Economics in Germany

Heidelberg, c.1850

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The first German universities were erected in the 14th C.  Prague (1348), Vienna (1365) and Heidelberg (1386) were established by princes, while Cologne (1388), Erfurt (1392), Rostock (1419) and Greifswald (1456) were established by city authorities.  Leipzig (1409) was created by students exiled from Prague during the Hussite troubles.  In the 15th Century, Freiburg (1457), Basel (1460) and Trier (1472) were established at the instigation of the Pope and Church authorities. Traditionally, the establishment of a university (Studium generale) required a papal or imperial bull.  But in 1495, Emperor Maximilian passed decree allowing German electors to set up universities themselves.  By the turn of the century, the major landed princes sponsored the formation of universities for students from their duchies: Ingolstadt (Bavaria),  Tübingen (Württemberg), Frankfurt-am-Oder (Brandenburg) and Wittenberg (Saxony). 

During the Middle Ages, German schools were relative backwaters of Medieval Scholasticism.  Although Cologne managed to acquire some early repute, many remained poor cousins to the great Scholastic centers of Paris, Bologna and Oxford, or even the next tier schools of Italy and France. German scholars were accustomed to go abroad to to study and teach, and they continued to do so in great numbers. German student "nations" abounded in the formation of the Medieval universities in Italy and France.  It is consequently unsurprising that there were no universities in Germany in the first couple of centuries of the Scholastic era, and that the first German universities had to be erected by the vanity of princes, with a student catchment drawn mainly from the east.  Things only really began to change during the "Great Schism" between Rome and Avignon in the late 14th Century. Holy Roman Emperors, popes and bishops tried to dissuade German students from going abroad to the Avignon-backing Kingdom of France, finally allowing universities in Germany to gain some traction.

The Protestant Reformation in the 16th Century rocked the German universities. The spearhead of the reformation was the University of Wittenberg, which counted the pioneering Protestant theologians Martin Luther, Andreas Boderstein "Carlstadt", and Philip Melancthon among its faculty.  The universities of Erfurt and Ingolstadt,  home base of Johannes Eck, led the Catholic counter-reformation.  As the existing faculties in traditional universities purged Protestant sympathizers from their ranks and students, there was the need for the creation of new universities to collect them.  So Protestant princes set about doing so - Protestant universities were established at Marburg (1527), Köningsberg (1544), and Jena (1558), while the Nuremberg city authorities established one at Altdorf (1578).  Entering the fray was the Reformed (Calvinist) wave emanating from Switzerland, and for a time, the Calvinists had quite some success establishing themselves in existing universities - famously taking Heidelberg, Frankfurt-am-Oder and newly-created Marburg (which forced the creation of Giessen for exiled Lutheran students). 

The counter-reformers were not far behind.  The Jesuits led the way in the late 16th C., and took control of old Catholic schools such as Vienna, Cologne, Mainz, Trier, Ingolstadt, Freiburg and (temporarily) Heidelberg and Prague.  They also assisted German Catholic bishops in in setting up new Catholic universities at Dillingen (1554), Würzburg (1582), Graz (1585), Paderborn (1615), Osnabrück (1630), Bamberg (1648), Innsbruck (1669), Breslau (1702), Fulda (1734)  (however, many of these were little more than glorified Jesuit gymnasiums).  The Jesuit hold on the Catholic German universities was broken in 1773, when the Jesuits were expelled from the Holy Roman Empire by order of Emperor Joseph II.

The religious struggles inside the universities were gradually settled.  Matriculation was opened up and non-sectarian, and religious affiliations gradually lost significance.  Except for the theology faculties, which (with a few exceptions) remained exclusively dedicated to one denomination. 

The sectarian competition in the 16th Century  had led to the creation of many new universities, and the pace of creation did not abate in the 17th Century.  German princes were lured to establish their own universities, partly as prestige projects for their principalities, leading to an oversupply of universities, to the point where many had insufficient students to maintain them.  On the eve of 1789, there were over forty German universities.  The reorganization of German principalities and states during the Napoleonic era was accompanied by the closure and merger of many old universities, so that by the 1820s, only about half remained.  Storied old universities like Cologne, Erfurt, Trier, Mainz, Dillingen and Altdorf were shut down and disappeared forever.  Frankfurt-am-Oder was absorbed by Breslau (1811), Wittenberg was merged with Halle (1817),  Ingolstadt moved to Munich (1826) and Münster to Bonn  (1818).  The University of Berlin (f.1809) was the only new university founded from scratch since the mid-18th C.

Around the time of German unification in 1871, just as the German Historical School was beginning to spread its wings,  there were fifteen full universities in Germany.  Nine of these were in Prussia - six in old Prussia (Berlin, Bonn, Breslau, Greifswald, Halle and Köningsberg) plus three annexed into Prussia by the wars of 1864-66 (Göttingen,  Kiel, Marburg), three were in Bavaria (Erlangen, Munich, Würzburg), two in Baden (Freiburg, Heidelberg) and one each in Saxony (Leipzig), Württemberg (Tübingen), Hessen (Giessen), Mecklenberg (Rostock), Saxe-Weimar (Jena) and (after 1871) Alsace-Lorraine (Strasbourg).  To these fifteen should be added the five German-language universities in Austria-Hungary (Czernowitz, Graz, Innsbruck, Prague, Vienna), the three in Switzerland (Bern, Basel, Zurich) and one in Russia (Dorpat). [Map of Germany]

Of the fifteen universities of the 1871 German Empire, only three (Munich, Würzburg, Freiburg) were Catholic, most of the rest were Protestant.  The exceptions were Bonn, Breslau and Tübingen, which were ecumenical (had both Catholic and Protestant theological faculties). 


