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Welcome to the University of Münster

With enrolment of 45.000 students, the University of Münster is one of the biggest Universities in Germany.

16th to 18th century

It is also one of the oldest. First efforts to found a university in Münster reach back to the 16th century. The founding of a Jesuit college in 1588 with philosophical and theological lectures from the beginning of the 17th century. It has long been considered that this was the basis for the University that was officially established towards the end of the 18th century. Maximilian Friedrich was Archbishop of Cologne and Münster and drew up the first documents to establish a University with four departments in 1771. Pope Clement XIV and Emperor Joseph II awarded the privileges for a University in 1773.

19th century

Following the 1805 Napoleonic territorial reforms, Münster was given to Prussia and the University was re-conceived as the Prussian national university for Westphalia. However, in 1818, this status was quickly lost after the Prussian government decided to maintain only one university in the western provinces. Münster’s University became an academy with two departments.  In 1821, the first surgical school was established which later was added to the Prussian academy as a medical academy. The Philosophy department earned the privilege to award doctorates in 1844 after the Theology department had previously received the right to award doctorates and habilitations from Friedrich Wilhelm III of Prussia in 1832.

20th century

After decades-long efforts on the part of “the Academy” to regain its official university status, the beginning of the 20th century marked a new beginning for the University. After the Prussian parliament’s decision to create a department of law in Münster, the Emperor Wilhelm II declared the ‘academy’ a university on July 1, 1902.  A year later, women were allowed to enrol at the University of Münster. That same year, students created the AStA, the general student committee responsible for student-led governance and representation in the University. In the years that followed, the University continued to expand, founding the Department of Protestant Theology in 1914, followed in 1925 by the establishment of the Medical department and the department for Sports and Exercise.

National Socialism and the World War II

In the wake of the Nazi seizure of power, the University’s self-governance was limited starting in 1933, and in the following years, the Jewish staff and students suffered greatly from Nazi persecution. Jewish and other ‘politically undesirable’ students were no longer able to enrol, many members of staff were fired for political or racist reasons, and several students were banned from continuing their studies. Some of the University’s persecuted members could flee Germany, but others were killed in concentration camps. Like all universities in Germany, many fields of teaching and research were forced to re-invent curriculum to satisfy Nazi ideology. In 2000, the University’s Senate declared all unjust procedures from that time to be null and void. That declaration is updated whenever new findings are made. The last update was in 2010. (HERE PIC FROM WEBSITE OF MONUMENT IN SCHLOSS).

Due to its military prominence, the city of Münster suffered heavily from bombings, particularly in the last years of the war, and all teaching was put on hold during the winter semester of 1944-45. Despite initial doubts that the Allies would allow lectures to resume so shortly after the end of the War, the University reopened on November 3, 1945. After reconstruction of the mostly destroyed Schloss, it reopened in 1954 as the University’s main administration building.

Second half of the 20th century

The second half of the 20th century saw significant changes for the University of Münster and its internal organization: Departments were split, new departments and subjects were added, new buildings constructed and the number of enrolled students grew continuously. In 1948, the math-science department was separated from the Philosophy department. In 1970 a new organizational structure with 19 distinguished faculty departments, called Fachbereichewas put into place. This structure was expanded and re-configured throughout the years, through the addition of new study programs and departments, most notably through the affiliation in 1980 with the Münsteraner Abteilung der Pädagogischen Hochschule Westfalen-Lippe, an academy for educational science and teacher training. The most recent addition to the university was the integration of the Detmold Music Conservatory in 2004.

A modern profile of the University of Münster

Today, the University of Münster embodies 15 Fachbereichespread out all across town. It is therefore not a traditional campus or university – rather, the city is our campus! The institutes for history and philosophy, for example, can be found at the Domplatz. The departments for law and economics, along with communication, philology and education are located in the city centre. Political and social sciences are near the Aasee. The departments for medicine, math, information science and natural sciences are in the north-west of the city. The main administration building is still the Schloss. Here you can find the rector’s office, the exam and degree-issuing authority, centralized service facilities, the office of the registrar, student union and the International Office.

15 faculties
250 areas of study
45000 students
3500 international students

With about 250 areas of study available to students, the University of Münster is renowned for its wide variety of available programs and a strong research profile in philological and social sciences, mathematics, natural and life sciences as well as economics and law. In these subjects, we strive to conduct excellent research by supporting our young academics. At the same time, funding of projects in basic science assures the basis for productive high-level research.

The University of Münster’s research goals are closely linked to its commitment to offer high quality and diverse programs of study. On the basis of high-quality research efforts, it assures the best possible education of its students. Young academics are also supported in numerous doctoral and post-doctoral programmes. To strengthen the link between postgraduate education and research, the University of Münster also funds various junior research groups and professorships.

Almost 3,500 of the 45,000 students are international students, giving the city an international flair. In addition, the University of Münster maintains ties with universities around the world through numerous exchange programs, many of which are ERASMUS partnerships. The university offers a wide range of personal services to its students, including career planning advice, language courses, technology and computer-skills courses, psychological help.

The University of Münster is also host to two Clusters of Excellence: one focused on mathematics and the other on religion and politics, the latter consisting of over 200 researchers from across disciplines in the social sciences and humanities.

An in-depth history of the University of Münster can be found here:
The University’s mission statement can be found here:


(The historic introduction is based on information from University of Münster‘s archive. All photos are taken from the university’s archive.)