine (5.7%).

There are 508 professors at the university, including 70 women. In addition, the university employs 1,549 research assistants, with an additional 765 at the clinic, and 1,462 other assistants (3,736 at the clinic).

Partner universities


The University of Cologne maintains twenty official partnerships[9] with universities from ten countries. Of these, the partnerships with Clermont-Ferrand I and Pennsylvania State are the oldest partnerships. In addition, Cologne has further cooperations[10] with more than 260 other universities.

Notable alumni and professors

Albertus Magnus monument in front of the main building

The University of Cologne was commemorated on the Federal Republic of Germany's postage stamp in 1988, celebrating university's 600 years.[12]

See also



  1. ^ a b c d "UoC at a Glance". University of Cologne (in German). Retrieved 17 October 2020.
  2. ^ Prague (1348), Kraków (1364), Vienna (1365), Pécs (1367), Heidelberg (1386), Cologne (1388)
  3. ^ a b "QS World University Rankings 2024". QS World University Rankings. Retrieved 16 July 2023.
  4. ^ a b "World University Rankings 2024". Times Higher Education World University Rankings. 27 September 2023. Retrieved 27 September 2023.
  5. ^ a b "2023 Academic Ranking of World Universities". Academic Ranking of World Universities. Retrieved 15 August 2023.
  6. ^ "QS World University Rankings by Subject 2022". QS World University Rankings. 23 March 2023.
  7. ^ "World University Rankings by subject". Times Higher Education World University Rankings.
  8. ^ "ShanghaiRanking's Global Ranking of Academic Subjects 2022". Academic Ranking of World Universities.
  9. ^ "University of Cologne, partner universities". Retrieved 17 October 2020.
  10. ^ "Partneruniversitäten". Archived from the original on 17 February 2013. Retrieved 1 February 2013.
  11. ^ "Who was Jenny Gusyk?". University of Köln. Retrieved 11 May 2020.
  12. ^ "600 Jahre Universität zu Köln" (in German). Retrieved 17 October 2020.

Further reading

  • Meuthen, Erich (1988). Die alte Universität (in German). Köln: Böhlau. ISBN 3-412-06287-1. OCLC 180392627.
  • Heimbüchel, Bernd (1988). Kölner Universitätsgeschichte / 2. Das 19. und 20. Jahrhundert (in German). Köln: Böhlau. ISBN 3-412-01588-1. OCLC 612668352.
  • Die neue Universität, Daten und Fakten (in German). Köln: Böhlau. 1988. ISBN 3-412-01688-8. OCLC 247418886.
  • Stam, David H. (2001). "Universitäts- und Stadtbibliothek Köln". International dictionary of library histories. Chicago: Fitzroy Dearborn Publishers. ISBN 1-57958-244-3. OCLC 46944624.
  • Official website (in German and English)
  • Absolventennetzwerk der Universität zu Köln (in German)