As a rule, complete German universities were organized into four separate faculties: a  theological faculty, a juridical faculty, a medical faculty and a philosophical faculty.  The "philosophical faculty" (the German equivalent of "Arts & Sciences") encompassed everything not captured by the other three, so it included philosophy, mathematics, philology, history and cameralistics.  The exceptions to the "four faculty rule" were:
- Bonn, Breslau and Tübingen which, as noted, had two theological faculties (one Catholic, another Protestant)
- Munich, Würzburg and Tübingen had a separate "political economy" faculty.
- Tübingen had a separate "natural science" faculty.

Each faculty had its dean and operated near-independently.  The university as a whole was overseen by a Senate, presided by a Rector, the ultimate arbiter of the university's fate.  The Senate usually consisted of the current Rector, the previous Rector, the four faculty deans and five faculty members.  The deans, senate and rector were elected yearly by the entire body of professors ordinary.

Lectures were given by professors ordinary, extraordinary and private (privat-docent), all of whom had to have a higher doctoral degree (habilitation).   Matriculation was open to any native who presented a graduation diploma from a gymnasium, and to any foreigner with a certificate of good moral character. A normal course ran three years (four for medicine). 

There were other schools of higher learning in Germany, which did not count as universities.  Among these were the ten "polytechnic high schools", of which there were two in Berlin, the others in Hanover, Aachen, Munich, Dresden, Stuttgart, Karlsruhe and Darmstadt.  There were also the military academies, among which we can count two academies for the general staff army (Berlin and Munich), a naval academy (Kiel), two artillery/engineering academies (Berlin and Munich) and five "war schools" (Potsdam, Erfurt, Neisse, Engers, Cassel).

German-model university

In their early history, most German universities followed conventional Medieval models, with a lower Faculty of Arts (called "Faculty of Philosophy" in Germany) and three higher faculties (Theology, Medicine, Law).  Each faculty constituted a guild of teachers, and to acquire membership in a faculty, a candidate must submit himself to an examination, usually a Latin disputation, by existing masters in order to obtain his membership certificate ("degree").  Following the Italian tradition, German faculties used the term "doctor" rather than "master" (common in France and England).  Thus the Anglo-French "Master of Arts" translated equivalently to "Doctor of Philosophy" in Germany (Dr. phil, from whence Ph.D.)   Masters of the other faculties were called doctors of theology (Dr. theol.), medicine (Dr. med, or M.D.) and law (Dr. juris, or J.D.).  Lower degrees, like licentiates (baccalaureus), were not granted by the faculties, but rather by the university as a qualified certificate to teach (with limitations).

Starting already in the 1700s, and accelerating in the 1800s, the Prussian university authorities began substituting the disputation and examination of doctoral candidates, which had become nearly an empty routine ritual, with the defense of a written thesis demonstrating original research.  Successful defense of the dissertation before the faculty was required to receive doctorate degree.  The practice was soon adopted throughout German universities.  As such, German universities were the first to impose earned degrees from research.  The Faculty of Philosophy, by this time, had already moved beyond the traditional "seven liberal arts" to include a wide range of humanities, sciences and social sciences.

At the same time, the requirements for a Ph.D. were deemed insufficient to lecture and supervise doctoral students at the university level, and the Habilitation was introduced, that is, a second dissertation, showing a higher and more advanced degree of research. While the doctoral degree was obtained usually at the end of a course of study at a university, the habilitation could take many additional years to write. Usually, the candidate merely registered his intention to submit a Habilitation at a particular university, and then went off to write it, while simultaneously making a living at other jobs, frequently residing in a completely different city.  Only when the Habilitation was completed and accepted, could the candidate apply for academic positions at a university.

The Habilitation was required to enter the rungs of German academic hierarchy, which were determined at three levels.  The highest was the "Professor ordinary/ordinarius" (ordentlicher Professor),  that is, a professor who held the chair representing the field at a faculty.  Below him were one or several "Professor extraordiny/extraordinarius" (außerordentlicher Professor), a professor without a chair, roughly equivalent to an associate professor.  They could not be promoted to ordinary unless the chair was vacant, as a result many extraordinary professors at a university would not rise in-house, but wait until a chair at some other university opened up, and then move there..  Finally, there was the Privat-dozent, roughly equivalent to an assistant professor, who lectured and supervised students on a temporary basis.  However, only the ordinary and extraordinary professors were salaried by the university.  Privatdozents were unpaid, and made their (modest) living off student fees, while waiting for a call to a formal faculty position.  The Habilitation was required for all three ranks, and all three ranks gave lectures.

Attendance at lectures was supposedly mandatory for students, although there were usually no obligatory in-class examinations or written assignments to accompany them.  The entire verification of a student's academic achievement rested on the final degree examinations (written and/or oral) at the end.   As a result, it was not unusual for German students to skip lectures entirely, study whatever they liked, and rely on private tutors to prepare for the degree examinations.  The importance of academic degree examinations diminished in the 18th Century with the introduction of separate state examinations (conducted by state officials rather than the universities) for entrance into the professions and official positions.  But for those intent on an academic career as a teacher, the doctoral dissertation was vital and really made the successful student distinct.  The significance of the doctorate varied by faculty, e.g. in the medical faculty, the doctorate was relatively insignificant and the entire weight was placed on the rigid state examinations, while in the theological faculty, doctorates were relatively rare, most coming away with licentiates, and doctorates reserved for highly accomplished scholars.

The German model university contrasted sharply with the English (and American) universities, which were still tied to classical curricula and where degrees remained largely unearned. Obtaining a Bachelor of Arts at an Anglo-American university was frequently a matter of showing up to a final examination, which was largely ceremonial.  Ritual questions were asked by friendly masters, merely to fulfill the statutes, and failure impossible (unless one showed up drunk and assaulted the examiners).  The Master of Arts degree did not even have the pretence of an examination. A graduate obtained an M.A. upon request, after a couple of years, provided they had stayed out of jail and their name had not shown up in scandal sheets. As these unearned degrees did not demonstrate any intellectual or academic ability, many foreign students flocked to German universities, to earn doctorates that distinguished them from the pack.  Americans in particular were drawn to graduate studies in Germany in the late 19th Century, and returned back the United States, eager to adopt the German research university model (see "New Generation").

Economics in Germany

Although rudimentary economics - under the Aristotlean rubric of "practical philosophy" - had been on the philosophy curriculum of Medieval universities, it was largely ignored by the Scholastics as a poor source for the exercise of their intellectual acrobatics. Nonetheless, it was revived during the Reformation at Protestant universities (esp. by Philip Melanchthon at Wittenberg) since it coincided with Lutheran paternalistic views of the family and State. 

In the 17th Century, the Thirty Years War, and its aftermath, led to a desperate need to re-organize princely finances, and German princes looked to the universities for assistance. Public officials were mostly drawn from the law faculties of German universities, and the pressure was soon on to develop explicit courses dedicated to "cameralistics" (proto-economics) in German universities.  "Cameralism" was essentially the theory and practice of public administration, public finance and economic policy.  Although its economic precepts have much in common with Mercantilism, Cameralism was not articulated by merchants in pamphlets, but rather by public officials in handbooks for administration. Cameralistic handbooks would later be adapted as textbooks in German universities.

The first two chairs in cameralistics/economics were established in the same year, 1727, by the Prussian king Frederick William I - a chair in "Oeconomie, Policey und Cammersachen" at the law faculty of the University of Halle for Simon Peter Gasser, and a chair in  "Kameral-Okonomie und Polizeiwissenschaft" at the University of Frankfurt-am-Oder (later Breslau) for Justus Christoph Dithmar.  The first economics chair ("polizei- und cameral wissenschaft") at the University of Vienna was established in 1763 for Joseph von Sonnenfels.

As cameralistic ideas were primarily contained in large handbooks rather than pamphlets, there remained a need for a smaller, quicker means of communication of ideas, and economics journals also began to be developed in Germany, also from the universities.  From Frankfurt-am-Oder, Dithmar launched what can be regarded as Europe's first economics journal, Die Oekonomische Fama, in 1729.   Georg Heinrich Zincke, a professor of cameralistics at Leipzig, published his own journal, the Leipziger Sammlung from 1744.  Physiocratic Johann August Schlettwein, the first economics professor at Giessen, established the Archiv für den Menschen und Bürger in allen Verhältnissen in 1780.

In the second half of the 18th Century, German intellectual life was energized by Enlightenment winds from France. The French Encyclopédie inspired Johann Georg Krünitz to launch his monumental Oeconomische Encyclopädie in 1773, which would eventually run through some 242 volumes (to 1838).   The French Physiocrats had a significant influence on German economics, counting the German prince Charles Frederick Margrave of Baden, Johann von Schlettwein and Isaak Iselin as early enthusiasts.  Iselin established the Ephemeriden der Menschheit in Basel  in 1776, while Schlettwein, the first economics professor at Giessen, established the Archiv für den Menschen und Bürger in allen Verhältnissen in 1780.. Jakob Mauvillon's popular summary of Physiocratic doctrine in 1776 led to a vigorous debate in Germany.  J. v. Sonnenfels, C.W. Dohm (1778) and J.F. Pfeiffer (1780) defended the Cameralistic doctrines against the new Physiocratic liberalism promoted by J. Mauvillon (1776, 1880), K.G. Fürstenau (1778) and Johann Springer (1780), with Georg Andreas Will taking an intermediary position.

The Napoleonic wars, and particularly the traumatic defeats of Austria at Austerlitz in 1805 and Prussia at Jena in 1807, changed things yet again.  They provided the immediate impulse for comprehensive institutional reforms in German states. As usual, this was driven primarily by state officials. The old Cameralistic handbooks were dusted off and updated . The universities were overhauled, and many struggling schools were shut down or merged.   State bureaucracies were modernized, and the role of government was re-thought.  Political and economic models for the new German states were drawn primarily from France - albeit they came in sometimes contradictory packages of Napoleonic statism and French liberalism.  In the southern German states - like Baden, Württemberg and Bavaria - there were deep changes to political systems, carving a greater role for constitutions and representative bodies, but their economies remained set on largely cameralistic lines.  By contrast, in Prussia, the political system was only minimally changed, but the economy was loosened up with a dose of laissez faire.  Prussian liberals, like Carl Christian Kraus in Köningsberg, brought Adam Smith into the curriculum, and had significant success in breeding a new species of reforming Prussian bureaucrats, notably Karl August von Hardenberg and, later on, Rudolph von Delbrück.  Their Southern counterparts, such as like F.B.W. von Hermann in Munich, faced a more uphill battle, particularly after Friedrich List gave southern protectionism a new modern theoretical basis.

In German universities, economics was taught partly in the juridical faculty and partly in the philosophical faculty (with the exception of the three universities which had a separate dedicated political economy faculty).  The first separate economics faculty was the "Public Economics Faculty" (Staatswirtschafliche Fäkultat) at University of Tübingen, established by Friedrich List  in 1817.  The other two were Munich and Würzburg.

Heidelberg professor Karl Heinrich Rau's three-volume classical economics textbook (Lehrbuch der Politischen Ökonomie, 1826), was extraordinarily successful and adopted in many German universities in the 19th Century.  Rau's curriculum partitioned economic studies into economic theory (Volkswirtschaftslehre or, simply, Nationalökonomie), economic policy (Volkswirtschaftspolitik) and public finance (Finanzwissenschaft).  Rau's tripartite division of economics would prevail in teaching in German universities until the late 20th Century.

K.H. Rau also established arguably the first proper academic economics journal, the Archiv der Politischen Oekonomie und Polizeiwissenschaft in 1835.  The Tübingen economics faculty, led by Robert von Mohl, launched their own more general journal (which covered economics, political science, public law, etc.), the Zeitschrift für die gesammte Staatswissenschaft (ZGS), in 1844.  The two journals would merge in 1853 under the ZGS name, and be sometimes colloquially referred to as the "Tübinger Zeitschrift".

Economic societies were also formed in Germany.  The rise of the free trade movement in Germany had led to the formation of the Deutscher Freihandelsverein (German Free Trade Association), in 1846 by the English-born laissez faire activist John Prince-Smith (its formal name was actually the "Wissenschaftlicher Verein für Handel und Gewerbe" - "Scientific Union for Trade and Industry").   Provoked by introduction of protectionist tariffs on pig-iron the Zollverein in 1844, the Prince-Smith's Freihandelsverein was modeled and energized by the success of Anti-Corn Law League in Britain, and drew its principal support from  the northern port cities of Hamburg and Bremen and northern agriculturalists (southern industrialists and liberals, following List, tended to be protectionist on foreign trade). The Freinandelsverein's propaganda campaigns and influence nonetheless increased.  The variety of free trade activists and clubs throughout German states came together to form the Kongreß deutscher Volkswirte (Congress of German Economists), which was launched in Gotha in September 1858 (the Kongreß held yearly congresses thereafter in Frankfurt, 1859, Cologne 1860, Stuttgart, 1861 and Weimar, 1862).  The Kongreß served as the umbrella to a series of regional economic societies formed at this time.  The Freinhandelsverein morphed into the Volkswirtschaftliche Gessellschaft zu Berlin (Economic Society of Berlin) in 1858, drawing primarily from liberal circles in the environs of Berlin.  Other regional Volkswirtschaftliche Gessellschaft emerged in other German territories, including the VG for the Northwest (Feb 1859), East & West Prussia (Aug 1860), Saxon Lands (Oct 1860), Middle Germany (Thuringia) (1861), Southwest (1861) and Rhineland-Westphalia (1862).    In 1863, the Berlin VG society launched its own journal of political economy, the Vierteljahrschrift für Volkswirthschaft und Culturgeschichte, albeit most of its pieces were policy advocacy rather than  economic science properly speaking.  The liberals reached their apex with the Franco-Prussian trade treaty of August 1862, bringing Prussia and the German Zollverein into the Anglo-French free trade network, and continued to exert influence through the 1860s.. However, their influence changed remarkably after the unification of the German Reich in 1871 and Bismarck's break with the liberal parties.

Economists of German Historical School inclination seceded from the free-trader Kongreß in 1872, during the "Social Question" ('soziale Frage') debate, and went on to form their own society, the Verein fur Socialpolitik, in 1873.

The Historicist Bruno Hildebrand launched the Jahrbücher für Nationalökonomie und Statistik (JNS) in 1863, which had an overtly academic orientation.  It would become a major outlet for the German Historical School.  It was carried on by his son-in-law, Johannes Conrad, after 1878.  A second historicist journal was launched in 1877 by Lujo  Brentano, with the long mouthful of a name Jahrbuch für Gesetzgebung, Verwaltung und Volkswirtschaft im Deutschen Reich (JfGVV).  After the editorship passed to Gustav von Schmoller in 1881, it was commonly referred to simply as "Schmollers Jahrbuch" - in contrast with the older JNS, which now became known as "Conrads Jahrbuch".

The Austrian School launched its own separate journal in 1892, the Zeitschrift für Volkswirtschaft, Sozialpolitik und Verwaltung (ZfVSV), edited by Eugen von Böhm-Bawerk and others.  Soon after, in 1893 another group of historically-minded Austrian economists, led by Stephan Bauer founded what would become the  Vierteljahrschrift für Social- und Wirthschaftsgeschichte (VSWG).

German journals

  • Die Oekonomische Fama (1729), edited by Justus Christoph Dithmar (Univ. Frankfurt-am-Oder)
  • Allgemeine deutsche Bibliothek (1776 to 1806) general quarterly review, edited by Friedrich Nicolai (unaffiliated, printed in Berlin)
  • Leipziger Sammlung (f.1775), edited by Georg Heinrich Zincke (Univ. Leipzig)
  • Ephemeriden der Menschheit (f.1776 to 1785), edited by Isaak Iselin (Basel, then Leipzig)
  • Deutsches Museum  (1776 to 1788), edited by Christian Wilhelm von Dohm (unaffiliated, printed in Leipzig)
  • Archiv für den Menschen und Bürger in allen Verhältnissen (1780 to 1788), edited by  Johann August Schlettwein (Univ. Giessen)
  • Preußische Jahrbücher xx
  • Archiv der Politischen Oekonomie und Polizeiwissenschaft (1835 to 1853), edited by Karl Heinrich Rau (Univ. Heidelberg)
  • Zeitschrift für die gesammte Staatswissenschaft (ZGS) (f.1844, Tübingen), edited by "political science" faculty ("Staatswissenschaft") at the Univ. of Tübingen (ed. R. Mohl, Knaus, Volz, Schüz, Fallati, Hoffmann), later (1853) merged with Rau's Archiv, and retained the ZGS name (commonly known as the "Tübinger Zeitschrift").  From 1875, it was primarily edited by Albert Schäffle and became more focused on economics.  It has more recently been renamed the Journal of Institutional and Theoretical Economics (JITE).
  • Vierteljahrschrift für Volkswirthschaft und Culturgeschichte (f.1863), edited by Julius Faucher and Otto Michaelis, as organ of free trade society.
  • Jahrbücher für Nationalökonomie und Statistik (JNS) (f.1863, Jena), edited by Bruno Hildebrand (Univ, Jena),  from 1878 associated with editor Johannes Conrad (Univ . Halle) and commonly referred to as "Conrads Jahrbuch"
  • Jahrbuch für Gesetzgebung, Verwaltung und Volkswirtschaft im Deutschen Reich (JfGVV) (f.1877, Leipzig), edited by Lujo Brentano (Breslau) and Fr. v. Holtzendorff (Munich) in 1877, from 1881 edited by Gustav von Schmoller and commonly referred to as "Schmoller's Jahrbuch".
  • Archiv für Soziale Gesetzgebung und Statistik (ASGS), (f. 1888) as a reformist-socialist journal, edited by publisher Heinrich Braun in Tübingen,. In was renamed Archiv für Sozialwissenschaft und Sozialpolitik (AfSS) in 1904 upon being sold to Edgar Jaffé,  with editors Jaffé, Max Weber and Werner Sombart.  It was the main outlet of the Younger German Historical School.
  • Zeitschrift für Volkswirtschaft, Sozialpolitik und Verwaltung  (ZfVSV) (f.1892, Vienna) (ed. by E. von Böhm-Bawerk, K.T. von Inama-Sternegg and Ernst von Plener) was the main outlet of the Austrian School.
  • Zeitschrift für Social- und Wirthschaftsgeschichte (ZSWG) (f. 1893, Vienna) and edited by Austrian economic historians Stephan Bauer, Carl  Grünberg and L.M. Hartmann.  It ran from 1893 to 1900. It was refounded as the Vierteljahrschrift für Social- und Wirthschaftsgeschichte (VSWG) in 1903 by Bauer and Hartmann.

  • Weltwirtschaftliches Archiv (WWA) (f.1913), main outlet of the Kiel School.

German-language universities c.1871 (alphabetical order) [square brackets denote "defunct" by 1871]

University State Date Notes Economists and others associated with university
Basel Switzerland 1460   Isaak Iselin (ed. Basel)
Stephan Bauer (ed. Vienna, prof. Basel)
Berlin Prussia 1809   G.W.F. Hegel (ed. Tubingen, prof. Jena, Heidelberg, Berlin)
Friedrich Carl von Savigny (ed. Marburg, Gott, prof. Berlin)
Leopold von Ranke (ed. Leipzig, prof Berlin)
Johann Gustav Droysen (Prof. Berlin)
Adolph Wagner (ed. Göttingen, prof. Dorpat, Freiburg, Berlin)
Gustav von Schmoller (ed. Tübingen, prof. Halle, Strasbourg, Berlin)
Werner Sombart (ed. Berlin, prof. Breslau, Berlin)
Emil Lederer (ed. Vienna, prof. Berlin)
Franz Oppenheimer (ed. Berlin/Kiel, prof. Berlin, Frankfurt)
Bern Switzerland 1834   August Oncken (ed. Berlin, prof. Bern)
Alfred Amonn (ed. Vienna, prof. Prague, Bern)
Bonn Prussia 1818 (ex-Münster, f.1631)
Two theology faculties (Catholic + Protestant)
Arthur Spiethoff (ed. Berlin, prof. Prague, Bonn)
Joseph Schumpeter (ed. Vienna, prof. Czernowitz, Graz, Bonn, Harvard)
Breslau Silesia
(Prussia after 1742)
1702 (1817 absorb Frankfurt-am-Oder, f.1506)
Two theology faculties (Catholic + Protestant)
1727 economics chair (at F-am-Oder) for Dithmar
Ludwig von Seckendorff (ed. Strasbourg)
Justus Christoph Dithmar (ed. Marburg)
Czernowitz Austria-Hungary 1875   Friedrich von Kleinwächter (ed. Prague, prof. Riga Tech,  Czernowitz)
Dorpat Estonia
1632 (defunct 1665, refounded 1802) Heinrich Dietzel (ed. Berlin, prof. Bonn, Dorpat)
Erlangen Bavaria 1743    
[Erfurt] Thuringia 1392 (defunct 1816) Johann Springer
[Frankfurt-am-Oder] Prussia 1506-1817 (see Breslau)  
Freiburg Baden 1457 Catholic theology Hans von Mangoldt (ed. Tübingen, prof. Göttingen, Freiburg)
Karl Diehl (ed. Halle, prof. Köningsberg, Freiburg)
Robert Liefmann (ed.Freiburg, prof. Freiburg)
Giessen Hessen 1607   Johann August Schlettwein, (ed.. Jena, prof. Giessen)
Göttingen Hanover
(Prussia after 1866)
1737   Johann Heinrich Gottlob von Justi
Johann Heinrich von Thünen (ed. Gott)
Adam Müller (ed. Gott.)
Wilhelm G.F. Roscher (ed. Gott, Berlin, Leipzig; prof. Gottingen, Leipzig)
Gustav Cohn (ed. Leipzig, prof. Gottingen)
Wilhelm Lexis (ed. Bonn, prof. Freiburg, Breslau, Göttingen)
Graz Austria-Hungary 1586    
Greifswald Prussia 1456    
Halle Prussia 1694 (1811 absorb Wittenberg, f.1502),
Seckendorff first rector
1727 economics chair for Gasser.
Martin Luther (ed. Erfurt, prof. Wittenberg)
Simon Peter Gasser (prof. Halle)
Johannes Conrad (ed. Jena, prof. Jena, Halle)
Heidelberg Baden 1386   Karl Heinrich Rau (ed. Erlangen, prof.  Heidelberg)
Karl Knies (ed. Marburg, prof. Freiburg, Heidelberg)
Max Weber (ed. Berlin, prof. Heidelberg)
Alfred Weber (ed. Berlin, prof. Berlin, Prague, Heidelberg)
[Ingolstadt]  Bavaria 1472-1800 (see Munich)  
Innsbruck Austria-Hungary 1672    
Jena Saxe-Weimar 1558   Wilhelm von Schröder (ed. Jena)
Ephraim Gerhard (ed. Jena, prof. Jena, Altdorf)
Joachim Georg Darjes (ed. Jena, prof. Jena)
G.W.F. Hegel (ed. Tubingen, prof. Jena, Heidelberg, Berlin)
Bruno Hildebrand (ed. Breslau, prof. Marburg, Jena)
Kiel Holstein
(Prussia after 1864)
1665   Adolph Lowe (ed. Tübingen, prof. Kiel, Frankfurt, New School)
Köningsberg Prussia 1544   Christian Jacob Kraus
Leipzig Saxony 1409   Melchior von Osse,
Julius Bernhard von Rohr (ed. only)
Georg Heinrich Zincke (ed. Jena, prof. Leipzig)
Christian Wilhelm von Dohm (ed. only)
Wilhelm G.F. Roscher (ed. Gott, Berlin, Leipzig; prof. Gottingen, Leipzig)
Karl Bücher (ed. Bonn, prof. Dorpat, Basel, Karlsruhe, Leipzig)
[Mainz] Mainz 1477 (defunct 1791) Johann Friedrich Pfeiffer
Marburg Hessen
(Prussia after 1866)
Munich Bavaria 1826 (ex-Landshut, f.1800, in turn ex-Ingolstadt, f.1472)
Catholic theology
Separate Political Economy faculty
Johannes Eck (prof. Ingolstadt)
Philipp Wilhelm von Hornick (ed. Ingolstadt)
F.B.W. von Hermann (ed. Würzburg, prof. Munich)
Lujo Brentano (ed. Göttingen, prof. Breslau, Strasbourg, Munich)
Moritz Julius Bonn (ed. Munich, prof. Munich Tech)
Prague Austria-Hungary 1348   Emil Sax (ed. Vienna, prof. Prague)
Robert Zuckerkandl (ed. Vienna, prof. Prague)
[Rinteln] Schaumburg 1621 (ex-Standhagen, f.1619, defunct 1810) Karl Gottfried Fürstenau
Rostock Mecklenberg 1419    
Strassburg Alsace-Lorraine 1621 (French 1789, German again 1872) Georg Obrecht
Georg F. Knapp (ed. Göttingen, prof. Leipzig, Strasbourg)
Tübingen Württemberg 1477 Two theology faculties (Catholic + Protestant)
Separate Natural Science faculty
Separate Political Economy faculty
Friedrich List
Gustav von Schönberg (ed. Berlin, prof. Basel, Freiburg, Tübingen)
Vienna Austria-Hungary 1365   Joseph von Sonnenfels (ed. Vienna, prof. Vienna)
Lorenz von Stein (ed. Kiel, prof. Kiel, Vienna)
Albert Schäffle (ed. Tübingen, prof. Tübingen, Vienna)
Carl Menger (ed. Vienna, prof. Vienna)
Eugen von Philippovich (ed. Vienna, prof. Freiburg, Vienna)
Friedrich von Wieser (ed. Vienna, prof. Prague, Vienna)
Eugen von Böhm-Bawerk (ed. Vienna, prof. Innsbruck, Vienna)
Hans Mayer (ed. Vienna, prof. Prague, Graz, Vienna)
Ludwig von Mises (ed. Vienna, prof. Vienna, Geneva, NYU)
Karl Menger (ed. Vienna, prof. Vienna)
Karl Schlesinger (ed only)
Oskar Morgenstern (ed. Vienna, prof. Vienna, Princeton)
Gerhard Tintner (ed. Vienna, Cowles, Iowa State)
[Wittenberg] Saxony 1502-1811  (see Halle)  
Würzburg Bavaria 1582 Catholic theology
Separate Political Economy faculty
Zurich Switzerland 1833    


Historical German Universities (in order of foundation)

- square brackets, [x], denotes a university defunct before 1875.

  University Founded State Founder Theological affiliation Notes
1. Prague 1348 Bohemia Charles IV Luxembourg, King of Bohemia Catholic
(temporarily Hussite, early 15th C.
temporarily Lutheran, 1609-22) [b, na, rl]
oldest German-language university
2. Vienna 1365 Austria Rudolf IV Hapsburg, Duke of Austria Catholic [b, na, rl] oldest in Austria
3. Heidelberg 1386 Rhine Palatinate Rupert Wittelsbach, Count Palatine of the Rhine Converted to Reformed (Calvinist) in 1544
Converted to Protestant (Lutheran) in 1578
Converted to Catholic in 1629
Converted to Reformed (Calvinist) in 1652.
Opened to Catholics in 1700
 [b, na, rl]
oldest in Germany proper,
destroyed 1631, restored 1652
destroyed again, moved to Frankfurt, then Weinheim 1693
returned to Heidelberg 1700.
4. [Cologne] 1388 Cologne
City of Cologne Catholic [bna, rl] defunct 1798
5. [Erfurt] 1392 Erfurt
(Mainz's Thuringia)
City of Erfurt Catholic
(temporarily Protestant 1521-33) [b, rl]
defunct 1816
6. Leipzig 1409 Margaviate of Meissen
(Duchy of Saxony)
Frederick I, Elector of Saxony
& William II, Margrave of Meissen
Converted to Protestant in 1539 [b, na, rl] formed by Prague migrants during Hussite crisis
7. Rostock 1419 Mecklenberg John III & Albert IV, Dukes of Mecklenberg,
& Hanseatic City of Rostock.
Converted to Protestant in 1546 [b, rl] moved temporarily to Greifswald (1437-44),
Pietist students temporarily migrate to Bützow (1760-89)
8. Greifswald 1456 Pomerania Wartislaw IX, Duke of Pomerania-Wolgast &
Hanseatic City of Greifswald
Converted to Protestant in 1539 [b, rl] first university formed by Rostock migrants (1437),
second founded in 1456
9. Freiburg 1457 Bishopric of Constance
Albert VI, Archduke of Austria Catholic [b, rl]  
10. Basel 1460 Canton of Basel
Pope Pius II & city of Basel Converted to Reformed (Calvinist) in 1532 [rl] oldest in Switzerland
11. [Trier] 1472 Electorate of Trier
Jacob von Sierck, Archbishop of Trier Catholic  [rl] Charter obtained 1454, but university only in 1472.
defunct 1798
12. [Ingolstadt] 1472 Bavaria Louis IX, Duke of Bavaria Catholic [b, rl] First Bavarian university
moved to Landshut, 1802; then Munich 1826.
13. Tübingen 1477 Württemberg Eberhard V, Count of Württemberg Converted to Protestant 1534,
Later Ecumenical (Catholic/Protestant) [b, rl]
14. [Mainz] 1477 Electorate of Mainz
Adolf II von Nassau, Archbishop of Mainz Catholic [b, rl] defunct 1791
15. [Wittenberg] 1502 Electorate of Saxony
(Albertine Saxony)
Frederick III, Elector of Saxony Converted to Protestant in 1533  [b] annexed by Halle, 1817
16. [Frankfurt-am-Oder] 1506 Brandenburg Joachim I Nestor, Elector of Brandenburg Converted to Reformed (Calvinist) in 1537  [b] annexed by Breslau, 1811
17. Marburg 1527 Hessen-Cassel Philip I, Landgrave of Hesse Protestant (Lutheran)
converted to Reformed (Calvinist) in 1605,
converted back to Lutheran, 1624
converted back to Calvinist, 1653  [b]
first Protestant university from scratch
18. Köningsberg 1544 Duchy of Prussia Albert I Hohenzollern, Duke of Prussia Protestant [b]  
19. [Dillingen] 1549 Bishopric of Augsburg
(Bavarian Swabia)
Otto von Waldburg, Bishop of Augsburg Catholic [b] first counter-reform Catholic university,
defunct 1804
20. Jena 1558 Saxe-Weimar
(Ernestine Saxony)
John Frederick II, Duke of Saxony Protestant [b]  
21. [Helmstädt] 1576 Duchy of Brunswick Julius, Duke of Brunswick-Wolfenbüttel Protestant [b] defunct 1809
22. [Altdorf] 1578 Nuremberg
(Upper Franconia)
Imperial City of Nuremberg Protestant [b] Former Nuremberg gymnasium, moved to Altdorf in 1573,
raised to university in 1623,
defunct 1801
23. [Olmütz] 1581 Hapsburg Moravia Bishop of Olmütz, Jesuits & Emperor  Maximilian II Catholic f. Jesuists in 1573, raised by imperial charter 1581,
moved to Brünn/Brno, 1779, returned to Olmütz 1783,
defunct 1855
24. Würzburg 1582 Bishopric of Würzburg
(Lower Franconia)
(1402) John von Egolfstein, Prince-Bishop of Würzburg
(1582) Julius Echter von Mespelbrunn, Prince-Bishop of Würzburg
Catholic [b, rl] First formed in 1402, but dispersal after 1413. Resurrected 1582.
25. [Herborn] 1584 Hessen-Nassau John VI the Elder, Count of Nassau-Dillenberg Reformed (Calvinist) [b] founding sometimes dated 1654, defunct 1817
26. Graz 1586 Styria
(Hapsburg Austria)
Archduke of Austria Catholic  
27. Giessen 1607 Hessen-Darmstadt Louis V, Landgrave of Hessen-Darmstadt Protestant (Lutheran) [b] Lutheran exiles from Marburg
defunct 1945
28. [Paderborn] 1615 Bishopric of Paderborn
Theodore von Fürstenberg, Prince-Bishop of Paderborn Catholic [b] elevated from Jesuit gymnasium, f.1585
defunct 1625 (or 1803)
29. [Stadthagen] 1619 Schaumburg
(Lower Saxony)
Ernest III, Count of Holstein-Schaumburg Protestant moved to Rinteln, 1621
30. [Rinteln] 1621 Schaumburg
(Lower Saxony)
 (ex-Standhagen) Reformed (Calvinist) [b] ex-Stadthagen, defunct 1810
31 [Strassburg] 1621 Alsace City of Strasbourg Protestant former Lutheran gymnasium f.1566, raised to university in 1621
turn into French univ. in 1789; German again 1872.
32. [Salzburg] 1623 Archbishopric of Salzburg
Archbishop Paris Lodron of Salzburg Catholic defunct 1810
33. [Osnabrück] 1630 (Westphalia) Bishop of Osnabrück & Jesuits Catholic elevated from Jesuit gymnasium, f.1623
defunct by 1633
34. [Münster] 1631 (Westphalia) 1631: Bishop of Münster & Emperor Ferdinand I
1773: Emperor Joseph II.
Catholic refounded 1773,  moved to Bonn, 1818
35 Dorpat 1632 Estonia (Russia)   Protestant moved to Tallinn 1656, defunct 1665, refounded 1802
36. [Linz] 1636 Upper Austria   Catholic not on all lists, defunct at some uncertain date
36. [Bamberg] 1648 Bishopric of Bamberg
(Upper Franconia)
Otto, Bishop of Bamberg [b] Catholic defunct 1804
37. [Duisburg] 1655 Duchy of Cleves
(Prussian Cleves)
(orig. 1566): William V, Duke of Julich-Cleves-Berg
(org. 1655) Frederick William, Elector of Brandenburg-Prussia
Reformed (Calvinist) [b] defunct 1802, remnant absorbed by Bonn
38. Kiel 1665 Holstein Duke of Holstein-Gottrop Protestant  
39. Innsbruck 1672 Hapsburg Tyrol   Catholic  
40. Lingen 1685       defunct 1819
41. Halle 1694 Magdeburg Frederick III, Elector of Brandenburg-Prussia Protestant [b] absorb Wittenberg, 1817
42. Breslau 1702 Silesia Emperor Leopold I Catholic
(Ecumenical Catholic/Protestant from 1811)  [b]
absorb Frankfurt-am-Oder, 1811
43. [Fulda] 1734 Imperial Abbey of Fulda
(Lower Franconia)
Adolphus von Dahlberg, Prince-Abbot of Fulda Catholic defunct 1805
44. Göttingen 1737 Brunswick-Hanover George II, King of England Protestant [b]  
45 Erlangen 1743 Marg of Bayreuth
(Upper Franconia)
Frederick, Margrave of Brandenburg-Bayreuth Protestant [b]  
46 [Bützow] 1760 Mecklenberg   Protestant (Lutheran Pietist) Pietist migrants from Rostock, defunct 1789
47 [Landshut] 1800 Bavaria Maximilian Josef, Duke of Bavaria Catholic ex-Ingolstadt, moved to Munich, 1826.
48 Berlin 1809 Prussia   Protestant [b]  
49 Bonn 1818 Prussian Rhineland   Ecumenical (Catholic/Protestant) [b] ex-Münster, also absorb ex-Duisburg
50 Munich 1826 Bavaria   Catholic [b] ex-Landshut (in turn ex-Ingolstadt)
51 Zürich 1833 Switzerland     from Zwinglian institutions f.1525.
52 Czernowitz 1875 Bukovina
(Hapsburg Moldavia)
53 Fribourg 1889 Switzerland   Catholic [na] bilingual French/German.
  Frankfurt-am-Main 1914 Prussia      

 [Note: this historical list excludes Central European universities where German was not the main language of instruction. For the multi-lingual Austrian Hapsburg empire, we include only the five extant universities (Prague, Vienna, Innsbruck, Graz, Czernowitz), plus the defunct universities (Olmütz, Salzburg and Linz) where German was the language of instruction  (Note: Breslau/Wroclau switched from Austria to Prussia in 1742) .  But the Hapsburg Empire also had a Czech faculty at Prague (f.1882), the Hungarian universities of Fünfkirchen/Pecs (f.1357, defunct by 1400), Old Buda/Ofen (1389, defunct by 1460s), Pressburg/Bratislava (f.1465, defunct by 1491) and Tyrnau (f.1636, moved to Ofen 1777 then finally to Budapest 1783); the Polish universities at Cracow (f.1364) and Lemberg/Lviv (f.1661/1784), the Croatian university of Agram/Zagreb (f.1874) and the Transylvanian university of Clausenburg/Cluj (f.1530).  The University of Louvain (f.1426) in Belgium, formerly the Austrian Netherlands, is sometimes included on such lists.  The Dutch universities of Leiden (f.1575), Franeker (1585, def. 1815), Gröningen (1614), Utrecht (1634) and Harderwijk (1648, def. 1815) are also sometimes included (e.g.)]




Resources on German Universities

  • "A Concise History of the German Universities", by Rev. Robert Baird, 1838-39, American Quarterly Register Pt. 1 (p.341), Pt. 2 (p.17), Pt. 3 (p.128)
  • "The German Universities" by Karl von Raumer, 1850, American Journal of Education, p.9
  • "The Prospects of Liberalism in Germany", by K. Hildenbrand, 1871, Fortnightly Review, p.387
  • "Philosophy in Germany", by W. Wundt, 1877, Mind, p.493
  • "Parties and Politics in Germany", by Herbert Tuttle, 1877, Fortnightly Review,.p.676
  • "Germany" in Kibble's Cyclopedia of Education, 1883
  • The German universities for the last fifty years, by Johannes Conrad, 1884 (1885 trans) [bk] (table)
  • "Instruction in Public Law and Political Economy in German Universities", by Leo S. Rowe, 1890, AAPSS (Jul) Pt. I (p.78 [js]) , Pt. II (p.272  [js])
  • The Universities of Europe in the Middle Ages, Vol. II: German universities, by Hastings Rashdall, 1895 [bk]
  • The Germany Universities: their character and historical development, by Friedrich Paulsen, 1895 [bk]
  • The German Universities and University Study by Friedrich Paulsen, 1906 [bk]
  • Das deutsche Manchestertum: eine studie zur Geschichte des wirtschaftspolitischen Individualismus by Julus Becker, 1907 [bk]
  • University centenaries (appendix)
  • 18th Century Germany Universities list
  • Oeconomische Encyclopädie, oder, allgemeines System der Land-, Haus-, und Staats-Wirthschaft, in alphabetischer Ordnung; aus dem Französischen übersetzt und mit Anmerkungen und Zusätzen verhmehrt, auch nöthigen versehen, by Johann Georg Krünitz
  • , Berlin. []
  • "Germany archives" at Irwin Collier's Economics in the Rear-view Mirror blog


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